Suzuki Suzuki V-Strom 1050 XT (2020) | First impressions

We’ve just taken collection of a new Suzuki V-Strom 1050 XT for a couple of weeks of on and off-road riding, here’s our first thoughts

Details
Manufacturer:
Suzuki
Category:
Adventure
Overall
3.5
Average: 3.5 (1 vote)

ONE of the big bikes making waves at EICMA 2019 was the newly updated Suzuki V-Strom 1050. It’s modern-retro design was the main talking point, taking its queues from the iconic (and much-missed) DR Big.

Beneath the funky new styling, the V-Strom has received an updated engine (although capacity remains the same as both the old and new bike were 1037cc), improved comfort, the Suzuki Intelligent Ride System, RBW throttle, three traction control settings (as well as the option to disable the system, Suzuki Drive Mode (power modes). The top-spec XT, as tested here, also gets a boost in the form of a host of new electronics specific to this model, including hill hold control, cruise control, load dependant control system, slope dependant control system, and motion track brake system.

Suzuki V-Strom 1050 XT first riding review

How does the V-Strom feel straight out of the box?

With only a handful of miles on the bike when I collected it from Milton Keynes, the first task at hand was escaping the labyrinth of dual carriageways and never-ending roundabouts! Not the most enthralling of tasks but it did give me some time to get to know the big ‘Strom.

First impressions from the saddle are that the bike is very alike to the Adventure Sports version of the Africa Twin; comfortable riding position with wide bars and decent lower body ergonomics. The view down is dominated by the 20l fuel tank and the fairly tall, near-vertical screen is easy to see through and around and offers adequate protection.

The V-twin engine of the bike has been given a thorough going over, for 2020. It produces more power, torque and is now the obligatory Euro5 compliant. I’ve got to be honest, on the ride back from Milton Keynes, the V-Strom didn’t set my pants on fire – and don’t get me wrong, I love a V-twin engine! It’s just the V-Strom didn’t have much of the poppy and bangy character that we’ve grown to love. Yes, it’s very torquey and with plenty of power, but it just almost feels Germanic in how it goes about business.

What’s the comfort like?

As I mention above, the ergonomics of the beast are great and after a few hours of riding the only complaint I had was a very numb bum that set in after about 20-minutes. I’d love to know why adventure motorcycle designers feel that a rock hard seat is a prerequisite to an adventure motorcycle.

The pegs are also nicely damped and there are no discernible vibes from the bikes when cruising at 75mph.

The screen does an okay job of shielding you, although there is a fair amount of blustering around the shoulders, something I couldn’t really fix by adjusting the screen.

What’s it like off-road mister?

This is the adventure bike in the Suzuki range, and despite the manufacturer claiming that it is more a touring machine than a pure off-roader, I couldn’t not take the thing down some local lanes. I’m a strong believer that a bike’s styling shouldn’t cash cheques it’s ability can’t cash!

After a few hours of blasting up and down some local lanes, the V-Strom could cope with some mild off-road tomfoolery. It didn’t excel and is hampered by a 19-inch front wheel, fairly cumbersome weight distribution, and heavily road-biased suspension. That said, it did some drifts and is a fairly rewarding thing to chuck down a dusty lane. Aware that this isn’t being marketed as a true off-road motorcycle, I am going to spend some more time in the machine’s more natural habitat – although I do have my eye on some more extreme off-road work too – sorry Suzuki.

Suzuki V-Strom 1050 XT first impressions likes:

  • New styling is great – like nothing else in the class
  • 20l tank and fuel economy is excellent
  • Motorway stability is excellent
  • Pillion grab handles are nicely placed – even for shorter passengers

Dislikes:

  • Seat is hard – although it is also expansive, which is a plus
  • No ability to disable ABS – even to the rear wheel
  • The engine seems a little dull when, given the specs, it really shouldn’t