OUR BIKES ‘14,000 miles and still go­ing Strom’

Suzuki’s su­per-ca­pa­ble 650 proves to be so much more than a bud­get com­muter af­ter a year of all-weather rid­ing

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Garage -

Four­teen thou­sand miles and one year later, it’s time to re­flect on our time to­gether. A hun­dred miles of pri­mar­ily straight, bor­ing roads al­lows my mind to wan­der and pon­der the pros and cons of the V-strom 650. The M1 of­fers the per­fect op­por­tu­nity to weight up the highs and lows of liv­ing with the Suzuki.

At the be­gin­ning of the year, I con­tem­plated which bike would be best for long com­mutes while of­fer­ing all-round ca­pa­bil­ity for the oc­ca­sional ad­ven­ture. The V-strom XT is more of a hy­brid trail and road bike with added off-road com­po­nents – nei­ther out-and-out com­muter nor a pure ad­ven­ture bike – and it’s proved equally ca­pa­ble at both tasks.

As the Strom and I pulled off the M1 and ploughed into the mist, I hun­kered down be­hind its screen and rel­ished the tour­ing com­fort. For a trailie I’ve al­ways been im­pressed with the level of wind pro­tec­tion. The bul­bous face, hand­guards and wide tank pro­vide enough shel­ter from the el­e­ments. The screen was changed early on to fix a buf­fet­ing is­sue. While the stan­dard screen is ad­justable, it takes too long to tweak and is way too fid­dly. But the seat is thick and wide and the reach to the bars and pegs make for an easy­go­ing and com­fort­able rid­ing po­si­tion.

The same goes for pas­sen­ger com­fort. Rid­ing down to the New For­est with a pil­lion, pan­niers and top­box for a week­end of camp­ing was easy peasy. There’s more than enough space in the Suzuki boxes for lug­gage for two. And with a quick ad­just­ment of the preload the rear sus­pen­sion stiff­ens up nicely, mak­ing for a smooth ride. And it was on that trip where two friends who had never touched a mo­tor­cy­cle be­fore learnt to ride on the Strom around our camp­site. It’s so sim­ple to ride it makes the per­fect learner ma­chine.

But it’s not all just tour­ing com­fort and camp­ing. What sets the XT apart from the stan­dard 650 is its ad­ven­ture proof­ing. For an ex­tra £600 over the stan­dard bike the XT comes with crash bars, bash­plate, hand­guards, beak and a 19in front wheel and wire spokes – a worth­while in­vest­ment for any­one in­ter­ested in the rough stuff.

Rid­ing the V-strom off-road is easy. Its low seat height and af­fa­ble mo­tor work well on gravel trails. The throt­tle is re­spon­sive, pre­dictable and grad­ual. Sim­ply click into third and let the twin chug along. Any­thing tech­ni­cal or par­tic­u­larly fast and the Strom won’t like it. But it’s bril­liant for mess­ing about with mates or ex­plor­ing trails.

It’s a hy­brid rather than a full-on ad­ven­ture bike and it’s not a full-on road bike, but it still does both jobs well. And the very af­ford­able price makes it ex­tremely com­pet­i­tive for such a ver­sa­tile ma­chine.

Af­ter thou­sands of miles through all con­di­tions and a par­tic­u­larly salty win­ter, I’ve never had a prob­lem with the Strom – which still has the orig­i­nal brake pads, chain and sprock­ets. The con­tin­u­ous salt and road grime has taken its toll on bolt heads, turn­ing a few of them furry. And the caliper ban­jos have been stained white – a com­mon prob­lem amongst bikes that see win­ter use. The spokes turned out to be frus­trat­ing to keep clean too.

The only real wear is the black fin­ish where the side of my boot rests on the frame. It has rubbed, re­veal­ing the bare metal. I’ve checked out a few Stroms and they all suf­fer. All it needs is a bit of rub­ber to guard against rub­bing boots. Other than the mi­nor fin­ish is­sues, the only let down is a front brake that lacks power and bite. Up­rated pads and braided hoses would be a worth­while in­vest­ment.

The Strom has proved it­self as a tough all-weather ma­chine. I’ll def­i­nitely miss it.

SUZUKI V-STROM 650 XT £7599 ‘Yes it can go off-road and no you can’t have a sarnie from the top­box’ Bit more pre-load and pil­lions are no prob­lem Andy’s boot has worn paint off the frame

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