Say hello to our new XT
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