Suzuki's DL1050 adventure bike: a perfect Strom
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Modern-day adventure bikes have a problem – at least those over 1000cc in capacity. With the constant march of technology and a bizarre power battle in a class where that very power becomes a liability once you point your wheels onto adventurous terrain, these bikes have become increasingly less accessible for the average rider.
In spite of this, Suzuki’s V-Strom has stayed the course offering an incredibly affordable package that also brings riders a capable option in the “ride anywhere” adventure touring market.
How has Suzuki managed to keep the bike so accessible with a current retail price of $18,999 when even direct Japanese competitors have crept up in price to over $25,000, while offering similar benefits for the rider?
Key to the affordability of the V-Strom 1050 is that throughout the bike’s long development path Suzuki has chosen evolution rather than revolution.
First launched in 2002 as the DL1000, the V-Strom still uses the same basic architecture. Rolling stock remains in touring friendly 19/17 inches, while the engine has grown and the chassis has been slightly tweaked over the years.
That has kept costs down by building upon the already well-designed aluminium twin-spar chassis and V-twin engine platform that the bike originally made its debut with. Suzuki has incrementally developed the V-Strom and changed its personality from a decent road-biased tourer to a bike that can take on any road you point it at.
The engine, a 1037cc 90-degree V-twin producing 79kW, traces its lineage to the 996cc V-twin of the TL1000 superbike. However, while the TL had a reputation as a bit of a handful, the DL1050 has long since tamed the mighty 90-degree V-twin with refinements including a larger displacement, ride-by-wire throttle, revised cams and Suzuki’s handy slipper clutch system.
With the most recent evolution of the big V-Strom breaking cover in 2020, the V-Strom 1050 exclusively boasts styling derived from Suzuki’s 1980s Dakar racing DR-BIG, with the smaller DL650 model retaining the same design of the previous DL1000. With the move to the new aesthetic came new LED lighting and revised rider ergonomics for more comfort.
Part of the reason litre-class machines have become so expensive is the high level of technology employed. Bucking a common trend, Suzuki opted for an LCD dash rather than a more expensive and flashy TFT display to provide the rider with crucial day-to-day info.
While the previous V-Strom was lacking in modern tech somewhat, the flagship Suzuki adventurer is now using the latest in must-have rider aid technology. That means cornering ABS, multi-stage traction control, Hill Hold Control, and, of course, cruise control are now all standard features.
Keeping the DL1050 head and shoulders above its smaller capacity stablemate is vastly superior suspension. While the DL650 makes do with a conventional fork, the DL1050 features a 43mm KYB unit with adjustable spring preload and compression/rebound damping which allows the suspension to be tuned for a variety of conditions. The rear suspension can similarly be adjusted for rebound damping while the spring preload can be adjusted simply by turning a hand dial.
While the newer is better crowd rail against the V-Strom for its long-lived chassis and driveline, these are in fact assets in a class where big kilometres are ridden on a daily basis.
After nearly two decades of development, prospective V-Strom owners get something that many other buyers in the class can only dream of, and that’s proven dependability. With the DL1050’s forebears easily racking up well in excess of 100,000km of trouble-free motoring, the V-Strom 1050 has impressive credentials when it comes to that all-important reliability factor.