Suzuki continues strong in the adventure market for 2016 with the V Strom family. The 1000 and 1000 Adventure share the stable with their 650 cc counterparts for fun on-road and off-road in grand touring style.

If you’re looking at an adventure bike for the first time, understand that this isn’t a sport bike with off-road capabilities. Don’t look at that 1000 cc engine and get a chubby like you would with a crotch rocket. These V Strom 1000s are adventure bikes – tall seat, tall tank and suspension squishier than a street bike, but not as much travel as a proper off-road bike. Is that a bad thing? No, as long as you know what you’re looking at.

Continue reading for my review of the Suzuki V Strom 1000 and V Strom 1000 Adventure.

  • 2015 - 2016 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 ABS / V-Strom 1000 ABS Adventure
  • Year:
    2015- 2016
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    4-stroke, 2-cylinder, liquid-cooled, DOHC, 90-degree V-Twin
  • Displacement:
    1037 cc
  • Price:
    12699

Design

2015 - 2016 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 ABS / V-Strom 1000 ABS Adventure
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Tall is the word when you talk about adventure touring. Seat height on the V Stroms is typical for the genre at 33.4-inches — tippy-toe country for average inseams, but necessary for proper off-road posture and performance. At 5’ 8”, you’ll be tippy-toeing at stops, but in the 6’-plus range, you’ll be flat-footing it. The bike’s narrow waist helps offset some of the problems associated with tall saddles, but the location of the footpegs will have them digging your calves if your inseam isn’t long enough to plant your feet wide.

Riding posture is upright and relaxed and the saddle is firm, but comfortable. The seat has a grippy texture, but not much of a cantle to hold your butt. That’s not really a problem considering you’ll never feel like the bike is driving out from under you even when you get twisty.

For a touring bike, that big front wheel makes the bike feel like it wants to stand up, which is fine for straight-ahead riding, but it isn’t very flickable. If you compare it to Versys from Kawasaki, the Versys has a smaller front wheel and much more flickability.

That aside, the V Strom 1000 has nimble steering and the light weight makes it easy to handle even in the parking lot. The engine is smooth, even at low speeds, and has plenty of power to overtake and pass when on the highway, although it can get a bit of vibration when you push it, but not overly so. It cruises at a nice, low rpm, which I expect from a V-twin, so you don’t sound like you’re screaming up the road just cruising along. Shifting is also smooth and effortless. Neutral is easy to find, which is always a good thing.

The instrument cluster is easy to read with a big sweep tach and digital speedometer. I would prefer it the other way around with a sweep speedometer and digital tach, but that’s only because my ol’ lady eyes can take in the position of the needle at a glance but I have to stare at the digital numbers for a second or two in order to read them. I want to glance at the speedometer and as far as the tach goes, well, once you get to know your bike, you rarely look at the tach, yeah?

I like having the 12V outlet below the instrument cluster, but it is a bit exposed. There’s a weather-proof cover, but the cover is open when you have something plugged in. I might rather have the outlet in a glovebox so I can charge my phone while I ride, but it is easily accessible for a GPS unit.

The bike is rather quiet; too quiet for my liking but it was pointed out to me that if you fire it up and start and end your trip in a residential neighborhood, your neighbors will appreciate that you aren’t riding a Harley with a low-restriction exhaust. With a Harley at our house, all the neighbors know when TJ comes and goes.

The windscreen is manually adjusted. It’s nice to have it adjustable on-the-go but I guess once you set the height – which you do at a stop – how much would you adjust it anyway? On-the-go, you can adjust the angle lower or higher so it feeds your helmet vents without buffeting your head. That’s good enough, yeah?

So what makes the Adventure model the Adventure? Most notably, hand guards, a taller and wider touring windscreen and side-mounted cases – things you’d probably want if you truly plan to adventure-tour.

Chassis

2015 - 2016 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 ABS / V-Strom 1000 ABS Adventure
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For 2015, Suzuki built the V-Strom range on a twin-spar, stressed-engine, aluminum frame that weighs in 13-percent lighter than the previous generation. This falls under the “very important” category when considering a bike that you are probably going to have to stand up at some point, and probably by yourself. Honestly, for off-road work I would prefer to see a steel frame for its durability and shock attenuating properties, but the lighter weight makes for an acceptable trade off, I suppose.

The factory kept unsprung weight down as well with cast-aluminum Enkei wheels that mount the 19-inch front and 17-inch rear hoops, while the dual-sport tires show more of a paved-road bias than one might expect in an adventure bike. Perhaps a set of true street-knobbies would have been more appropriate, but you can always throw a set on after the sale and maybe a pair of spoked wheels, too, if you plan to be off-road more than on.

A pair of Tokico monoblock calipers bind the dual, 310 mm discs via a strong, four-pot, opposed-piston configuration. This is plenty of brake-ability considering the barely-over 500-pound mass to be controlled, not to mention the ABS protection that helps you use the brakes with more authority and confidence.

Adventure bikes are built to tackle an array of terrains, and some of them place significant strains on the machine. Suzuki improved the suspension and stiffened the front end with a set of usd forks that resist the effects of hard street cornering and bumpy terrain. A link-mount monoshock supports the rear, and it comes with a hand-crank preload adjuster with a rebound-damper adjuster as well so you can easily tune the bike for different riding surfaces.

Drivetrain

2015 - 2016 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 ABS / V-Strom 1000 ABS Adventure
- image 654209

The beating heart contains a whole laundry list of improvements over the previous generation, most notably in the fuel injection, idle-speed control (ISC) and with the addition of a traction-control system. Any improvement is always a good thing, but the traction control is my favorite. It monitors the wheel speed info and intervenes via the Suzuki Dual-Throttle Valve (SDTV) when slip is detected, sort of like ABS except for going, not stopping. The traction-control system comes with three, pre-programmed modes for varying levels of intervention, to include an “Off” setting for straight-up, direct-throttle control.

The new-for-2015 fuel injectors run a ten-hole tip that aids in fuel atomization and promotes clean, complete combustion, plus it helps the engine meet current emissions standards by reducing free hydrocarbons in the exhaust stream.

Considerably oversquare, the 100 mm bore and 66 mm stroke adds up to a total of 1,037 cc for the 90-degree, V-twin mill. That’s about as big as I would go, to be honest, because of what I already said about having to stand the thing up one day. Not only that, but excess weight does nothing to help off-road handling, and you can only use so much power in really rough, off-road conditions. A water-jacketed engine helps maintain engine temp, even in harsh climates at slow speeds, plus it helps dampen the mechanical thrashing noises from the mill.

A six-speed, constant-mesh transmission crunches the ratios, and a tough, chain drive makes the final connection. Say what you will about chains, they are tough, and very easy to repair/replace in the field, or on the side of the road as it were. The perfect drive system for long-distance road trips or intrepid adventures over hill and dale.

Pricing

2015 - 2016 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 ABS / V-Strom 1000 ABS Adventure
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MSRP on the 2016 V Stroms is the same as 2015: $12,699 for the V Strom 1000 ABS, and $13,999 for the V Strom 1000 ABS Adventure. For 2016, get the “1000” in Metallic Mystic Silver and the “1000 Adventure” in Metallic Matte Fibroin Gray.

Suzuki covers you with a 12-month unlimited mileage, limited warranty on your new V Strom.

Competitors

2015 - 2018 Kawasaki Versys 650 / Versys 650 LT / Versys 1000 LT
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2016 Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin
- image 654220

We’re down to the Competitor’s section and you’re sure I’m going with the Kawasaki Versys 1000, yeah? Sorry. I’m going to put the V Strom 1000 Adventure head-to-head with the Africa Twin from Honda. Why? I try to keep engine sizes comparable when making a comparison, and while the Versys certainly qualifies, I want to take a look at the newcomer, relatively speaking, the Africa Twin.

Visually, the two share a similar stance, but with very different aesthetic qualities. I have to say the V-Strom carries a look that’s more typical of the genre with its bulky tank and bird-beak fairing. While I’m no fan of the bird-beak, the smoother lines and blunt entry on the Africa Twin doesn’t really do it for me either. In the end, form-follows function and it isn’t so much about looks, is it?

Both bikes more or less share some of their best feature. The V-Strom comes with all-round ABS protection, while the Africa Twin gets ABS on the rear brake only, and it can be disabled altogether for complete control over the bike. I can think of times when you actually want the rear wheel to slide a bit, so this makes the Africa a little more maneuverable, with fewer “nanny features” to muddy up the ride. Traction control is also present across the board, with Honda again offering just a little more with a total of three rider modes plus and Off option, over the two-plus-off version on the Suzuki.

Suzuki ekes out a win in the brute displacement category, with a 1,037 cc, V-twin lump versus the 998 cc, parallel-twin mill in the Honda. A minor victory, and one that gets lost in the sameness of the rest of the details. Water cooling, six-speed trannys and chain drives are present in both families, but the Africa Twin uses slipper-clutch technology, a feature I always like to see.

Another nifty detail with the Africa Twin involves the transmission as well; its’ the DCT automatic transmission option that can allow riders with certain physical impediments to keep their fists in the wind as well as folks that just that convenience. This option alone will buy Honda some business for sure.

The sticker battle produces mixed results with the base V-Strom rolling for $12,699 and the V-Strom Adventure for $13,999. Honda lets go of the Africa Twin for a base MSRP of $12,999, and a price of $13,699 for the DCT model. Neck-and-neck here, ’nuff said.

He Said

My husband and fellow writer, TJ Hinton, says, “ Like Allyn, I have never been a fan of the bird-beak fairing, but I have to admit it kind of typifies the genre and gives a nod to its heritage, Suzuki’s first adventure touring motorcycle, the 1988 DR750S. Beyond that, the overall look of the V-Strom family suggests great capabilities on street and trail; a look that inspires confidence and perhaps encourages a bit of an adventurous spirit. It certainly does with me.”

She Said

“If I have to find a complaint – and it isn’t a complaint as much as it is an observation – the tank is really wide. Not only does it not have an intent for your knees, the tank bulges where your knees would fall and gives you a slight bow-legged seat. That probably isn’t a problem off-road as you’d spend a certain amount of time standing on the pegs, but for on-road adventures, I kinda wished the tank would allow for a more natural position for the knees.”

Specifications

Engine:
Engine: 1037cc, 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, 90-degree V-Twin
Bore x Stroke: 100.0 mm x 66.0 mm (3.937 in x 2.598 in)
Compression Ratio: 11.3 : 1
Fuel System: Suzuki Fuel Injection
Starter: Electric
Lubrication: Wet sump
Drive Train:
Transmission: 6-speed constant mesh
Final Drive: Chain
Chassis:
Suspension Front: Invetered telescopic, coil spring, oil damped
Suspension Rear: Link type, coil spring, oil damped
Brakes Front: Disc, twin
Brakes Rear: Disc
Tires Front: 110/80R-19 M/C 59V, tubeless
Tires Rear: 150/70R-17 M/C 69V, tubeless
Fuel Tank Capacity: 5.3 US
Electrical:
Ignition: Electronic ignition (Transistorized)
Dimensions and Curb Weight:
Overall Length: 2285 mm (89.96 in)
Overall Width: 865 mm (34.05 in)
Wheelbase: 1555 mm (61.22 in)
Ground Clearance: 165 mm (6.5 in)
Seat Height: 850 mm (33.4in)
Curb Weight:
V Strom 1000 ABS: 228 kg (502.65 lbs
V Strom 1000 ABS Adventure: 228 kg (503 lbs) Weight without Adventure standard equipment
Warranty: 12 month unlimited mileage limited warranty
Color:
2015 V Strom 1000 ABS: Glass Sparkle Black
2015 V Strom 1000 ABS Adventure: Pearl Glacier White
2016 V Strom 1000 ABS: Metallic Mystic Silver
2016 V Strom 1000 ABS Adventure: Metallic Matte Fibroin Gray
Price:
V Strom 1000 ABS: $12,699
V Strom 1000 ABS Adventure: $13,999
What do you think?
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