£9999 | 99bhp | 76lb-ft | liquid-cooled V-twin
Tested by Roland Brown. Motorcycle Journalist and former international racer, Roland Brown is one of the world’s most respected bike testers. Subscribe to his fantastic YouTube channel – iMotorcycle Video – here.
Suzuki have been very quiet on the new model front in the last few years, but the V-Strom 1000, unveiled to great fanfare a year ago, is the bike the Japanese firm is hoping will put it back on track. The name is familiar but this is an all-new machine, the previous model having fallen victim to emissions regulations in 2008.
Its styling and 19-inch front wheel suggest that the V-Strom is a dual-purpose bike, built for dirt as well as Tarmac, but Suzuki make no claims about off-road ability. They say the V-Strom is an adventure styled roadster, intended to fill a gap between middleweights including Suzuki’s own V-Strom 650 and more powerful, versatile and expensive open-class adventure bikes.
The beaky, dual-purpose styling is pleasant enough (and echoes old Suzukis such as the DR Big), if slightly misleading given the V-Strom’s lack of off-road intent. An overall air of quality, from features such as the comprehensive digital instrument console and built-in luggage rack, is marred slightly by the odd scruffy detail such as the exposed exhaust valve mechanism and tangle of ABS wiring around the front brake calipers.
Like the previous model, this V-Strom is powered by an eight-valve, liquid-cooled V-twin with cylinders at 90 degrees. It’s an almost completely new engine with 2mm bigger bore giving a capacity increase from 996 to 1037cc. The cylinder head, conrods and crankshaft are redesigned, with a heavier flywheel for improved low-rev controllability.
Peak power is up by just 2bhp, to 99bhp at 8000rpm, but Suzuki claim the real improvement is torque at lower revs. The max torque figure is also barely higher but it’s produced 2400rpm lower, at 4000rpm, and the curve shows a big bulge upwards at that point, where the previous model was relatively weak. The revised injection and exhaust systems also contribute to a claimed 16 per cent improvement in fuel efficiency.
Featuring Suzuki’s first ever traction control system, it’s a relatively simple design (no lean-angle detection here) controlled by sensors for wheel speed, plus the positions of throttle, crankshaft and gearbox. A button on the left bar gives a choice of two settings, both for roadgoing use, and allows the system to be turned off.
What’s the chassis like?
The updates begin with the aluminium twin-spar frame that, according to Suzuki, is stiffer and 13 per cent lighter than its predecessor, and holds a longer twin-sided aluminium swing-arm. Wheelbase is 20mm longer at 1555mm due also to a front-end redesign that incorporates larger diameter, 43mm upside-down forks for the first time. New ten-spoke cast wheels are lighter than their predecessors, while the brake system is uprated with Tokico monobloc calipers and ABS.
At 228kg the V-Strom is 8kg lighter than the old model. The well-padded dual-seat is 10mm taller, at 850mm, but it’s narrow at the front so most riders will have few problems getting their feet down. There’s also a useful rack and a pair of solid grab-handles for the pillion. It’s just a shame the seat can’t be adjusted for height. A higher (by 35mm) or lower (by 30mm) seat is available, as a cost-free option.
Should I buy one?
The V-Strom’s price of £9999 plus on-the-road charge is reasonable if not outstandingly competitive, meaning the Suzuki is a few hundred quid more expensive than rivals, including Kawasaki’s Versys and Triumph’s Tiger Sport. Both those bikes are well proven, more powerful and arguably better value.
But the V-Strom looks set to prove itself a respectably good long-distance roadster, and if you like the idea of an adventure styled streetbike it has plenty to offer. Its lack of even notional off-road ability is disappointing, its engine performance is solid rather than thrilling, and its detailing is mixed. Nobody should take one look at Suzuki’s beaky newcomer and think it’s a cut-priced competitor for the R1200GS or KTM’s 1190 Adventure.
But you won’t go far wrong provided you accept the V-Strom 1000 for what it is: a capable and comfortable roadster with a smooth and flexible motor, sound handling, a reasonable level of equipment, a pleasantly unthreatening character and a sensible price. It’s likely to appeal particularly to riders trading up from the 650 V-Strom, of which there are many because it’s been one of Suzuki’s most successful bikes in the last decade.
Suzuki’s focus groups with V-Strom owners highlighted improved low-rev performance as a key wish, and this bike certainly delivers. It pulls well from 4000rpm, staying smooth to the redline at 9250rpm. On more open roads the bike cruised effortlessly at 80mph, and rumbled smoothly to an indicated 135mph on one short, slightly downhill straight. It probably has enough straight-line performance for most owners. Even so, I couldn’t help feeling it lacked a bit of top-end excitement.
When winding the power on to exit slower turns there was a slightly abrupt feel that seemed like transmission snatch, though it wasn’t serious and was undetectable at higher speeds. The six-speed box is new, with a shorter top ratio, and shifted smoothly enough. The clutch incorporates Suzuki’s SCAS clutch assist system, designed to give a slipper clutch type action along with lighter lever pull, and worked fine. The traction control activated when I cracked the throttle deliberately on slippery urban roads, especially on its more intrusive setting, but I wasn’t aware of it in normal use.
The V-Strom handled well, after a few turns of the shock’s remote preload adjuster had raised the rear end. This dialled out the slightly soggy feel that the Suzuki had when carrying my 85kg on standard settings, and sharpened the steering to good effect. The relatively soft suspension gave a comfortable ride, even on bumpy surfaces including cobbled streets.
A little extra damping at both ends would doubtless have given an even tauter feel (the KYB forks are multi-adjustable, the shock has rebound damping adjustment only) but the V-Strom was enjoyably easy to flick around. It was well braked, too, its four-piston Tokico monobloc calipers biting the 310mm discs hard, backed up by a useable rear disc and an efficient ABS system.
Comfort was pretty good, helped by that broad seat. The screen can cleverly be adjusted for angle through three positions with a simple push. It’s also three-way adjustable for height, but range is just 30mm and adjustment requires an allen key. I’m very tall, so even the highest setting was too low and generated some turbulence. The V-Strom provides no hand protection, although hand-guards and heated grips are available as accessories. An electrical socket is provided as standard.
The accessory list also includes LED indicators, nylon panniers and top-box, centre-stand, crash-bars and fog lamps. Instrumentation is excellent, incorporating a digital display that can be accessed by pressing buttons on the left handlebar. The tank is two litres smaller at 20 litres in capacity, but the engine’s improved efficiency is likely to keep range roughly the same, at 160-180 miles.
Suzuki V-Strom 1000 (2014)
Price: £9999 plus otr charge
Engine: Liquid-cooled dohc V-twin with four valves per cylinder
Power: 99bhp (74kW) @ 8000rpm
Torque: 76lb-ft (103Nm) @ 4000rpm
Curb weight: 228kg
Seat height: 850mm
Tank size: 20 litres
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