Yes my first off-roading experience was not pleasant. My second time was last October when we took a trip to Baja California. Our attempt to conquer the road from San Felipe to Gonzaga Bay failed largely due to my nagging and my fear of dropping my bike. I was riding the KTM SuperMoto which is clearly not an adventure motorcycle. I was afraid to damage it. Besides it was only my second time doing an off-road excursion. Well, among other things the road was tough. Anyway my third time came around last weekend when we took an adventure trip to Death Valley. I rode the KTM again. For whatever reason I felt more confident and fearless on off-road stretches. I could not do certain things as again I was afraid to damage my Orange Beast’s tires and suspension and did not feel like dropping it on loose gravel. Surprisingly though I did enjoy the off-road experience we had during our Death Valley run. And this is when I felt that maybe adventure riding should not be thrown out of the equation for me. The question was - what kind of motorcycle would I be doing that on?
Currently I own two motorcycles - 2003 Aprilia Futura for my sport-touring needs and 2006 KTM 950 SuperMoto for my sport-commuting needs. Motodisiac implied that I should sell the Futura and buy a Caponord. I rode his Caponord a couple of times and was impressed by its handing and versatility. The only problem - I thought and still think it is really ugly. I love the way the Futura looks and feels. My girlfriend also loves the Futura and told me not to sell it no matter what. And on top of those arguments the seat comfort of the Futura is far superior to anything I have ever sat on let alone ridden :). So at this point the Futura is here to stay. The KTM is the ultimate commuter as well as the soon to be my race track bike. So can’t sell that one either. Clearly at this point I am in need of an adventure aka enduro aka dual-sport motorcycle. Enter Suzuki V-Strom DL650.
Our Death Valley trip group consisted of 4 riders - Motodisiac and one more rider had Aprilia Caponords, yours truly rode the KTM and the 4th rider had a Wee-Strom (pictured below). Wee-Strom is a nickname for the 650cc Suzuki V-Strom. As opposed to the 1000cc version that has a nickname Vee-Strom the little brother is obviously a Wee. Anyway I took my friend’s Wee for a run. The Wee has the same engine as my first bike - the SV650S. It feels potent for a 650cc engine. It redlines at 11 thousand RPMs. And while you can travel along at 3-4 thousand RPMs you can rev it up and get a fairly nice acceleration out of it. The bike corners pretty well too. The brakes are so-so. However this isn’t a race track motorcycle either. So that should not be a show stopper. The bike can easily go 250 miles on one tank of gas. Something of a high importance on adventure trips. There are tons of aftermarket farkles for it - crash bars, travel cases etc. And the best thing - the bike is inexpensive and easy to maintain. Perfect. I would not be too scared to drop it if I hit a sand patch or something.
I have been checking craiglist and advrider motorcycle for sale sections ever since I got back from our trip. I found a really good deal in San Diego that I was a bit late to. There are plenty of offers out there. However I am in no immediate rush to buy one. From my own experience I know that good deals do happen and it is not a once in a lifetime occurrence. At this point I am looking around. I am still considering - to wee or not to wee. I am leaning towards the first one.