V-strom 650XT

Say hello to our new XT

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - oli.rushby@mo­tor­cy­cle­news.com

aving spent al­most a month with Suzuki’s 2017 V-strom 650XT, I’ve jumped right in to my #ride5000miles chal­lenge and clocked up 1500 al­ready. I think Suzuki were quite shocked when I rocked up look­ing for my 600-mile ser­vice just a week af­ter they’d de­liv­ered it!

I like a bike to strike a nice bal­ance be­tween prac­ti­cal­ity for long dis­tance rid­ing, in­clud­ing my 138-mile com­mute, and pro­vid­ing the ‘fun fac­tor’ that gets us all onto two wheels.

On pa­per the V-strom does just that. It’s a com­fort­able ad­ven­ture-tour­ing bike with the pokey 645cc V-twin mo­tor from the SV650. Its claimed horse­power is 5bhp less than the SV’S and it weighs quite a bit more, but you can still en­joy the char­ac­ter-filled twin’s punchy torque on the twisties.

It ef­fort­lessly chews up mo­tor­way miles, which is good as most of my com­mute is up and down the A1 and an al­most 400-mile round trip to Cas­tle Combe in Wilt­shire and back the other day proved to be a breeze. It’ll sit steady at mo­tor­way speeds, yet it’s al­ways re­as­sur­ing know­ing you’ve got the ex­tra punch to get past traf­fic, which is some­thing my 2016 long-ter­mer – Honda’s NC750X – was lack­ing. It’s com­fort­able too, af­ter half an hour in a straight line on the Honda my arse would go numb, but so far the Suzuki’s hold­ing up well on that front.

All the mod-cons

The Strom fea­tures three-level trac­tion control – off, stage one and stage two. I’d not rid­den with trac­tion control much be­fore and won­dered whether a 650cc 71bhp bike needs it. It’s ad­justable on the fly with con­trols on the left han­dle­bar, all you have to do is close the throt­tle as you change.

I started out in stage two, but found if I was even slightly quick on the gas com­ing out of a turn it’d dull down the power im­me­di­ately. Do­ing its job, I guess. How­ever, it’s in stage one that this sys­tem ex­cels. This op­tion al­lows a rea­son­able amount of spin, and when it kicks in this time it’s al­most un­no­tice­able. You’ll see the TC light flick­er­ing on the dash, but you can’t feel the cut in power at all.

It’s a beakie blinder

I’ll be hon­est, when I first saw a V-strom I wasn’t en­am­oured with its looks. I thought the beak was too pointy, the head­light looked weird and I was pray­ing I didn’t get it in that ghastly yel­low colour.

But it’s grown on me, I think it looks like a proper, grown-up ad­ven­ture bike. I’m still not con­vinced by the bum­ble­bee tank, but my non-rid­ing fam­ily have com­mented on how nice it looks and they’ve never even passed com­ment on any of my other bikes.

‘I was pray­ing I didn’t get it in that ghastly yel­low colour but it’s grown on me’

Off the A1 and onto the twisties and the V-strom ex­cels 1 2

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