Suzuki V-Strom goes compact
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When it comes to mile-munching motorcycles that aren’t going to send you off to the bank for a second mortgage, Suzuki’s line of V-Strom models offer some of the best value in the marketplace.
Sure, they do tend to represent the Toyota Camry of motorcycling — good at what they do but not particularly exciting. However, in a world where fire-breathing monsters such as superbikes are becoming a rare breed, it is the vanilla that reigns supreme.
Suzuki seems to recognise that more riders are turning away from bikes that excel in excitement but fail to deliver in terms of ownership experience. As such, it has joined the growing compact adventure movement with its new baby V-Strom.
But first, a quick look at how the V-Strom fits in to the wider scheme of things.
Interestingly, what initially started off as a touring-focused offshoot of the infamous TL1000, quickly morphed into one of Suzuki’s global best sellers.
Introduced in 2002 — with the V in V-Strom referring to the 996cc V-twin engine between the frame, and the Strom reputedly taken from the German word for stream — within two years the range had widened to include a smaller 650cc version which was soon dubbed the “Wee-Strom” by owners.
There the family stayed, with two major overhauls, including the introduction of more capable off-roaders the V-Strom XT models, until 2018 model year where, for the first time, a true entry level version of the V-Strom finally arrived in dealerships.
It’s curious to think it has taken Suzuki so long to produce a learner version of the V-Strom, especially considering the sporty GSX-R line has frequently dabbled in the 250cc arena.
The 250 brings a certain value to the compact adventure segment, and though by far not the most adventurous, it has plenty going for it.
Visually the bike sells itself, with bold V-STROM graphics adorning the classic DR-BIG inspired beak and out back a sturdy luggage rack that is gagging for a top box to be fitted.
Being based on Suzuki’s GW250 Inazuma commuter, the engine for the DL250 V-Strom is a tried-and-true 248cc parallel twin that produces a claimed 18.3kW and 23.4Nm of torque. Remember, this is a 250cc entry-level machine.
The seat height of the DL250 comes in at just 790mm, making it an excellent choice to bring junior or your better half into the V-Strom lifestyle.
Unlike larger V-Strom models, the 250 comes from the factory with a substantial bash plate to protect the oil filter and sump.
Despite the bike clearly not designed to go bush bashing, the plate hints at the adventurous heritage of the baby V-Strom.
It is a shame that the suspension of the DL250 doesn’t match the macho go-anywhere vibes of the bash plate.
Although the 250 Strom is one of the most affordable bikes in its class — where it is up against the likes of Kawasaki’s Versys-X300, Honda’s CRF250L Rally and BMW’s G 310 GS — it is also the most road-oriented, thanks to its basic suspension components.
With basic telescopic forks up front and a preload adjustable monoshock out back with minimal travel, combined with 17-inch wheels fore and aft, the little V-Strom is happier exploring the less travelled, yet paved roads.
And you’ll likely see a few of those roads with the 17.3-litre fuel tank offering up an approximate range of nearly 500km.
The LCD dash unit is pinched from the GSXR250 and does a great job of keeping the bike feeling modern. Off to the side is another modern amenity — a 12-volt power socket — which can be used for charging anything from the rider’s phone to a GPS unit for the more adventurous.
Ergonomically the bike is sound, with its factory-fitted screen protecting your chest yet allowing air flow to reach your helmet.
On the Waikato roads, the little V-Strom didn’t particularly excel in any area and, much like its larger siblings, it just got on with the job at hand.
It’s probably here that it most closely matches what we’ve come to expect from a V-Strom. It is perfectly happy and although it isn’t quite up with its competition for go, it more than makes up for it in being comprehensively approachable for the incoming rider.
Long live the vanilla V-Strom!
2018 Suzuki DL250 V-Strom
Engine: 248cc SOHC Parallel twin
Pros: Cute, low seat height,
Cons: Porky, basic suspension