SINCE the advent of the A2 licence, motorcycle manufacturers have been shrinking their models to conform. First came the small-capacity sportsbikes, then the classics and the cruisers. The latest genre to fall victim to the ever-growing mid-range market is the adventurer tourer.
With Kawasaki and Honda already having launched their A2 offerings, Suzuki is somewhat late to the party with the V-Strom 250, which is due to go on sale in October.
The V-Strom, or DL250 to give it its proper name, joins its bigger beaked brothers – the DL650 and DL1000 – in Suzuki’s adventure tourer range, although in this case the emphasis is very much on the ‘tourer’.
With cast wheels, non-switchable ABS and a cramped standing position, the V-Strom 250 is no match for Honda’s lightweight CRF250 rally, and even Kawasaki’s Versys-X 300 could ride rings around it on the rough stuff.
However, its excellent fuel efficiency, low seat height and bargain price is likely to make it a popular option among commuters.
The V-Strom’s liquid-cooled, SOHC parallel-twin unit makes 25hp at 8,000rpm and 17.26lbft at 6,500rpm.
While smooth, it’s certainly not going to win any prizes for its oomph. In fact, weighing in at 188kg, the V-Strom has the lowest power to weight ratio of all the micro adventure bikes.
Honda’s CRF250 Rally makes 24.7hp at 8,500 rpm and 16.6lbft at 6,750rpm, but weighs only 157kg, while Kawasaki’s Versys-X 300 makes 40hp at 11,500rpm and 18.9lbft at 10,000rpm, and weighs 173kg. The 169.5 kg BMW GS 310, while not yet on sale, will make 34hp at 9,500rpm and 20.65lbft at 7,500rpm.
Suzuki claim that the cam profile of the V-Strom delivers maximum acceleration performance at speeds between 12mph and 56mph but at launch, this acceleration was disappointing – and that was riding only one-up. Fully-loaded and two-up – as an adventurer tourer should be ridden – the V-Strom could seriously struggle.
You can feel the engine drive from around 3,000rpm, however I can’t help but feel that the bike would benefit from more torque lower down. Equally, the gears could be a little longer.
In terms of handling, the V-Strom 250 does what it says on the tin – its design concept is ‘Massive and Smart’. That 188kg mass keeps it steady on the road, and the bike offers stable handling across a breadth of speed, without jumping around like some of its lighter counterparts.
The wind tunnel engineered faring and screen protects the rider from the brunt of the pressure, allowing big miles to be achieved without fatigue. However, at speeds approaching the national limit, vibrations through the bars and pegs become apparent, a potentially limiting factor to long distance rides.
The bars also pose another issue – they appear too angled towards the rider, forcing your elbows in and thus decreasing stability when sat down. In the standing off-road position, they feel too low.
It’s not surprising that the 250 falls short off-road. Despite the adventure credentials of the V-Strom name, at launch this bike was stressed as having a much stronger road focus than other bikes on market, with 17-inch wheels to allow for agility rather than 19 or 21-inch that competitor models feature.
The telescopic, coil spring oil damped suspension upfront is firm yet forgiving, and at launch coped admirably across various size potholes. The rear, however, felt wallowy to this 56kg rider, although adjusting the preload of the swingarm type, coil spring oil damped unit should fix that.
The newly-designed 10-spoke wheels on the V-Strom feature smart wavy-type brake discs. This design purports to prevent brake fade because it dissipates heat better, however the discs on the V-Strom are more for aesthetic purposes.
ABS is standard on both front and rear wheels and, short of removing the fuse, cannot be switched off. This is another limiting factor to the bike’s off-road capability, but thankfully it is an unobtrusive system when on the road.
The V-Strom ABS comes in only one spec level, with three colour options available - Pearl Nebular Black/Solid Dazzling Cool Yellow, Metallic Diamond Red and Pearl Nebular Black.
Standard equipment includes a neat LED multi-function instrument panel, wind-tunnel engineered windscreen, 12V DC socket, side luggage case attachments and a large aluminium rear carrier with 8.5kg maximum capacity.
As would be expected from any adventurer tourer worth its salt, there is a host of additional accessories, comprising a 23-litre top box, 20-litre side cases, tank bag, knuckle covers, centre stand, heated grips, decals and wheel stripes.
Fuel efficiency is something to shout about on the V-Strom 250. Official figures promise 88.2mpg, and we weren’t too far off that on our spirited ride around the Buckinghamshire countryside.
When combined with the tank capacity of 17.3-litres, the bike boasts a range of in excess of 300 miles – very impressive in our books.
Suzuki has also got the V-Strom’s appearance spot on, borrowing some styling cues from its grown-up adventurer tourers to give it a ‘big bike’ look, and introducing other features – such as the large single headlight and windscreen – for the first time. In my opinion, it is better looking than the 600cc and 1,000cc bikes.
The model is particularly striking in the yellow, as we tested it.
A top speed of 77.7mph and the bike’s significant road presence make it feel like a proper tourer, but with a price tag of £4599, it’s a bargain.
The Kawasaki Versys-X 300 costs from £5,149, while the CRF 250 Rally tops that at £5,329.
We don't like
While the V-Strom looks like a big adventurer tourer, we just wish it performed more like one – with a better power to weight ratio and increased off-road potential.
After all, that 'V' does stand for 'versatility'.
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