POWER: The Suzuki V-twin motor is faster, as you might
expect, but the BMW is surprisingly strong for a single. Both
bikes make a ton of torque, but the Suzuki revs much higher
(a 10,000 rpm redline versus 7000). We were pleased that the
Suzuki has a low first gear, which is handy off-road.
WEIGHT: Both bikes are beefy. Suzuki claims 519
pounds for the V-Strom, including 5. 3 gallons of fuel, which
translates to about 486 pounds dry. The BMW is claimed
to be 390 pounds dry. By the seat of our pants, those
numbers aren’t far off. The BMW feels about 100 pounds
lighter. The bottom line is that neither bike is a feather in
the dirt. The Suzuki’s weight is somewhat comforting on
the road, as it feels more substantial and stable.
RANGE: The Suzuki has a massive 5.3-gallon tank. We
typically got about 53 mpg, even with off-road tires, and that
gives the bike great range. The BMW only has a 3.7-gallon
tank, but it always seems to get over 60 mpg. It still can’t go
as far as the Suzuki and has an overly anxious “fuel” light
that seems to come on when the tank is just over half empty.
COMFORT: This is where these bikes shine. Both are
absolutely great ways to spend a day in the saddle. The
Suzuki’s wind protection is a little better, but it has a little
more handlebar buzz at freeway speed. The BMW shakes
more, as single-cylinder bikes do. In the dirt, both bikes
handle best when the rider stands up, because the seats
are pillowy and trap the rider with his weight too far rearward. Both bikes have narrow footpegs, so you need really
good boots with stiff soles. The BMW’s seat is especially
low and cramped for tall riders. There is a tall seat option.
OFF THE ROAD: There’s no question that the BMW is a
better dirt bike. It’s lighter; it has more ground clearance, and
the 21-inch front wheel rolls over rough stuff better. It could
use a little more weight on the front wheel, which feels even
lighter when the under-seat tank is full. In the dirt, you can
disable the ABS, but you have to stop to do it. Even after
doing this, you’ll have a hard time with the rear brake
because it’s positioned too low and isn’t adjustable.
The Suzuki has a heavy-feeling front end but doesn’t steer
any better than the BMW. In fact, the front end seems to collapse the moment it reaches the dirt. There’s simply no
escaping the Suzuki’s weight. It requires a very cautious
approach to any off-road obstacles. The saddlebags that
come on the Adventure model aren’t especially dirt-friendly.
They’re a full foot wider than the BMW’s saddlebags. On the
Suzuki, you have to be careful not to knock over your riding
buddy when you want to pull up beside him.
ON THE STREET: As you might expect, the Suzuki is
much better on the street. The motor gives it a huge
advantage. It has a super-wide powerband, thanks mostly
to its 3000-rpm advantage. The BMW revs, but it isn’t
happy about it. The Suzuki’s wind protection is better, and
its V-rated radial tires give it a big contact patch, which
adds to its already solid stability. Take care, though; those
saddlebags are just as wide on the street and can be taken
off by parking-lot barriers and poles.
BOTTOM LINE: We know who you are. You know who
we are. The magazine is called Dirt Bike for a reason, so
naturally we’re more fond of the BMW, but that doesn’t
mean we don’t like the V-Strom. It’s a lot of bike for the
money and represents a legitimate segment of the adventure bike world, but you have to understand up front that
it’s the more street-oriented segment. ;
If you want to take stuff with you, the
Suzuki has the room. The Adventure edition’s aluminum bags are much larger than
the BMW’s optional Vario bags. But, the
BMW’s system mounts more cleanly.
SUZUKI V-STROM &
ADVENTURE A GOGO