2011 Suzuki DL650 V-Strom

The bike that turned my head.

Stephen Bushway and his 2011 Suzuki DL650 V-Strom
Stephen Bushway and his 2011 Suzuki DL650 V-StromStephen Bushway

NAME: Stephen Bushway
AGE: 66
HOME: Plainfield, Massachusetts
OCCUPATION: Retired mason, inventor and manufacturer of Ultimate Ridgehooks, musician

I sold my 1970 BMW R75 motorcycle after riding it cross-country in '76 and didn't start riding again until after my son got back from doing the same ride on a K100RS in 2011. After brief ownership of a K100LT, I wanted something lighter and more gravel friendly but equally as long legged. I never thought I'd leave the BMW marque, but reviews and a ride on a friend's 650 V-Strom led me astray.

This bike has surpassed all my expectations. The original owner put crashbars, a skid plate, Tuono mirrors, a centerstand, and Pelican cases on it, so I had a big head start. From there, I made further improvements, including stiffer fork springs and a fork brace, lowering links, a touring screen, and a comfy Corbin seat. I decided to upgrade the back end as well and sent the shock off to Daugherty Motor Sports for revalving and a shorter spring. I also put on a set of sintered brake pads that really gave the bike better stopping power.

I ride purely for enjoyment, and this bike never ceases to put a grin on my face.

Two-inch Rox Risers helped me to reach the bars in a more relaxed position and required swapping out the stock brake lines for stainless ones. After a recent chain and sprocket replacement, I fitted a Tutoro chain oiler, which I’m hoping will cut that maintenance cost in half. On trips, I take a huge dry bag instead of the top case so I can bring my fiddle along.

I ride purely for enjoyment, and this bike never ceases to put a grin on my face. I’ve had it just over three years now, averaging more than 13,000 miles a year. Since returning to two wheels, I’ve toured Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Labrador, Quebec, and Ontario, preferring to camp (in a spacious Redverz tent) along the way. This summer I have my sights set on Juneau, where an old friend has been a physician for the past 25 years.

I feel right at home in the saddle. The bike is light enough that I can pull off onto gravel shoulders for a scenery shot without worrying about it taking a nap on me. I believe you can never be too skilled a rider, so I took the Total Control advanced course last year and practice the drills at the beginning of almost every ride. This helps me have a confident mental attitude. For the same reason, I ride ATGATT.