Suzuki V-Strom DL650
Now here is a bike I have often thought I would like to own.
I’ve had a few dual purpose bikes – tourer/off road – and although I have usually enjoyed them I have found the compromises bit of a pain, in fact on one occasion the compromise led to significant pain.
These bikes generally follow a mould – soft long travel suspension; 19/17 front/rear wheel sizes and tuned for torque rather than power. This gives a stable platform when the going gets rough but also gives the bike quite lazy handling characteristics.
The lazy handling meant when a car driver decided they were in the wrong lane at a roundabout I could do little but watch as she came across and took my handlebars from me.
Two bust thumbs, three cracked ribs and a distrust of the breed soon followed, but this was on a Triumph Tiger 800 and I think if I were on the V-Strom I would have probably fared better – despite the outwardly similar traits this bike knows how corners work.
The V Strom offers neutral and secure handling – it will go where it is pointed and does so with relative gusto. The engine is indeed more torquey than revvy, to the extent that it is easy to forget to change down gears. Also I found this motor very smooth for a V-Twin; low rev corners like mini-roundabouts are much less of a challenge than on a Ducati Multistrada 821 for example.
The Suzuki is also a slender bike and with its unusually wide bars it makes for nice control and good filtering. The sit up and beg position promotes a relaxed riding style but she can hustle very happily and does not complain much when you thrash the engine for all its worth.
Comfort is as good as any bike I have ridden, the V-Strom would make a great tourer even at this engine size as long as you are not looking to cruise at 110mph. Legal(ish) speeds are very relaxed and the tank range of about 180 miles does not leave you squirming or stiff between fill-ups.
Weather protection is also really good – I had my visor up happily at 70mph and could easily hear just how bad my singing is.
Brakes are not brutal and they do lack initial bite as the forks absorb the first part of the effort, but this is good when on loose surfaces and they are up to the job for most eventualities.
So the riding experience gets a big fat tick from me, but what of the styling? Opinion is divided for sure but I like it.
Maybe the many hours spent playing with Lego in my youth explains why I find the blocky design appealing, but I also like a bike that car drivers can see and the V-Strom is a tall machine with a lot of “presence” – only an Audi driver could miss this thing in their mirrors (Sorry Audi, I like your cars but something happens to the people that drive them…)
All the ancillary parts – rear footpegs, bars, exhaust etc – look like bolted on after market parts added to original bike. This makes it look bespoke and focussed, to me it looks as capable as it is. The Suzuki luggage also suits it well, it is of a good size but a little fiddly to use and needs regular lubrication on the fittings to keep it sweet, also worth noting is that the top box lid does not stand up on its own which can be annoying.
The tall slim bike feels low weight when riding, and not bad when dragging it around either, I would have guessed around 180Kg, but it is in fact 214Kg – I dont know where they hide it but the bike is very manageable.
Quoted fuel consumption is in the high 50’s, but again as with every Suzuki I have tested I found this figure to be very conservative. Over 500+ very enjoyable miles of commuting, scratching and touring I averaged 66mpg with ease. It has a lot to offer on a bike with a price tag of £6899.
To be fair 10-15 years ago I would have missed the top speed and handling traits of a sports machine, but now my needs are purer – I don’t want to sit in traffic, I want to enjoy my rides and I want to survive them too. This bike would see to all that and I know of no other bike in this price range that would do it better.
words & pics – Mark Wolens
|Max power||68 bhp|
|Max torque||44 ft-lb|
|Top speed||120 mph|
|0-60 mph||3.8 sec|
|fuel consumption||57 mpg|
|Tank range||180 miles|