2023 Suzuki V-Strom 800 DE review: middleweight ADV tested in the UK

Suzuki V-Strom 800 DE

After spending a couple of days tearing around Sardinian trails on Suzuki's new middleweight adventure bike, we spent two weeks with the machine on UK roads

Up until recently, much of Suzuki’s range was looking old enough to be eligible for a bus pass. Sure, apparently new bikes continued to flow over the last couple of decades, but peel back the skin of each, and you’ll find engines and frames that have been kicking around seemingly forever. 

That all changed in 2022, with the reveal of the GSX-8S and the V-Strom 800 DE. Both featured not only a new frame but a completely fresh engine too, something we’ve not seen from Suzuki since the SV650 back in the late 1990s. The offerings on that platform have since grown to encompass the more road-focused 800 RE, and the fully-faired GSX-8R

Our first encounter with the 800 DE came at the international launch in Sardinia, where we rode the bike for around 200 miles on both asphalt and dirt. Later in the year, we clocked another 400 miles in the DE on UK roads. 

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

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 800 DE has an all-new 776cc parallel-twin with 270-degree crank 84 bhp and 57.5lb ft 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 hopes 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, the question in hand is now whether this new twin from Suzuki carries on the V-Strom legacy, doing it justice both on and off-road, and if it really is the Versatile upper-middleweight adventure tourer that has a number of competitors on the market. 

V-Strom 800 DE price and availability

Appearing in three distinct colours - Champion Yellow (as ridden in Sardinia), Glass Sparkle Black (with blue highlights), and Glass Mat Mechanical Grey (with yellow highlights, as ridden in the UK) - the Suzuki V-Strom 800 DE is priced at £10,699. It's available in the UK now. 

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

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.

Compared to the rivals, the Yamaha Tenere 700 is around £10,100, the Honda Transalp is £9,499, the Aprilia Tuareg 660 is £10,600, and the KTM 890 Adventure is £11,999.


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 84.3bhp 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 57.5lb 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 its 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.

We were shown the power and 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.

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 and 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-spec exhausts in the past, so it’s nice to see they have left that behind!

Tech and rider modes

Dive into the easy-to-navigate five-inch 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 and 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, and 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 and 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 trailhead.

Elsewhere, tech is fairly limited. You have an up-down quickshifter which was very good, plus Easy Start and 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 and night modes depending on the ambient lighting.

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 and 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 800 DE performs in all situations - we guess another tally in the ‘Versatile’ box.

Tyres play a huge part in the handling, naturally, and up front, there’s a skinny 21-inch tubed tyre, with a 17-inch rear wheel with Dunlop Trailmax Mixtour rubber at both ends. Though the grooves allow for decent gravel riding, if the going got rough (or wet) we'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 we'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-inch 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.

The 800 DE continued to impress us when we borrowed one for a couple of weeks in the UK. For a fairly big-travel ADV and a 21-inch wheel, it handles a windy country road brilliantly. 

It’s keener to tip in than expected, and despite all that front and rear squish, dive under braking and squat under acceleration are well managed. Meanwhile, even on rougher B-roads, the suspension has a plush feeling to it, effectively soaking up nasty imperfections in the asphalt. 

The engine performed well, but it seems noticeably less gutsy when trying to propel a bigger, heavier adventure bike than when we experienced it in the GSX-8S.

Ride comfort and touring

With an 855mm seat as standard, and a seriously comfortable riding position, the new V-Strom 800 DE is a formidable touring weapon in our 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 30mm, 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. We found we had to enter full tuck mode with chin on the tank to remove any bluster when pushing on, which is not ideal on a big tour. 

Instead, if buying one, we'd be looking at the taller screen accessory. We'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 beefy 230kg weight. You feel it a bit at standstill, or when getting the bike off the stand.

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. There are no heated grips, which is a shame, but the knuckle guards are standard, and do a good job of deflecting away wind chill.

In terms of tank range, Suzuki quotes 280 miles if riding in the lowest power mode, and no doubt very economically. Our UK test of the bike yielded an economy figure of just over 60mpg - admittedly with lots of motorway cruising that bumped up that number - which would get you close to that 280-mile claim. 

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.

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

When we tried the bike back in the UK, the tiny screen remained an issue, doing little to protect the rider from blasts of air at speed. Also a little annoying on longer jaunts were some vibes being passed through the bars and pegs from the parallel twin, but it wasn’t anything too egregious. 

The touring potential of our test bike was enhanced with the aluminium top box (£514.98) top box and panniers (£938.00), whose rugged look went well with the bike’s aesthetic. They were a doddle both to open and close and take off/put back on the bike, but they aren’t lined with anything, so some more delicate items might need to be shoved in a bag before being loaded. 

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


  • 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.


This 2023 Suzuki V-Strom 800 DE 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.

We suppose Suzuki will read this hoping we say this latest V-Strom is Versatile… and 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. 

Since first riding the 800 DE, though, we've tried Suzuki's V-Strom 800 RE or ‘Road Explorer’. It features less suspension travel, a smaller front wheel and other tweaks to make it more biased towards the road, so you’ll need to decide how much off-roading you’re actually going to do. If not a whole lot, you might be better off with the RE, which is a little cheaper and much better suited to on-road touring.

Video review: 2023 Suzuki V-Strom 800 DE

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