2012 Suzuki V-Strom 650 – Review

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Why you don’t want the best motorcycle you’ll ever ride

What Are You Riding Mister?

Ok, there’s not often a “mister” in the question, but you know how it is. Roll into a party or a restaurant or a bar or a whatever with a helmet and, invariably, another male is going to attempt to gauge the size of your penis in comparison to his own by asking what type of bike you’re riding. While an accurate answer would be, “Whatever it is, it’s faster than your car,” I’m resolved to be less of an asshole this year. So, instead, after “V-Strom 650” meets blank stares, I proceed to bore my potential new friends with a 10 minute explanation that goes something like this:

You see, Mr. Averse To All Risk, not every bike is either a Harley or a crotch rocket. There exists among motorcyclists a curious subset of riders who actually use motorcycles as their sole means of transportation. Yes, you can still ride in the rain, you just get a little wet. Well, we wear clothing that protects us from crashes and weather and stuff. Here, punch my back. Yeah, sorry, that looked like it hurt. See? Well, some bikes are made to be good at that transportation thing. You can take them on long trips and they’re comfortable and you can go grocery shopping with them and ride them to work. Did you know I get better MPG than your Prius? Yeah, Hybrid’s get 0mpg when they’re sitting still. No really, they do. Trust me, I used to write about cars. No, I don’t want to explain why, it’s boring. Oh hey look, a pretty girl.

All that’s much more impressive when I’ve got some flashy sportbike or a GS or something. But it doesn’t matter, they’re just jealous that I get to wear a leather jacket.

As Fast as Possible

The other day, it wasn’t some random car driver asking, it was Adey, who apparently managed to walk into the Bourgeois Pig without registering the V-Strom parked immediately adjacent to the front door. He knew what a V-Strom was when I told him, you could tell because he looked a little sorry for me. So then I explained that I’m probably faster around town on it than anyone is on their sportbike. Now, I’d never want to try and prove that to Adey, someone who lives like losing isn’t an option, but I stand by that statement.

Around the city, fancy tires are no good. They’ll never warm up and hate even the faintest hint of moisture. The V-Strom’s Trailwings grip solidly from cold. Around the city, ass up and head down just leads to uninformed decision making and sore wrists. Meanwhile, for the last month, I’ve been looking over cars. The Suzuki’s wide bars make for extremely fast, accurate steering and there’s a huge amount of lock for carving up difficult lines of stationary cars. The engine might only make 68bhp and 44lb/ft, but is smooth, eager and easy to use. I can give it full throttle pretty much anywhere and rev-matched down shifts are easy to get perfect, every time. Somewhere in the aluminum beam frame, RWU forks and linkage shock, Suzuki’s installed more confidence than you’ll find in virtually any other motorcycle. Just pin the V-Strom and go, it’s as fast as you’re willing to take it.

A New Model, Mostly in Name

Changes to the V-Strom for 2012? Different suspension damping, a different fairing a new seat (probably the comfiest bike seat out there) and the motor from the Gladius, here tuned for a little more low and mid-range. Yeah, that’s not much. But, somehow, it’s also everything. The engine is now much smoother and generally just feels larger than its spec sheet suggests. You’ll mostly ride along using the mid-range torque to effortlessly pass traffic, even in 6th gear. You’ll have to keep reminding yourself that it’s just a 650, the ease with which it wafts along on that 44lb/ft of torque feels much more like a 1,200cc air-cooled twin.

Adventure Spec

The model you see here is the $9,799 V-Strom 650 Adventure. Over the base $8,299 model it gains aluminum panniers, crash bars and a big windscreen with an adjustable lip. We’d spend that $1,500 on aftermarket parts instead. That amount of money will get you further shopping online and, while those aluminum cases sure are nice, they’re freakishly wide. Not a huge problem for people unfortunate enough to live where lane splitting isn’t legal, but they essentially make the bike as wide as a car. That’s why they’re not pictured here, we haven’t been using them at all because they’re just too wide. The crash bars seem curiously spec’d too; they look as if they’d protect the radiator well in a topple over, but we’re mostly concerned about ripping the exposed oil filter off on an obstacle off-road. A skid plate would be our first protection upgrade.

Grant took the V-Strom to the trails off San Francisquito canyon north of LA and reports that, wearing road-biased tires, it’s pretty much as capable as any other ADV bike. Which is to say: stick to fire roads. There’s no ABS off switch (you can always pull a fuse), but the brakes are still plenty capable of stopping you on the dirt; plus you’re never going to lock up the front and topple over.

Nothing More Than Necessary

At $8,299, the base V-Strom is extremely competitively priced. Way more suited to long distance stuff than the $7,899 Kawasaki Versys and just as fun around town. Considerably cheaper than the $10,999 Tiger 800, just as capable at most things and more capable at distance, if not quite as much fun.

But, this is such a good bike, that you end up wishing Suzuki would have taken the time to make it even better. At 472lbs, it’s the same weight as other mid-capacity ADV-style bikes, but you feel more effort could have pared off more of that weight, leading to better performance on-road and off. Neither are the slim, compact dimensions of the v-twin taken advantage of; the V-Strom isn’t particularly narrow or compact. Perhaps the best visual indicator of this feeling comes when you look through the huge gap around the forks, into the unfinished inner side of the front fairing. Taped up wires are left dangling loose behind raw plastic; Suzuki put no more effort in than was strictly necessary.

Wonderfully Boring

The V-Strom 650 is a wonderful motorcycle. It’s fun, fast and easy around town. It’s relaxed and comfy on the highway. It’s great two-up. It’s cheap and it has what are probably the best real-world brakes and most comfy seat in motorcycling. If you’re looking for a practical commuter, tourer or do-it-all, all-weather bike, then look no further. If you’re looking for something that will make you feel special, look further.

Tomorrow, I’m going to get on the V-Strom and ride it to Grant’s place across town. It’s going to be fast, comfy and safe on the way over there. But that’s not the ride I’m looking forward to. No, I’m looking forward to the ride back on something far less capable, but far more exciting.

  • Your_Mom

    You are basically making the same argument I have made to those who ask why the Kawasaki Versys is the “perfect” bike (which doesn’t exist). I call it the thinking man’s motorcycle; or the motorcycle for the rational man. Great review and thanks.

  • http://www.TroyRank.com Troy R

    You see, Mr. Adverse to all risk…

    Best diatribe in all of motorcycling. I’m going to memorize like that bible shit in Pulp Fiction.

    • BMW11GS

      Strictly it is not true that all who don’t ride are risk adverse, at least at my age (23) My friends(I suspect) hate the inconvenience that putting on motorcycle gear/planning ahead for the conditions etc that come along with it. You put them in a car however and they will get irritated by motorcycles and take large risks to drive the way they see fit. They don’t quite see a reward in motorcycling other than being “cool,” which they know to be ephemeral and just see downsides.

      Or maybe they are just reacting to my faded blue and yellow aerostich? haha

      • http://www.postpixel.com.au mugget

        That’s kinda funny how they would dislike the inconvenience of gearing up. I dislike the inconvenience using car doors and entering/exiting a car, doing up seat belts etc. when I can just throw a leg over a motorcycle.

        • http://www.lgdm.fr stempere

          I generally only talk about the mother of all inconvenience: parking.

          • BMW11GS

            Out in the residential area we live there really is not a problem with parking. I still don’t get it though, I think what it boils down to is that they see it as just one of many lifestyle choices and one that offers them no clear advantage. Cars make life easier and when you don’t really think about costs, less expensive and more convenient. I am not saying it is, but it has been an uphill battle to convince most of my buddies that riding is not just for cruiser dudes or sportbike tools.

    • coredump

      With Wes and Sean both suffering bad crashes and breaking bones this year starting off a diatribe with, “You see, Mr. Adverse to all risk.” rings a bit hollow…

      • DoctorNine

        Actually, I’d say the opposite. Accepting the possibility of a broken bone or two is the only way one can rationally do things like hang-glide, parachute, motorcycle, or ski. If you want to feel alive, you have to take the risk.

        Of course, the more experience one has, the more carefully one can approach that risk. But one can live too safely, and never have a thing to remember when the days finally dwindle to the end.

        When one has health and strength, one should test it against the world.
        This is why you are here.

        • Filipe

          +1

  • Tommy

    I too, use a lot of these same arguments to justify owning a versys. I’d sure like a fun toy eventually, but being a one bike, no car, kind of guy, its perfect.

    Too bad most dudes that own them will never realize how good they’ve got it, and dudes that could realize it, will never ride one.

    • Mr.Paynter

      Yep.
      The R6 guy and peanut gallery (Read: young guys in my office who dont even ride) cant understand why I have an ER-6N and “sit more up looking so awkward and uncomfortable”

      I will never be the kind of guy who only has the less-capable toy in my garage, I believe in picking your weapon wisely!

  • 10/10ths

    Well done.

    As the owner of a 2004 RC51, a 1997 Ducati Monster, and a 2004 V-Strom 650, I have to say that the V-Strom is the greatest motorcycle in the world.

    You did not mention the fantastic headlights that light up country roads at night.

    The payload capacity of the V-Strom is enormous. These bikes just do everything incredibly well with very low operating costs.

    Bravo on a great review.

  • DavidMG

    I’ve got a 2011, was out riding today and I love it. I don’t feel a special need to stare at it after I’m done with it though. However, I get such satisfaction of owning and riding what is a ridiculously cheap, and capable bike that just works.

    I also drive a SAAB, which I realize now is very similar to the wee. Sensible, practical, lots of power where you need it, unassuming, safe choice.

    This is funny though, I’ve heard LOTS of (I’m assuming not sarcastic) compliments of the wee from non-riders. “Wow, beautiful bike” “nice bike.” I always go: “really?”

    • 80-watt Hamster

      I get a surprising number of similar reactions to my Versys. I don’t even think it’s a good looking machine, and it’s my ride.

    • Gregory

      What would be the SAAB of the motorcycle world?

      By “SAAB”, I mean a vehicle that is feminine, creative, intelligent, feline, eccentric distinctive and progressive.

      Perhaps the Aprilia Mana? Perhaps the Yamaha Mobius? Any ideas?

      -g

      • DavidMG

        I think the boxer beemers share some of the quirkyness and practicality that define SAAB for me. The /5 /6 bikes for example.

        I have no idea what a Mobius is and google didn’t help.

      • BigRooster

        The SAAB of motorcycles? Easy – Moto Guzzi. No dealers. Perpetually on the verge of banruptcy. Expensive parts. Built like tanks and reliable. Quirky. Practical (for the most part). A little overpriced. Fun,engaging and interesting.

        Loyal owners that love them. *BTW, I have a SAAB and a Goose.

        • DavidMG

          Haha, yup I think you nailed it. What kind of guzzi do you have? I’d love a Grisso 8V.

          • BigRooster

            Griso 4v 1100 and 04 9-5 Linear wagon with shit ton of miles

            • DavidMG

              Nice stable. I’ve got an 09 9-3 XWD 2.0T.

            • Roman

              Oh man, that would totally be my garage if I was a liberal college professor in Vermont.

  • Dan

    You guys are assholes. I’m trying to convince myself that it’s time to move from my SV650 to something with a little more sex appeal and you go and publish something like this…

    • Edward

      I wouldn’t discount sex appeal – it’s a virtue all by itself. Otherwise, we’d all ride v-stroms and drive accords.

    • http://www.cdavisdesigns.com Chris Davis

      They all pretty much look the same when you’re on them. Enjoy the ride through your own eyes.

      • Kevin

        True dat. The new V-Strom actually has a pretty nice dash.

    • http://pinkyracer.com pinkyracer

      I saw a ratted out, quasi-customized naked SV with a great pipe and was all “damn, that’s a sexy bike.’ I was surprised when he told me what it was. It didn’t make it any less sexy, it just made me realize what was missing about the SV- she’s too “girl next door”. Take her downtown, get her some tattoos & piercings, and she’s pretty sexy with that voice. Almost dangerous, even.

  • 10/10ths

    DavidMG,

    Yes, same here. Non-riders are constantly saying, “cool bike.”

    Of course, I have a P-40 warhawk style shark mouth on my enormous first gen V-Strom fairing.

    Chicks dig it.

    • Mike

      Exactly. Pretty much the only way I could rock a Vstrom would in be in full zebra-print layout. Something, anything, to keep it from being the most boring machine this side of a BMW F650.
      (so, uh, any enterprising vinyl-cutters out there?)

    • filly-fuzz

      Same but on my lid!

  • Devin

    I’ll third what DavidDMG and 10/10ths said. Non-riders and, strangely, Harley riders seem to love it. I love the looks of my XMoto, but the V-Strom gets the compliments from the over 30 crowd.

    I jokingly entered my 2007 with full guards, luggage, and pinstriping by Mr. Douglas Fir into the “sportbike” category at a primarily cruiser show, and won against a Ducati 996 and a ZX-6r with custom paint.

    • http://www.lgdm.fr stempere

      That’s awesome. Did the 996′s owner ever stopped crying?

      • oldnick

        Winning the competition is the funniest thing I’ve heard in ages. And this comment is the next funniest.

  • Roman

    Gonna be touring northern Cali on a VStrom 1000 in about 3 months, so appreciate the review. Also really glad to hear positive things about passenger accommodations. Man, I can’t freaking wait…

  • http://rider49er.blogspot.com Mark D [EX500]

    It seems like the perfect bike to rent on vacation. Not going to get you into trouble, can carry all your luggage, can handle a lot of exploring, probably cheap/available.

    The most sensible bike ridden on city errands is still more fun than 95% of cars driven anywhere.

    • DavidMG

      “The most sensible bike ridden on city errands is still more fun than 95% of cars driven anywhere.”

      This!

      It’s silly, all I did today on the bike was go to the bank, have breakfast, bought a book, rode around to a park, read for a bit, rode some more, picked up lunch, went home. Stupid stuff, yet I had a blast. Thanks motorcycles.

      • nick2ny

        Thanks motorcycles!

        • Kevin

          We just love you motorcycles… you’re the best

  • Campisi

    Reminded me of this.

    My problem with the V-Strom is that I am a deeply impractical man; the disadvantages and inabilities of a thing are partly responsible for its character. A bike that does just about everything reasonably well can make things so uninterestingly easy.

  • BMW11GS

    I had a 2005 V-strom 650 before I bought my ’95 R1100GS and I still think about how much I liked so many aspects of it whenever I ride my 1100. I would have definitely kept it if it had ABS (got in my first motorcycle “accident” on it because I locked the front).

    However over time I couldn’t quite sort out the niggles I had with upgrading the suspension and that sort of aggravated me. Also I am a perpetual tinkerer and the Vstrom can really be neglected and still work well. Though on the flip side, it can be expensive/difficult to fix some of its inadequacies.

    My 1100GS has all sorts of oilhead beemer character and idiosyncrasies that I appreciate, but my Vstrom was like a golden retriever or a Marine, semper fidelis.

  • Korayama

    Had an 07 DL1000, put about 30K miles on it and it was such a great bike. Ran like a sewing machine and would do 100 all day long. Perfect bike.

  • http://www.postpixel.com.au mugget

    As fast as you’re willing to go… unless you hit the rev limiter each ride because you’re used to riding a GSX-R600. Haha.

    Well that was an older SV650, but I’m guessing the engines are pretty much the same – which would be a very good thing.

    Nice article!

  • Paul

    My wife and I rented a DL650 in New Zealand a few years back. Two up, fully loaded, through the mountains, it never let me down. When I got back to Canada I bought one as soon as I could. I’ll never sell it.

  • Michael

    Suzukis 650 twins are awesome. Yeah both the SV650/s and the wee-strom are budget bikes, but they are “good enough” and very fun to ride.

    • Scott-jay

      ’04 SV650S, best bike I ever sold.
      Also, worst seat.
      Milestone motorcycle series.
      Chinese cloned it (high praise these days).

  • Toby

    I had a 2008 V-Strom (no ABS, bought brand new) and loved it, but… the brakes were total shit. On par with my CBR250 for feel and stopping power. I would switch sometimes with my buddy on his ’06 FJR1300 and the brakes on that thing were night and day better. Going back to the V-Strom was like trying to stop a Flintstone car.

    The new ones don’t look any different, either – twin Tokico floating calipers on the ’08 too.

  • http://www.twowheelsplus.com/ Anders

    The motorcycle eqvivalent of a Subaru

    • Miles Prower [690 Duke, MTS 1200]

      Perf.

  • http://www.amarokconsultants.com michael uhlarik

    Let me see…

    Affordable? Check.
    Easy to use? Check.
    Multipurpose? Check.
    Cheap insurance, parts and maintenance? Check.

    It may not be One Of The Great icons in motorcycling, complete with movie tie-in and celebrity endorsement, but it sure as shit is a great motorcycle.

    Now if only Suzuki would actually get somebody with good taste to design the fucking thing we’d be in business.

    M

  • smoke4ndmears

    I have been looking at these and just today, driving into work I wondered to myself, “self, I wonder if HFL will ever report on the new DL650″.

    Synchronicity.

  • Devin

    I was torn between a V-Strom and a Bonneville. Looks were a big deciding factor for me. How I wish this bike was less ugly.

    Not disapointed in my Bonnie though, the only complaint I have is that the Strom has way better lights at night.

    • Miles Prower [690 Duke, MTS 1200]

      Add a set of Clearwaters to your Bonn.

  • zipp4

    Nice review, Wes. One would almost think you are maturing :)

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Never.

  • BigRooster

    It’s funny that those that like the Vstrom see this as a flattering review while Suzuki marketing probably isnt going to trip over themselves to quote HFL in VStrom advertising.

    The 2012 Suzuki VStrom 650
    Hell for Leather magazine says…
    “…boring”
    “…Not so much plain as just hideously ugly”
    “…it’s so boring that you forget you’re looking at it”

    To me, those are deal breakers. If I’m spending $8-10k on something I want to swoon over it. I think a compromise in the middle of practical and sexy is key. There is no need to martyr one’s self on the alter of practicality, especially when it comes to a motorcycle. The motorcycle equivalent of a Camry seems like a poor choice when there are many interesting bikes out there with similar virtues without the dullness. Asthetics are important.

    • DavidMG

      Meh, I’m getting older, (nearly 30 :P ) practicality is much more rewarding to me. I’d feel guilty buying something that was born from my heart than my brain. That’s just the way I am I guess. I always regret decisions I make with my “heart.”

      The way I see it (no pun intended), I’m not looking at the damn thing when I’m riding it, so who cares what it looks like?

    • Zirq

      Haha! Hilarious BigRooster

    • Kevin

      Are any of the bikes in this class actually “sexy?” Mine says “Ducati” on the side, that’s as sexy as it gets compared to, say, an 848, an F3 or a Daytona 675R. And it only goes downhill when you sit on it and look like a gentleman going for a leisurely cruise. These bikes are not about sex appeal *as a class.*

  • http://www.muthalovin.com the_doctor

    I think it all depends on what you are satisfied with. I would be satisfied with all the attributes to the V-Strom, except the looks. Clearly, I am a superficial asshole, but I just need that “look at me” bike.

  • http://www.damiengaudet.blogspot.com damien

    Great write up, but that last paragraph says it all. Awesome bike in so many ways, but would you buy one? Not me (unless I had a couple other bikes as well).

    For the majority of people who own one motorcycle, not only does it have to perform…it has to look half-way decent.

    I mean, most bikes (if not all) are way better than their rider, so aesthetics are not as hollow a requirement as they once were.

    • http://pinkyracer.com pinkyracer

      yeah, I was thinking that too. I’m gonna get a Zero for around town (when I don’t feel like pedaling). I am CRAVING an Aprilia Dorsoduro, a bike that begs to be ridden long and hard, but lacks the wind protection and top speed one needs for such riding. As does this Suzuki. I ride sportbikes everywhere all the time and it doesn’t hurt. Which is why I keep insisting crotch rockets are for girls.

  • Kirill

    The Toyota Camry of motorcycles.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Grant Ray

      It’s way better than that. The V-Strom likes going fast and is incredibly good in the corners. Which means the more you ride, the more engaged you are with the bike and the ride. She’s no KTM when it comes to the dirt, but I’d bet it’ll easiliy hold its own on the fireroads with the BMW crowd.

      The Camry comes standard with a snooze button. That’s more like the F800R.

      • Kirill

        Oh I know all about its capabilities. As a tool, the V-Strom is great. Its just that there’s nothing exciting about being seen on one or telling someone you have one.

        And it’ll easily hold its own with the BMW GS crew. Its probably the most-popular non-GS on adv behind the KLR, and that’s only because its more expensive than that tractor.

        • Gregory

          Did you just call my KLR a “tractor”?

          -g

          • Kirill

            As a former KLR owner myself, I believe I have the right to do so :)

  • Aienan

    Personally I’ve been considering selling my F800GS since I rode one of these last summer. I love my 800, and the power on the road is nice… but the VStrom just had a certain je ne sais quoi that made it a joy to drive. And the seat… oh the seat. After 6 hours on the 800 it was glorious.

  • markbvt

    Great write-up, Wes. I happily put 40,000 miles on my Wee-Strom in three years of ownership before selling it to my dad when I bought… a Tiger 800 XC. :)

    The Wee had no soul/personality, but it was utterly reliable (never even needed a valve adjustment), it was fun to ride, it was comfortable, and it was versatile, equally capable scraping pegs in the twisties or carrying me over 700 miles of gravel through Labrador. I continue to enthusiastically recommend the Wee-Strom to budget-minded motorcyclists who want a versatile, comfortable bike.

    One of the things I love about the Tiger 800 XC is that it takes all of the Wee’s good qualities and adds excitement and personality. The one drawback that I’m noticing this winter, though, is that I’m a lot more hesitant to take the Tiger out on salty roads (even dry ones) than I was the Wee. I just didn’t care that much if a spot of rust might develop on the Wee. I kind of want my old one back for winter riding!

  • Gene

    I had an ’06 and it was a chunk of shit.

    It had no power, the fairing was poorly engineered, the windshield was useless, the radiator would get trashed if it fell over, it handled like a pogo stick, and the stock seat couldn’t get from Orlando to Daytona without at least one stop. I spent another $3K at Twisted Throttle buying things like a center stand, crash bars, a seat, braided lines, springs, and Gold Valves and it was still a piece of shit.

    It’s the only bike I’ve ever traded in, and boy that was a happy day.

    • Dana Seero

      How did you trash the radiator? I got hit from the side by a Honda Accord at 40mph and rode home. A center stand, crash bars, seat, springs, braided lines and Gold valves is around $1,000, not $3,000.

      Quite a few DL650′s are around now with over 100,000 miles and nothing but routine maintenance. I’ve ridden mine on everything from 4×4 trails to track days. It’s become a bit of a “conquest” bike ridden by people sick of messing with exotic but finicky bikes.

  • wwalkersd

    I have a love/mildly dislike relationship with my ’02 DL-1000. It has pretty much all the attributes you ascribe to the Wee, but with the added plus of a whole lot more power. For me, it’s a sit-up-straight sport bike (but I’ll admit that the closest thing I’ve ridden to a liter sport bike is a K1200S, although I’ve ridden 600s in track schools) with some touring capability. It’s ugly as sin, and the 1-2 shift annoys me every single time, but it’s otherwise a lot of fun.

  • contender

    Thanks Wes. I wasn’t feeling bad enough for buying a gremlin-laden Ulysses.

    • smoke4ndmears

      gremlins aside, what do you think?

      • contender

        It’s the best bike I’ve ever ridden when it’s working. Great power and handling and decent gas mileage with heated grips and a topcase. Chasing down electrical problems is quickly eroding the enthusiasm, though.

        • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

          Erik himself rides a Ulysses.

          • contender

            Once I get it working I’ll forget the ill feelings I’m sure. And then I’ll get a back brake that works.

            • smoke4ndmears

              Most of the issues stem from the VR don’t they? And regarding the back brake, I mounted a brembo p32f to my 1125…

              • contender

                Yeah, so I read. But I can’t find my multimeter to verify, and I don’t want to order the part until I am certain. Maybe I’ll go grab one tonight.

  • Jeremy

    Anyone have thoughts on whether the 650 would work for 2-up riding with a lot of weight? I’m 260 lbs, and I would like to occasionally take my partner on rides. She’s about 150. I don’t need a rocket ship, but I can’t decide if I’d need the 1000cc. The vstrom forums say mixed things. I ride an 883 Sportster right now, and it’s fine for me but not enough motor for two people.

    • Kirill

      The Wee has way more motor and far less weight than an 883. Also, Wes mentioned riding 2up with almost 400 lbs of human on it with no problems. You should be fine without going up to the 1000.

    • lowslydr

      I ride 2up on my DL 650 all the time, no problem. I can still pass cars at 70mph etc.

  • contender

    What was the observed fuel economy? For most bikes this is largely irrelevent, but I think that when talking practicality it is germane to the conversation.

    • BigRooster

      Why stop there. If we are talking practical we should also factor TCO and and resale.

  • 2ndderivative

    C’mon Suzuki, right-size (and de-uglify) this package and bring back your street 650.

  • T Diver

    So does this mean you can do wheelies with your groceries?

  • 10/10ths

    My ’04 returns 50 mpg and I’ve gone 220 miles on a tank.

    • markbvt

      My ’08 frequently returned 55mpg and I’ve gone 260 miles on a tank, and still had some gas left. The Wee is a very economical bike.

  • http://bloodfalcons.blogspot.com motoguru

    Y’know if you scrape off that rubber coating on the front brake lines, you’ll fine steel braids.

  • Myles

    Do people in The West characterize Japanese (or Korean, or Chinese) vehicles as “having no soul” because they feel that way about people in The East? Asian manufactures deal with this criticism very frequently, and it kind of correlates with the way Western Media portrays The East (remember how people reacted to the synchronized performances during the Beijing Olympics? “They’re TOO in-sync, they’re all mindless robots under a communist regimeee!!!!!!!!”).

    It’s very easy to say, “A motorcycle is an emotional thing. There’s just something about Motorcycle A that makes me want it more than Motorcycle B, even though Motorcycle B logically makes more sense” and go on your day – but this is a very dangerous personal precedent. That thing you “can’t quite put your finger on” is usually societal conditioning. A combination of advertising, what your neighbor thinks, and what generations before you thought (among a multitude of other things).

    Sometimes this can be harmless, like “My dad had a Triumph when he was a young man, he still has a picture of her hanging in his office. It would be pretty sweet to tool around town on a Bonnie.”, but can also be, “My dad always said to never buy anything built by those Japs.”

    This kind of thing effects every living human every day, and it’s important to be cognizant of this fact. If you can’t figure out why you want something (or why one machine “has more soul” than another), you should probably hold on your purchase.

    • cramer

      Well said.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Our criticism has nothing to do with country of origin.

      The Triumph Bonneville, for instance, has all the character of a sewing machine.

      • Sean Smith

        A very polite and gentlemanly sewing machine.

      • markbvt

        A stock Bonnie is overly polite, true. But with a set of Predator pipes and an airbox delete, that bike really comes to life and exhibits tons of character.

        • TheBoatDude

          Also, don’t forget to add in suspension and brake upgrades…

    • Campisi

      The “soul” of a machine in my experience is the summation of all of the engineering flaws that I don’t find particularly bothersome. I’m sure the Japanese engineers spent thousands of hours tracking down all of those little Italianate issues that would otherwise constitute character (and possible reliability issues down the road), and the market as a whole clearly respects that.

      Personally, I’d rather have an anthropomorphizing attachment to a machine that occasionally annoys me than see my flawless unliving transportation tool as nothing more than such.

  • DoctorNine

    Because, motorcycle.
    That is all. Thank you.

  • brady butterfield

    My first bike is a 1981 Yamaha XJ 650 MaximI. I bought it because it’s cheap enough that as a Noob I can get my feet wet actually riding and wrenching on a bike that I paid cash for. I bought this paticular bike because it’s unique as a mix of different eras and themes. It has a black painted tank matching a cafe surround, a non-70′s seat much like a new Bonnie’s, and a new set of white wall Avons. I have the bike running safe and sweet. Rebuilding and tuning was a lot of fun, cleaning and syncing those four carbs was a blast. I have been driving it every day lately and people love it. The cruiser guys think it’s weird untill I tell them that she has 70 horsepower and can run 12′s while still being able to turn and stop. The little four is nice and smooth and the roar from those four carbs spitting out of their K&N pods sounds awesome.

    I guess my point is that you can still make a boring bike unique with the small things. I would love a Wee Strom but it would definetly be purchased used and there would be some small changes.

  • PlanetZoltar

    A nice bike

  • DucMan

    I love my ’04 “Wee-Strom” and if I could only own one bike, she would be the one. Thankfully I don’t have to only own one bike and a Ducati Monster and Honda RC51 give me the “soul” for those times when I need to feed mine. GREAT article!

  • Alberto Morgado

    you guys dont have the Teneré 660 in US??? Or XT660???

  • Dante Dias

    Say what you please about it . I have one , it’s 3000 km now and the bike is good at everything , but … It is absolutely NO FUN AT ALL . If you use it as transportation only , it’s perfect ! But if you have a bike for a little bit of fun on the weekends , please , don’t do that to yourself . The bike lacks character in a way that I just can’t explain , it’s just not right … You wake up in the morning , the sun is up , beautiful blue sky , perfect day for riding , but when you look at your garage and see it , it’s just awfull ! It’s not because it’s japanese ! Lots of japanese machines have a lot of soul and character . My last bike was a Kawasaki and I absolutely adored it ! That suzuki can’t make you feel special and can’t make you want to ride it all the time . It’s just as boring as it gets ! I’ll sell mine ASAP and buy anything else that can put a smile back at my face

  • Krish Mohan

    One of the best I had. My only complaint was this should have been a little more off-road friendly and should have come with a skid plate or the oil filter should have been repositioned. The best part is I got 300 miles between fuel stops.