Used Bike

Used Test: Suzuki DL1000 V-Strom

Handsome is as handsome does. And if that's the case, many owners reckon the V-Strom is drop-dead gorgeous and offers plenty of smiles for the miles.




Let's get the looks out of the way. Yes, it's the kind of mush only a mother could love, but it's only skin-deep. Scratch the surface of the Suzuki V-Strom (and sadly that's all too easy) and you'll find a comfy, mile-munching two-up tourer for second-hand learner bike money.

Released in 2002, the V-Strom saddled the classic TL1000S motor in a decent chassis with super-soft forks and below-par brakes. It was a worthy challenger to Aprilia's more involving CapoNord and Honda's stoic and thirsty Varadero. Beef-up the handling though, and you had a back-road corker on your hands. Things get better still away from that soggy front-end and dubious finish. Comfort is damn good and that motor never gives up the ghost. Keep on top of the finish, as most loving owners do, and it's a keeper.

V-Strom comes from 'V' for the motor and the German 'Strom' meaning stream or current. And the V-Strom begat a strange love-child with Kawasaki - the KLV1000 was a tarted-up DL in Kwak orange.

Engine
The best part. Suzuki has made some legendary fours in their time - the oil/air cooled GSX-R750/1100 family for a start - but in creating the TL1000S motor they made another classic. De-tuned for use in the V-Strom, the 996cc V-twin is nevertheless an absolute peach. The thing fair takes off from low revs, albeit lumpily, then from 4000rpm it hits afterburner, peaking at just under 100bhp at 7500rpm. It's a belter, and responds well to cans and stage-one upgrades. Servicing takes place every 4000 miles.

Restrictions
Stroms can be restricted in a couple of ways. First they can be power-restricted in the top two gears. Get rid of this and the 'lumpy' sub-4000rpm delivery by fitting a Timing Retard Eliminator (TRE), a popular owners' mod. Some are restricted below 4000rpm in first and second by slowing down the response of the secondary butterfly valves. Checking out owners' websites will help you find out how to de-restrict 'em (should you wish).

Vibrations
Owners report it's common for Stroms to vibrate like yer missus' Rampant Rabbit for the first 2-3K miles until nicely 'run-in'.

Clutch
Early V-Stroms suffer from 'Chudder', a brand new word meaning shudder and chatter or excessive vibrations, in the 3-4000rpm range, especially when under load and accelerating hard. From 2003-on a new clutch basket was introduced, which eliminated the problem. DLs do suffer from noisy clutches though, but from 2004 this was alleviated with a sound-deadening plastic clutch cover.

Whistling
When you switch the ignition on you may get a high-pitched whistling noise. This is normal, and it's caused by the fuel pump building up pressure in the system. Once the operating pressure has been reached, the fuel pump switches off. It's louder when the tank is nearly empty. If you hear it with the tank full, there may be a problem with the fuel filter.

Handling
Pretty good for a bike of this ilk. There are heroes out there grinding pegs and even exhaust shrouds. Only problem is...

Forks
Soft as a blind-man in a porn shop, these are the DL1000's Achilles' Heel. Despite okay brakes, a brush of a finger on the lever sends 'em down quicker than an Italian football player in the penalty box. But there's a cure. We'd suggest getting a professional outfit such as PDQ (www.pdq1.com or 01753 730043) to give the forks a Race-Tech going-over including stiffer springs, thicker oil and Race-Tech's Gold Valves in the internals for less dive and a much more progressive feel.

Front brakes
Not mega sharp, but the still enough to cause the forks a few problems. Replacing stock pads with softer ones helps, as does a swop to braided hoses, but without any remedial work on the forks (see above) things can get worse up-front. Strip and clean calipers after every winter too.

Height
This is a tall bike, but there are ways around it. The seat pan rests on a pair of rubber blocks. They are 15 mm high but they can be cut to half that. You could also buy a DL650 seat from eBay as it's around 25mm lower and a bit narrower. You can also order links to lower the suspension (www.koubalink.com) or get an aftermarket shock from a firm such as Hagon. Raising the forks through the yokes also helps. A combination of these will lower the seat height by about 40mm.

Finish
Okay, here's where we get some bad news. Suzuki is making great strides forward with the finish of its latest bikes, but Stroms can suffer badly. Recently we tested a DL with less than 3K on the clock but the rear-end was rotting away: chain, sprockets, brake disc bolts... all were corroding faster than a speeding bullet. Paint is so thin on the frames that boots can rub through to bare metal. This has been addressed by Suzuki, who has produced rubber covers for the K7 models. Some kind-hearted dealers have supplied them gratis to their existing V-Strom customers. Stone chips can be rife on plastics and stickers too. You get the picture... But there are many cosseted machines are out there, so aim for those if you're buying.

Comfort
Owners rate it 11/10. Some reckon Suzuki's own Gel seat is the only addition you need to get a full fuel tank's worth of miles out of the V-Strom.

Helmet buffeting
No, not a German porn star, this is a common complaint. Two ways of avoiding this: a 'shorty' screen helps, although you are then sat more in the full airflow, or a larger flip-up screen. Both designs are popular mods with owners. The adjustable screen on later models helps enormously.

Range/economy
Good for 170-210 miles on a full tank, depending on how you use yer right wrist.

Tyres
Owners have given a wealth of feedback on tyres. Faves are: Avon Azaros, Bridgestone Battlewings and BT-020s, Conti Road Attacks, Metzeler Tourance, Michelin Pilot Road and Anakee, and Pirelli Scorpion Syncs.

Aftermarket parts
Plenty available. The most popular add-ons are luggage, heated grips, brush guards, Scottoilers, engine plates, suspension mods and, as mentioned already, different seats and screens. Sat-nav is also a popular gizmo.

SECOND-HAND VALUES

DL1000 V-Strom K2-K3 (2002-'03)

Colours: blue, black, yellow, silver Price new: £7350 (2002)

Price now: £2800-£3800

Comments: mated a top motor and decent chassis with suspect looks. Didn't stop it selling, though.

DL1000 V-Strom K4-K7 (2004-'07)

Colours: as above, plus gunmetal

Price new: £6499

Price now: £6300+

Comments: mods included an adjustable screen and improved clutch. Suzuki saw what Stroms were used for and now produce three models: basic DL, the V-Strom 1000 Touring, featuring a 48-litre top box, centre stand and heated grips, and...

DL1000 V-Strom K6 Grand Touring (2006-2007)

Colours: as above

Price new: £6999

Price now: £6300+

Comments: centre stand, top-box, heated grips and 35-litre panniers. A very good value mile-muncher.

Kawasaki KLV1000 (2004-2005)

Colours: orange

Price new: £6399 (2004)

Price now: £3500-£4500

Comments: a product of Suzuki and Kawasaki's short-lived technical partnership. Changes include clocks, mirrors and fairing. Rare.

Let's get the looks out of the way. Yes, it's the kind of mush only a mother could love, but it's only skin-deep. Scratch the surface of the Suzuki V-Strom (and sadly that's all too easy) and you'll find a comfy, mile-munching two-up tourer for second-hand learner bike money.

Released in 2002, the V-Strom saddled the classic TL1000S motor in a decent chassis with super-soft forks and below-par brakes. It was a worthy challenger to Aprilia's more involving CapoNord and Honda's stoic and thirsty Varadero. Beef-up the handling though, and you had a back-road corker on your hands. Things get better still away from that soggy front-end and dubious finish. Comfort is damn good and that motor never gives up the ghost. Keep on top of the finish, as most loving owners do, and it's a keeper.

V-Strom comes from 'V' for the motor and the German 'Strom' meaning stream or current. And the V-Strom begat a strange love-child with Kawasaki - the KLV1000 was a tarted-up DL in Kwak orange.

Engine: The best part. Suzuki has made some legendary fours in their time - the oil/air cooled GSX-R750/1100 family for a start - but in creating the TL1000S motor they made another classic. De-tuned for use in the V-Strom, the 996cc

V-twin is nevertheless an absolute peach. The thing fair takes off from low revs, albeit lumpily, then from 4000rpm it hits afterburner, peaking at just under 100bhp at 7500rpm. It's a belter, and responds well to cans and stage-one upgrades. Servicing takes place every 4000 miles.

Restrictions: Stroms can be restricted in a couple of ways. First they can be power-restricted in the top two gears. Get rid of this and the 'lumpy' sub-4000rpm delivery by fitting a Timing Retard Eliminator (TRE), a popular owners' mod. Some are restricted below 4000rpm in first and second by slowing down the response of the secondary butterfly valves. Checking out owners' websites will help you find out how to de-restrict 'em (should you wish).

Vibrations: Owners report it's common for Stroms to vibrate like yer missus' Rampant Rabbit for the first 2-3K miles until nicely 'run-in'.

Continue the Suzuki DL1000 V-Strom used review

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