Suzuki’s bargain V-strom
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.
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.
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.balderston.net
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…