This is the new Suzuki V-Strom 1000, a bike which looks very similar to the outgoing model it replaces. But looks can be deceiving.
The biggest changes are that the new bike is now Euro4 emission compliant, as witnessed by that massive can, and to this end the breathed-on 1037cc liquid-cooled, 90-degree V-twin engine has lost just one lb.ft of torque.
There’s also a subtle tweak to the styling – the new nose beak now faithfully mimics the look of the 1990 DR-Z desert racer and DR-Big models, and there are now hand guards and an under-engine cowl as standard equipment. The windscreen has also been updated making it a little wider and 9mm higher. The height can still only be adjusted with an Allen key, but that doesn’t come in the toolkit. However, you can still change the angle with a one-handed push.
All of these changes have clearly been designed to emphasise Suzuki’s heritage in the category, but make no mistake, this isn’t a full-blown adventure machine. Instead it’s a sports-tourer with a comfy, upright riding position and a sticker on the beak that says ‘Adventure’.
Aside from the changes to the engine, the biggest ehancement to the bike is the addition of a cornering-aware ABS system and linked brakes. It’s based on the system used on the 2017 GSX-R and uses a new inertial measurement unit (IMU) to add lean data to the information collected by the existing wheel speed sensors to judge whether you’re braking too much at the wrong time. The brakes are also linked, which means the system adds a measured amount of “stability enhancing” rear brake when the front is applied. Unfortunately, the TC system hasn’t been changed to reap the benefits from the onboard IMU.
Turn the key and you’ll notice another new feature – the Suzuki Easy Start System. This enables you to start the engine with only a single push of the starter button. Is it lifechanging? No. But it’s a neat trick. And once you’re on the move you’ll notice the Low RPM Assist feature, a rider aid which automatically raises idle revs when pulling away from stops or crawling through town at low rpm. It’s been designed to prevent the bike from stalling, but it feels more like a gimmick than anything else. Whatever happened to entrusting bike control to the rider’s right hand?
Out of town and on the move, and the V-Strom 1000 feels like a decent enough bike, with the gearing on open roads feeling especially good. At first, gears five and six feel tall, but the V-Twin engine is infinitely comfortable hauling from low revs and pulling you forward. In fact, riding the bike at low revs is where it is most comfortable, and it handles better and rides smoother when you keep a gear high and roll through the meat of the torque curve. Yes, the V-Strom is capable of being a revver, but Suzuki has made the torque curve fat and juicy low down and it’s a much more enjoyable bike when kept down there.
The handling characteristics are typical Suzuki – it tips into corners in a linear, non-dramatic fashion, and while the handling isn’t sharp, it’s not lazy either. It’s a bike which will roll onto its side predictably and comfortably, inspiring confidence.
It’s comfortable too. The redesigned screen does a good job of protecting the rider from the elements, and that big comfy seat allows you to cover big miles with ease.
The more time I spend with the bike, the more it becomes clear that this would make a brilliant weekend tourer. It dispatches motorways with ease, and still has enough about it to make the twisties fun, if not spectacular.
And there is a decent selection of official accessories available to allow you to bespoke the bike to tailor it exactly to your needs – low and high saddles, centrestand, taller touring screen, heated grips, crash bars, fog lamps and a very practical 55-litre topbox capable of swallowing two helmets.
So, there’s an awful lot to like about the new V-Strom, especially when it can be yours for less than £10K. But for me, by far the biggest strength of the bike is that it’s not trying to be a rival to the ubiquitous BMW GS. Result.