Remember the Ride™ - Is the 2018 V-Strom XT 1K Still a Player?

I’m the second owner of this unique Gen 2 V-Strom 1000 XT. The original owner, a Scott Brown from Nevada, and who was a fabricator for Holeshot Performance, was meticulous in its care, and it provided a blank canvas for their accessories business. I’ve had it for one year, and have racked up over 5000 miles, all of which were bagged within California and Nevada. Talk about remembering the ride…

Between Mono Lake and the east gate of Yosemite National Park in east-central California.

Here’s a list of things Mr. Brown had lavished on this ride:

  • A comprehensive set of hand-made, bespoke fasteners, many from billet
  • Hydraulic rear brake light switch
  • Built-in battery tender plug
  • Custom Pelican top box
  • Arrow header
  • Holeshot 17″ cannister muffler
  • K&N intake filter
  • Exhaust servo eliminator
  • Supertune
  • Titanium radiator guard
  • Seth Laam custom seat
  • VStream windshield
  • Rear mudguard/chain cover
  • Swapped-out wire for cast wheels (better on-road)

The day after I picked it up, I rode from northern Nevada to the SF Bay Area. A few days later I took a few highways south to San Diego. A tick more than 900 miles total. Over the next couple of months, besides addressing regular maintenance, I added the following, which collectively are awesome:

  • Michelin Road 6s with internal glass bead balancers
  • Center stand
  • Oxford Heaterz Premium Adventure Heated Grips
  • G2 Throttle Tamer
  • Brake rotors F&R (petal), EBC sintered pads
  • Holeshot DB killer (sort of a killer…)
  • Givi E300NT2 Monolock top case with back rest pad
  • Moore Mafia Racing ECU flash
  • Hyperpro progressive springs F&R

Mono Lake’s fine-gravel trail encircles the 760,000-year-old inland body of saline soda water. Not street-tire friendly…


Fully fueled up, this V1K hits the scales at just under 500 lbs. without bags. With the mods – K&N, full Arrow header, 17″ Holeshot can, and the Moore Mafia Racing flash – it’s estimated to have about 20 hp up from stock at 120 hp, or 4-plus lbs./hp. Snappy. Pinning the throttle, even with its long wheelbase, lifts up the front-end easily in first and second with no coaxing. And it now makes good power nearly to redline.

Halfway to Yosemite from the SF Bay Area. And, yes, that’s a physical map on the tank bag!

The Mafia flash removed all the limiters and nannies, including rpm cutoffs and questionable fueling off-idle that created annoying snatching, a major pain in LA traffic. But the engine’s basic character is one of meaty, accessible mid-range, and the flash was all too happy to add to it, both in depth and breadth. And, it doesn’t run out of puff up the rev range nearly as badly as the stock tune. This bike is great fun to ride now, and you can easily do 500-mile days on it.

In the back lot at Murphy’s Motel in Lee Vining, CA near the east gate of Yosemite.

These three hard bags, a medium-sized tank bag, and a medium backpack held enough for five days. (At the Murphy)

Looking north to Lake Mono on the road that rings the lake.


The tires (outstanding!), brakes, and springs are a great match for the increase in power and responsiveness, and the only compromise was fuel mileage. As purchased – and this is from actual readings from pump to pump – this thing was solidly in the mid-high fifties, and on one leg I got nearly 70 mpg! On the last ride, a 1300-plus-mile round-trip from Las Vegas through Yosemite to San Francisco and back the same way, the V1K got a very respectable 46 mpg with a LOT of 80-plus cruising and some naughty spanking in the mountains. Worth it, especially in the light of how untypically frugal it was at first (probably Supertune-related). It’s quick, has great midrange, can be frugal (short-shift, stay under 4.5K rpm), cruises really well between 75-80, big-twin smooth (it’s not a four), stops and handles much better than it should, and is comfortable (good screen, hand guards, great rider position and seat, love the heated grips!).

An oyster run to the Carlsbad Aquafarm in, you guessed it, Carlsbad, CA.

In the Nevada Spring Mountain National Rec Area at Mt. Charleston for an AM ride.


With the mods and over 5K of seat time, does it still stand up in today’s market where there are several outstanding sport and adventure tourers? Overall, a strong yes! On those long, windy (and sometimes incredibly hot) rides in N. Nevada and the CA central valley, it could be a bit more stable at cruising speed. And, a totally subjective issue, the one design feature that hasn’t aged well is that damnable beak, of which I thought would grow on me (but it just grew on IT!). Otherwise, this is a very capable, very fun ride, and it’s been stone reliable.

Stopped for a bite in the southern San Diego mountains, Potrero, CA.

In the Cleveland National Forest between Mt. Laguna and Julian, CA.

The day I bought the V1K.

A closer look at some of Mr. Brown’s work.

The V1K is a very high-value proposition, for both punching well above it’s expected fun rating and delivering a fuss-free, comfortable experience. There are quite a few V1Ks running around out there with over 200,000 miles on the original engine (check the forums). If time is on the top of your life’s priority list, and you’d much rather ride something really good when you want to and not spend it on futzing and fiddling – and getting to know your mechanic’s children’s names and birthdays – this could be The One for you.


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