Don's New Ride, and Bringing it 500 miles home...

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Don's New Ride, and Bringing it 500 miles home...

Post  SVDon on Fri 01 Aug 2014, 2:02 am

(Report on the FA and the ride to get it - originally posted on st-riders.net, which I operate. I thought you guys here might enjoy it.)

So, I've been looking around for awhile for a new ride, since the DL1000 has about 60,000 odd miles on it and I decided since I high-sided a few years ago and busted my rotator cuff that I really am too old to be a dirt rider type guy, especially with heavy bikes.  I also had the DL650, but really wanted to get back to a road bike.

However, I love the lighter weight of the DL1000 and the handling, but not the behavior in the wind.  And, I'm a poor retiree on a fixed income, so a lot of the high-end bikes are out of the question financially.

After a lot of research and a good deal of soul-searching, I finally settled on what I think is the perfect bike for me, at least for now.  I've been looking around for a lightly used, reasonably priced one for some time, and finally located one that wasn't at the other end of the earth.  A dealer had my bike over in Jeff Bertrand country,  Ventura California.  So, this last week I've been having a series of phone conversations with them, and made a deal.  I rode down there on Friday (about 450 miles in high heat across the Mojave desert) and took a two-day trip back (about 530 miles through the mountains) with my new baby.  And here it is, my first look outside of a Cycletrader website picture.



The 2011 Suzuki GSX1250FA ST

This bike had 5280 miles on it when I bought it.  The guy who bought it was just getting into sport touring, and bought it for a starter bike, took one long trip on it, then traded it for an almost new FJR.

The FA was the replacement for the Suzuki Bandit, and was imported into the USA for 2009, 2010 and 2011. A few were also brought in for 2012, but not many.  There are still "new old stock" 2011's in dealers.  This bike occupies a grey zone between sport bike and touring bikes, making it, at least IMO, a great sport-touring bike that is a nudge more on the sport side.

It's a little heavier in weight than my DL1000 at about 550 lbs. , but the COG must be a good foot lower due to that big four-cylinder brick sitting close to the ground so it feels a lot lighter.  Due to it's 17 inch sport-bike wheels, I can actually flat-foot this bike at stops, the first time that has happened since, I think, my old Honda CL350, and that's a long time ago.

This particular FA has the "ST" package, which is basically the Suzuki-branded side-bags and topcase, made by Givi.  It also had some owner farkles, including an aftermarket windscreen, some funky Kuriakan grips, a cramp-buster, two-inch handlebar risers,  and some adapters to move the passenger footpegs down and forward of the rider pegs, making highway pegs.  More about those later.

I traded the "wife's"  VSTrom DL650 in on it to the dealer, and will be prepping my DL1000 for sale, transferring a lot of the farkles to the new bike.  So I'll be down to just the FA and my to-be-restored Vespa 185 SS.

Had a great trip to pick up the bike at the dealer in Ventura CA.  Left Friday late morning after a shaky start.  The battery on the DL650 was toast, so after a bit of troubleshooting (my "smart" battery charger said the battery was fully charged when in fact, it was deader than a doornail)  I bought a brand new Yuasa and installed it, then got on the road.  I took the fast route down US395, CA14 across the Mojave desert (about 110F) charging my Marsee cooling vest twice on the way, and got into Ventura about an hour after the dealer closed.  After paying the exorbitant hotel rates (in Ventura, just double the expected rate and you're close) for a shitty room at the La Quinta,  I hooked up with Jeff Bertrand.  He picked me up at the hotel and, after an oh-so-cool ride in his new Mustang hottie, had dinner downtown, accompanied by a couple of outstanding local IPA's.

Next morning, I was up several hours early, and finally the dealership opened.  After the usual inspections, and an hour or so of paperwork, etc, the dealer gave me what I wanted for my pristine DL650, the deal was done, and I strapped my bag on it and left the dealership on my new ride.   I made a stop at Jeff's house, a couple miles from the dealer, then hit the road toward home.

In Ventura, I picked up CA33, which is an awesome road after some miles of semi-urbanity.   I stopped to call the spouse and turn on my spot tracker, and to take a picture for her of some horses along the road.



I had a fabulous ride up CA33, then took a wrong turn after getting fuel and ended up on CA99 freeway.  Hot, long and fast, at least 99 proved to me the roadworthiness of this bike as a freeway tourer.  At 70 mph, it's barely turning 4000 rpm, redline is 9500.   In 6th gear roll-ons, from 70 up to 95 mph are almost instantaneous - head-snapping power.   No downshifts needed for high-speed passes, it just goes like nobody's business.  I'm impressed.

After a very very hot couple of hours on 99, I landed in Fresno for the evening, snagging a Hotels.com deal that made the motel price almost fair.  

This morning, up early and on the CA41, headed toward Yosemite.   Breakfast at "Pete's Eggs and Things" in Oakhurst.  Good breakfast, and a few FB updates.  Then on to Yosemite.  The twisties going into the park re-affirmed once again that this bike is more sport than touring, but it does both really well.   A picture stop at "Tunnel View," an elevated view of Yosemite Valley after you come through a long tunnel on CA41.



And, of course, a couple of obligatory "new bike beauty shots" at Tunnel View...





And, of course, the money shot of El Capitan in Yosemite Valley, before I turned to go out.....



From Yosemite, I went out CA140 toward Merced, mainly because I'd never ridden that road before.  Awesome, just mile after mile of fabulous sweepers.

Then I turn north onto CA49 toward Sonora.  CA49 south of Sonora is a fabulous twisty run, up and down a few mountain ranges, too much fun!  I stopped at an overlook where a sport bike club from Modesto was rehashing their run. Chatted a couple of guys a little - let them leave before me so they wouldn't have to pass me.



After that, no more pics.  I went up to Sonora and noticed that there was a lot of heavy weather in the Sierras.  I reasoned that if there was lightning, I'd rather be on Ebbetts Pass, which is below the tree line thus has many big trees at all levels, rather than Sonora Pass, which is exposed.  So, I headed over to CA4.

I stopped in Arnold to fuel up with a Subway before hitting the rain.  A few miles up the road, the sprinkling started.  I stopped and, not having with me any liners for my Tourmaster mesh jacket (hey, I expected hot and sunny, not cold and rainy), I pulled over and decided the best I could do was to put on my Marsee cooling vest under my jacket.

In case you're puzzled, remember that the Marsee has a water-proof liner that normally goes against your body to prevent water from contacting your body.  Since I had dried out the vest overnight, I just turned it inside out, putting the water-resistant liner out.   It helped a lot,  without that I probably would have gone hypothermic.

So, the sprinkles quickly turned to light rain, then heavy rain, and well before I got to Bear Valley it was a downpour.  Of course it got colder as the altitude increased.  The storms also washed lots of branches, ground-up wood pieces, and all kinds of other tree crap onto the road. At one point I passed a CHPS officer clearing branches off the road.  So I had to navigate  a lot of crap as well as water running across the road.

The heavy rain continued all the way over the Sierras, turning to light rain over Monitor pass, then dry on the east side of Monitor but with really high winds coming off the mountains.  I got home around 4 p.m. and after changing and unpacking,  mixed a good strong cocktail to warm up with.

OK, so first impressions of the FA -----

I LOVE THIS BIKE!   It has gobs of torque, it's light, it's responsive, it's someplace between an ST1300 and a GSX R1 in handling.  It has a lot less protection than an ST, about the same or less than the Vee.

And, it just plain goes like stink...

The bike is incredibly stable in high winds,  passing trux, side winds, etc.  Much more stable than the Vee, which was horrible, or my ST1100's which were almost as bad.  Probably due to the really low low COG and the lower profile provided by the 17 inch wheels.

The stock seat really really sux.  Even with my Alaska Leathers butt pad on it, my ass hurts like hell.

The PO did some strange farkles - He took the passenger pegs off and with the help of some special adapters, made them into rider highway pegs (see pictures 1 and 2). These are a bit nice, but I did manage to bottom the left one during a steep turn on CA49 - it snapped up rather disconcertingly - not sure I need those, but we'll see.

I think I'm going to research windscreens - there is a higher touring screen on there, but not sure I like it - there may be an MRA with a lip in my future.

The Kuriakan grips with no bar-end weights will be leaving in favor of my standard setup of BMW sport grips and heavy bar-end weights.

I'm thinking of putting DL650 hand-guards on the FA to provide some hand protection - now the only protection comes from the mirror airflow.

Grip heaters - nuff said.  And of course, my BMW outlets, voltage meters, and my Starcom setup will be moved from the Vee.

Anyway, there it is,  what I did with my weekend.    :grin:


Last edited by SVDon on Fri 01 Aug 2014, 2:01 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Don's New Ride, and Bringing it 500 miles home...

Post  reddog on Fri 01 Aug 2014, 3:54 am

Great write up. I'd ditch those highway pegs as they are too low. That bike needs a nice aftermarket pipe, just make sure it's long enough so it doesn't roast the pannier

Bark busters do a soft hand guard that looks like it'd work well on the Bandit. From memory you need 1x dl650 and 1x dl1000 hand guard to fit the Bandit properly. I think kiwi g has it on his blog
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Re: Don's New Ride, and Bringing it 500 miles home...

Post  Bosco15 on Fri 01 Aug 2014, 5:18 am

Excellent write up. 
Incredible scenery. 
And a happy new owner of a Not Bandit.lol
I'm sure that you will enjoy many more miles with her.

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Re: Don's New Ride, and Bringing it 500 miles home...

Post  Truck bandit on Fri 01 Aug 2014, 6:52 am

Great write up and very descriptive.

Makes me want to get over to the USA!

Those pictures in Yosemite National Park are almost unbelievable. The bike looks photshopped in!

By the way the machine looks fantastic, I love the black and having the top box and panniers would be so handy.

The highway pegs are interesting where they are, adds another comfort option though I suppose.

Thanks for your insight into this part of the world.

I agree with you about the comments on the Bandit in terms of torque, handling etc. I've got the 2010 GSF half faired version and love the power of the engine.

Like I say to all Bandit owners, get a pipe and release the wonderful sound from that exhaust (Yoshi R77 is the best for sound and looks I reckon!)

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Re: Don's New Ride, and Bringing it 500 miles home...

Post  Re-Cycled on Fri 01 Aug 2014, 7:44 am

Great write-up, thanks.

Just one small error it would be slightly heavier than the DL1000. Smile

I'd be interested in the details of you grip and bar end weights setup. Thanks.

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Re: Don's New Ride, and Bringing it 500 miles home...

Post  Ewok1958 on Fri 01 Aug 2014, 8:29 am

Great report SVDon (is that now going to be GSXDon?).  Always love pics from O/S.  Is the seat scheduled for replacement also or some reupholstering?
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Re: Don's New Ride, and Bringing it 500 miles home...

Post  madmax on Fri 01 Aug 2014, 8:59 am

Nice report Don. I just tried to follow your route on Google maps, unfortunately you didn't say where you came from or back home to. Never mind it looked like you had a lot of fun.
Great that you, after going all that way, love the bike.

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Re: Don's New Ride, and Bringing it 500 miles home...

Post  2wheelsagain on Fri 01 Aug 2014, 9:37 am

Great report there.
First time I've heard the GSX/GSF noted as "light" but I agree with the rest of your gushing report.
They're great value. Oh ditch the highway pegs. These are made to corner and they do it pretty well far a fatty.

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Re: Don's New Ride, and Bringing it 500 miles home...

Post  SVDon on Fri 01 Aug 2014, 12:26 pm

Hey Thanks for all the kind comments!

@Truck Bandit:  I was lucky enough to pull in right at the right time to get the parking spot on the end near the view. The lot was full and the FA's power allowed me to beat another car into the spot.   Twisted Evil 

@Re-cycled:  Looks like I transposed the weights when comparing the specs.  Oh well,  the 1250FA really FEELS a lot lighter, due to it's way lower COG.  And you guys have to remember, I'm comparing mostly to the other bikes I've had,  several ST1100's.  Those are close to 200 pounds heavier than the FA.  I had the opportunity on a ride yesterday to switch with a friend and ride his ST1300.  I was amazed at how big and tank-like it seems compared to the FA.  Sorta like comparing a big touring car with a sports car,  with the DL1000 being like an SUV (I think you call them Ute's in OZ).

I've spent a couple of days completing most of my farkles to the FA.  I changed out the funky fat Kuryakin-type grips for my favored BMW sport grips and re-installed the OEM bar-end weights.  I left the heavy internal weights in the bars as well.  Don't know if these are stock or if they came with the Kuryakins, but they seem to do a good job of damping out the vibrations, especially with the addition of the stock bar-end weights.   If I do add hand guards, I'll switch to some really heavy chrome billet bar-ends that have a slot built in to receive the ends of the guards - I saved those from my Vee.  One point; I was pretty steamed at whoever installed those grips - I was planning on selling them as they were almost new and really pretty expensive, but I had to destroy them to get them off. The dumb SOB installed them with some plastic glue or superglue and melted the interior of the grips to the bars and throttle tube.  Had to do a lot of cleaning to get them ready for my heating elements.  Arrgggghhh..... Evil or Very Mad 

@Ewok:   It'll stay SVDon as I still live in Smith Valley.   Very Happy    About the seat - I'm trying to get a ride-in appointment with Rick Mayer in California to get the seat redone.  He does work for lots of endurance riders and is very good at seat rebuilding to fit your particular ass.

@Madmax - Home is Smith Nevada.  If I can master the vagaries of Google maps, I'll post a map of the route.  I figured out how to draw one, but when I try the link it doesn't have the route on it.  Probably some stupid thing I'm missing.

@2wheels - I thought my previous bikes cornered pretty well, but this one is outstanding!

I've spent a couple days moving most of my farkles over from the DL1000,  but that's for another post.
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Re: Don's New Ride, and Bringing it 500 miles home...

Post  madmax on Fri 01 Aug 2014, 1:36 pm

Looks like it might have been something like this?

Link

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Re: Don's New Ride, and Bringing it 500 miles home...

Post  SVDon on Fri 01 Aug 2014, 1:43 pm

Wow, that's pretty much exactly the route!  I have to learn how to make those maps.  Thanks!!! 

Now look at it with satellite view and you'll see how much fun it was.   Very Happy
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