The V-strom isn’t a superbike, but it’s not bad.
The V-Strom 650 XT ABS has a new look,
with a beak over the front fender.
That’s about 3 inches less than something like a BMW
R1200GS-A or a KTM 1190 Adventure R. All the V-Stroms
have anti-lock braking as standard equipment.
When you sign up for the XT, you get accessories that
would cost you much more if you purchased them separately. Tops on that list are the aluminum side cases. The bike
also has crash bars, an adjustable windscreen and Suzuki’s
new reverse-spoke wheels. This last item is important
because the cast wheels were always somewhat worrisome
when you rode a V-Strom in the dirt—real or perceived. The
reverse spokes connect to ridges so there are no holes in
the rims for air to escape. As far as cosmetics, the main
feature for the XT is the “beak” over the front fender, which
is a styling look that Suzuki more or less originated 20 years
ago. That pushes up the price of the XT to $10,399.
The biggest asset of the V-Strom in the dirt is its seat
height. That 3 inches is a very big deal any time the speed
drops down to the first-gear range. Don’t get us wrong, the
bike is still very large and can be a handful in soft soil, but
compared to the bigger machines that we’ve accepted in
the adventure bike category, the V-Strom is comparatively
small. Another great thing about the bike is the motor. You
tend to forget that it’s only a 650. It’s relatively torquey
and very, very smooth. Mild motor pulses can be felt, but
they’re actually a good thing, There’s something about the
rhythm of a 90-degree V-twin that makes you feel good
about the world—perfect, electric smoothness would actu-
ally be a step backwards. When you get on an open road,
whether dirt or asphalt, and accelerate from high speed to
higher speed, you get your first indication that the motor
isn’t all that big. Roll-on throttle response is a little lazy. At
freeway speed, the motor turns at about 5000 rpm in sixth
gear, halfway to the 10,000 rpm redline.