Next up is a short Interstate ride to the Frazier Park exit in Lebec. At Lake of the Woods, you have a choice of pavement taking Lockwood Valley, or a longer, more winding route through Pine Mountain Club and the first and only dirt section of the day—Quatal Canyon Road.
Quatal Canyon Road is a maintained USFS route of gravel, sand, and hard pack. It is nothing too difficult, but it requires your attention with its dips and loose earth—a section I wish I had my 250+ pound race-bred dual sport for. One of those dips bottomed out to metal lightly banging. No scare—just expected.
I stopped for a photo of the bike and route in the background and I must not have fully engaged the kickstand outright. The 1000XT fell over on the plastic covers and the hand protector of the clutch side. The clutch lever poked through the plastic guard and broke the ball of the lever.
This brings the need for aluminum hand guards and other protective gear the V-Strom may require for adventure riding. Nothing was seriously damaged and the lever still functioned, so I easily was able to continue.
Quatal Canyon Road ends at California Highway 33, a scenic winding road to Ojai to the south. That took me to California Highway 150, which provides a backroads route past Lake Casitas to the tourist beach town of Carpinteria. I lived there at age 18 and explored the nearby towns on my younger brother’s Honda XL dual sport bike.
There was a short photo op at the boardwalk at Carpinteria State Beach, and then off to the affluent community of Montecito and past the historic 231-year-old Mission Santa Barbara. From there, I headed to my motel in Goleta, across from an In-N-Out and near Santa Barbara Airport.
Day 2 routes were heading north on busy US Route 101 to the off-ramp for Refugio State Beach. This half paved-half dirt road is a cool route to Santa Ynez Valley, Solvang, and Los Olivos and avoids the busy San Marcos Pass. It also passes the former ranches of President Ronald Reagan and actor Jimmy Stewart.
The road was closed to through traffic due to storm damage and blown-out drainage, but the work crews didn’t stop me. A couple stops for photos, and off to secretive Vandenberg AFB, BBQ capital Santa Maria, and the college town of San Luis Obispo.
I should have fueled up SLO City, as there are no services on Highway 58 for 82 miles after Santa Margarita. My last stop for fuel has been in Goleta the following day.
I didn’t notice the miles racking up—right around 200—so I took a short detour for fuel in Taft, where the heat was 110 degrees. I felt like the 5.3 gallons had been used rather quickly, but I guess I was focused on the ride and my Le Mans riding speeds…well, close to them in my mind. It would also have helped for me to have read up on the dashboard readouts and pay attention to little flashing gas pump icon.
Fueled up at Taft, I was back on the road, ready for a quick-as-possible sprint back home through the blistering heat. I did get a bit of traffic from farming and oil operation crews, so I took a more southern route to avoid Bakersfield. I hooked back up with Highway 58 at the bottom of the mountain pass home where I started.
A trip like this alerted me to another appreciated feature—the V-Strom 1000XT has sufficient lighting for night riding. The exhaust sound level is so low, so I’d consider replacing that big bulky canister for an aftermarket to hear the beautiful note it produces. Also, unlike a dual sport bike, there are sturdy passenger pegs, along with a robust plastic rear rack and good grab bars for the passenger.
Important safety features on the 2018 Suzuki V-Strom 1000XT include traction control, the combining of braking function, and ABS being fed with info from an IMU (inertial measurement unit). I preferred to run with the traction control in the off-position for both street and dirt, though makes more sense to use the other two positions of control to help in street use.
Although I would have chosen a more dirt-oriented adventure motorcycle if I had planned for additional off-road riding, as a sport touring ADV motorcycle, the 2018 Suzuki V-Strom 1000XT made a great trip even better.
Photography by Damon Powell and Don Williams
- Helmet: Bell Moto-9 Carbon
- Goggles: Oakley w/ Roko Quick Strap
- Jacket and pants: Cortech Sequoia XC
- Gloves: Cortech GX Air 3
- Boots: Cortech Accelerator XC
- Luggage: Tourmaster Elite Saddlebags and Tail Bag
2018 Suzuki 100XT Specs:
- Type: 90-degree V-twin
- Displacement: 1037cc
- Bore x stroke: 100 x 66mm
- Compression ratio: 11.3:1
- Fuel delivery: EFI
- Valve train: DOHC, 4vpc
- Transmission: 6-speed
- Clutch: Wet multiplate
- Final Drive: RK 525 chain
- Front suspension: Fully adjustable fork; 6.3 inches of travel
- Rear suspension: Linkage-assisted, spring-preload and rebound-damping adjustable shock; 6.3 inches of travel
- Front tire: 110/80 x 19; Bridgestone Battle Wing
- Rear tire: 150/70 x 17; Bridgestone Battle Wing
- Front brakes: Twin discs w/ radial mounted calipers
- Rear brake: Disc
- ABS: Standard (non-defeatable)
DIMENSIONS and CAPACITIES
- Wheelbase: 61.2 inches
- Rake: 25.3 degrees
- Trail: 4.3 inches
- Ground clearance: 6.5 inches
- Seat height: 33.5 inches
- Curb weight: 514 pounds
- Fuel tank capacity: 5.3 gallons
2018 Suzuki V-Strom 1000XT Colors:
- Pearl Marble Black
- Champion Yellow No. 2 (tested)
2018 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 prices:
- $13,299 (1000XT) MSRP