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Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT review: has gained a good rep – but is it deserved? We ride and review…
Suzuki has been refining the V-Strom for over a decade, but 2015 sees a new Gladius engine installed with the addition of ABS as standard, and that has meant that the V-Strom DL650 has won applause on the basis that ‘it has all come together’ in a rounded and affordable package.
With the ‘XT’ edition, you get the standard bike but with added accessories; Knuckle guards, engine crash bars, spoke-wheel rims, bash plate and of course the ‘beak’ – all giving an extra visual ‘adventure’ look.
These standard XT accessories are easily some @£1300 if bought separately, so by getting the XT straight out of the box whilst it’s an additional £600 over the RRP of the standard V-Strom – it adds up to a nice saving of £700.
It is visually appealing. It manages to not look instantly ‘big’ as some ADV bikes do (some say unnecessarily), maybe a little tall in the seat, but it’s non threatening. There is a fair amount of plastic but with the efforts of ‘carbon-fibre weave’ and ‘anodised’ paint it does manage to minimise that too-much-plastic feeling. The detailing on the seat add to it’s ‘designed’ look and it looks rugged. So, overall it’s a clean, adventurous looking motorcycle.
With a seat height of 825mm (32.8″) does indeed make it ‘tall’ in my opinion; especially for a lower cc model. Personally, I would have thought that this model is an opportunity for Suzuki to tease some smaller riders amongst us to give it a try and not put them off instantly as they throw a leg over and instantly struggle to touch the floor with both feet. To aggravate the situation, there’s no lower seat available from the manufacturer – you have to buy the the V-Strom’s 1000cc big brother to take advantage of a free 30mm lower seat swap out, but then remember that the seat height on the 1000 is 25mm higher to start with… errrrr…
The dashboard is clear enough with albeit the left indicator light way on the left – away from all it’s friends, but the fuel gauge and gear indicator were good to see touches and the ability to cycle through other information such as the clock and MPG via a trigger on the left hand, means that all you need to know can be viewed without having to take your hand off the bars. Good stuff.
A quick note to self before I get going: This bike is brand spanking new, so remember that the tyres and brakes need bedding in!
The toddle out to the main road was effortless with no surprises; this is a motorcycle very at home at slow speeds despite it being a V-twin; no ‘lumpy’ fuelling here and the clutch/gearbox just a delight to use as it snick it up and down at will. In traffic, the upright position coupled with the bars up and towards you makes steering effortless and you do get a feeling of superiority. I’m enjoying this bike already and I’ve yet to get into fourth.
So the ‘Wee-Strom’ passed it’s Urban test easily and getting out into the countryside I can stretch it’s legs and see what this engine will do.
Acceleration is smooth, progressive and predictable. The gearbox is accurate and painless to operate. This 650 not going to scare the begeezus out of you, it’s calmly purposeful and with a redline at 10,000 rpm the range in acceleration is actually quite long; no real need to be jumping around the gears.
It’s very easy to tip into corners – almost too easy. It’s plainly no full-on scratcher and sitting up high and your body weight accentuates any movement. I did feel a little top-heavy as you lean over and the feel of grip starts to wane but I think that with time and bedded in tyres, it’s not overly a real-world issue.
But there is a problem. There’s plenty of buffeting (and therefore noise) at even low speeds; hunker down a couple of inches and it largely disappears. Now I’m not particularly short at 5′ 11″ but with the screen where it is, I just could not see myself riding it for any length of time.
Now, I have a self confessed fixation about wind noise on bikes, (see our article about Tinnitus) and I’m sure that a third party screen (Givi Airflow?) would alleviate the issue, but none-the-less I was genuinely surprised to have to be thinking about this when everything else seems to gel so well.
Having clocked a few miles in the sun, I pull over to contemplate this bike and found a nice spot in some woods to take a few pics and cogitate the big question. Would I buy one?
So, what do I have?
52 MPG on my run with Suzuki claiming over 70 on average* with a progressive and responsive engine that just doesn’t feel like a 650cc to me. It’s a genuine joy. Couple that with ABS, the ADV accessories and good looks, it would on the face of it be a 5* contender…
But what about the smidgen tall seat height and lack of centre stand? Remember that this is, a budget bike..
When all is said and done, it’s a well-manufactured motorcycle with an engine/gearbox combo that works exceptionally well. It is a shame about the stock screen and centre stand (but both of which can be dealt with via the Internet), but it is a more than capable commuter or tourer and furthermore the 2015 V-Strom 650 has genuinely has made me re-appraise my own prejudices about smaller cc bikes.
So. Would I buy one? Yes I would! Great job Suzuki!
* and that my friends, can really make a difference to the finances when you’re on that continental tour – more money for the evening beer (or proper bed) right? Couple that with a 20 litre tank and you could be looking at 300+ miles between fill ups…
|Overall length:||2290mm (90.2in)|
|Overall width:||835mm (32.9in)|
|Overall height:||1405mm (55.3in)|
|Seat height:||835mm (32.9in)|
|Kerb Mass:||215.0kg (474lbs)|
|Fuel capacity:||20.0litres (4.4 UK gallons)|
|Ground clearance:||175mm (6.9in)|
|Engine:||4-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, 90 degree V-twin|
|Bore:||81.0 x 62.6|
|Ignition:||Electronic ignition (transistorised)|
|Fuel system:||Fuel injection|
|Transmission:||6-speed constant mesh|
|Power:||50.50kW @ 8800rpm (68.00hp)†|
|Torque:||60.00N.m @ 6400rpm (44.00lb.ft)†|
|Front suspension:||Telescopic, coil spring, oil damped|
|Rear suspension:||Link type, coil spring, oil damped|
|Front brakes:||Disc, twin|
|Front tyres:||110/80R19M/C (59H), tubeless|
|Rear tyres:||150/70R17M/C (69H), tubeless|