I find the cable clutch
on the 650 much easier to use than the hydraulic clutches on the 1000 (not just on my KLV1000, but Robin Hood’s DL1000K4 and Robert's DL1000K2). For me, the easier operation means I am slightly quicker at pulling away from traffic lights, find filtering and other slow speed control is easier, and I am happy to sit with the clutch held in, in first gear at junctions. In contrast, the 1000 clutch makes my hand ache after a while so I tend to stop in neutral and engage first gear when its time to go.Gear
changing is smoother on the 650, but the ratios are very close. I tend to do about 30mph in first, 50 in 2nd, up to 70 in 3rd and up to 100 in 4th, BUT the bike is happy in 6th gear from 50mph onwards and above this speed you rarely need to change down from 6th. 5th and 6th feel quite close and I often wish for an extra, higher gear and find myself trying to change up from 6th. The absence of an O/D indicator is not helpful here. At 7000 rpm my bike runs at about 95mph in top. I really like 4th gear on the 650 as the revs match the speed (i.e. 5000 rpm = 50 mph) and with care you can use this gear from below 30 to above 100. I find this gear ideal to use when riding fast on the twisty roads.
On the 1000, changing from 1st to 2nd is often very clunky. The bike is happy to pull to 40mph is 1st, 70mph in 2nd and approaching100 in 3rd. When I get in 4th I feel like I am in top gear (on the 650) and am always surprised I have two more gears to go. On the other hand, I find I need to change down out of top gear when slowing down below 60-65mph. The bike cruises in 6th at 100mph just above 5K revs. Due to the infamous 2500-3500 stutter/shudder, I find the bike hard to ride slowly without slipping the clutch. (I have not had chance to see if this can be improved with Yosh box treatment or a PowerCommander yet ).
I am not sure if the brake
components are the same on both bikes – they look the same – but the 1000 seems to pull up under hard braking a bit better than the 650. I think this is because the front suspension
is more sophisticated? At the rear end, the braking and suspension feels the same to me on both bikes.FEATURES
The helmet lock
, which comes with the 1000 as standard, is very useful. The silly piece of wire that they provide with the 650 is totally useless!
I think the side stand
feels sturdier on the 650 strangely. It certainly has a bigger footprint which means it is less likely to sink into the ground.
As mentioned above, the 650 really misses an O/D light
to indicate you are in top gear.
Not sure where this bit fits, but the 650 always runs with 3 bars showing on the temperature gauge.
The 1000 only shows two when moving at reasonable speeds, but moves up to three when stop/starting. The cooling fan
seems to come on more often on the 1000 and it kicks out an uncomfortable amount of heat from the engine
when stuck in queues.RIDING IN DIFFERENT ENVIRONMENTS Please don't misunderstand my report in this section. Both bikes are great and can to all these things highly satisfactorily. If I praise one bike above the other because it stands out in specific circumstances, is not meant to imply the other bike is bad in any way.
I spend a lot of time commuting
in heavy traffic and the 650 is the bike I choose for this. It's lighter and more flickable and easier to control with the more suitable clutch/gearing at very low speeds.
I do not ride a lot off-road
(by choice) but do need to use a farm track to get to my motorhome storage. Also, the car parks I use for work are often unmade. In both these cases, the lighter weight and easier clutch mean I prefer the 650.
I am still getting used to cornering
on the 1000, but my impression at this point is the 650 is easier to tilt into tighter corners, and the smoother gearing below 50mph mean it is easier to set the bike and stay on line. Its still early days for me though on the 1000 so probably not fair to judge at this stage. Readers should also be aware that my 650 has Michelin Pilot Road tyres on now and the 1000 is still running the stock Trailwings, so that makes a difference too. However, the DL650 did win the Alpsmaster title didn’t it, so it might not be just me that rates in slightly more highly in the tight stuff?
the extra power of the 1000 is great. I don’t tend to ride any faster but knowing you have bucketfuls of instant power when you 'pour on the coals' is very reassuring indeed. I never complained before about the lack of power for overtaking with the 650, but the extra power when you need it makes the 1000 shines at these speeds.
The extra power also mean the 1000 wins easily for 2-up touring. CONCLUSION
I love both these bikes in different ways and asking me to choose which is best would be like asking me which of my children I love the most. I am in a very lucky position to have both bikes and honestly could not decide which one I would keep if I had to ditch one. I prefer whichever one I am riding at the time (unless its really in its wrong environment e.g. the 1000 in very heavy traffic).
I am certainly glad I chose the 650 as my first big bike. The 1000 is not really as newbie-friendly.
Some people argue the cheaper 650 price offers better value for money
overall, and I am inclined to agree with them if budget is a problem.
But just because you might be able to afford the extra for 1000, does not mean you should go for this automatically without trying the 650.
Of course the only real solution is to buy one of each
– just sell your granny / car / wife / boat / kids* (delete as appropriate).
That way you get the best of both worlds and you always have a bike to loan your international friends that come to visit!
Trust me on this: there’s nothing like the feelings of going and thinking which bike should I choose today?
(very smug, I know!!!
And then returning home and getting that rush of excitement when you spot another 'Strom' parked on your drive – every single day!!!!
I hope this (belated) report is helpful and interesting. Please feel free to suggest other areas where I can compare the two bikes.