V-strom 1000 3k miles in 12 weeks
Compressing a year of riding into three months was a revelation
‘An honest and pleasing bike that punches well above its price tag’
The average UK leisure rider racks up around 3500 miles each year, usually managing to dodge the worst of our British weather – and winter months – in the process. There’s nothing wrong with that – not everyone enjoys riding in the rain, getting frozen like a popsicle, or spending two hours each week washing the resultant filth from their bike and kit. But I’m not normal.
Packing them in
With 3248 miles added to the XT’S odometer over the last 16 weeks, it’s been an accelerated facsimile of a year’s ownership – mostly carried out in some pretty appalling weather. The result is a resolute affection for this slightly ugly duckling, but while it was impressive, fun, comfortable and faultless in almost every regard there was one facet that caused concern.
A recent wheel check revealed that one of the rear rim’s spokes was waggling its head like a Churchill dog – but that’s nothing compared to the nine seriously loose spokes I discovered when doing my big pre-return clean up. All were on the rear rim, the front was perfect.
The Strom had 5600 miles on the clock and it was almost 1000 miles since I’d found that errant loner. That’s a worrying rate of attrition.
Presuming the average owner is unlikely to be checking for loose spokes regularly, that could mean XT riders’ only chance of this being caught is if a diligent dealer checks the spokes at the annual service (it is part of the service check sheet). But they’re spaced at a pleasing 7500 miles, or 12 months. Assuming all is well at the service, and I found nine completely loose ones after 1000 miles, that could mean another 6500 of loosening before they’re spotted. That could cause a lot of damage, or possibly even a failure.
The owner’s manual does insist that a spoke check should be part of your pre-ride routine (hilariously suggesting you hit each one with a “small metal bar” to listen for loose ones, no really), but clearly that’s not practicable. Suzuki say they’re not aware of any propensity for the spokes to work free, but I’d certainly suggest you make a thorough check on a weekly basis if you’re a daily rider, and especially if you use it off-road or on bumpy back lanes.
If you’re at all unsure about your spokes, call in at your local dealer and ask them to check for you. It’s the only significant negative result of all those miles – but it is cause for concern.
The test of time
So, if you’re in the market for a litreclass road-orientated adventure bike at the more affordable end of the spectrum, would I still recommend trying the big Strom? Yes, without hesitation. But there are several key observations.
Firstly, a quick test ride will not reveal how good the Strom really is – it’s a grower, and only then does it feel like a keeper. Secondly, if you’re going to spend the majority of your time on the road, get it with the cast rims. They’re easier to keep clean, more durable, need no real maintenance, and won’t suffer from loose spokes.
Finally, this is one of the best value genuine ‘do-it-alls’ on the market. Much like its equally headline-lacking 650 sibling, or ubiquitous SV650 cousin – it’s an honest and pleasing bike that punches well above its price tag.
Strom arrived with 2360 miles showing Rear axle took a hammer to come out Big V-strom is one of the best value ‘do-italls’ on the market