Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT Roadtest Review – Tour Ready!
This full-blown middleweight ADV is exactly what the Indian customers have been long waiting for. Years after the runaway success of its legendary superbike, the Hayabusa, Suzuki realized the potential for big bikes in the Indian market. The Japanese brand came to the inescapable conclusion that the mid-capacitysegment is the next big thing in the Indian market. They pretty much nailed the naked segment with their value-laden GSX-S750. Eyeing on the burgeoning adventure segment, Suzuki launched the V-Strom 650XT ABS in India for just Rs.7.46 lakhs ex-showroom across the country. Not wanting to compromise, the brand launched the proper, off-road friendly XT variant only. After riding it out for one full day for over 300 kilometers, in the scorching heat of Jaipur, Rajasthan, we realized Suzuki might’ve just hit the jackpot in its segment. Read on further to know how exactly Suzuki managed to nail it.
History & Design:
The V-Strom was first launched in 2004, and since then has been a hit worldwide. Globally, it was loved more than the 1000cc variant, and sales figures support the same. Globally, the V-Strom has set a benchmark for middleweight adventure models and carved a niche for itself. In 2011, Suzuki updated the V-Strom revealing the 2ndgeneration of its adventure motorcycle to the world, further setting a newbenchmark and leading its rivals.
What we see today is the V-Strom 650 XT ABS in its 3rdgeneration avatar Euro-IV emission norm compliant motorcycle,which takes the lead from the 2ndgeneration of V-Stroms. The new V-Strom 650 XT is now lighter, more powerful and comes with a new styling inspired bythe pioneers in adventure segment. The front vertically stacked clear lens multi-reflector headlamp is in line with the V-Strom 1000, uniting the V-storm family. The overall body panels are reworked to deliver slim and easy bodywork, resulting in a better center of gravity.
To emphasize the heritage of Suzuki in this category, the Beak has been highlighted, inspired from the desert racer DR-Z and DR-BIG models. The LED tail lights are bright and stylish, carrying forward the V-Strom 1000 line of design. The rear seat offers a flat & large area to comfortably accommodate the pillion. We must say that Suzuki has left no stone unturned while designing the new V-Strom. Also, the knuckle guards and engine cowl, though made of plastic, come as standard equipment with the motorcycle, providing some degree of protection.
The windshieldcomes with 3-step adjustment and is very effective. There was no wind-blast felt even while doing 150+kmph speeds, no drag felt at any point. Special brownie points for this one, as the stress felt by the rider gets reduced by a marginal rate, allowing you to ridelonger and farther. The fuel tank can take up to20 litres of fuel, now that’s the kind of fuel capacity you would want from your touring machinewhile exploring the remotest of places, also translating into fewervisits to the fuel station. The new V-Strom has a seat height of 835mm, offering plush large and wide cushioning to the rider.
The Suzuki V-storm 650XT will be available in 2 colors, Champion Yellow with golden rims, and Pearl Glacier White with black powder-coated rims. I personally loved the Champion Yellow, with those golden rims adding to the overall adventurous feel and look of the motorcycle.
Engine Performance and Ride Experience:
The engine is a 645cc 90-degree V-twin liquid-cooled unit, mated to a 6-speed transmission. There’s no slipper clutch on offer though, but barely did we miss it. Coming to its output figures, the motor generates 70 bhp at 8,800rpm and churns out 62 Nm of torque at 6,500 rpm. We have never seen refinement as good as this on a V-twin motor. The power delivery is extremely linear and novice-friendly. It doesn’t take you by surprise at all. Further enhancing the control is the inclusion of three-level traction control including the option to turn it off completely. It also gets a dual-channel ABS as standard equipmentwhich unfortunately cannot be disengaged.
The V-storm is capable of delivering any task, be it slicing through traffic within the city, high-speed highway cruising (we don’t recommend doing high-speed riding) or extreme off-roading. We can definitely say that the V-Strom is one of the most practical machines we have ever ridden. What makes the engine of the V-Strom so refined? What is so different? Well, that’s Japanese engineering at its best onoffer. The cylinders come coated with Suzuki’s patented SCEM coat, hard-coating them for better heat dissipation and resistance to abrasion, tin & resin coated piston skirts which help minimize frictional losses, boosting refinement and fuel efficiency, L-shaped piston-rings to enhance sealing and avoid blowing of piston rings at high revs. High-strength single valve springs are used to avoid friction. Suzuki’s one-touch start switch offers hassle-freecranking, a 10-pointfuel injector for crisp power delivery. Wenever felt the need to have a counterbalancershaft to do away with the vibrations of a V-twin motor; it is that smooth and refined. Take a bow, Suzuki.
Too worried to ask if the V-Strom can be used as a daily driver? Well, the Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT also comes equipped with the low rpm assist, which literally, will not allow your motorcycle to stall and stop abruptly even in toe to toe traffic. This system will assist in smoother launching and low-speedriding, allowing you to ride without any acceleration at 38kmph even in the 6thgear, that’s fascinating, isn’t it?
The newly designed wind-directingplates on the front mudguard arevery effectiveand have been very smartly integrated with the overall design. The holes at the end of the plate allow the warmer air to pass off without disturbing rider comfort. We rode it in the dense traffic of Jaipur city, on the Jaipur-Ajmerhighway, on the narrow streets of Pushkar and nowhere did we feel the V-Strom was heating up.
Another highlight of the Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT is the 3-level traction control system (TCS) provided by Suzuki. It’s very simple to use and very useful for novice riders in difficult road conditions. The traction control system basically reads the wheel speed at both the ends, the crank position and the gear position with sensors and controls power delivery to the rearwheel, preventing wheel spin due toexcessive throttle input, this makes the motorcycle very welcoming and safe, especially for new riders, but at the same time it gets very intrusive for seasoned riders. Thankfully the traction control system can be turned offcompletely unlike the ABS (we’ll come to that later).
Suspension & Ergonomics
Sit on the Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT, and almost everything falls into place. Be it the switch-gear, handle, brakes, foot pegs etc. The ergonomics are top-notch… everything is in the line of sight including the instrument cluster. The onlygripe being the front windshield which cannot be adjusted on-the-fly. The new aluminum twin-spar frame is suspended using telescopic front forks with a travel of 150mm and preload and rebound adjustable rear mono-shock.
We must say a very practical decision by Suzuki by using telescopic forks up-front. The front suspension is neither too soft, nor too hard, hitting the right balance to absorb all that comes in itsstride, and to precisely provide the perfect feedback and control even at speeds exceeding 180 kph. The rear mono-shocktakes a few seconds to adjust the pre-load, and you can easily modify your ride as per your comfort using the knob placed right below the rider seat. The riding position is well balanced and comfortable for a long touras well as daily commuting, not demanding much from the rider in terms of leaning or crouching. The footpegsare a bit rear set, providing you withbetter control of the motorcycle, the position also allows saddling comfortably and ride the motorcycle for an extendedperiod.
Wheels, Tyres, and Braking
The V-Strom XT is a complete adventure-ready package in all terms. Tubeless spoke rims are very practical, providing better shock absorption and better rider comfort even on worst of off-road terrain. The V-Strom 650 XT comes shod with Bridgestone BATTLAX ADVENTURE A40 tyresspecially designed and manufactured for the V-Strom.The tyresperform amazingly once they heat up adequately, providing excellent grip and braking feedback on most surfaces. The front wheelsize is 19-inch shod with110/80 section tyrewhile the rear wheel is a 17-inch shod with 150/70 section tyre. The tyresprovide excellent grip and stability even at speeds as high as 185 kph.
As smooth and fast the V-Strom XT is, the braking toois apt and precise. The twin 310mm disks with 2-pod floating calliperson the front provide excellent bite & braking performance. The rear comes equipped with a 260mm single disk with a singlepod floating calliper unit. With Bosch ABS system the motorcycle provides stress-freebraking performance under emergency braking. Though for adventure seekers and off-road junkies, it will be a turn-off that it cannot be disengaged or used as the Super-Moto mode like ones available on the KTM 390 Duke.
Console & Accessories
The V-Strom 650 XT gets a digital-analoginstrument panel, the same as seen on the elder sibling V-Strom 1000. The tachometer is an analogtype and rest of the information is digitally displayed. The cluster also comes with display brightness control for rider comfort during night riding. We must admit Suzuki has paid immense attention to every detail while upgrading the best middle-weightadventure-tourertaking forward its name and legacy. The digital cluster displays an odometer, dual trip meter, gear position indicator, coolant, andoutside temperature, battery voltage, tank range,average fuel consumption, instantaneous fuel consumption, traction control, fuel gauge, anda clock. Also,a 12V DC outlet is placed besidethe console, no more worries of charging your GPS and mobile phones on the move.
To fuel your fire of adventure, Suzuki will also be selling practical and amazing accessories via their dealerships. The most interesting being a bucket seat, which brings the rider seat height to just 815mm making it more manageable for not so tall riders. Other accessories include the center (main)stand, a stylish accessory bar cum engine guard, a 55L top-box that can accommodate 2 full-sized helmets and an aluminum chain guard adding to the protectionand the adventurous look of the motorcycle. Panniers from the V-Strom 1000 are a direct fit on the V-Strom 650 XT, but the 55L top-box and panniers cannot go together, and you will have to settle with a small top-box if you opt for panniers.
Suzuki, take a bow, you have delivered a no-nonsense practical motorcycle that the Indian market has been craving for a long time and priced it at a very lucrative Rs.7.46/- lakhs ex-showroom pan India. The V-Strom 650 XT ABS is surely a nightmare for its next and direct competitor, a very practical choice at just Rs.1 lakh over the KawasakiVersys 650, which is just a highway-tourer and around Rs.4-5/- lakh cheaper than the next option available in adventure segment, the Triumph Tiger 800. Suzuki V-Strom XT should ideally be your next upgrade if you are looking for a ‘no nonsense’ ADV Motorcycle. This can do everything you want, with the best-in-class fuel economy of almost 27 kpl (if/ when ridden sanely). We managed to get almost 24 kplwhile cruising at 120kmph and 17 kpl whilewhacking it out at speeds exceeding 160 kph on open highways. That we are impressed, is an understatement.
Surely the V-Strom 650 XT is here to disrupt the Indian adventure motorcycle market and it has a good advantageover the competition. KTM’s 390 adventure is long-awaitedand is expected to be launched in the first quarter of 2019,which again will be the next big disruption in the Indian Market.
Coming to the end of it, we would say, if the motorcycling enthusiasts at MOTOR WORLD INDIA ever manage to save enough money, you’ll surely find a Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT proudly standing in our garage!
Words – Suraj Sawant
Pics – Amit Shelar