Suzuki’s bar­gain V-strom

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Garage - By Phil West MCN GUEST TESTER

What we said then

“When news of the new V-strom first broke scep­tics, my­self in­cluded, had a field day. Why launch a new model in July/au­gust, to­wards the end of the buy­ing sea­son? And prompted by the seem­ingly un­changed chas­sis, it was pointed out that this was just a facelift and bound to cost more. We were wrong. Hav­ing rid­den Suzuki’s new­comer over 200 miles, scratched down snaking moun­tain hair­pins and en­dured pro­longed mo­tor­way cruis­ing we can say this: the new V-strom is not only much bet­ter look­ing than the orig­i­nal, it’s also bet­ter equipped, classier, more com­fort­able, a sharper per­former, more eco­nom­i­cal and yet just as good value.” MCN launch re­port – July 7, 2011

But what is it like now?

Within 100 yards of leav­ing Balder­ston in Peter­bor­ough, the dealer sell­ing this al­most im­mac­u­late 12-plate V-strom 650, I’m re­minded once again just how damn good Suzuki’s mid­dleweight ad­ven­ture bike re­ally is.

I first rode this in­car­na­tion on its orig­i­nal press launch in Croa­tia in 2011 and re­mem­ber be­ing im­pressed then at how Suzuki had made an al­ready good bike bet­ter. Five years on and, although that age is start­ing to show in terms of its styling and the con­spic­u­ous ab­sence of mod­ern elec­tron­ics, it’s im­me­di­ately clear the V-strom – and this one in par­tic­u­lar due to its vir­tu­ally as-new con­di­tion – is still a rel­e­vant, ef­fec­tive and worth­while ma­chine.

Crisp and still tight, it starts im­me­di­ately and has a typ­i­cally slick Suzuki gearshift. Although ‘merely’ a 650, its up­right ad­ven­ture gait in­clud­ing that big 19in front wheel (tyres, in­ci­den­tally, are still de­cent Bridge­stone Trail­wings) gives the feel­ing of a full­size ma­chine. Suzuki’s 647cc V-twin – which, for this sec­ond gen­er­a­tion V-strom, is the up­dated, 68bhp ver­sion with new cams, ex­haust, crank and more from the Gladius – is both flex­i­ble and will­ing to rev while the han­dling is com­pletely in­tu­itive and neu­tral. All told, it’s still an ap­peal­ing, easy-to-geton-with, ef­fec­tive all-rounder.

Has it worn well?

This ex­am­ple’s prob­a­bly as good as they come even though its gleam­ing black paint might not be ev­ery­one’s first choice. Show­ing just 7000 miles its con­di­tion is as good as if the mileage was half that – im­por­tant as, be­ing built to be af­ford­able, the V-strom’s fin­ish isn’t as durable as it might be. There’s lit­tle to be con­cerned about here, though with no dings or chips, new chain and sprock­ets and a main­stand you could eat your din­ner off. It’s not quite per­fect, how­ever: there’s the first signs of cor­ro­sion on the head­ers and some fas­ten­ers and a very slight scuff on the ex­haust – but that’s be­ing picky.

Wel­come ad­di­tions

Although this ex­am­ple sug­gests oth­er­wise, V-stroms are such good, af­ford­able all-rounders they tended to get used pretty hard and, as the stan­dard spec is quite ba­sic, ac­ces­sories are com­mon. Apart from the main­stand, this ex­am­ple also fea­tures use­ful heated grips, a Fenda Ex­tenda and tank pad. Many also come with lug­gage or taller screen to en­hance their al­ready good tour­ing abil­ity.

Af­fec­tion rekin­dled

I’ve re­vis­ited the V-strom 650 twice in re­cent months and have sur­prised my­self how im­pressed I still am with it each time. The Suzuki stal­wart may be a lit­tle dated (Kawasaki’s Ver­sys 650, as up­dated in 2015, shows it up in par­tic­u­lar), but on the whole, in com­mon with all great bikes, it ‘just does it’. The V-strom has all the right bits you need (in­clud­ing a gear in­di­ca­tor), is easy, com­fort­able and truly ver­sa­tile, has that great Suzuki V-twin at its heart and, best of all, is great value, too. And this one, be­ing vir­tu­ally as new, yet cheaper still, is bet­ter yet. Q THANKS TO: Balder­ston, Peter­bor­ough, where this bike is for sale for £4995. www.balder­

Scuff and scrapes V-strom 650s are pop­u­lar with newer rid­ers so in­spect any used bike closely. Apart from a slight pipe scuff this one’s in per­fect con­di­tion. Cor­ro­sion The V-strom’s fin­ish isn’t the strong­est out there and many bikes see all-weather use so watch for cor­roded fas­ten­ers and dis­coloured ex­hausts.

Af­ford­able and fun, the bike isn’t bad ei­ther…

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