This 2014 Suzuki V-Strom 650 slots in at the bottom of the “adventure touring” style of motorcycle. However, this is only the case in terms of cost as this is a motorcycle that provides a balance of comfort, long-distance riding ability and value far beyond its 650cc v-twin category.
The neutral riding position makes the V-Strom a gem providing hours of pain-free riding. The large supportive seat and well-placed controls make performing every riding task intuitive. The windshield provided the perfect amount of protection at all speeds for my 5’10 frame and can be easily cutomized with aftermarket products to suit any rider’s needs. My complaint (and it is minor) would be the lack of adjustability on the clutch handle as it required a reach to securely wrap my fingers around. As with most hard-side and top-box equipped bikes, mounting becomes a small chore requiring swinging your leg forward. Suzuki has remotely located the rear shock preload dial right next to the rear passenger footrest, making adjustments a breeze.
The 650cc v-twin has remained almost unchanged from its intial SV days and is still a beautiful engine both in terms of torque as well as overall ridability. It is remarkably fuel-efficient, pushing over 350 kms with just 20 liters of capacity in the tank. The first half of the rev range is where this bike is happiest, and power dies off a little bit in the second half. Short shifts are name of the game with the V-Strom. In the current world philosophy of “bigger is better”, this engine in reality is all you need. With its very open, almost-naked cowl design, heat was never an issue even on days where the temperature soared above 30 degrees Celsius.
At speed, the V-Strom with its high center of gravity was a breeze to ride both through curvy roads or while droning away on a 400-series highway. Slow speed turn-in is sometimes tricky as would be on most bikes with such a high COG. Handling on gravel roads inspired confidence while off-roading is definitely a no-no without the right tires. Wide handlebars make for easy work and the wide lock-to-lock make maneuvering a breeze. I attempted a couple of emergency stops on a closed course and there is no doubt in my mind that ABS should now be mandatory on all motorcycles. This V-Strom SE with ABS stopped with confidence and the braking system is very refined. It really is just as good as the versions found on Suzuki’s higher-end bikes.
If I lived in a location that allowed for year-round riding and needed a workhorse to give me the utility of a tourer, a work commuter as a weekend country road blaster all meddled into one, I would seriously consider the Suzuki V-Strom 650. The utility of the side bags is sometimes contrasted by how wide this bike gets with them on, but having the option to have bags is better then none at all. The V-Strom will not win any awards for its beauty, however priced at $10,000 equipped with a full set of easily removable hard bags and ABS, coupled with a massive aftermarket offering, this bike will and can meet the needs of almost everybody excepting the vain. It’s not perfect but pretty close.
2014 Suzuki V-Strom 650 SE ABS Gallery