Don’t let the ugly looks put you off
Suzuki appears to have done the impossible with the new second-generation V-Strom 1000 ABS by making an ugly bike even uglier. Cyclops-like headlight arrays should be confined to original Ducati Multistradas, and whoever determined that all ADVs should have beaky, vestigial dirt bike-like fascias should be imprisoned for their criminal ignorance of aesthetic values.
But stay tuned, for the only criticisms I can direct towards the new Strom is that it initially frightens me whenever I suddenly encounter one on a dark street and that the horn is better suited to a kid’s tricycle than a beefy goanywhere touring bike.
A female friend once enlightened me with her generalisation that women tend to have ‘‘brains, beauty, and a pleasant personality, but never all three together’’. Her rule about the multitasking gender fits the newest 1000cc Suzuki V-twin perfectly. Beauty was obviously hiding behind the door when all the brains and personality got dished out.
But then, no current ADV rival to the Suzuki would ever find a place in any Art of the Motorcycle exhibition commissioned by the Guggenheim Museum, and the emotive appeal that was lacking when viewing the Strom quickly makes its presence felt when you actually climb on board its tall-butnot-too-tall saddle and ride the thing.
Thumbing the starter button gives access to the performance of what is quite possibly Japan’s finest-ever twin-cylinder engine. That the new Strom can keep stateof-the-art Euro ADVs like the KTM 1190 Adventure andBMWR1200GS honest in feats of acceleration and speed isn’t the best attribute of Asia’s latest twin. It’s the way it delivers that performance.
A smidge more cubic capacity, new twin-spark/twin-coil cylinder heads, a variable back-pressure exhaust, and ride-by-wire fuel injection, have worked their magic on an engine design that can trace its lineage back to the TL1000S sports bike.
Outright power and torque improvements are incremental ones, but the improved access to those peaks is a decisive and thrilling development.
The new 1037cc Strom makes a couple more horsepower and a couple more newtons than the 996cc version that Suzuki NZ sold here between 2003 and 2008, but the peaks arrive far earlier in the rev range than when riding the smaller-capacity bike. This makes every overtake on the open road feel so much more effort-free, especially as the 228kg Strom is some eight kilograms lighter than the previous model.
Equally appreciable is the way the Suzuki uses the more immediate access to torque to great effect.
The high-geared final drive and heavier flywheel add an easy-going personality to the powertrain. There’s a ‘‘chuggability’’ that feels both unstoppable and endearing, like you could easily take off in third gear with little risk of stalling.
The gearing also puts the bike right in the meat of the torque delivery when riding the Strom in top gear on the open road.
If two-up with luggage is your normal touring mode, then the Suzuki has both the accommodation and powertrain perfectly tailored for you.
Fuel use too is another win. Tank capacity drops a litre or three to 20 litres, yet the bike’s range is maintained at about 300km between fill-ups by the way the Strom extracts more energy from 95-octane fuel.
Comfort and convenience is already impressive , while the accessory list is a long one and includes taller windscreens, hard luggage, centre stand, hand guards, and bash plate.
As it comes, the Strom wears a screen with nine adjustments and riders of average height can easily find one that keeps turbulence to a minimum.
So that’s the personality sorted, what about the brains?
You’ll find them in the traction control and ABS systems of the newest Strom, and although the rider can defeat the former, the latter is permanently armed.
Which is probably just as well because the front pair of radiallymounted four-piston Tokico monoblock calipers can bite with all the power and intensity of saltwater crocodiles, and the 110/80 tyre fitted to the 19’’ front wheel of the Strom has a narrower contact patch than most bikes blessed with such cutting-edge stoppers.
Ugly is, as handsome does: Luckily if you’re sitting on it, you can’t see it.