2023 Suzuki V-Strom 800DE Review | Two Days Adventuring in Sardinia

2023 Suzuki V-Strom 800DE review

V stands for ‘Versatile’… so just how Versatile is the 2023 Suzuki V-Strom 800DE? First thoughts on the new parallel-twin after a Sardinian adventure tour.

Though the V-Strom has been around since 2002, with many variations since then, many would (naturally) be led to think that the ‘V’ refers to the V-Twin configuration that adorned the bike for all these years. But, in 2022 at EICMA, Suzuki pulled the wraps on the 2023 Suzuki V-Strom 800DE - with an all-new parallel-twin motor.

Alex flew out to Sardinia in order to find out about Suzuki’s latest first-hand for Visordown, with around 200 miles scheduled in with plenty of on & off-road miles, it was time to find out if the newest machine in a model lineage with over 20 years of history and a total of over 450,000 units sold was about to be revolutionised for the mid-capacity segment.

Could this be the next big mid-capacity adventure bike?

What’s new with the 2023 Suzuki V-Strom 800DE?

It’s the first time in a long time that we’ve been witness to an entirely new motorcycle from Suzuki, the previous being the Hayabusa in 1999 with the first V-Strom appearing in around 2002. Fitted with this new parallel-twin motor, Suzuki is certainly hoping it will propel them to great things in an otherwise heavily contested ‘middleweight’ adventure market.

This V-Strom 800DE has an-all new 776cc parallel-twin with 270º crank 84 bhp & 78 Nm of torque. The airbox and throttle bodies are relocated under the seat to allow for a larger 20-litre tank, it comes with fully adjustable Showa suspension, a 21-inch front and 17-inch rear wheel setup with spoked rims, and steel chassis with detachable subframe, and all comes all together in a 230 kg curb weight package.

In a weird way, it’s a shame it was called the V-Strom. Had it been revealed under the ‘DR’ moniker it may have underlined what could have been what Suzuki hope as a resurrection from the ashes, considering the removal of other models from their lineup. Particularly considering their emphasis on off-roading on this model (and on the launch, where day 2 was almost exclusively ridden off-road).

Some Visordown fans commented on social media that the switch to a parallel-twin undoes all of the legacy that the Hamamatsu firm has built up in those 19 years with the iconic V-Twin with many iterations. Though when quizzed about this on the two-day 200-mile riding launch in Sardinia, we were told that the V never in fact stood for ‘V-Twin’, rather ‘Versatile’.

Whether you believe that or not is up to you, but I suppose the question in hand is now whether this new twin from Suzuki carries on the V-Strom legacy, doing it justice both on & off-road, and if it really is the Versatile upper-middleweight adventure tourer that has a number of competitors on the market. 

2023 Suzuki V-Strom 800DE Price & Availability

Appearing in three distinct colours - Champion Yellow (as ridden), Glass Sparkle Black (with blue highlights), and Glass Mat Mechanical Grey (with yellow highlights) - the launch price of the Suzuki V-Strom 800DE is £10,499. 

Style is subjective, but with the beak and LED lighting all-round (with stacked headlights), I really like the look, personally. 

Pricing does not change between the colour options, and it’s ready for the trails straight from purchase - with ‘Gravel mode’ and the Dunlop Trailmax Mixtour hoops as standard to allow you to tackle some gravelly trails near you straight from the forecourt.

When asked about the availability of models, Suzuki UK said they are expecting an April/May date for units to be hitting dealerships for a ‘Spring 2023’ launch - though that’s their ‘Plan A’, so this date may well change.

Compared to the rivals, the Yamaha Tenere 700 is around £10,100, the Honda Transalp (which we’ll be riding soon) is £9,499, the Aprilia Tuareg 660 is £10,600, and the KTM 890 Adventure is £11,999.

2023 Suzuki V-Strom 800DE engine

First things first, we’ll have a look at the all-new motor. This 776cc parallel-twin is simply a torquey weapon. Perfect for off-road jaunts and serious fun on road tours (or blasting to the shops for a pint of milk on a Sunday morning) you have 84.3 bhp at your disposal from the twist of the wrist.

Billed a ‘new engine for a new era’, it’s the same motor as used in the new GSX-8S which was launched simultaneously - though the V-Strom is tuned for more torque delivery lower in the rev range, with a good percentage of the 78 Nm (57.5 lb-ft) punching in early to propel you along the road (or down the gravel track) at a rate of knots. 

Though not a V-Twin as is common for the previous V-Strom machines, this DOHC 4-valve motor has a 270º crank to induce a bit more character - which is also smoothed out by a new Suzuki Cross Balancer, one per cylinder. General riding is ultra smooth, but there are a few vibrations in the pegs when you get to 70+ mph, nothing unheard of from a twin working it’s arse off underneath you - but nothing that ruined my ride with big adventure boots on.

Speaking of underneath you, the airbox and throttle bodies have been smartly relocated under the seat to free up room for the 20 Litre tank (with a quoted range of 450 km, 280 miles, which I couldn’t clarify as Suzuki would fill up the tank at every opportunity).

We were shown the power & torque curve graphs, which accurately reflected how the power is delivered smoothly to the rear chain-driven wheel - it’s nothing that will scare the pants off you, but that’s very much a good thing off-road in my mind, particular for a motorcycle that wants to be versatile in all settings, whether on the sublime twisty Sardinian roads or off the beaten path on gravel tracks.

Over the two days, the engine really shone as a stand-out star, in my opinion. It’s extremely easy to use, friendly and forgiving (very hard to stall) with a light clutch (featuring Suzuki Clutch Assist System/slipper clutch) in particular coming in incredibly handy off-road.

I did note that the Ride By Wire throttle is very responsive, but there’s no cruise control in sight - Suzuki says it would have added too much to the cost, and wouldn’t consider it as an added extra option.

New & old riders alike will find a lot to enjoy here, the Sardinian countryside was filled with brimming exhaust notes from a surprisingly standard-sized exhaust - Suzuki has been guilty of huge Euro5-defying exhausts in the past, so it’s nice to see they have left that behind!

2023 Suzuki V-Strom 800DE Tech & Rider Modes

Dive into the easy-to-navigate 5” TFT colour dash and you’ll find the switchable ‘Suzuki Intelligent Rider System, hosting the: 

  • Suzuki Drive Mode Selector, with A-B-C modes to give a handle on how your power is delivered, with A being a sharp & vibrant throttle response, B suited to touring and town riding, and C as a softer ‘wet mode’. 
  • Suzuki Traction Control System settings range from Gravel mode, Off entirely, & 1-2-3. Gravel is the least intrusive and allows some slip to maintain power delivery on gravel roads, 1 is akin to a sports mode with minimal intervention, 2 is for comfort riding, and 3 is for wet or slippery roads. There’s also the option to switch it off entirely. 
  • ABS can be switched off at the rear, or set between 1 for sportier & off-road riding and limited intervention, or 2 for comfort riding and regular roads.

There’s a dedicated mode button with up and down toggles which can switch up the riding modes on a closed throttle by tapping and/or holding up/down - very handy if you spot a quick gravel detour, and a bit amusing to try and do without stopping as you reach a trail head.

Elsewhere, tech is fairly limited. You have an up-down quickshifter which was very good, plus Easy Start & Low RPM Assist, and a USB socket on the left of the dash to plug your gadgets in.

The TFT dash itself is bonded directly to the glass, with no ‘air bubble’ between, meaning no glare when riding. It was superbly clear and would auto-switch between day & night modes depending on the ambient lighting.

2023 Suzuki V-Strom 800DE Brakes, Suspension, Handling

Twin brakes up front feature with a single rear disc - and the braking power is seriously good. A decent bite on initial application, with progressive stopping power as you ramp up the pressure.

On-road you’ll stop at a whim if you need to, and off-road the rear brake does a good job of putting a slight anchor down as you navigate some sharper gravel tracks - or if you’re Billy Bolt you can just skid through everything (if you have the personal facilities for that level of riding) not sure many do, in all honesty. 

Showa suspension is fitted at the front & rear, fully adjustable with preload, rebound, and compression - the rear shock has a twist-dial to adjust on the fly. As ridden it’s fairly soft, dives a bit under heavy braking, but performs well overall - off-road it can bottom out a tad, but never enough to send you bucking off to the nearby bush, or a scary-looking cliff in Sardinia.

It was impressive to see how well the V-Strom 800DE performs in all situations - I guess another tally in the ‘Versatile’ box.

Tyres play a huge part in the handling, naturally, and up front there’s a skinny 21” tubed tyre, with a 17” rear wheel shod with Dunlop Trailmax Mixtour rubber. Though the grooves allow for decent gravel riding, if the going got rough (or wet) I’d imagine they’d struggle, so serious off-roaders may want to sub them out for an alternative.

Luckily the weather gods in Sardinia held out for us, but in the UK we tend not to get so lucky. Road performance was great, and turn-in poise in a corner was sharp and consistent - though I’d say they’re probably a 90/10 road-biased hoop in any case. 

The front wheel is quite narrow, which means a decent-sized rock could get things a tad squirmy, but it was never followed by a full-bike meltdown - it just got on with it. Speaking of swapping out the tyres, the front being 21” does allow a huge variety of replacement options.

Size-wise, compared to a V-Twin, this parallel-twin motor is shorter but wider, mounted to a new steel pipe chassis with a removable subframe, narrow seat rails and is very compliant on road. Wheelbase is 1570 mm, and you have 220 mm ground clearance and a 640.5 mm swingarm - one of the longest from the V-Strom class.

Standing on the pegs off road is very comfortable, and you have a good body position over the bike to manoeuvre through the worst of the loose terrain we encountered. Rubber inserts can be removed on the pegs to reveal bear trap grips, also.

2023 Suzuki V-Strom 800DE Ride Comfort & Touring

With an 855mm seat as standard, and a seriously comfortable riding position, the new V-Strom 800DE is a formidable touring weapon in my eyes. But it may need some options from the accessories catalogue to help you on the way. 

Chief among the changes needed is a slightly larger screen - the stocker is a tiddly little thing, and whilst it can be adjusted 30 mm, you’d need to stop to remove the four allen key bolts in order to do it, as there is no on-the-fly yanking up/down to be seen. I found I had to enter full tuck mode with my chin on the tank to remove any bluster when pushing on, not ideal on a big tour. 

Instead, if buying one, I’d be looking at the taller screen accessory. I’d also be considering the centre stand, and naturally the aluminium top box and panniers. But be mindful that these will add to an already weighty 230kg weight. You feel it a bit at standstill, or when getting the bike off the stand, but my lanky legs were able to manage (I’m 6’3”). Shorter riders on the launch got on with it fine.

On the road that weight is negligible, and factor in the tank size (one of the largest compared to the competitors), and when riding it does not feel like a bike of its size. 

There’s a bar to mount your sat-nav or gadgets behind the screen, and a USB socket to the left that’ll provide power to your device. No heated grips, which is a shame, but the knuckle guards are standard, and did a good job of deflecting away wind chill.

In terms of tank range, Suzuki quoted 450km (280 miles) if riding in the lowest power mode, and no doubt very economically. They topped up the tanks regularly on the launch, so it wasn’t possible to test this, unfortunately.

Other accessories to outfit the model include crash bars, lower and taller seats, fog lights. The classic bits you may require as a fully-fledged tourer.

Lastly, the pillion seat was soft and padded nicely, with the pillion pegs positioned comfortably for your travel buddy to sit pretty for long hauls. 

What we liked & disliked about the 2023 Suzuki V-Strom 800DE


  • Engine character is superb.

  • Handles extremely well off-road.

  • Very comfortable for touring.


  • Stock screen isn’t great, and can’t be adjusted on-the-fly.

  • No cruise control despite ride-by-wire throttle.

  • Tyres are more on-road biased than off-road, change them if you’re often trail riding.

2023 Suzuki V-Strom 800DE Verdict

This 2023 Suzuki V-Strom 800DE launch really gave an opportunity for an exceptional bike to flourish in an environment that really put it to the test. On road twisties and off-road trails galore, the beauty of the ride was matched by the charm of the bike - and the stunning Sardinian roads really accentuated it all.

I suppose Suzuki will read this hoping I say this latest V-Strom is Versatile… and they’ll be pleased to hear that it is. Superb on road and off. It really is a beautiful bike, and the launch ride in Sardinia really showed off the ability in all environments.

Whether you’re after a new tourer or adventure bike, I’d say this is well worth considering against the rivals. It appears that Suzuki has really gone all out when speccing this bike up for launch. 

With the new parallel-twin motor as the star of the show, the spec sheet numbers can be a tad deceiving. It’s not the most powerful on the market, listed weight is a tad heavy, but get this thing running and it’s hard to knock it. 

It’ll be very interesting to see how this bike sells once it is released to adventure riders. Some may wonder why there is no V-Twin if it’s a V-Strom, but after riding it, the lack of V-Twin made no odds or ends. I can’t express how much fun it was to ride overall. Suzuki has done a top job, here. 

Thanks to Suzuki for having us on the global launch ride, more info and spec found on the official Suzuki website.

Video review: 2023 Suzuki V-Strom 800DE

Suzuki V-Strom 800DE 2023 Review | ADV test in on the new V-Strom