Let the adventure begin…

WORDS | Michael Cowton IMAGES | Courtesy Suzuki

If, like me, you are new to modern tourer/adventure bikes, I can guarantee you will be in for a particularly pleasant surprise. Littered with technology and boasting excellent versatility, comfort and power, I have been out and about for a fortnight on the Suzuki V-Strom 1000XT, the embodiment of practically everything you could want and expect from a bike that just squeezes under the £10,500 price bracket.  And if affordability coupled with sophistication can be added to the swing tag, then so be it, I can live happily with that. Because this bike is everything you could wish for in a sports/tourer/adventure machine.

First introduced 17 years ago in 1000cc form, the bike was based on the SV1000 roadster, and helped expand the popularity of motorcycles in the adventure category. In 2004 it was joined by the V-Strom 650. Whilst its sibling proved immensely popular and received a facelift in 2011, the 1000 was dropped in 2008, only for a more proficient V-Strom 1000 to resurface in 2013, expressing the heritage from the desert racer DR-Z in its design by inheriting the Suzuki-original ‘Beak’ style. The new V-Strom 1000 had largely evolved also with the installation of Suzuki’s first traction control system. as a 1037cc, 100bhp V-twin with a price tag of under £10,000. Its popularity saw Suzuki apply yet further new technology and practical experience to the 2018 and 2019 V-Strom 1000.

Heading today’s range is the proven 1037cc, V-Strom 1000XT, which differs from the base model with spoked wheels and a tapered ‘bar. With fuel injection and mapping tweaks, the peak power has been nudged a tad to a claimed 101bhp at 8,000rpm, which is hardly discernible, but worthy of note. Driven by that powerful and versatile 90-degree, DOHC, V-twin, the rider benefits from easy acceleration in almost any situation, whether or not you are two up.

The V-Strom 1000XT is equipped with some of the most advanced rider technology available, including a Motion Track Brake System, Advanced Traction Control System, Low RPM Assist and Suzuki Easy Start System. By adding the new design concept ‘Tough Gear’ to the existing ‘Wild and Smart’, the bike now has an updated look, mainly in the upper cowling, akin to its 645cc sibling. Suzuki’s original ‘Beak’ style has been further emphasised by making it a straight line from the tip to the top of the tank, expressing the DNA from the DR-Big and the desert racer DR-Z. The newly designed double stitched seat has a sense of quality, and the tandem area is parallel with the rear carrier, providing a large, flat space to securely strap large baggage when needed.

Firing the bike up for the first time and easing it on to a quiet country lane, the one thing I noticed almost immediately was the flexibility of the V-twin motor. It was quietly efficient, engaging and rider tolerant as I got used to flicking through the gears. For a big bike I found it amazingly easy to control at low speeds, the balance spot on as I tried out a few tight u-turns. In fact, it rode like a bike in a far lighter class. Once on the open road, I opened her up and she was smooth and quickly, make that very quickly, up to speed. Impressive just got more impressive. Those V-Strom 1000 innovative systems clearly help to maintain engine performance and in turn offer excellent fuel economy, all whilst achieving worldwide emission standards without any reduction in horsepower.

The chassis, which is the foundation of this compact, lightweight adventure-ready package, proved to be spot on for both mid-corner stability and dropping into turns, working in perfect harmony with the rubber underneath me. Stopping power comes via customary, independent control of the front and rear brakes – that is unless a situation occurs to activate the anti-lock or combination braking features.

With this new generation ‘big brother’ Traction Control System continuously monitoring the front and rear wheels speeds, throttle opening, engine speed, and transmission gear, quickly reducing engine output when it detects wheel spin by adjusting ignition timing and air delivery, it is as if an invisible security wand is waving over the rider, who is able to control the twist grip with more confidence, no matter the conditions. Selection is available through three modes – 1, 2, and OFF. Modes 1 and 2 differ in terms of sensitivity. Mode 1 has lower sensitivity, thereby allowing a certain degree of rear wheel spin for good road conditions. Mode 2 has higher sensitivity, when the system engages traction control sooner and is for poor road conditions. So, all bases are covered here, then.

The multi-function, illumination-adjustable instrument panel delivers a wide range of other vehicle information, including an odometer, dual trip meters, gear position, coolant and ambient temperatures, voltage, riding range, average fuel consumption and instantaneous fuel consumption.

As to those impressive lines, the XT’s fresh styling enjoys a nod and a wink to its lineage, whilst bringing the adventure theme into sharp focus. The distinctive fairing design is sharp and aggressive, eye-catching and very stylish. The front end features vertically stacked headlights and a hand-adjustable windshield. With two V-Strom 1000 variants available (the V-Strom 1000GT and V-Strom 1000XGT are luggage-equipped versions of the base model and XT), the V-Strom 1000XT is fitted with wire spoke wheels as standard for better shock absorption and comfort. They look mighty fine, too. Tapered handlebars add to the more off-road look.

Having dusted off some decent road surfaces, tight corners, long, sweeping bends, backroads, plus town and country traffic, I managed to put the bike through most conditions that I would normally encounter in order to test its true capabilities. For a big bike it is incredibly light and easily manoeuvrable; it takes twisties with ease; that motor is as sweet as a nut and makes fast progress when you want it to; it’s got bags of character; the  spacious riding position is a particularly nice place to be; and the bike will no doubt keep pace with the best of the big boys on a grand tour, whilst benefitting from low fuel consumption. And it’s under £10,500.

So what’s not to like about the 1000XT? To be perfectly honest, nothing. Ok, take a stroll through the net and there is plenty of bedtime reading about the issue of wind blast, but that tends to relate to previous iterations of the bike. Suzuki’s designers clearly have worked hard to resolve the issue. The new height and angle adjustable windscreen is 49mm taller than the prior V-Strom’s screen, and was developed through extensive wind-tunnel testing to reduce both wind noise and rider fatigue.

Rather than producing a totally wind-free zone, according to Suzuki the new windscreen has been designed specifically to channel some wind into the protected area to make the border between the unprotected area a blur. Whilst I’m not sure precisely what that means, anything over 40mph and the level of wind blast is noticeable around the body, but that’s to be expected and certainly does not detract from what otherwise is a lovely riding experience. To gain the optimum level of comfort from the new screen, three pre-set positions are available. Set at the lowest position as standard, the screen can be lifted via a ratchet system 15mm or 30mm upwards, according to preference.

It has been interesting to watch as the market for large capacity motorcycles has matured, allied to the exponential growth in the adventure category. The V-Strom has earned its place at the table, building on its popularity as a highly versatile choice of machine with its balance of power, lightness and manoeuvrability allied to that high level of comfort. If I was to purchase a V-Strom, then the only thing I might consider changing would be the screen for a direct bolt-on touring replacement, one which is both wider and taller, and which hopefully would offer less drag and a smoother ride. This is in no way directed as a criticism of the existing new screen, just one of personal choice. Aside from that, as I say, the V-Strom 1000XT offered me one of the most relaxing rides I have enjoyed on a bike, and I could easily see myself enjoying some big miles on one – once I got that replacement screen in situ.

ADDED EXTRAS:  it is well worth noting that the V-Strom is currently available with £500 free accessories, £500 test ride bonus (if you demo it and go on to buy it, they knock another £500 off!) and Suzuki’s 2, 3, 4 offer, where you can choose from PCP or HP, from two, three or four-year deals, and get an APR to match.



RRP: £10,499

  • Engine: Four-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, 1037cc, 90-degree, V-twin
  • Transmission: Six-speed constant mesh
  • Starter: Electric
  • Max power: 74.0kW @ 8000rpm (101PS)
  • Max Torque: 101.00Nm @ 4000rpm (74.49lb-ft)
  • Frame: Aluminium twin spar
  • Front suspension: 43mm inverted telescopic with adjustable spring preload plus compression and rebound-damping force adjusters
  • Rear suspension: Single-shock, link-type featuring rebound-damping force adjustment plus remote, hand-operated spring preload adjuster
  • Brakes: ABS with Suzuki’s unique Motion Track Anti-lock and Combination Brake System
  • Seat height: 850mm
  • Wheels: Lightweight 10-spoke cast aluminium
  • Front tyre: 110/80R19M/C 59V
  • Rear tyre: 150/70R17M/C 69V
  • Fuel capacity: 20 litres
  • MPG: 57.65
  • Kerb mass: 233kg
  • Top speed: 140mph (est)

Check out Suzuki’s Added Extras offer here: https://bikes.suzuki.co.uk/offers-and-finance/234-promotion/

You can configure a finance example here: https://szuki.co/IsXp