Suzuki DL1000 V-Strom review

On sheer rideability the V-Strom is the leader of the pack, and, all things considered, the best all-round package in this class

Ben Cope's picture
By Visordown on Sun, 20 Apr 2008 - 12:04

Details
Manufacturer:
Suzuki
Category:
Adventure
Price:
£ 7200
Overall
3
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It’s a great bike for covering motorway miles with good weather protection and comfort. But, out of the crate, the V-Strom is a proper little B-road hooligan
A bike built for riding with its strong engine and excellent composure
Not a bike built for looking at, poor build quality.

I don’t think I’ve ever ridden a bike that’s elicited more response to its looks than Suzuki’s new tool. Opinions varied from “ugh, it’s horrific, somebody shoot it!” to “quite nice innit? Just what Aprilia’s Caponord should’ve looked like…” I’m not a major fan of the V-Strom’s exterior – from some angles at the front it looks a touch eagle-ish, quite beaky but smart with it while from others it’s slabby (side-on) and just plain ugly (the back). But, regardless of what you think of its visage once you clamber aboard it’s all forgotten because everything just snaps into place. The riding position is perfect, comfy, neutral and very well thought out – the bars are exactly where they need to be, the pegs are low enough to give loads of legroom and the seat is only slightly second to rival Triumph Tiger’s in the armchair stakes.

On the hoof the Suzuki’s synergy continues – as a complete package (engine, chassis, ergonomics) the V-Strom holds all the cards. For starters, that ex-TL motor is – as it always was – an absolute gem, punching out loads of instant, useable grunt as and when you require it. Keep it in the sweet zone, between four and eight thou and you will be going forward, hard, with the elastic thump that only V-twins deliver. Peak horsepower? 85.6 bhp @ 7,400rpm with peak torque 0f 63ft-lbs arriving at 5,000rpm.

Interestingly the V-Strom has an overdrive top gear – well, a little green light blinks on and says O/D whenever you hook top anyway. It is a tall gear, and drops the revs to 4,000rpm at 70mph which equates to a very relaxed cruise. Even 100mph only dials up just over 5,300rpm. It does mean you can’t get too lazy though – the V-Strom will just pull out of 60mph but lugs horribly at 50mph in sixth gear and goes nowhere fast. So you have to leap on the slick gearbox if you want to get going again. It’s powered by the 996cc 90° V-twin engine from the now extinct TL1000S – with some detail changes. The diameter of the intake valves has been reduced 4mm to 36mm to help low and midrange throttle response and, in much the same vein the cam timing has been altered to shift power and torque down the rev range.

The pair of pistons are now forged aluminium rather than cast, saving 20g each over the TL1000S items and the rods are shot-peened, making them lighter and stronger. A hydraulically-operated clutch replaces the TL’s cable and the V-Strom’s fuel injection system borrows heavily from the GSX-R sportsbikes, with dual butterfly valves in each 45mm throttle body.

A new aluminium beam frame clamps the motor and running gear is quality but not top shelf – the 43mm forks are non adjustable, while the rear monoshock at least has remote spring preload adjustment (nice touch, the Tiger has it too) and adjustable rebound damping.

It’s a great bike for covering motorway miles with good weather protection and comfort. But, out of the crate, the V-Strom is a proper little B-road hooligan. Instant power allied to a really sorted chassis equals a right, proper laugh and I had one of the most enjoyable rides I’ve had in ages down 30 miles or so of twisting Cambridgeshire country roads, with speeds ranging from 50-100mph and surfaces ranging from very good to very shit. The V-Strom is the perfect platform for hooting around on and simply gels at any speed.

I found no reason to fiddle – I just wanted to ride it. Its tank range is a little limited compared to the others, draining to the flashing warning in around 135 miles, at an average mid-thirties mpg.

But they’ve thought about the rest of it have Suzuki. It’s the little things that count, like the V-Strom’s adjustable span brake and clutch levers, the enduro-style hand guards and the grab rail come rear rack arrangement, which is substantial.

The dials are a bit old fashioned but very easy to read and I reckon the 19-inch front wheel is a nod to a perceived big traillie heritage that is simply irrelevant. Get it on a 17-inch rim and some decent road rubber. Bridgestone Trail Wings are ok, but c’mon, this is not in any way shape or form a dirt bike now is it?

I don’t think I’ve ever ridden a bike that’s elicited more response to its looks than Suzuki’s new tool. Opinions varied from “ugh, it’s horrific, somebody shoot it!” to “quite nice innit? Just what Aprilia’s Caponord should’ve looked like…” I’m not a major fan of the V-Strom’s exterior – from some angles at the front it looks a touch eagle-ish, quite beaky but smart with it while from others it’s slabby (side-on) and just plain ugly (the back). But, regardless of what you think of its visage once you clamber aboard it’s all forgotten because everything just snaps into place. The riding position is perfect, comfy, neutral and very well thought out – the bars are exactly where they need to be, the pegs are low enough to give loads of legroom and the seat is only slightly second to rival Triumph Tiger’s in the armchair stakes.

On the hoof the Suzuki’s synergy continues – as a complete package (engine, chassis, ergonomics) the V-Strom holds all the cards. For starters, that ex-TL motor is – as it always was – an absolute gem, punching out loads of instant, useable grunt as and when you require it. Keep it in the sweet zone, between four and eight thou and you will be going forward, hard, with the elastic thump that only V-twins deliver. Peak horsepower? 85.6 bhp @ 7,400rpm with peak torque 0f 63ft-lbs arriving at 5,000rpm.

Interestingly the V-Strom has an overdrive top gear – well, a little green light blinks on and says O/D whenever you hook top anyway. It is a tall gear, and drops the revs to 4,000rpm at 70mph which equates to a very relaxed cruise. Even 100mph only dials up just over 5,300rpm. It does mean you can’t get too lazy though – the V-Strom will just pull out of 60mph but lugs horribly at 50mph in sixth gear and goes nowhere fast. So you have to leap on the slick gearbox if you want to get going again. It’s powered by the 996cc 90° V-twin engine from the now extinct TL1000S – with some detail changes. The diameter of the intake valves has been reduced 4mm to 36mm to help low and midrange throttle response and, in much the same vein the cam timing has been altered to shift power and torque down the rev range.

The pair of pistons are now forged aluminium rather than cast, saving 20g each over the TL1000S items and the rods are shot-peened, making them lighter and stronger. A hydraulically-operated clutch replaces the TL’s cable and the V-Strom’s fuel injection system borrows heavily from the GSX-R sportsbikes, with dual butterfly valves in each 45mm throttle body.

A new aluminium beam frame clamps the motor and running gear is quality but not top shelf – the 43mm forks are non adjustable, while the rear monoshock at least has remote spring preload adjustment (nice touch, the Tiger has it too) and adjustable rebound damping.

It’s a great bike for covering motorway miles with good weather protection and comfort. But, out of the crate, the V-Strom is a proper little B-road hooligan. Instant power allied to a really sorted chassis equals a right, proper laugh and I had one of the most enjoyable rides I’ve had in ages down 30 miles or so of twisting Cambridgeshire country roads, with speeds ranging from 50-100mph and surfaces ranging from very good to very shit. The V-Strom is the perfect platform for hooting around on and simply gels at any speed.

I found no reason to fiddle – I just wanted to ride it. Its tank range is a little limited compared to the others, draining to the flashing warning in around 135 miles, at an average mid-thirties mpg.

But they’ve thought about the rest of it have Suzuki. It’s the little things that count, like the V-Strom’s adjustable span brake and clutch levers, the enduro-style hand guards and the grab rail come rear rack arrangement, which is substantial.

The dials are a bit old fashioned but very easy to read and I reckon the 19-inch front wheel is a nod to a perceived big traillie heritage that is simply irrelevant. Get it on a 17-inch rim and some decent road rubber. Bridgestone Trail Wings are ok, but c’mon, this is not in any way shape or form a dirt bike now is it?

Length (mm) 2295
Width (mm) 910
Height (mm) 1395
Dryweight (kg) 208
Seats 0
Seat Height (mm) 840
Suspension Front Telescopic, coil spring, oil damped
Suspension Rear Link type, oil damped, coil spring,
Adjustability Rear Spring pre-load adjustable, rebound damping force adjustable
Tyres Front 110/80R-19
Tyres Rear 150/70R-17
Brakes Front 2-piston calipers, 310mm dual disc brakes
Brakes Rear 1-piston caliper, 260mm disc brake
Wheelbase (mm) 1535
Ground Clearance (mm) 165
Trail (mm) 100
Cubic Capacity (cc) 996
Max Power (bhp) 98
Max Power Peak (rpm) 7600
Torque (ft/lb) 74
Torque Peak (rpm) 6400
Bore (mm) 98
Stroke (mm) 66
Valve Gear DOHC
Compression Ratio 11.3
Ignition Electronic
Fuel Delivery Fuel injection, 45mm
Stroke Type Four Stroke
Drive Chain
Max Power 85.6
Max Power Revs 7300
Max Torque 62.9
Max Torque Revs 5000
Standing Quarter Mile - Terminal Speed MPH 110.11
Standing Quarter Mile - Time 12.75
Time to Top Speed 30.51
Top Speed 124.95
Score Breakdown
Overall
3
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