Review: 2017 Suzuki V-Strom 1000XT
Suzuki's V-Strom 1000XT put to the test on and off-road in Australian conditions. Here's our review. Test: Tony Wilding, Photography: Heather Ware
Suzuki are on a real winner with the new 1000cc V-Strom, there is not much to dislike about the V-Strom and the more time I spent in the saddle, the more fond I became of it.
When you’re not used to riding big adventure bikes, it takes you by surprise when you first throw a leg over one, just the sheer size and weight of this type of bike might put a few people off buying one.
But that would be a mistake, as the benefits far outweigh the negatives – unless you have short legs… If you’re into doing any kind of kilometre munching then I can’t think of a better bike to do it on and at $17,990 ride away for the XT model, it’s superb value.
So what’s new for 2017?
Well a fair bit really, for example, a Bosch Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) has been added to take care of the cornering ABS, that allows the ABS to work when the bike is on a lean, through the use of clever sensors and you also get an intelligent two level traction control system. Also new, is the Motion Track Braking System, which along with the Cornering ABS, it stops rear wheel lock-ups under heavy braking and automatically applies pressure to the rear brake when the front ABS is being used, this settles the rear end, resulting in a safer bike.
Also new for 2017, is Suzuki’s Easy Start System, which enables you to start the engine with only one-push of the starter button. There is also a Low RPM Assist, this supports the clutch engaging and low rpm while riding, handy in slow traffic or slow rough terrain.
A new design windscreen adjusts for height and angle while the bodywork has a beak design look, which is taken from the Suzuki DR-Big, the dash has also come in for a redesign, while hand guards now protect your fingers, fitted to the new tapered alloy bars and a new under cowl protects the engine.
Sitting on the V-Strom I can tell the ergonomics have been well thought out and are pretty spot-on, the seat is reasonably slim but wide enough to fit my bum and one of the comfiest I’ve sat on, the dash has a lot of information on it and looks a bit cluttered, but you get used to it and it’s easy to read and after a bit of figuring out, it’s pretty easy to adjust to the display you want.
Suzuki describes the V-Strom as a ‘Sports Adventure Tourer’ and that’s a fair call, as it’s not as extreme as a full on adventure bike, but that doesn’t mean it’s not capable of going off road. In fact, on the dirt road sections I rode, the bike handled very well.
However, if I was doing more of this I would be buying a more off-road orientated set of tyres to suit the strong spoked wheels on the XT model, as I had a few hairy moments in the soft sand and with a 17in rear and 19in front, the tyre options are endless. With mainly road testing, the off road sections found the suspension on the soft side, however that is easily fixed.
The front and rear suspension offers a wide range of options for rider weight and conditions. The front forks are fully adjustable 43mm KYB USD. At the back a KYB fully adjustable shock is used and has a handy reachable preload knob that can be adjusted on the fly, which does a great job of damping the 233kg wet weight.
A bit of fine tuning would help improve off or on road handling, but because the majority of my testing was on road I found my settings a bit soft in the dirt. I bottomed out a couple of times going over a jump, but like I said this would be an easy fix with a bit of adjustment.
The V-Strom also has a great traction control system with three settings, 1, 2 and Off. Setting 1 is the least intrusive and lets you have a bit of fun in the dirt, letting you step the back end without getting to out of control. Setting 2 would be more suitable for greasy wet roads or you can turn it off all together as I did in the dirt most of the time.
A couple of other features on the V-Strom that really impressed me were the slipper clutch and the really light clutch action, both make for a much happier time when in slow off road sections or slow traffic for that matter.
Value is a real highlight with the V-Strom 1000XT, and the bike is pretty unbeatable in this area, with only a few items on the wish list. It would have been nice to have a couple of map mode options to reduce or increase power output, but you can’t have everything.
On the road the V-Strom really shines and although it’s a big 90-degree V-twin there is very little vibration from the engine and it’s super smooth. Even when using a taller gear at low speeds the bike doesn’t bog down or judder, which is a testament to Suzuki’s EFI system.
Acceleration is impressive, with 74kW on tap it really hauls from seemingly any rev range, which makes overtaking a breeze and increases fun in the bends. Speaking of which, the V-Strom is really surprising in the twisties and would have no trouble keeping with the big boys in the right hands. 74kW and 101Nm of torque are plentiful with smooth delivery from down low, making the V-Strom ideal on and off the road.
With the 19in front wheel, change of direction is slower than a 17in wheel bike, due to the gyroscopic effect and the flatter profile Bridgestone Battle Wing tyres, but it just means you have to use a bit more effort with your body weight if you want to give it some berries in the really tight stuff.
On the other hand, when you get to the wide open flowing corners then the big Suzuki comes into its own and really shines, and whatever your preference the V-Strom is super stable and well planted even on the worst of roads.
On the freeway and open roads the bike really performs, as the engine performance is perfect for this type of riding and is really just ticking over at 3500rpm at freeway speeds, with effortless overtaking potential. Through the tight stuff the V-Strom does require more effort, however in the more open flowing twisties it is in its element.
The mirrors offer great vision and like I said before, the ride position is spot on for long distance riding, and my only gripe was the screen. For some reason I could not escape the buffering to my helmet, which was annoying. If I stood up on the ‘pegs the buffering went, if I crouched down behind the screen it went, but I just couldn’t adjust the screen enough to escape it, at least not with my long body.
The V-Strom has a fantastic braking system, which Suzuki calls ‘Motion Track Braking’ which is not only powerful as you’d expect with four-piston Tokico monobloc calipers and dual 310mm discs, it also provides great lever feel. The brakes are linked front and back and have intelligent ABS, which allows for heavy braking while cornering.
Like I said at the start, there is not a lot to dislike about the new 1000 V-Strom, for the price it’s really hard to beat and with a load of options available should you want to get serious about touring then this is the bike for you. Go and try one for yourself. Find a Suzuki dealer near you here.
2017 V-Strom 1000 Tech Talk
The V-Strom uses a 1037cc 90-degree V-twin, which has been designed not only to meet tough Euro 4 regulations, but to be practical in a wide range of road and off-road conditions, while producing its maximum 101Nm torque at a great usable low 4000rpm.
To achieve this, Suzuki have used light weight 100mm large bore pistons with low friction piston rings that give a higher combustion efficiency and better fuel economy, while the upper crown of the piston has be anodized increase durability. Both cylinder-heads have two iridium spark plugs that improve combustion efficiency, give a higher power output and a more linear throttle response; this also provides an easier to start engine and a more stable idle speed.
The V-Strom also has Two ignition coils per cylinder that enable independent control of ignition timing, resulting in strong low-rpm output and lower emissions. The cylinders are plated in what Suzuki calls Suzuki Composite Electrochemical Material (SCEM), these are integrated into the upper crankcase to reduce friction and increase heat transfer and durability.
The fuel is supplied through Suzuki Dual Throttle Valve (SDTV) which has 10 hole fuel injectors that improve fuel economy, power delivery and combustion efficiency. Controlling the fuelling is a 32 bit engine control module that provides state-of-the-art engine management and has been set up to meet Euro 4 regulations, while improving fuel economy and providing smooth linear throttle response.
To let the engine exhale efficiently, the V-Strom uses a down-type silencer which contributes to low centre of gravity, with ‘Suzuki Exhaust Tuning’ (SET) this optimises the exhaust pressure and increases controllability and torque characteristics by the ECM controlled butterfly valve in the exhaust pipe.
To meet Euro 4 emissions without losing any power, the number of catalysers in the exhaust system has been increased to two rather than the single one in the previous model. This was done by positioning the two in a tandem configuration; this has achieved an effective level of emission control with the help of air flow induction updates, which all go to making the new V-Strom a torquey and efficient powerful motorcycle.
The V-Strom uses a twin-spar alloy frame and swingarm that are both designed for optimal rigidity, to improve stability and performance, also helping with stability, is the long 1555mm wheelbase. With the use of the slim 1000cc V-twin motor, this has allowed the bodywork to be designed narrow, which not only lets you have better control over the bike with your knees tucked into the tank, this also gives you better ground reach with your feet.
Suzuki have kept with 19 inch front wheel and 17 inch rear, this is the same sizes as the previous model and has been kept for optimal balance of stability, the XT model has spoked wheels, which are more robust for off-road activities.
The suspension uses ridged black- anodized 43mm KYB upside down forks, that are fully adjustable for preload, rebound and compression. The rear shock is also by KYB and again fully adjustable, with the preload being able to be increased or decreased via a reachable adjustment knob down by the seat, which is handy when carrying a passenger and luggage.
The V-Strom has been fitted with a host of electronic aids to not only make the bike safe, but to allow you to take better control of the bike in a variety of on-road and off-road conditions, although the electronics are not too over the top as to put the price of the bike out of reach to the average customer.
The Bosch ABS system has been upgraded to the “Motion Track Brake System” by installing a 5-Axis Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU). The IMU takes information from the front and rear wheels speeds, which make it possible for the ABS to activate not only in a straight line, but also when the vehicle is leaning on either side.
The new Motion Track Brake System instantly assesses the need of the ABS when the front brake lever or rear brake is applied by calculating the posture of the bike and wheel speeds. When measuring the need of wheel grip, the ABS unit will decrease in braking pressure and will continue to control the increase and decrease of the pressure at an advanced level, according to the traction available. Also a new feature is the combination brake system, which automatically applies pressure to the rear brake to stabilise the bike when the front brake is applied.
A great feature that should be standard on all bikes is a 12V DC outlet that is located below the dash. The handy socket can be used for powering a GPS or charging a phone.
The new instruments include an analogue tachometer and a brightness adjustable LCD speedometer. Newly designed LCD readouts include an odometer, dual trip meters, the gear position, the coolant and ambient temperatures, the voltage, the riding range, the average fuel consumption, the instantaneous fuel consumption, the traction control mode, a fuel gauge and a clock. There is also a handy freeze indicator that starts blinking when the temperature falls below 3°C.
The Suzuki 1000 V-Strom has a great usable traction control system. The system has three settings; 1, 2 and off. The traction control system continuously monitors the front and rear wheel speeds, throttle position, crank position, and gear position with various sensors, and controls the engine output by managing the ignition timing and air delivery.
Mode 1 intervenes earlier than mode 2 and offers more support for the rider in situations such as in the rain or on slippery road conditions, while mode 2 will give a more sporty ride and allows you more rear wheel spin. Both modes let you adjust the amount of intervention within each mode so you can custom tune each mode to the conditions you’re riding in.
Styling is always a subjective thing, what one person loves, it’s human nature that another person will hate, but for me, Suzuki have done a good job making the bike look more modern and tougher. The V-Strom has really sharpened up for 2017 and has given it a more aggressive purposeful look, taking influence from their desert racer DR-Z and the commercial model DR-BIG.
There is a distinctive ‘beak look’ about the bike with the new front bodywork and the headlight design is somewhat like the vertical ones used on the Hayabusa and GSX-R sports bikes. The bodywork has been deliberately made slim as has the seat and tank, this is made possible due to the narrow 1000cc V-twin motor and allows for better knee grip and control of the bike.
With the addition of the spoked wheels on the XT model and comfortable no-slip seat that uses the same material found on the RM-Z, it really gives the appearance that the V-Strom could take on an around Australia adventure, which it certainly could.
2017 Suzuki V-Strom 1000XT Accessories
- High seat
- Low seat
- Centre stand
- Touring screen
- Grip heaters
- Accessory bar
- LED Fog lamps
- Chain guard (aluminum)
- LED turn signal lamps
2017 Suzuki V-Strom 1000XT Specifications
Price: $16,490 + ORC ($17,990 Ride Away)
Warranty: Two years/unlimited kilometre
Colours: Glass Sparkle Black, Champion Yellow No 2, Pearl Glacier White
Claimed power: 74kW [99hp]@8000rpm
Claimed torque: 101Nm [74.4ft-lbs]@4000rpm
Wet weight: 233
Fuel capacity: 20L
Engine: 90-degree V-Twin, liquid-cooled, four-stroke, DOHC, four-valves, 1037cc, EFI
Gearbox: Six speed
Clutch: Wet multiplate
Final drive: Sealed chain
Chassis: Alloy frame
Rake: 25.3 degrees, 109mm trail
Suspension: Full adjustable 43mm KYB USD, shock KYB full adjustable
Brakes: Dual Tokico radially mounted monoblock calipers, 310mm brake discs, rear brake disc
Wheels & Tyres: 110/80-19 – 150/70-17
Seat height: 850mm (820mm option available)
Instruments: LED display