Suzuki First ride: Suzuki V-Strom 1000 review

First ride: Suzuki V-Strom 1000 review

Suzuki’s updated 2017 DL1000 V-Strom is still great value – but is that enough to make it a winner?

By Llewelyn Pavey

BACK in 2013, in the golden sun-baked hills of California, Suzuki unveiled an entirely new look V-Strom one-thousand. The cherry-red paint scheme, distinctive beaked nose and more adventurey styling was the very first step into a new ear for a company that barely seemed to be making bikes any more.

It has taken the Japanese firm a while to return from the cliff edge but they are back; racing in MotoGP and producing top-level sports bikes and bright yellow adventure bikes.

However, barring the jazzy new paint and Euro4 emission compliance, the latest iteration of the V-Strom 1000 isn’t a whole lot different to the one that came before it.

Euro4 has come at the cost of a single, negligible lbft for the V-Strom 1000, bringing the peak to 74.5lbft. Suzuki clearly didn’t feel it needed too much altering otherwise.

A little re-styling has seen the front beak shape altered, the seat shape changed and some new colour schemes added to the mix, including the ‘off-road’ style ‘Champion Yellow’ with its gold-coloured tubeless spoked wheels.

The windscreen has been updated after the old design received a lot of flack too, making it a little wider and 9mm higher. The height can still only be adjusted with an Allen key that doesn’t come in the toolkit but you can still change the angle with a one-handed push.

Suzuki have also popped some hand guards and a plastic sump cowl into the mix as standard items.

The biggest change to package is the addition of a cornering-aware ABS system and linked brakes. It’s one of the big new additions to the 2017 GSX-R 1000 and Suzuki have adapted the system to the V-Strom.

The ABS now uses a new inertial measurement unit to add lean data to the info collected by the existing wheel speed sensors and judge whether you’re braking too much at the wrong time. It’s a system that has typically been seen on more flagship-style bikes, in the £12,000-up price bracket.

From a riding perspective, the 2017 V-Strom 1000 isn’t a new beast. The updates are nice and the bike looks a little cooler, especially in the pearly white colour.

It’s also worth pointing out early on that the V-Strom isn’t a full-blown adventure machine. It’s a sports-tourer with a comfy, upright riding position and a sticker on the beak that says ‘Adventure’.

It’s 100% street bike and 5% off-road bike. I know maths like that is only possible on Saturday-night TV talent shows but if you’ve ridden a V-Strom you’ll understand.

The launch test ride in Spain did include a bit of trail, as sharp-eyed readers will be able to tell from some of the photos.

Suzuki built the V-Strom 1000 with the weekend tourer in mind, who wants to go places a more far-flung in the summer months. This is a bike for someone who who rides twisties and motorway, who may realistically carry a pillion and luggage. It’s not trying to be a GS and it has very little aspirations of crossing Mongolian plains.

If you like those aforementioned activities, you’ll like the V-Strom. The road handling characteristics are very Suzuki. It tips into corners in a linear, non-dramatic fashion. Making the bike lean over took more effort than I’d have expected but it isn’t sluggish to turn. It’s not inspiringly sharp-handling, nor terribly laconic. It rolls onto its side and comfortably holds position like a seal that’s been doing its morning Pilates.

Honestly, my expectation was something a little sharper-handling with a little more snap and zip. The V-Strom took some settling into.

The 232kg kerb weight is bang on with a standard Africa Twin. But some bikes ride light and others ride like they enjoy the odd pie.

CLICK NEXT TO READ PAGE TWO OF OUR 2017 SUZUKI V-STROM 1000 REVIEW.

The V-Strom is what it is. That doesn’t mean it’s tough to potter around town on. There just isn’t lightness to the handling.

Sorting the balance of the rear shock pre-load is really important to making the bike handle with confidence. On the day that meant putting the V-Strom a touch more toward the nose. That helped it turn in more quickly and gave me the confidence I was craving. It was easy to over-do though; the difference of five clicks on the pre-load dial was enough to get things a little wild.

The suspension is very comfortable and generally well-planted. I’m a big fan of bikes having some adjustment in that department and Suzuki need commending for bothering to give you compression and rebound clickers.

When the roads open out the V-Strom become even more comfortable. The wind protection is decent, the seat comfortable and the new slimmer mid-section feels very natural. Where the DL excels is in the engine department. The gearing on open roads is exceptional. At first, gears five and six feel tall but the V-Twin engine is very at home hauling from low revs.

In fact, low RPM is where the V-Strom 1000 felt most comfortable. Regardless of the situation it handled better and rode more smoothly in a high gear, rollling through the meat of the torque curve.

The engine is capable of being a revver but Suzuki have made that torque curve fat and juicy low-down and that’s where it’s most enjoyable.

Off-road, it doesn’t embarrass itself - but if you’re looking for a bike to hit a lot of dirt on, the V-Strom isn’t it.

That’s not because it handles badly on a gravel track but because Suzuki haven’t set it up for off-roading.

The first step to making it more dirt friendly would be sorting the riding position sorted. That means it needs higher, straighter and more forward handlebars. Chunky, flat foot-pegs would be next on the list, followed by some decent rubber.

Those changes could be made in your garage and would make a dramatic difference to the off-road capability of the bike.

Opening up the compression and rebound clickers on the suspension would really help too. Currently everything moves slowly and packs down. As such, the bike is easily effected by small bumps when it should soak them up. It’s not uncomfortable, just not ideal.

But the V-twin is surprisingly easy to control off-road. With all that torque, it pulled itself along the trail with decent degree of comfort and poise, and has the potential to be much better.

The traction control is impeccably smooth (if a touch conservative) and very easy to adjust. The left-hand switch gear operates the simple, clear menu and it can be changed on the fly.

The ‘easy-start’ button is simple but pleasing too. A simple prod of the starter button sees the DL turn the starter motor until it fires into life.

You also get Suzuki’s ‘low-speed assist’ feature that picks up the revs slightly as the clutch is released to make stalling less likely.

So there is a lot to like about the V-Strom 1000. And all that equipment plus a 12-volt power socket is a lot for under £10k.

What it lacks is a stand-out feature, something that puts it ahead of the competition in some respect.

Suzuki offer a great value sports-tourer in the V-Strom but it needs a glass of Vimto to take it to the next level.

Model tested: Suzuki V-Strom 1000

Price: £9,499

Engine: 1037cc V-twin

Claimed fuel economy: 58.85mpg

Power: 101hp @ 8,000rpm

Torque: 74.49lbft  @ 4,000rpm

Kerb weight: 232kg

Fuel capacity: 20 litres

Seat height: 850mm

Front suspension: inverted        

Rear suspension: link-type

Front tyre: 110/80-19

Rear tyre: 150/70-17