This is the first of a series of blogs and videos from our Tour of Europe in 2022. Showing you the areas we visited as we travelled. It wasnt quite the start of the journey but the night ride down to Dover was uneventful and on our first stop near Eindhoven, I simply forgot to put the camera on.
The Vosges Mountains
The footage here is from The Vosges mountains on the border of France and Germany. We had actually been through the UK, France, The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and back into France at this point. 5 countries in 3 days was great, but it was nice to have a few days to rest and explore.
Welcome to The Vosges
A friend from the Cagiva family had invited us to stay and it was great to have a local guide. His collection of Cagivas is very special, but he decided to take out the Moto Guzzi Quota 1000. Following him on the Guzzi Quota made it much easier to relax and enjoy everything. The roads were fantastic. Being honest I feel like we only just scratched the surface in this area. The scenery was amazing and the people were great too.
Great Place for a Motorcycle Holiday
This would be a great place to base any motorcycle adventure. The mountains and lakes are a great backdrop and as you can see even from this short video, the roads really are phenominal for motorcycles. There are some good cafe’s around the ski resorts and plenty of bars and restaurants in the various small towns around where we stayed if thats what you want.
The footage was all speeded up so I had to slow it down as best I could. We later found out it was a foible of the new GoPro, but we were further into France by then. At this speed you can get a better idea of what these fantastic roads were like. I could have literally spent weeks exploring i’m sure.
The Start of our Adventure
As it is, this was just the start of our adventure. It had been a long, hard, monotonous ride from Eindhoven down to The Vosges so we had to use the Motorways. It was great to finally get some real roads to enjoy.
You can imagine with 2 people for an undefined time period the DL650 Vstrom was heavily loaded up on a lot of our journeys and it was nice to have some riding without most of the gear on. Just the 2 of us and the top box.
I had gone for Mitas E07 Dakar tyres for the tour. They would make any rougher routes we faced easier and to be honest I had been surprised how well they had done on the motorways. Here, they worked faultlessly on the endless roads that twisted through the mountains.
The bike is a series 1 Suzuki DL650 Vstrom. The red, X version they only made in 2007. It has been my go to bike for a long time now. When it comes to anything 2 up I can’t fault it because the gorgeous one on the back loves the seat more than anything else ive found.
Ive had the bike over 12 years now and it has been modded over time. The front forks are braced and I have done some work to improve them. The internals are DL1000 cartridge forks and stantions on the original 650 fork legs, but they have heavy duty Yacugar progressive springs and a longer spacer to adjust preload.
The rear suspension has a Yacugar progressive spring on the original damper which makes for a much better ride, especially loaded up. Exhaust is a stainless steel twin outlet 2 into 1 system built by MTC Exhausts and I had switched back to standard gearing for the tour. It’s also got good hand guards with a solid ally bar running through them. They are a bit like Barkbusters without the badge. The screen is standard, but it is tilted at a slightly steeper angle, with a nav bar and phone mounts mounted above the dials.
The luggage is just 2 old Givi Monokey panniers with a Kappa top box. I use a big extending tank bag and have 2 small ex army side bags on the engine bars. Lastly we have a 30ltr dry bag from Conwy Canoes for anything that wont fit anywhere else. Theres a tool box tube strapped to the pannier rack with spare levers and bits too.
The only other mod is the bars. I use flatter, alloy, braced, motorcross style bars on 1” risers. It suits my riding style and makes my wrists ache a lot less than the standard bars.
Other than that this is a pretty standard bike. A donkey of a bike that has served me well for many years now. The detuned SV650 engine is renowned for being bombproof and has proved itself up mountains, through forests, across rivers and more over the years. You could say it has been abused but I would say used well. I am heavy on maintenance too. Fork seals have been my only complaint really but doing some of the off road riding I have done that is hardly surprising. I do wish the air filter was easier to clean, but thats getting picky.
Is The Vstrom Really so Heavy?
I always considered this a big heavy bike, but at 180kg dry and 210kg kerb weight its actually comparable to the Tenere 700 on weight. They just seem to get heavier every year. This is the simple non ABS, electronic free Vstrom so its a bit basic, but that suits me fine.
I will gradually work through editing the videos and post them in order so you can see where we went and what we found. The footage does get better. I hope you enjoy it.
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Enjoy the ride everyone