There’s a big demand for off-road ready adventure bikes, but what if you’re only interested in riding on the road? Suzuki’s got you covered with the latest version of its much-lauded V-Strom 800. Over to Chris Moss for his thoughts…
In March this year Suzuki introduced its ‘comeback’ bike, the V-Strom 800DE. Hailed positively by the press, the versatile adventure machine performed admirably, with its longer travel suspension and 21” front wheel also making the DE (Dual Explorer) more suited to some off-road travel.
Fast forward to today, and the new RE version of the bike joins the V-Strom range. Designed more for road use, the new 800 comes in at £1000 less at £9699. The ‘Road Explorer’ features key differences with cast wheels, including a smaller 19-incher up front, 70mm shorter travel suspension, higher-spec brakes, a lower seat, bigger screen, and other minor detailed changes. It’s claimed to be seven kilos lighter. We went to the South of France to see how much the alterations affect how it rides.
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As someone who’s done 6500 miles on my DE long-termer, some of the new RE’s modifications are immediately evident and preferred. The 30mm lower seat makes it a lot easier to get on the bike, with the appreciably taller and wider screen obvious it will offer more protection than the DE’s much smaller version.
The altered riding position created by the narrower bars, sited slightly lower and further forward, together with alloy footrests attached a little higher and further back, is less noticeable. But get underway, and what is immediately apparent is the change in steering characteristics effected by the smaller front wheel. Even before we get to the mountain roads, the quicker and lighter way the Suzuki turns into corners is a clear and welcome feature. There’s a more positive and direct feel through the bars which inspires more confidence, allowing more spirited and secure riding. Also very noticeable is the extra power of the new four-piston radial calipers, which provide sharper, stronger braking. Suspension action, though ultimately not as versatile as the DE’s, still stays well controlled, offering good support and compliance. All in all, the new RE feels more at home on the road and the superb day’s riding felt so rewarding I would have loved to have continued all the way back to the UK.
From the lengthy experience of my own DE’s excellent comfort level, I’m certain that would have been a breeze. In fact it wouldn’t, as that bigger RE screen very much reduces that. Whether the marginally altered density of the new seat could be detected I’m not sure. Thankfully, other key stuff hasn’t changed a bit. The engine is still the same wonderful 84bhp, 776cc parallel twin, with its 270° firing order giving super-impressive pulling power regardless of revs or gear choice. The 5” colour TFT dash is unchanged, though you can’t switch off the rear ABS, and there’s no Gravel mode in the traction control settings. You can still very easily select which of the two ABS, and three TC intrusion levels you do prefer though, and there are three power modes to choose from. None of them alter the peak power, simply changing the speed of throttle response instead. The slick up/down quick-shifter remains a standard fitment.
Overall, the excellent new RE’s a better road bike, and will better suit a greater range of riders. I know I prefer it. It’s available in blue, black, and matt green.