If you’re looking for adventure, here’s the machine to help you find it - the V-Strom 650. What really sets the V-Strom apart from other street bikes, of course, is its unmatched versatility. Its lightweight, agile handling inspires confidence, while its smooth suspension front and rear performs exceptionally well in almost any situation.
First introduced in 2004, Suzuki DL650, better known as the V-Strom 650 had the perfect recipe for achieving the actual success. On top of Suzuki’s DL650 press kit, the title “The middleweight Sport Enduro Tourer” says everything about all in a middleweight package that delivers in-town versatility and sporty on-road performance with low seat height, wind protection, highway touring comfort and serious range. Also by being user friendly and featuring a seat height low enough for beginners or female riders, the bike announced to be an even greater success.
After its launch in 2004 the V-Strom become the needed solution for many riders who either had to make some off-road incursions from time to time or they just wanted to benefit of the bike’s ergonomics which really make it stand out.
But a motorcycle doesn’t sell just for riding position and comfort (although it could). The Suzuki V-Strom 650 features SV650’s engine and transmission which transforms it into a bulletproof option concerning mechanics.
You probably wonder why I am not talking about major changes like passes from carburetion to injection or different materials that were implemented on this model as it was produced. Well, the answer is simple: it doesn’t have any! This bike featured fuel injection and best everything right since it was launched in 2004 and this is part of its success, being modern and competitive right from the start.
But a great product has to shine and paint does the job every time. That is why the V-Strom 650, initially available blue or black painted featured only a year later red paint instead of black while blue was kept, only to be replaced with silver in 2006. Don’t get confused like I did! It’s true, a V-Strom’s year can be easily guessed after first seeing the bike. You will probably need a second guess as it kept the blue color scheme for two years and the candy red also. 2006 brings silver paint so you won’t have a problem with this one.
For 2007 the blue paintjob was reconsidered and silver was replaced with gray.
New for 2008: the flat black color scheme, replacing gray, and Suzuki yellow instead of blue.
Featuring the engine from SV650, Suzuki V-Strom 650 doesn’t see BMW F650 as an opponent. In fact it sees it but through its rear view mirrors as the V-Strom has the needed power and smoothness to eliminate F650’s every capability.
In my attempt of trying to find the closest competitor for this middleweight sport enduro tourer, I turned my attention towards Yamaha FZ6. I did that because, although faster, noisier and more sports oriented, FZ6 shares a similar riding position, bodywork, class and retail price. The clear difference between the two is the engine as Yamaha FZ6 features a more powerful R6-based engine which doesn’t provide the same amount of torque, smoothness and versatility as the 650 90 degree V-twin. In fact this is the “detail” that determines customers to head in one of the both ways, based on their preferences and abilities.
Ok, so I’ve told you the recipe of Suzuki V-Strom 650’s success but if you take a look at it, you will notice that it only talks about middleweight packages, abilities, and touring position but how about its look? Does the bike talk through its design? You guessed it, of course it does! It would have been impossible not 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.
What I most love about this motorcycle is its SV650 engine which was highly improved since 1999 and remains the same for V-Strom 650, 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-Strom 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.
Dual disc brake up front and single rear disc provide all the necessary stopping power and more while the suspension that I first considered nimble, do their job spotless.
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 would like to put an end by saying that the overall package must receive an A plus for smooth power delivery, good handling, brakes, but most of all riding position.
One of the best dual sport motorcycles I’ve ever put my hands on has another quality that doesn’t involve torque, handling or looks and that is the price tag of $6,699.
With its height-adjustable aerodynamic windshield and spacious riding position, the V-Strom is designed for smooth, comfortable performance on the highway. In addition, it has an extra-large fuel tank for extended riding. It’s equally at home around town, thanks to its low seat height, light weight and overall crisp handling. And the V-Strom’s V-Twin engine adds excitement to every ride, offering a wide powerband and strong acceleration in every gear.
Engine and Transmission
Type: four-stroke, liquid cooled, 90 degree V-twin, DOHC, 8-valves
Bore x Stroke: 81.0 x 62.6mm
Compression Ratio: 11.5:1
Fuel System: Fuel injection
Lubrication: Wet sump
Final Drive: #525 chain
Chassis and Dimensions
Suspension Front: Telescopic, oil damped, adjustable preload
Suspension Rear: Link-type, adjustable spring preload and rebound damping
Brakes Front: Dual hydraulic disc
Brakes Rear: Single hydraulic disc
Tires Front: 110/80R-19
Tires Rear: 150/70R-17
Overall Length: 2290mm (90.2 in.)
Overall Width: 840mm (33.1 in.)
Overall Height: 1390mm (54.7 in.)
Seat Height: 820mm (32.3 in.)
Ground Clearance: 165mm (6.5 in)
Wheelbase: 1555mm (61.2 in.)
Dry Weight: 194kg (427lbs.)
Fuel Tank Capacity: 22 liter (5.8 gal.)
Color: Flat Black, Yellow
-SV650-based 645cc 90 degree V-twin, DOHC 8-valve, liquid-cooled engine with dual spark plug heads for improved combustion and reduced emissions
Electronic fuel injection features the Suzuki Dual Throttle Valve System (SDTV)-maintains optimum air velocity in the intake track for smooth low-to-mid rpm throttle response
Auto Fast Idling System (AFIS), automatically sets throttle valve opening during cold engine starts by monitoring coolant temperature
Digital ignition system provides optimum ignition timing with separate maps for each cylinder
Lightweight shim-under-bucket valve system operates 31mm intake and 22.5mm exhaust valves, plus valve timing with emphasis on low-rpm power
SCEM (Suzuki Composite Electro-chemical Material) plated cylinders minimize cylinder size and improve heat dissipation
Smooth shifting 6-speed transmission with cable operated clutch – final drive ratio lowered from SV650 for improved low rpm performance
High-efficiency liquid cooling system for optimum engine operating temperature – includes compact oil cooler
Plastic outer clutch cover and engine sprocket cover for reduced weight and noise
High-mounted stainless steel exhaust system with aluminum muffler tuned to enhance engine torque and low-to-midrange performance
PAIR – air injection system reduces CO and HC emissions – California model equipped with catalyst in exhaust for further reduce emissions
-Black-painted frame and swingarm for stylish appearance
Slim and compact front fairing for maximum wind protection, plus large comfortable seat – fairing includes large multi-reflector 60/55 headlights
Compact step-motor speedometer and tachometer with LED illumination, plus LCD display for twin tripmeters, odometer temperature gauge, fuel gauge and digital clock
Height-adjustable windshield for maximum wind protection and comfort – can be manually adjusted to three positions in a 50mm vertical range
Large rear luggage rack with rubber-padded platform to help keep bags and luggage in place
Aluminum twin-spar frame and aluminum swingarm are lightweight, compact and rigid – bolt-on sub-frame simplifies maintenance
Preload-adjustable 43mm front fork for a comfortable ride under all riding conditions
Link-type rear suspension features a single shock absorber with adjustable rebound damping and a knob-operated hydraulic preload adjuster for easy adjustment
Dual front disc brakes with large 310mm rotors and twin-piston calipers, plus single-disc rear brake with 260mm rotor and single-piston caliper
Lightweight cast aluminum wheels – F: 2.50 x 19 with 110/80R-19 radial tire, R: 4.0 x 17 with 150/70R-17 rear tire
Large 5.8 gallon fuel tank for long-range operation