The distress machine is now being offered with an antilock braking system so versatility, agility, power and torque can start to be used in a safer way. Good news for enduro riders and bad news for the other Japanese manufacturers.
Suzuki V-Strom 650 ABS made its entry in 2007 and it represented a step forward for the already popular DL 650 or V-Strom 650. The ABS version doesn’t feature any other improvement apart from the safer braking system which determines more and more people not to second guess the bike’s possibilities.
Writing the history of a model that started being produced this year is quite a challenge but I consider best to write about the initial model, V-Strom 650, which thanks to its great comfort given to its adequate seat position and handlebars become the choice of many riders.
The fact that it became a quick success didn’t generate only from its ergonomic characteristics. In fact, what sold this motorcycle so good is its engine and transmission taken right out of the Suzuki SV650.
Being bulletproof build and featuring the appreciated engine on the SV650 the V-Strom didn’t received any mechanical changes. The truth is that any major change would have been completely unnecessary. At least this is what Suzuki people thought because they decided to launch the ABS version of the V-Strom as a 2007 model year.
In 2007 it was offered with black paintjob but 2008 brings this dual sport motorcycle gray or black painted.
2008 Suzuki V-Strom 650 ABS and 2008 Yamaha FZ6
The engine from SV650 mounted on a dual sport can bring some pretty stiff competition but the V-Strom maintains peace between him and BMW F650, In fact I chose to mention the F650 just because it is an enduro and it presents the same cylinder capacity as the bike I am reviewing but the true opponent comes from Yamaha FZ6, a sporty motorcycle which differs given to its inline four engine but receives the rider in the same riding position given by the seat height and handlebars. The fact that the front of the Yamaha has pretty much the same apparel of the Suzuki gives me the idea that the bikes could compete but yet again: the 650 engine can keep the rhythm going on the SV650 but on the V-Strom ABS it is more torque oriented and this probably determines riders to choose between the two.
2008 Suzuki V-Strom 650 ABS
Some would say that the V-Strom 650 ABS has a face that only a mother could love but for the dual sport motorcycle that it is, the look doesn’t seem to need much improvement. It would have been impossible to with its sporty fairing designed to incorporate manual adjustment to three different heights over about a two-inch range of the windshield. More importantly, the new windshield now has an opening at its base to allow forced air entry to balance the vacuum behind the shield. This creates an effect of reduced turbulences over the windshield.
Another good thing is that they kept V-Strom’s 1000 22 liter fuel tank which supplies gasoline for about 200 miles without even a stop. The fuel tank is beautifully designed and it continues the fairing’s line. Kind of like on another bike I know.
Ok, so until now everything sounds like riding sporty in comfort but something looks different. Oh, it’s the 19” front wheel which starts talking a little bit about the bikes versatility. Also, this is the element that gives the tone of the bike’s entire front look.
The advantage of the bike is its SV650 engine which was highly improved since 1999 and remains the same for V-Strom 650 ABS, and that is: 90 degree, water-cooled, V-Twin, with the same 81mm x 62.6mm bore and stroke. Each cylinder received four valves, with both intake and exhaust being opened and closed by individual camshaft, but for the engine to perform a bit differently, other camshaft with more relaxed cam profiles were mounted. This helps boost the power approximately 5 percent right where you need it, between 4,000 and 6,500 rpm. To achieve this gain, small changes were made inside the airbox and exhaust too.
Being build as a smooth operating machine, the V-Storm charms its rider with short gear ratios and a six-speed transmission. It doesn’t keep the same final drive however, as the rear sprocket is richer with three teeth than the one mounted on the SV. While this adds acceleration at the expense of top-end, most owners are going to appreciate the extra pickup away from the lights. On the highway, the V-Strom presents a very flexible top gear. When I say flexible I mean that it can run down as low to 2500 rpm and still pull decently but with the great amount of torque available over 4000 rpm I bet that few owners will ever do this. Keep in mind that I didn’t said try, but do it (as on a regular bases).
I feel like I should mention that handling is not as sharp as you would expect, given to the 19” front wheel and suspension but maybe I was expecting something else with no reason as I kept the thought that this is an enduro motorbike close to the one with the “disappoint” word included. I guess I got carried away because of the way it looks and the low riding position but the handlebar is high and pretty much everything on board says comfort and getting to your destination in complete relaxation. Sacrifice has to be maid when designing motorcycle but I can’t find any although I try.
Suspension performs excellent on both street or trail riding but what I most love about this motorcycle is the ABS which gives it a plus on the safety chapter. Personally, I felt like I could do virtually anything on this motorcycle as it is practically build to take you in the middle of nowhere and back. Believe me, it can!
The best feeling on the V-Strom 650 is given by its adjustable windshield which provides excellent protection even at high, motorway speeds. Also, I was very impressed of the quietness of the engine working through a tow-into-one exhaust system. For an intimidating roar you have to rev through 8,000 rpm, but the bike will cruise at 80 mph in 6th gear at about 5,800 rpm and no vibrations will feel through its body. Way to go Suzuki!
I conclude by saying that the overall package couldn’t bring more satisfaction to a rider which desires torque on the trails, in the city and on the highway, this motorcycle being build to provide the amount needed at each and every incursion on or off the streets.
One of the best dual sport motorcycles I’ve ever put my hands on and I didn’t lock the front has another quality that doesn’t involve torque, handling or looks and that is the fact that it can end up in your garage for a MSRP of 7,199.
The idea of mounting ABS on an already great product can only make a statement of aiming to perfection and to the best riding experience both on and off-road. The fact that this motorcycle is offered for the accessible retail price that I previously mentioned can only mean that we are going to see it more and more often.