Re: which bike
hey nss - I see you are in the vancouver area. This makes consideration of an adventure bike a great idea. The upcoming V-Strom650 will be an excellent bike with good, (but not intimidating) power, and the excellent ergonomics & handling of the bigger V-strom. We have done many trips with paved & dirt roads and this is where the V-Strom excels. Pemberton/Whistler & the interior have some fantastic loops. Further, the V-strom keeps up with some of the best road bikes with no problem....
I'd listen to this man. The baby 'Strom 650 would be an excellent choice. It's lower gearing and re-tuning for more better lower end torque and less top end speed makes it close equivalent and far more versatile alternative to 500-600cc sport bikes. Whichever you get, please learn to counter-steer your bike so you stay in your lane and on the road in the curves.
I live in Seattle and traded in my cruiser for an '03 'Strom last August. It was the wisest decision I've made in 35 years of riding! I've owned a LOT of bikes from cruisers to Ducati's, but the 'Strom is the first bike I've owned that's indecently fun to drive! In addition to having the power and handling to easily keep up with all but the VERY fastest sport bikes, the 'Stroms are capable of carrying a LOT of gear (if you find you like touring), are WAY more comfortable on long rides and are great to ride off pavement.
If the seat height is a little daunting, consider getting the saddle rebuilt. Rich's upholstry in Seattle lowered mine almost two inches and custom made it to fit my backside like a glove. Canadians often can have their saddles done same day. The stock V-Strom seat had me squirming after an hour. I've gone 18 hours in the new saddle without a complaint.
In BC and Washington State, you have access to some of the best mountain riding (paved and gravel) in the entire world, and the V-Stroms are ideal bikes for it. Check out the "Destination Highways" series of books. They have outstanding guidebooks for the best motorcycling roads in Washington State and British Columbia. I have both books and, though a little steep in price, are the best of their kind and are easily worth twice what they cost. They're THAT good. (www.destinationhighways.com
) By the way, I don't know the authors, but I believe both live in Vancouver.
Happy Shopping and Riding!