Living with a 2007 Suzuki DL650 V-Strom

The office puts the V-Strom through some hard miles

May 2007

As life goes by you realise that with each change a part of your youth is lost forever. The Few bikes have had a tougher start to life than our short-term long-term DL650 V-Strom. Within minutes of arriving at the office it was loaded up with luggage and laden with electrically-powered heated frippery and ridden non-stop by Cpl Hogan to the world's daftest bike meet - the snow-bound Elefant Rally, in the middle of Europe and the middle of winter.

Within five miles of leaving the office the mini-Strom was caked in salty road cack and on a 750-mile each-way motorway thrash. It's back now, of course, and in the cosseting hands of a more caring, loving guardian (that'll be me), but it's still showing the scars of that first sub-zero epic journey, with corrosion biting here, there and everywhere. The finish isn't all that. Paint is thin, and it's worn through to bare metal where my boots rub the frame. And the rear brake feels dead, horrible in fact. Don't know how much of that is the ABS removing feel, and how much is a corroded, half-seized pedal. Perhaps a bit of both.

The Strom is big and ugly and clumsy looking but surprisingly nimble in town. Comfortable on the motorway too, although the screen creates some turbulence which batters my head around a bit. Hand guards kept off the worst winter chill. The mirrors are brilliant, and it's got a top box you can put things in, and which also makes the bike more slippery and fuel efficient - I got 212 miles to a tank with it fitted. That's 51mpg. Boxless, on the same commute, it only managed 185 miles and 44mpg to a tankful.

The motor feels a bit flat, but oddly it's hankering for a seventh gear on the motorway - I'm always looking for another cog and finding there are none left. Maybe tomorrow...

The V-Strom has rapidly found a place in our hearts as a darling little runabout and easy-to-use utility bike, but I have a feeling there's more to it than that. It's no scratcher but maybe, just maybe you could have a bit of a hoot on the right kind of road on the DL. Perhaps the kind you find snaking up the side of a mountain in France or Spain. The Suzuki has the makings of a fine, budget touring tool. All the boxes are ticked: range, comfort, luggage capacity - perhaps a pillion would be asking too much though.

One last thing - the Strom has taken a fancy to not starting when cold. The starter will spin and spin but the motor won't fire. Then, eventually, it does, perhaps after five, ten or fifteen minutes of trying. Something's not right there. We'll have to find out what.