The Suzuki V-Strom has been around since 2002 in two guises: the DL650 and the DL1000. For the first part of their lives, the two shared almost everything except the engine size and exhaust. The 1000 nearly fell by the wayside, and when the 650 got a restyle in 2012, the 1000 was really starting to show its age. In 2014, a brand new DL1000 hit the market and it was a complete departure from the 650. A new design philosophy saw a new, bigger engine in a new frame and very little carried over from the DL it replaced.
When I saw the first design sketches emerge of the 2017 650 V-Strom, I was excited to see it had been styled exactly the same as the 1000. Alas, on closer inspection, I saw the same underpinnings as the older models. Mild disappointment followed, but Suzuki probably argued that the old was still good enough, so they gave it another nip and tuck.
So what is new for 2017 and what is updated?
- The engine pushes out a bit more power and conforms to EU4 regulations
- 1kg is shaved off the weight even though extra equipment is added
- The fuel injection is updated and tuned
- New instrumentation as first seen on the 1000
- Traction control
- Easy start system and Low RPM assist
- 12V outlet
- Stacked headlight
The V-Strom is available in two models: the standard and the XT. The XT adds spoked wheels, handguards and a sump guard. Suzuki South Africa currently only import the XT version into South Africa.
Riding a V-Strom has always been a pleasurable experience, and the new one is no different. The seat is comfortable and covered it in a much grippier material. Seating position is upright and the dimensions and handlebars make standing up on the pegs a relaxed affair.
As expected from the V-Twin, the power delivery is smooth. Traction control has three settings, and is not as intrusive as earlier systems. Because the throttle is still mechanical you can feel when the traction control is trying to save your bacon.
I own a Strom, and have been everywhere with it. I can honestly say that this bike punches way above its weight. The DL 650 XT will hit our shores in a few months’ time, so if you are shopping for a mid-range adventure bike, wait till you can sample the V-Strom. It might just sway your opinion. At R119 900 it is not a bad deal either. – Words and pictures – Brian Cheyne