The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 3.5
Suzuki insists the re-born big V-Strom is not a dual-purpose bike but an adventure styled roadster. Its lack of off-road ability is a missed opportunity but the torquey and long-legged V-twin shows that after several years’ inactivity things are finally moving again at Suzuki
Reasons to buy
- Flexible and smooth V-twin engine
- Decent suspension and brakes
- Seat is comfortable for rider and pillion
At a glance
The beaky, dual-purpose styling (in red, white or black) is pleasant, if misleading given the V-Strom’s lack of off-road ability. Stacked headlights give a family resemblance to GSX-Rs and the Hayabusa. The bike looks good from the rider’s seat too, thanks to a classy instrument console that includes digital speedo, analogue tacho and a panel showing a variety of information — including fuel gauge, consumption and remaining range — that can be accessed by pressing buttons on the left handlebar. Less impressive are some unfinished details, notably the exposed exhaust valve mechanism.
The seat is 10mm taller, at 850mm, but it’s narrow at the front so the bike is reasonably manageable. Despite being very tall I found the slightly revised riding position — bars and footrests are moved rearwards by a few centimetres — roomy but it’s strange that the seat can’t be adjusted for height. Higher (by 35mm) or lower (by 30mm) seats are available but fitting one of those won’t help when you come to sell the bike.
At 228kg the V-Strom is 8kg lighter than the old model. Those of a taller persuasion may find the standard screen too low even on its highest setting but the turbulence won’t be too bad. The screen can be adjusted for angle through three positions with a simple push. It’s also three-way adjustable for height, but range is just 30mm and adjustment requires an Allen key, which is unnecessary given that many rival screens have a wider range of adjustability by hand. There’s a useful rack, and a pair of solid grab-handles for a pillion.
Performance & braking
Like the previous V-Strom 1000 (which was killed off in 2008 by Euro3 emission regs) this bike is powered by a dohc, eight-valve, 90-degree V-twin engine — in this case with 2mm bigger bore increasing capacity from 996 to 1037cc. The cylinder head, con rods and crankshaft are new, the latter with a heavier flywheel to improve the feel at low revs. Maximum power output is increased by only 2bhp, to 99bhp at 8000rpm, but low-rev torque is much higher and Suzuki say fuel economy is improved by 16%.
That extra low-rev grunt is the motor’s biggest asset, giving effortless roll-on acceleration from well below the 4000rpm mark at which maximum torque is delivered. Throttle response is generally good although when accelerating out of slow bends there was a touch of what felt like transmission snatch. The six-speed box and light-action clutch worked fine, though. So too did Suzuki’s first ever traction control system, which can be toggled between two road settings or turned off.
The V-Strom has enough performance for leisurely highway cruising, and accelerates reasonably hard towards a top speed of about 130mph. But the emphasis on low- and midrange performance has left the motor feeling a bit flat at the top end, so there’s not much incentive to rev it to the 9200rpm redline.
Ride & handling
This V-Strom’s twin-spar aluminium frame is stiffer and 13% lighter than its predecessor, and holds a longer twin-sided aluminium swing-arm. Wheelbase is 20mm longer at 1555mm due also to a front-end redesign that incorporates larger diameter, 43mm upside-down forks. Handling was good, especially after a few turns of the shock’s handy remote preload adjuster had raised the rear end. This sharpened the steering to good effect, making the bike more responsive.
The relatively soft suspension gave a comfortable ride, even on bumpy surfaces. The seat contributed to this by being wide and well padded, for both rider and pillion. Bridgestone’s Battlewing tyres gripped well enough and the brakes were strong, too. The four-piston Tokico monobloc calipers bit the 310mm discs hard, backed up by a useable rear disc. It also has an efficient ABS system, although the fact that this has no off-road setting (and can’t be turned off) is probably a key factor in Suzuki’s insistence that the V-Strom can’t be ridden off-road.
As a large capacity V-twin, the V-Strom won’t be particularly cheap to run, but it shouldn’t be horrendously expensive either, especially as few owners are likely to take it off-road. Suzuki says they’ve improved fuel consumption but with some fairly hard riding, I averaged just over 40mpg, which would give a realistic range of 160-180 miles from the 20-litre tank. The V-Strom’s Bridgestone Battlewing tyres should last reasonably well. Although the V-twin engine is new, it’s based on a unit that dates back more than 15 years to the TL1000S, so should be reliable.
Although the V-twin engine is new, it’s based on a unit that dates back more than 15 years to the TL1000S, so should be reliable.
Warranty & servicing
Although there's an initial service required at 600 miles, the rest of the service intervals are required at 7,500 miles or 12 months, whichever comes first. Like all Suzuki bikes, the V-Strom 1000 is covered by the company's two-year, unlimited mileage warranty.
Suzuki has developed a set of nylon luggage to fit the V-Strom, comprising a pair of medium sized panniers plus a top-box that will hold a full-face helmet. The V-Strom provides minimal hand protection, so it’s just as well that hand-guards and heated grips are available as accessories, while an electrical socket is provided as standard. The sizeable accessory list also includes a taller screen, bash-plates in aluminium or plastic, centre-stand, crash-bars, fog lamps and LED indicators, plus the higher and lower seats.
The V-Strom’s lack of dual-purpose ability is disappointing but it’s a decent long-distance roadster with a smooth and flexible motor, sound handling and braking, a reasonable level of comfort and equipment, and a pleasantly unthreatening character.