Versatility is truly an achievement. How can a bike possibly be the king of all terrains? How can one chassis offer enough rigidity and stability to glide on the road, and enough flex to fly over dirt? Suzuki’s 2015 V-Strom 650X is definitely a step in the right direction. Improvements were made upon the already revamped 2012 model to specifically improve its capabilities on the unpaved road. The V-Strom originally came into being geared for adventure as the DL1000 in 2002. The original V-Strom, therefore, was the 1000. Yet still, the younger brother introduced in 2004 received its makeover 2 years sooner than the V-Strom 1000, which underwent drastic changes in 2014. The 2015 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 SE is, as a result, a truly raw and competent machine with a low price tag to blow its competitors away.
The V-Strom 1000 is Suzuki’s weapon against the BMW S1000XR and the KTM 1190 Adventure, and a formidable competitor it is. The V-Strom has the smallest displacement (1,037cc), least weight (468lbs dry), lowest seat (33.4in.), and lowest price ($12,999) of the lot. The smaller displacement is barely noticeable; a twist of the throttle yields impressive results.
External sources claim a horsepower output of approximately 90hp at 8,200rpm, with torque peaking 67lb-ft at 3,800rpm. This means torque is concentrated in the in the lower rev-range, making rolling-on from idle an exhilarating experience. Power delivery otherwise is smooth and predictable, with plenty of torque in the lower gears to bust through traffic and conquer city riding.
The new slipper clutch on the 2015 model feels a little tight and some more play in the friction zone would be beneficial, but practice fixed the jerks I was initially experiencing. Despite this, shifting through the 6-speed gearbox is a breeze. Vibrations are apparent in gears 1-4, but beyond that, highway riding is made into a comfortable experience. The liquid-cooled v-twin gives enough feedback to inform the rider to gear up or down without a look at the tachometer.
The ride itself was quite pleasant, though not particularly phenomenal. The windscreen is adjustable without tools and on the go, with three possible angles of tilt. Still, it seemed as if the lowest angle and highest wind deflection did not do too much to quell my helmet buffeting as a 6ft tall rider. Handlebar positioning aligned well with peg positioning to support a relaxed and upright seating position. The seat is cushiony and comfortable enough for long journeys.
Here’s where the versatility of the V-Strom 1000 comes into play. Taking on some twisty back-roads, the adventure bike greets each corner steadily and confidently. The chassis does not seem to flex in the corner and holds its form quite well. It’s no sportbike, but the Suzuki gets more ground clearance than one would expect before dragging pegs. Keeping this in mind, dirt roads pose no threat to the V-Strom.
Despite not having knobbed tires, the 468lb machine glides over dirt with a sense of familiarity and stability. The V-Strom comes with ASC traction control, which is equipped with three settings: off, one, and two. Turning the traction control off completely or keeping it on its lowest setting will result in a trouble-free dirt experience. The highest setting is best reserved for slick situations. ABS is also included with the V-Strom 1000, inspiring more confidence in the rider.
Suspension on the 2015 model is perfectly tuned for my 165lb form. Bumps and cracks in the road are soaked up without a problem. I do feel as if, in the scenario of a harsher off-road trip, a skid plate would be a useful feature. In fact, features are the one way in which the Suzuki is lacking. Cruise control, heated grips, and a centre-stand are among the more desirable features. The dash on the V-Strom 1000 is informative and simple, sticking with the general theme of the bike. Quite a decent selection of gauges and metres is available at the press of a button by the left thumb: average and instant KM/L, various trip meters, a fuel gauge, ambient temperature, and more. Traction control settings are also configurable with the left hand and a neutral throttle.
At first, I despised the sound of the engine. As I rode it more, I began to gain a sense of appreciation for its raw and rustic sound. I went through the same process with the aesthetics of the bike, though to a lesser degree. It looks stylistically plain: nothing flashy, nothing unnecessary. Yet over time, it gained a sense of charm in my eyes. The 2015 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 is very much a simple bike. If you’re looking for features, snazzy display, and a heavenly glide of a ride, perhaps it’d be best to direct your attention to the R1200GS. If you’re looking for a bike that does the job well and with no frills and extra ornaments, the Suzuki is the perfect choice. It’s a beautiful blend of function and simplicity.