The V-Strom 650 has long been Suzuki’s best-selling two-wheeled motor vehicle in North America and Europe. Its low price, ease to ride, comfort, and overall appearance make it clear as to why this is the case. A makeover in 2012 further boosted sales, and the new ‘WeeStrom’, the loving nickname for the 650, was a bit sprier after going through weight-loss, stylistic shifts, and a suspension alteration. The only thing remaining questionable about the V-Strom 650 was its versatility, particularly concerning the off-road environment. The new 2015 Suzuki V-Strom 650X, the Expedition edition, removes many such concerns with some essential changes and new features.
It’s clear that, this time around, Suzuki realized that it was time to further improve the off-road capabilities of their most popular model. The 650X comes standard with hand guards, engine guards, and an undercowl, all essential for the transformation in terms of comfort and security on dirt. The 17” tires on the standard 650 remain cast, but the 650X introduces 19”, aluminum, reverse-spoked Bridgestone Trail Wings. These tires are much more shock-absorbing, saving your back the trouble. The wire wheels are still tubeless, making them easily pluggable. Fear not, road-runners, they still offer a decent amount of feedback corners.
The carrying cases have been improved on the 650X as well. Now sleek and black, the top and side-cases are a lightweight aluminum. The left side-case holds a volume of 45L, while the right one, mounted overtop of the exhaust, holds 35L. The top case can fit a medium full-face helmet, but beware, a large or extra-large helmet may not fit. Suzuki chose to utilize a separate key for the bags, which was a good call. The bag key is fragile, and the locks finicky. Once you get them detached, their lightness becomes quite apparent, but handles would be a convenient addition for carrying purposes.
Perhaps the most interesting and character-inducing addition to the V-Strom 650X is the small beak added above the front tire. Included on the V-Strom-1000 already, the beak reflects Suzuki heritage, mimicking the beak on the old DR-Z that rode in the 1988 Paris-Dakar rally. On top of its emotional purposes, the beak also adds a great deal of functionality in the form of air-redirection. Various slits and intakes push air towards the radiator, keeping the 645cc 90-degree V-twin cool on the hottest of days.
Combined with the shapely design of the headlights, the V-Strom 650X takes on a very bird-like characteristic. The 2015 Yamaha FJ-09, in comparison, seems to have design elements that personify a wasp: honeycomb-like inserts in the fairings, edgy lines, and much more. The waspy elements of the FJ-09 are true to the way it handles and rides as well. In the same way, the 650X is agile, fluid, and as quick as a mechanical bird would be.
The 650X weighs in at 474 lbs, a low weight achieved by its twin-spar cast aluminum frame and swingarm. The light, yet rigid frame combines with the low weight to boast some clean and sharp handling. The weight is very well distributed and the centre of gravity is quite low. This makes the 650X extremely stable and easy to dance with at low speeds. There’s plenty of room for feather play with the light clutch, and more than ample power to get its wings flapping. Power delivery is instantaneous and responsive, but there is a slight edge in the bite in the lower end of the throttle, making a fresh roll onto the throttle (sans clutch) a slightly bumpy experience. Riding the friction zone during roll-ons prevents this, yet still, it’d be nice if that wasn’t necessary.
Brakes are powerful and offer high amounts of feedback due to high-pressure brake tubes. Twin-calipers cover the front disk, and a single caliper covers the rear disk. All V-Strom 650 models also come standard with ABS.
The ride itself is vibration-free, a significant plus-point for a bike that can really go the distance. A comfortable, upright riding position combined with a plush seat and a thick coat of rubber on the footpegs complement the long-distance ride-ability of the 650X.
One of the most distance-friendly characteristics is the fuel-efficiency of the bike. Much of these fuel savings come from the inclusion of twin iridium spark plugs in each cylinder, encouraging a more complete combustion and minimal fuel wastage. A quick glance at the dash revealed an average fuel consumption of 5.3L/100km, and that is with relatively aggressive riding. The fact that the gas tank is a large 20L unit is also encouraging for distance riders.
Though the 650X brings some much needed features into play, there are still some it lacks to reach the pinnacle of long-distance adventure riding. A centre-stand, heated grips, and self-cancelling turn signals would be welcomed with gusto, but are yet to be included. The reasons for this could be the maintenance of that low price tag of $11,399, or to prevent a rise in weight.
The 2015 Suzuki V-Strom 650X EXP is a desirable upgrade to the already popular model, and adds an incredible deal of versatility. It’s only $500 more than the standard V-Strom 650 EXP, and honestly? It’s way worth it.
2015 Suzuki V-Strom 650X Gallery