Suzuki’s V-Strom adventure-touring motorcycles are perhaps the most understated ADV motorcycles on the showroom floor. They are the type of bike desired when the weekend menu calls for no fuss, no muss adventure. As noted in our Preview article, Team Suzuki sweetens the pot by adding rider safety aids and other conveniences to its V-Strom 1000 ($12,999), enabling it to remain relevant compared to its competition for only a modest $300 upcharge.
Labeled a 2018 model, the V-Strom is still propelled by Suzuki’s venerable 1037cc DOHC V-Twin. A six-speed gearbox with a redesigned and lighter lever pull-equipped slipper action clutch (similar to the setup used in the 2017 GSX-R1000) transfers power to the 17-inch rear Bridgestone tire. Originally designed for a sport application (with the old TL1000S and R), this 90-degree Twin is well suited to ADV life with ample grunt down low, minimal vibration, and a playful, fun-loving character.
The exhaust mid-pipe was tweaked slightly and includes a pair of catalyzers to mitigate ozone-depleting gases and meet ever-tightening Euro 4 emission standards. Suzuki says this cost 1.4 lb-ft of torque at 4000 rpm as measured on its engine dyno. Peak torque is now rated at 75.9 lb-ft. Behind the handlebar, you’ll be hard pressed to notice the difference.
On the other hand, what you will notice is the smooth, finely crafted powerband and linear delivery from bottom to top. While the V-Strom doesn’t offer adjustable engine power modes, or throttle maps, Suzuki’s spent considerable time perfecting fuel-injection and throttle response. It certainly shows in how effectively metered engine power is.
Nevertheless, smooth power is nothing without control. Suzuki helps mitigate unwanted slips via a wheel speed-equipped traction control. Offering on-the-fly adjustability, the two level (plus ‘off’) adjustable system monitors wheel speed, engine RPM, gear, and throttle body position. If rear wheel spin surpasses the allowed threshold, the engine applies correction using ignition timing or fuel injection cut.
The handlebar switchgear allows for adjustment while riding as long as the throttle is closed. During our brief ride, the pace wasn’t vigorous enough to get a true feel for the TC, but it’s still nice to know that it’s there, plus the ability to make adjustments while riding is a real benefit.
A mixed digital and analog dash display keeps tabs on everything. The large swept tachometer looks nice and is easy to read, and while we appreciate how much information is available inside the LCD, it’s too small to be useful while riding. You do acclimate to the display, but it would be nice if the size expanded. There’s also an automobile-style 12-volt DC accessory power plug to charge gizmos.
But the real star of the show is the new Motion Track ABS system. The technology is similar to Suzuki’s ABS-equipped GSX-R1000 and GSX-R1000R. But instead of the Gixxer’s Continental-sourced IMU, the V-Strom system is powered by a Bosch-made unit. Paired with the wheel speed sensors, the IMU tracks the spatial position of the machine, in real-time, with the ability to modulate brake pressure automatically based on conditions, and input received through both the lever and pedal.
For example, say you’re applying the front brakes through a turn. If the electronics deem too much power is being delivered into the calipers, it automatically diverts power to the back brake. Again, we didn’t ride aggressively enough to truly evaluate the performance of the triple-disc braking package, still it was nice to that this sophisticated rider aid exists and that the V-Strom employs it. Both power and feel are responsive, but not overly so, and we appreciate the use of sportbike-spec radial-mount calipers.
Like before the V-Strom rolls on a dirt-friendly 19-inch front and lean-inducing 17-inch cast aluminum 10-spoke wheels shod with Bridgestone’s grippy and tubeless Battlax Adventure rubber. For a $300 upcharge, the XT model gets a pair of more off-road oriented and still tubeless spoked rims. The XT upgrade also affords a more “premium” aluminum handlebar. However we couldn’t notice much difference from the standard bar.
The remainder of the chassis, including the beefy twin-spar aluminum frame and suspension, highlighted by a well-supported KYB inverted fork and Showa gas-charged shock, carry over. We especially appreciate the well-supported spring rate and damping of the front suspension, plus it’s nice to know that damping adjustment is a wrench and screwdriver turn away.
Nowadays, the sharper the beak, the meaner the ADV bike. So the 1000 benefits from a reshaped front fairing and a two-inch taller and now three-position and tool-less adjustable windscreen. The setup is easy to adjust and does a better job of deflecting dirty air over the rider. Wrap-around style handguards are now standard as is a plastic lower cowl; however, it’s not robust enough to offer any protection like a skid plate would.
Customization is at the heart of adventure-touring motorcycles like the V-Strom. Suzuki helps make it easy by offering an entire line of bolt-on accessories designed to enhance the ride. After all, you’re going to need some luggage and other touring-friendly accessories to unlock the true potential of the V-Strom and make it yours.
While missing some of the flash of the orange and red competition, Suzuki offers a capable and highly refined motorcycle for the price. Factor in its elevated build quality and you have a motorcycle that’s ready to take on the challenge whether it’s a weekend getaway in the forest or the workweek commute.