V-Stroms are not cool. They’re good at what they do, they’re great value and plenty can be said in their favour, but never has one been described as cool. They are a solid bike, efficient and functional. Suzuki even gave the V-Strom 1000 XT a jazzy yellow colour scheme in 2017 yet, we weren’t drooling.
Yet Steffan Hessler, a German with a deep seated love of Suzuki’s has made something that definitely is cool. He’s gutted a V-Strom to make his ultimate twin cylinder adventure kit, moving the V-Strom from a road based, sport touring adventure thingy with limited off-road skills to a full on adventure loving, dirt eating weapon.
The end result is the V-Strom Desert Express, which comes in a a claimed weight of 218kg’s with fuel, making the dry weight sub 200kg. As well as a hefty weight shed, the V-Strom has had some serious dirt specific upgrades. First on the list is the suspension. The stock forks and shock are replaced with a longer travel, fully adjustable Wilbers Fork and Shock. It takes the V-Strom travel to around 210mm of travel, from 160mm. The front suspension is housed in a set of adjustable billet aluminium triple clamps that provide an adjustable steering angle between 31 and 36 degrees (stock is 36).
That has also been combined with a 21/18 Inch wheel combo that allows desert, off-road and adventure tyres to be fitted. The wheels are made by legendary brand Haan, with Takasago Excel rims. The brakes have been upgraded with steel brake hoses to improve feel and performance. The final mod to the wheels is a gearing change on the rear sprocket. Moving from a 41/17 combo to a 45/17 makes the gearing shorter, so first second and third will be far more suited to riding off-road than the stock gearing is.
On top of this, the kit includes a Lithium Battery. Lithium batteries on ADV bikes are a great, cost effective way to shed a phenomenal amount of weight, with savings of up to 5kg’s possible. The whole rear end of the bike has been tidied up too. The sub-frame stays stock, but the plastics and seat are all modified. The Rally seat is based on the V-Strom high seat and then fitted with a custom cover. This, combined with the lofty suspension, gives the V-Strom a pretty darn tall 940mm seat height.
The V-Strom engine remains standard and has been combined with a custom header pipe and the supremely pretty Yoshimura Muffler. That whole combination does away with the catalytic converter, saving weight and in theory at least, opens the V-Strom engine up.
The controls also get some modification. The kit includes Zeta ‘unbreakable’ style levers and Magura Oversize handlebars. Our favourite two modifications however are tucked away. The PivotPegz footpegs replace the stock units and are matched to a custom mounting plate. The new mounts move the footpegs 20mm toward the rear wheel, improving the riding position when stood up and that allows the use of new off-road friendly foot controls. The new mount also changes the footpegs used, so any footpeg that fits one of Suzuki’s RM-Z motocross models can be fitted.
Our second favourite mod is the carbon sump guard. Everyone loves carbon. It’s light, pretty and the standard sump guard material on most rally bikes. The kit includes some crash bars that can be fitted with some snazzy looking bumpers. The V-Strom Desert Express is finished off with an off-road style sticker kit, some hand guards, a different screen and a hole in your bank account. The kit can be bought in individual parts, as a basic smaller kit, as the full package or the full package fitted to the bike.
So would you pay €20,000 euro for an epic, light, off-road ready ADV bike? Let us know in the comments below.
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