Suzuki's V-Strom 250 is an unassuming offering, with great value and an ideal entry point into the adventure/touring segment, so how does it stack up in real world conditions? Review: Kris Hodgson, Images: Kris Hodgson, Jeff Ware
2019 sees Suzuki introduce the V-Strom 250 to Australia, offering a smaller, lighter and more compact entry level V-Strom, alongside the learner legal V-Strom 650XT which is also available for those after the larger bike experience.
Harnessing the powerplant we tested in the Suzuki GSX250R, the V-Strom 250 is optimised for speeds of 20-90km/h according to Suzuki, while including some strong baseline features for those wishing to add a little adventure to their lives.
It’s an interesting addition because the V-Strom 650 is a great motorcycle, with the 250 being an obvious nod to smaller riders and those after a true entry level adventure-touring machine for the totally uninitiated. The bike we’re testing is kitted out, with the 20L panniers (side cases), 23L top case, centre-stand, hand guards, and mirror extension set. For regular use I’d opt for the larger 30L top box kit and handguards.
Standard fitment is the screen and bash plate, as well as the rear rack and integrated mounting system for the panniers. For those after the luggage, you’ll still require a top case adapter plate, and a side case plate set, plus the key set. The bulky cases are also heavy duty, which does limit capacity, but a glance tells you they’d survive a trip around Australia.
Empty they also don’t make much of a difference to the feel of the V-Strom 250 to me at 70kg, which while obviously wide as a result is still a lightweight machine, particularly with a (standard) wet weight of 188kg. That’s not much more than the GSX250R!
The seating position is 800mm off the ground, and a narrow seat towards the tank, with narrow overall design between the legs ensures an easy reach to the ground, without getting caught up in the ‘pegs. Reach to the bars is relatively short, which combined with the ‘peg position offers a fair compact ride triangle. It’s idea for me, and a very upright, neutral position, while still offering an easy ability to crouch behind the screen.
Build quality is good, everything is solid and there is a fair bit of plastic paneling. Considering the $7.2k ride away price it’s well within expectations, while this model was initially intended for Asian markets and is produced in China, which no doubt helps keep price down. The only other point of note in this regard is the warranty is just 12 months, and the switchblocks have big ugly joins.
Push the starter button and you’re rewarded with a bit of a purr from the engine, something I initially mistook for exhaust note, which by comparison is actually really quiet. The dash is also a nice clear LCD item that looks top notch and was also featured on the GSX250R.
Simple, clear and easy to read, I wish everyone got the memo. Trying to make a dash look cool normally means it’s not very functional on these competitively priced options.
A light clutch action setting off leads into a short first gear, but delivery is smooth and power reasonably flat. There’s torque on hand and I found myself knocking the bike smoothly up a few gears, even cruising at 60km/h in fourth or fifth. Suzuki claim they’ve tuned the bike for that 20-90km/h range, but I’d clarify that by saying there’s reasonably flat power delivery below 6000rpm, while things get a bit more interesting up around 7000-9000rpm.
That’s where you’ll be if you’re having a bit of fun on this machine, which becomes quite a bit more lively once the revs rise high enough. I was a bit leery of the ‘sport adventure tourer’ branding on the tank, because this is a 250, and an adventure-touring style machine at that, and while I think it may be a stretch, there’s excitement to be had making use of 100 per cent of this bike’s potential, and that’s entirely possible on our public roads.
Freeway cruising was about 9000rpm at 120km/h indicated, with an obvious over-read of about 10km/h judging by general traffic speeds, with a tiny bit more in the tank for slow overtaking maneuvers. Steep hills will slow you down however, while highway stability was really good.
There was also some vibes through the ‘bars at high rpm, but nothing enough to be annoying for my one hour commute each way. If you did 600-800km in a day that may change…
A single disc brake on the front had pretty good stopping power and modulation, but bite was relatively gentle, with the rear brake just doing the job. It took me a bit of getting used to the brakes and a fair bit of input was required at the lever for full performance, which on a beginner bike isn’t a bad thing. The IRS tyres also seemed decent for the wet and good for the dry riding I did, while ABS is standard fitment.
Having a run through the twisties also revealed a nicely handling and balanced package, with the suspension coping with general road conditions well for my 70kg weight plus gear and camera bag. Again here I was impressed with how user friendly the little V-Strom was, giving good confidence, while small ‘bar inputs made dodging the big potholes after all the rain we’ve had easy.
First impressions of the suspension was a bit firmer and sharper at the front, and a bit softer and more forgiving on the rear, for a good overall compromise. I’d be interested in seeing how it felt after a proper day touring and doing 500-600km, even if I think it’d be a rare rider doing that on one of these bikes.
Overall it’s obvious that Suzuki had good success with this machine in Asia, and while it doesn’t have the spoked rims that might suggest a bit more off-road prowess, and suspension is no doubt tuned for the road, it would make a great little all-rounder for shorter riders. Or perhaps women interested in jumping onto to wheels in this segment, without having to deal with the bigger and heavier adventure-touring bike feel.
One thing to keep in mind is that extended freeway riding is never going to be this bike’s forte as 120km/h indicated (more like 110km/h) has the bike right up near the rev limit. I did about 200km on the freeway in 50-60km stretches without issue, but the engine would be under a lot of stress doing this for hours at a time, and it wouldn’t be fun doing 50km at 120km/h twice a day for the commute.
Sticking to 100km/h on the other hand – which is most country roads – should not be an issue, while a simple change to the gearing might give the bike more freeway legs at the expense of some low down torque, but why would you bother. Keep in mind I’m 70kg, so larger or heavier heavier riders are probably going to find that top speed and performance significantly hindered.
Plus, for those who want more, there’s the V-Strom 650XT in a LAMS edition. It’s a hard one to call as to whether sales will make a mark on the charts, but at the same time the V-Strom 250 is aimed at a group of potential riders who are often ignored.
2019 Suzuki V-Strom 250 Second Opinion – Jeff
The V-Strom 250 lived at my joint for a week or so and I used it a fair bit. I did general running around on it, buying beer thanks to the panniers, plus I did a 350km loop with Kris and Elis up around the Hunter, down to St Albans on dirt, swapping bikes with Kris. I’ve always liked small capacity bikes and this is no exception, it really did surprise me.
First off, the V-Strom 250 is different, and I like that, it’s cute – like a mini adventure bike. It is tiny and takes time to get used to. I fit on it well ergonomically but just the height and width, the way everything is like a mini version of the 650 or 1000, it’s toy-like. That means it’s hard to be serious on this bike, you just smile and laugh a lot, which is great fun.
I had to take the bike on the M1 expressway numerous times and each time I was nervous about it breaking down as it is virtually 1000 to 500rpm under redline on full throttle, with a top speed of just under 130km/h at redline, so straight up, if you are going to ride on open roads, don’t buy this – even head winds and hills kill momentum.
If you tour on back roads 100km/h and under, the engine is lovely, particularly in that 60-90 range Suzuki talk about. With the low gearing, it punches above its capacity. No surprises, as the GSX250R is also a little weapon.
Everywhere else the V-Strom 250 was great. It is comfy for a good two hours, easy to ride and light-weight. Being small, the panniers, particularly the top box, can throw balance off and make the bike top heavy, but that is the trade off for luggage capacity.
I found with a full tank of fuel, some gear in the top box and panniers, the bike was quite difficult to corner smoothly on, it just wanted to fall from upright to full lean really quickly, feeling unpredictable. I also found it a major pain needing two sets of keys… The panniers are easy to take on and off, which is great, but the handles don’t fold up to carry them when they are locked, which can make things difficult.
I thought the tyres were fine in wet, dry and off road applications and the brakes up to the job. I love the dash, the screen, the looks and the price. A great little bike, built to a price, that would be a fantastic daily commuter, courier bike or weekend local tourer. Lots of fun too and has big bike looks. – Jeff.
2019 Suzuki V-Strom 250 (LAMS) Specifications
Price: From $7,190 Ride-Away
Warranty: One-year, unlimited kilometre
Colours: Pearl Black/Champion Yellow (tested), Metallic Triton Blue
Claimed power: 18.4kW[24.7hp]@8000rpm
Claimed torque: 23.4Nm[17.2ft-lbs]@6500rpm
Wet weight: 188kg
Fuel capacity: 17.3L
Engine: Liquid-cooled, four-stroke, SOHC, parallel-twin, 53.5 mm x 55.2 mm, 248cc, 11.5:1 compression ratio
Gearbox: Six-speed gearbox
Chassis: Semi double-cradle frame
Seat height: 800mm, Wheelbase: 1425mm
Rake: 25.6°, Trail: 104mm
Suspension: Telescopic forks, 115mm travel, mono-shock, 125mm travel
Brakes: ABS, 290mm front wave rotor, two-piston caliper, 240mm rear rotor, single-piston caliper
Wheels & tyres: Ten-spoke wheels, IRC tyres, 110/80 – 17, 140/55 – 17
Overall height: 1295mm
Overall length: 2150mm
Overall width: 790mm
Instruments: Multi-function reverse-lit LCD