Split-personality: Suzuki V-Strom
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The Suzuki V-Strom 1000 has evolved into the adventure class over its near two decades of production.
Although the bike started out as more of a tourer, the latest iteration of Suzuki’s big Strom proudly states its intentions on its fairings. You see, the V-Strom is a Sports Adventure Tourer in Suzuki’s eyes and even I have to admit, Suzuki does have a point.
Today’s adventure motorcycle market is bursting at the seams with a contender from nearly every manufacturer of note. And while the competition seemingly falls over each other in a bar fight for class supremacy, the humble V-Strom soldiers on quietly in the background.
Recently, Suzuki added to its adventure credentials with better technology, chassis developments and the addition of some formidable brakes.
One of the standouts is the Champion Yellow colour scheme of our test bike.
In a world where “matte black is the new black” the bright yellow Suzuki with its gold anodised spoked wheels is a breath of fresh air.
Headlining the sports aspect of the V-Strom’s personality is its 1037cc V-Twin engine.
It is a low-end powerhouse with plenty of power available up to 7500rpm where the power curve starts to peter out. Luckily the V-Strom is bestowed with a 6-speed gearbox, so there are plenty of ratios to play with to keep you in the meat of the powerband.
The chassis is also rather sporty. With a twin-spar aluminium frame mated to fully adjustable suspension up front and preload adjustable monoshock out back, the V-Strom is tailored to both rider and conditions.
The V-Strom 1000X needed to deliver the ability for adventurous riders to take the road less travelled if desired.
Unlike other entries into the big adventure bike segment that go all-out to lean into the adventure side, the Suzuki takes a more balanced approach with a smaller 19in front wheel as opposed to the 21in units of some other big adventurers.
The tyres are another nod to adventure with tubeless Bridgestone Battle Wing tyres fitted from factory. The Battle Wings aren’t the most aggressive off-road tyre by a long shot, but hold well on most surfaces while providing the right aesthetic for the adventure style of the V-Strom.
Rounding out the V-Strom’s impressive split personality are its touring amenities that let the rider take to the highway and soak up the kilometres in relative comfort.
A large 20-litre fuel tank takes care of fuel range, with approximately 40km or more able to be squeezed between drinks.
The seat is large and offers plenty of space for you to plant your backside. The same goes for the pillion accommodation that also benefits from sturdy grab handles built into the alloy luggage rack behind the seat.
Up front, rider comfort is also looked after with an easily adjusted windscreen. Unique to the Suzuki, the windscreen is easily adjusted up to 35mm by pushing it away from the rider. This gives more wind deflection by changing the aerodynamic profile of the windscreen. It’s clever, simple, and really does work.
Suzuki’s Swiss Army Knife
After collecting the V-Strom 1000X from Hamilton’s Boyds Motorcycles, we immediately hit State Highway 1 and headed north for Auckland. While a short distance by big touring motorcycle standards, it did show that the handguards work a treat at keeping wind blast off your hands — and the adjustable windscreen is a top feature.
However, we did miss the cruise control that has now become standard fare on many other bikes in the category.
After running a few errands in the big city and nipping through traffic on the surprisingly nimble big Suzuki, we turned our sights on the Hunua Ranges to try the V-Strom in a more adventurous environment.
Upon arrival, the traction control system was disabled by using the switch mounted on the left switchgear.
The system is easy to use and can be adjusted on the fly if needed.
Sadly ABS is non-adjustable, meaning extra care was going to be needed when it came to braking on the gravel roads ahead.
Once on the rough stuff, the V-Strom’s weight came into play, but surprisingly — and probably due to remnants of the Pro Rider Gravel Riding Course left in my brain — I soon found a groove with the 233kg bike.
Our time with the V-Strom proved it has the ability to do just about anything and is exactly what it says it is, a damn fine Sports Adventure Tourer.
It will happily charge along your favourite back roads on any given Sunday, competently tackle loose surface roads and the odd track when needed, then allow you to ride home in complete comfort the long way.
Is it the perfect bike? No. But it is one hell of a motorised Swiss army knife.
Suzuki DL1000X V-Strom
Pros: Versatile, capable all-rounder, low price-point, highly customisable
Cons: Doesn’t have modern amenities now standard on the competition, some aspects a little old school