Around since 2004, the V-Strom 650 launched its second generation in 2012. For 2016, it carries forward in a class of mid-weight sport-tourers offering a standard riding posture for long-distance comfort.

With the introduction of the 650XT in 2015, the V-Strom keeps a toe in the adventure pool, having lost the 650 Adventure in 2016. The base model V-Strom 650 is adaptable for whatever you want to do, be it a little adventure touring, commuting or even a little bar-hop cruising.

Continue reading for my review of the Suzuki V-Strom 650 and V-Strom 650XT.

  • 2015 - 2016 Suzuki V-Strom 650 ABS / 650XT ABS
  • Year:
    2015- 2016
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Displacement:
    645 cc
  • Price:
    8399

Design

2015 - 2016 Suzuki V-Strom 650 ABS / 650XT ABS
- image 662957

New for 2015, the V-Strom 650XT is the more adventure version of the 650 Adventure, which seems a little strange, but okay. With a fairing that sports a distinctive beak to accommodate integrated vent ducts, the improved airflow provides better engine cooling and makes for a more comfortable cockpit.

When we get to 2016, the 650XT loses the engine guard and storage bags, so it seems like once it stole thunder from the 650 Adventure — which wasn’t carried over to 2016 — Suzuki backpedaled off the adventure theme a bit, at least on the 650XT. The 650XT does hang on to the laced wheels for 2016, so there’s still some hope for it yet.

Not really sporty, but the ride is respectably well damped, though the sound isn’t as nice as I’d like it to be. It’s almost tinny and I doubt cagers will hear you coming. If you really like to get twisty, you may be disappointed. For a relaxing ride, however, the V-Strom 650 is worth a look.

Chassis

2015 - 2016 Suzuki V-Strom 650 ABS / 650XT ABS
- image 641805

Suzuki laid the keel for the family, as it were, with a lightweight, twin-spar, aluminum frame and rigid, square-tube aluminum swingarm. The frame design leaves the bike with a characteristic, dual-sport-type stance, and a somewhat-lofty 32.9-inch seat height. While this isn’t exactly nosebleed height, it’s definitely in tip-toe country for shorter riders.

A set of 43 mm, right-side-up forks buoy the front end for the entire V-Strom 650 range and a hidden, coil-over monoshock tucked away under the subframe serves the rear. The front forks come with adjustable spring preload, and the rear, link-type shock boasts rebound-damping adjustments as well as spring preload via handwheel.

Suspension travel is rather generous with 5.9 inches up front and 6.3 inches in back, so throw a set of street-knobbies on it and you have a proper budget dual-sport with enough wheel travel to actually tackle some terrain. The XT model even runs with laced rims for extra off-road performance, but the base and Adventure models roll on cast, street-centric wheels.

Dual front calipers bind the 310 mm front disc, and a single caliper pinches the 260 mm disc in back. All V-Strom 650s come with ABS as standard equipment, so you have a little safety net under you for no extra charge — whether you want it or not.

Drivetrain

2015 - 2016 Suzuki V-Strom 650 ABS / 650XT ABS
- image 662248

Suzuki opted for a 90-degree, v-twin configuration for the V-Strom 650, possibly for the uneven power pulses that perform so well off-road. Whatever the case, the liquid-cooled mill measures out at 645 cc, and runs with dual iridium spark plugs in each head for positive flame propagation.

Suzuki’s Dual Throttle Valve (SDTV) intake control and idle-speed control (TI-ISC) reside in the fuel-injected throttle body, and they serve to provide smooth power delivery and easy cold starts, respectively. Louvered body panels up front direct ram air over the radiator, for positive cooling action when you’re moving, and shunt the waste heat away from the rider’s legs.

A six-speed, constant-mesh transmission crunches the ratios, and a chain final drive delivers power to the rear wheel. Say what you will about chain drives, but their toughness far outweighs the extra maintenance.

Pricing

2015 - 2016 Suzuki V-Strom 650 ABS / 650XT ABS
- image 662956

MSRP on the 2016 V-Strom 650 saw a bit of a price reduction over the 2015 model. Coming in at $8,399, it’s not a bad price for a mid-range cc bike. The price on the 650XT is the same for 2016 as was in 2015 — $8,499 — but it seems like you get less bike for the same price. I think I’d rather have the 2015 model to get a more suitable adventure bike, though, without having to pad the price in the accessories catalog. The 2015 V-Strom 650 Adventure will set you back $10,049 if you can still find one at a dealer.

Whichever way you decide to go, Suzuki covers your new V-Strom with a 12-month, unlimited mileage, limited warranty.

Competitors

2015 - 2016 Suzuki V-Strom 650 ABS / 650XT ABS
- image 662249
2015 - 2016 BMW G 650 GS
- image 663098

The dual-sport/adventure bike market is becoming ever more popular each year, and since almost everybody is jumping on that bandwagon, I was able to track down a direct competitor with ease. For this head-to-head comparison, I picked the G 650 GS from BMW Motorrad.

Right off you will notice that the Beemer carries a bird-beak fairing similar to the V-Strom 650XT model, instead of a rounded nose like the base 650 and the Adventure. The bird-beak fairing is a classic feature, if not one of the more aesthetically pleasing ones, and it seems vestigial at best since both bikes also carry a front fender to handle the actual dirty work. I will say that Suzuki gives you enough windshield to really hide behind, where Beemer has more of a postage stamp for a windshield, something that will matter to those who plan to buy a commuter bike.

Beemer used a steel frame instead of aluminum as Suzuki did, and I gotta’ say that’s a move I’m definitely feeling, especially since the G 650 GS still manages to weigh in at 430 pounds wet, a good 43.9 pounds lighter than the V-Strom 650XT at 473.9 pounds wet.

Brakes, suspension and seat height are close enough for government work, but Beemer took a different tack when it came to the mill. While Suzuki went with a 645 cc, 90-degree, v-twin mill to drive the V-Strom range, Beemer opted to use a 652 cc, single-cylinder “thumper” engine. Both lumps run with liquid cooling, electronic fuel injection and dual-plug heads, so really, beyond the difference in configuration, there isn’t much to choose between the two. Like I said before, a direct competitor.

Beemer stays competitive at the sticker as well. The 2016 G 650 GS rolls for $7,995, just under its most-direct competitor, the 2016 V-Strom 650XT ABS at $8,499. Considering how close the models are, you basically have to decide if the windshield on the Suzuki models is worth a grand, or not.

He Said

My husband and fellow writer, TJ Hinton, says, “As a commuter bike, I think the V-Strom is right on target, though I confess that I’d like to see bags as standard equipment, instead of pinching folks with the accessories catalog. That aside, these rides look to be capable commuters for someone on a budget, and good for short, weekend trips. I’m not sure I’d head too far off-road with one, at least not with the stock tires.”

She Said

"I’m more than a little disappointed that Suzuki seems to be backing off the adventure market with the 650 or maybe they’re just hedging their bets by putting the adventure features in the accessories catalog. Because we don’t have licensing brackets, I wonder if folks here would rather go for a bigger engine and hit something in the 800-to-1200 cc adventure market. Still, it’s a nice bike — big enough to enjoy, but not so big that you’d get into too much trouble."

Specifications

Model: V-Strom 650 ABS V-Strom 650XT ABS 2015 V-Strom 650 ABS Adventure
Engine:
Engine: 645 cc, 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, 90-degree V-Twin 645 cc, 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, 90° V-Twin 645 cc, 4-stroke, 2-cylinder, liquid-cooled, DOHC, 90-degree V-Twin
Bore x Stroke: 81.0 mm x 62.6 mm (3.189 in x 2.465 in) 81.0 mm x 62.6 mm (3.189 in x 2.465 in)
Compression Ratio: 11.2 : 1 11.2 : 1
Fuel System: Suzuki Fuel Injection Suzuki Fuel Injection Suzuki Fuel Injection
Starter: Electric Electric Electric
Lubrication: Wet sump Wet sump
Drive Train:
Transmission: 6-speed, constant mesh 6-speed, constant mesh 6-speed, constant mesh
Final Drive: Chain, DID525V8, 118 links Chain, DID525V8, 118 links Chain, DID525V8, 118 links
Chassis:
Suspension Front: Telescopic, coil spring, oil damped Telescopic, coil spring, oil damped Telescopic, coil spring, oil damped
Suspension Rear: Link type, coil spring, oil damped Link type, coil spring, oil damped Link type, coil spring, oil damped
Brakes Front: Disc brake, twin rotor Disc brake, twin rotor Disc, twin
Brakes Rear: Disc brake, single rotor Disc brake, single rotor Disc
Tires Front: 110/80R19M/C 59H, tubeless 110/80R19M/C 59H, tubeless 110/80R19M/C 59H, tubeless
Tires Rear: 150/70R17M/C 69H, tubeless 150/70R17M/C 69H, tubeless 150/70R17M/C 69H, tubeless
Fuel Tank Capacity: 20.0 L (5.28 US gal) 20.0 L (5.28 US gal) 5.3 US
Electrical:
Ignition: Electronic ignition (Transistorized) Electronic ignition (Transistorized) Electronic ignition (Transistorized)
Headlight: 12V 60/55W (H4) × 2 12V 60/55W (H4) × 2
Tail light: 12V 21/5W 12V 21/5W
Dimensions and Curb Weight:
Overall Length: 2290 mm (90.2 in) 2290 mm (90.2 in) N/A
Overall Width: 835 mm (32.9 in) 835 mm (32.9 in) width without accessories N/A
Overall Height: 1405mm (55.3in) 1405mm (55.3in) height without accessories
Wheelbase: 1560 mm (61.4 in) 1560 mm (61.4 in) 1560 mm (61.4 in)
Ground Clearance: 175 mm (6.9 in) 175 mm (6.9 in) 175 mm (6.9 in)
Seat Height: 835 mm (32.9 in) 835 mm (32.9 in) 835 mm (32.9 in)
Curb Weight: 214 kg (472 lbs) 215 kg (473.9 lbs) weight without accessories N/A
Warrant:y
Warranty: 12-month, unlimited mileage, limited warranty* 12-month, unlimited mileage, limited warranty* 12 month unlimited mileage limited warranty.
Color - 2015: Pearl Bracing White, Metallic Triton Blue Metallic Matte Fibroin Gray Metallic Matte Fibroin Gray
Color - 2016: Candy Daring Red, Metallic Mystic Silver Metallic Matte Fibroin Gray
Price:
2015: $8,549 $8,499 $10,049
2016: $8,399 $8,499
What do you think?
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