At least when it’s fitted with aftermarket crash protection. The three crashes all occurred at very low speed and all resulted in broken levers and missing pieces of bodywork. Sump guard and crash bars, stat, if you plan on keeping your V-Strom in tip-top shape.
Back on the asphalt, where the 1000 was designed to work best, things are much happier. The relatively lightweight and firm suspension make it responsive and willing at fast riding, if not all that outright fast. It’s the pegs with their inch-long feelers that will touch down first (and earlier than a dedicated sport rider would want), followed by the exhaust canister. Having said that, you can trail the 1000 into a corner very hard, relying on the feedback given by the excellent suspension and the strong-feel, radial brakes to combine perfectly with the easy downshifts of the slipper clutch. Steering is slower than you’d expect from a bike with such wide bars, but they ultimately do you give you the leverage to really crank it through a corner. It’s also impressive how early you can get on the power, aided by the natural traction of a big V-twin, the road-only Bridgestone Battlewings and the traction control. That last component may not sound as fancy as the multi-mode systems used by the European manufacturers, but it works with equal effect, allowing you a little slide and seamless safety
The biggest limitation on these 250-mile days, to me, was in the comfort of the seat. Where the V-Strom 650 comes with the world’s most comfortable, the 1000’s is harder. Other riders didn’t complain as much and it should be noted that that big accident a year ago has left me with a terminally sensitive rear end.
By throwing out the notion of the ADV-class’s traditionally dirty image, Suzuki has instead given buyers an excellent, practical, capable road bike. Think of it as a performance roadster that also happens to be very comfortable, easy to ride in traffic and which gives you a respectable turn of speed. It accomplishes the same trick as its 650cc counterpoint at being behind the competition at on-paper specs like peak horsepower and whizz-bang features, but delivering such solid, understated rideablity that it works better in the real world than the allegedly more capable stuff. If you’re using a bike everyday to do everything, you’ll appreciate what the V-Strom gives you.
This bike does every (on-road) task well — scratching, touring, commuting, whatever you need it to do.
Surprisingly comfortable on a dirt road, given its on-road focus. If your riding includes the occasional fire road or easy trail, the V-Strom will have no trouble tackling those too.
The engine delivers solid V-twin character combined with and inline-four-like smoothness at highway speeds. No numbness-inducing vibrations here.
While not mind-warpingly powerful, once you get over trying to see just how fast the V-Strom will go, the motor makes rapid progress smooth and easy.
The gearbox is typical Suzuki — slick and positive.
The new analog tachometer/digital speedo is easy and immediate to read night or day and includes a fuel gauge, external thermometer, fuel consumption readout and more.
A power jack in the dash — front and center — is ideally located to power your GPS or smart phone.
The two-mode traction control may not sound fancy, but it works smoothly and seamlessly to make you more confident in using the throttle.
Averaging around 40 mpg and fitted with a 5.3-gallon fuel tank, range is over 200 miles.
Even in its tallest, most forward position, the screen doesn’t totally shield a tall rider’s helmet from buffeting. A “touring” screen is available from Suzuki and comes standard on the Adventure model. Consider it necessary if you’ve over 5’10”.
The seat is supportive, slim and just right in every way, except in how hard it is. This butt was able to take it for 30 minutes before getting sore.
The brakes are powerful, but can be abrupt in their initial application. Combined with the long fork travel, this can lead to an unexpected dive when all you want is to slow down a little.
Very low in the rev range, 1st gear fueling can be jerky. Not a huge problem on a road-oriented bike, but if you did want to take one off-road, this would get in the way of walking it over challenging obstacles.
Crash protection is non existent. Even 10 mph topples in soft sand resulted in broken levers and broke off pieces of the plastic bodywork.
In keeping the cost down, the V-Strom misses out on modern features like LED or projector headlamps or the latest, multi-talented versions of Traction Control. It also does without luxury niceties like heated grips or cruise control.
This is where the V-Strom 1000 comes into it’s own. At $12,699 it packs an exceptional amount of ability into a price tag significantly lower than that of the competition. There’s nothing it can’t do better than either the $14,790 Yamaha Super Tenere or the $15,690 Triumph Tiger Explorer, including outright performance. It’s not nearly as awesome off-road as the $16,500 KTM 1190 Adventure, as gee-whizz as the $17,600 BMW R 1200 GS nor as fast as the $16,995 Ducati Multistrada 1200. However, we should also add that as a Suzuki, the V-Strom will have lower service needs and lower service rates from a dealer that’s likely much closer to you than its European competition. Factor in Suzuki’s 0% APR and you have a bike that’s easy to put in your garage.
This new V-Strom isn’t the fastest or fanciest bike out there. Considering the latest competition from Europe, there’s a gap there, too. But, it is affordable, easy to buy, available from a wide dealer network and gets its job done with remarkable efficacy. Look at this new 1000 next to other Suzuki models like the V-Strom 650 and GW250 and we’re seeing a re-consideration of what this brand represents. Of those three bikes, none are headline grabbers, none boast more power than their competitors and none are going to win any races with other bikes in their class, but all three are excellent value, comfortable and broadly capable in a way which defies current motorcycle convention. Exciting? A little. Sensible? Eminently. Good value? Arguably the best there is.
RideApart Rating: 8/10
More Photos: 2014 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 ABS >>
What do you think? Would you pay more for electronic trickery, larger motors and more weight or do you value broad capability?
Helmet: AGV AX-8 Dual Evo Tour (Recommended, very fit dependent)
Jacket: Dainese Teren (Highly Recommended)
Pants: Dainese Teren (Highly Recommended)
Gloves: Racer Mickey (Highly Recommended)
Boots: Dainese Carroarmato (Highly Recommended)