Best Motorbikes: Suzuki V-Strom 1000XT

I would have loved to see the look on the old guys face, comfortably oblivious of his surroundings, safe in his generic eurobox, as we exited the roundabout side by side, me on the V-Strom, cranked over will a full set of luggage. ‘Round the outside, hard on the gas, then off in to the distance.
I'd like to think he would have turned to Dorris in the passenger seat and muttered, “I didn't expect that.”
Truth be told, neither did I. I've always been a sports bike kind of guy but am well aware of the changing market trends. Sports bike sales are generally slowing down, and the smaller 600cc bikes are on their last legs, some have disappeared from manufacturers ranges all together.
Growth is in the naked, adventure and retro style bikes.
Suzuki threw me the keys of a V-Strom1000XT recently so I thought I'd find out for myself what this adventure bike lark is all about.
The 1037cc 90 degree V twin kicks out 100 bhp and 101 Nm torque, which aren't massive numbers, but there's more to this bike that just the numbers.
The torque comes in from 4k rpm with peak bhp around 8k rpm. It make for a very useable bike, easy to crack the throttle and overtake safely but the low down torque means you can cruise at low revs for hours.
Stopping the V-Strom is easy thanks to radial mounted four piston monobloc Tokico brake calipers biting on to twin 310mm diameter discs on the front, and a 260mm diameter single disc with a single piston caliper on the rear.
The Bosch ABS system has what Suzuki call “Motion Track Brake System¹” which uses a 5-Axis Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU), which measures lean angle and front and rear wheel speeds and provides optimal ABS braking for the situation. Very clever.
There's also 2 mode traction control.
1 is the lowest level of intervention, allowing sporty riding. It allows an amount of wheel spin so you can have fun.
2 is normal which eliminates wheel spin to ensure a safe ride. Great for riding in the wet.
You can of course turn it off if you want, if you were heading off road for example.
What’s it like to live with? Well, I’m actually quite new to adventure bikes. These days, the roads are in a pretty shit state and I’m older, so I thought I’d give it a go. I wasn’t disappointed. The V-Strom 1000XT is a big beast but so are all adventure bikes in this class. Mine had optional luggage too so I was a bit tentative filtering through traffic.
It’s big, very comfortable, punchy and great fun, way more fun that I expected. It turns well, handles nicely and I’d go as far as to say pretty sporty on the road. Something I particularly liked was the ability to be fast over any road surface. A few times I was riding with other guys on sportbikes on the back roads and they just couldn’t live with the Strom. It’s plush, forgiving suspension just dances over the rough, potholed roads, still giving good feedback and confidence, no doubt helped by the electronics. The guys on their sports bikes were shaken to pieces.
Two up it’s no drama either. You have a knob under the seat to allow you to adjust the preload on the rear shock, so a few clicks and you’re away. You can do it sat on the bike. Still lots of fun and plenty of power when you need it. The large comfortable seat and rear pegs mean pillions are well looked after.
We even took a V-Strom on track, hooning it around Bruntingthorpe with a few other Suzuki’s. Admittedly it’s not the obvious choice as a track slag but it was surprisingly good. It moves around a little when you really push on and the pegs tend to go down, but it’s very good and very funny to see other people’s reactions. It doesn’t do anything stupid, it’ll hold a decent line and doesn’t sit up on the brakes in the corners. It’s a very civilised way to do a track day.
Suspension is superb, with 43mm KYB inverted forks up front, adjustable for preload and compression/rebound damping. Bringing up the rear is a KYB shock, adjustable for preload and compression/rebound damping too.
Brakes are radial four piston Tokico monoblock calipers up front on 310mm discs and are strong with none of that wooden feeling you sometimes get with modern ABS equipped bikes.
Why a V-Strom? The adventure bike sector is crammed with bikes. Everyone seems to do one.
Yamaha, Triumph, Honda, KTM, Ducati, BMW and more all play in this playground.
The V-Strom sits in between most of these interestingly.
At 232kg It's lighter than pretty much all of the competition, even the smallest capacity bikes like the Triumph Tiger 800. It's a little down on power on the big capacity competition but at £9,999 it's very well priced. A BMW R1200GS for example starts at £12,400 and a Honda Africa twin starts at £11,575.
It’s a very accomplished motorcycle packed with features. I haven't mentioned low RPM assist, which raises the engine speed when the clutch is engaged, making it harder to stall the bike, gold wire wheels, the standard bashplate, handguards and more.
You really should head to your local Suzuki dealer and get one out for a test ride. I loved it. Fun, fast, practical, comfortable.