2014 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 ABS – First Ride
I think this bike will be a hit and find its way into the ADV market place. Just seems like a whole lot of bike for the price and will make to non hard-core off-road rider very happy. Perhaps just a great overall everyday ADV bike ;-)
The adventure doesn’t really begin, they say, until something goes wrong. When we combine adventure bikes with guys that have seen too many BMW commercials, this inevitably entails picking adventure bikes back up from the dusty trail (or in my case, having them extracted by helicopter). Suddenly, it’s very clear why weight matters.
One solution is to downsize to something smaller, which explains the popularity of the V-Strom 650.
Now, with this redesigned 2014 V-Strom 1000, Suzuki seeks to split the difference between big, heavy adventure bikes and the smaller ones its 650 competes with in the U.S. (your BMW F800GS, your Versys and KLR650 Kawasakis, your Triumph Tiger 800). At a claimed 503 pounds gassed up, the new V-Strom is 23 pounds lighter than a BMW R1200GS, 75 pounds lighter than a Yamaha Super Ténéré, and 31 pounds heavier than its 650 sibling. Suzuki says it was after a compact, lightweight package it calls a “Sport Adventure Tourer.”
For most riders, the off-road antics seen in the BMW commercials (and the pages of Cycle World) are, to quote Suzuki’s test rider Jurgen Plaschka, “a dream.” Wheelying through mountain streams and bunny-hopping through boulder fields on 500-pound bikes is really best left to the experts, and Suzuki says few buyers of the V-Strom will even make the attempt. Rather than try to build a dirt-first bike like the KTM Adventure, then, this Suzuki is more intended to be a really comfortable long-distance touring bike with looks that only imply its rider might be off to North Africa. In contrast to the well-heeled BMW R1200GS rider, who drives the M4 or Audi to work, the Suzuki owner is more likely use his V-Strom as everyday transpo, a beast better suited to the urban jungle.
For that, the V-Strom will be tough to beat. By now you’ve figured out that “adventure” is code for older, experienced riders who just no longer want or are able to assume the GSX-R position, yet still want to be Errol Flynn (who?). Adventure ergos are what standard ergos used to be, just a couple of inches farther from the pavement. The V-Strom offers up a tall (steel) handlebar, a thick, cushy seat and rubber-covered footpegs right where you’d rest your slippers if you were home watching a Love Boat marathon. The 5.3-gallon fuel tank directs wind around your thighs, and the cool new three-position (and 30mm height-adjustable) ratcheting windshield pokes a large, quiet hole in the air: 6000 rpm and 100 mph works well on the A7 in a hurry back to Almeria, Spain, for cocktail hour at the end of a long day slaying curves.
For a bike with 6.3 inches of fork travel, it works okay for curve-slaying. The frame is all-new, with a longer swingarm and sportier rake and trail figures than before. The wide handlebar and upright riding position give plenty of directional control and confidence, brake calipers from the GSX-R1000 give plenty of stoppability. No radial master cylinders or braided steel lines here, though, which means braking feel is not quite so sensitive. So what? The standard ABS is nice and smooth.
Once you acclimate to the V-Strom’s rhythms and squeeze the lever gently at first while the fork strokes through about 4 inches of that travel, all is swell. If it’s big dirt bike we’re playing, why not? Mainly you want to get to the point of the corner where you can get back on the V-Strom’s most excellent gas pedal; this is the first production Suzuki ever with traction control. Once you can transfer weight to the rear contact patch, the computer does the rest and does it well. (And the left handlebar switch makes it easy to switch between TC1, 2, and off.) Naturally we got rained on a little in a part of Spain famous for its lack of precipitation. In the wet, I left it in TC2 and felt free to grab gluttonous amounts of throttle. I felt the rear slide an inch or two now and then, liked the flashing orange TC light, and learned to stop worrying after about six or seven wet corners.
The original TL1000S was a crazed wildebeest eager to bang up against its 10,000-rpm redline. Suzuki changed things up for the original V-Strom in 2002, and have again pushed the torque hump lower for the 2014 version. The previous Strom made max torque at 6400 rpm; this one makes a couple more pound-feet—76 claimed at the crank—at just 4000 rpm, and bullmooses its way out of corners in a way reminiscent of the dearly departed Honda Superhawk. There’s so much juicy torque down there, it’s really easy to forgive the fact that the show’s over at 8000 rpm, which happens to be right where Suzuki says max power—100.6 horses—is being made.
On the motorway, the V-Strom rushes up to about 130-mph indicated and 8000 rpm, and isn’t all that eager to go much faster. Neither was I, really. For its intended role, the V-Strom’s got more than enough of the right kind of power, and Suzuki’s old SDTV (Dual Throttle Valve) delivers it smoothly.
New cylinder heads with two plugs per (each with its own coil), 10-hole injectors and a 32-bit ECU all add up to more better power, along with 16-percent better fuel economy, says Suzuki: 49 mpg. Seems optimistic, given that every time I looked at the average fuel mileage number on the LCD panel, it read between 38 and 42 mpg. Emissions are also reduced, thanks to an O2 sensor that helps make the bike Euro 3 compliant.
If you need an example of how racing improves the breed, this engine and Honda’s RC-51 twin would not exist if Superbike rules in the old days hadn’t made 750 fours race against 1000cc twins, and the world would be a much poorer place. Another cool thing about the Suzuki twin is its hybrid gear drive, which lets the four cams be lifted out for service without disturbing the cam chains. The revised twin also gets a new semi-slipper clutch and a taller sixth gear.
All the hoopla about making this one a comfortable long-distance runner seems like it could be true. You could definitely fill the optional saddlebags (standard on the Adventure version) and the 5.3-gallon fuel tank and spend some quality time on this one. The grips have been moved 1.3 inches rearward and the pegs just over half-an-inch, compared to the old V-Strom, for more upright seating and more legroom. Suzuki’s not spec’ing a seat height, but my 30-inch legs had the balls of my feet touching on both sides simultaneously. There’s a taller seat option and a shorter one: Don’t bother with the short one; it just removes foam but then splays your hips a bit more around the seat frame so that you don’t lose any altitude but do lose comfort once you’re wheels-up.
The new ratcheting windscreen works okay, and in any of its three positions provides pretty good protection along with smooth airflow. A new LCD panel next to a big analog tachometer provides lots more info than before, including average fuel consumption, gear position, a voltmeter, freeze warning and ambient temp gauge—all of it adjustable for brightness. And there’s a 12-volt outlet right below it, powered by a 550-watt alternator that’s 15-percent heavier for better off-roadability.
We didn’t actually go off-roading the day I got to ride the bike, but I did zot around in a dirt/sand parking lot down by the beach and with a couple of mangy dogs in the rocky dirt behind a gas station, and the TC seems like it will work as well as the what’s used on the BMW F800GS I off-roaded a couple months ago. To the average adventure rider like yours truly, any TC is good TC; the fact that the rear wheel’s not spinning out and throwing me off course let me clamber up at least one steepish hill on the BMW I wouldn’t have thought possible when looking up from the bottom at the disappointed crowd gathered up top to watch me trash a brand new $15,000 BMW.
But on truly gnarly terrain, the experts tell me it will all come to a bad end: When there just isn’t any traction any more, TC means you go nowhere. The only solution at that point is to back up and get a run with TC switched off and use your, ah, expertness.
The V-Strom 1000 isn’t intended for that kind of rider or terrain so much, but I have no doubt our off-road tester Ryan Dudek could ride it up a tree. For exploring fire roads and avoiding double black diamond runs, I bet it will be great for the average riding stiff. And if it’s not, at least it’ll be easier to pick up than the other big dual-sports. The other expert complaint is you can’t switch ABS off, but it’s easy enough to remove the seat and the ABS fuse, or maybe wire in a handlebar switch.
As they say in the infomercials, how much would you expect to pay? $12,699 doesn’t seem bad compared to the $14,990 you’ll pay for a stripper BMW R1200GS. Then you’ve got your V-Strom 1000 ABS Adventure, which adds saddlebags (and mounts) keyed to the ignition, a touring windscreen, hand guards, accessory bars and an under-engine cowl (not to be confused with a skid plate), for $13,999. But wait, there are plenty more accessories: heated grips, centerstand, top case, actual 2mm-thick aluminum skid plate, the list goes on… as does the beak.
Speaking of which, if anybody on a Eurobike looks down their beak at this one’s, remind them it was Suzuki who appended the first moto-proboscis—to its DR750S, circa 1988.
|2014 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 ABS|
|ENGINE||Four-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, four valves per cylinder, 90-deg. V-twin|
|BORE & STROKE||100.0 x 66.0mm|
|FUEL INJECTION||Suzuki Dual Throttle Valve|
|FINAL DRIVE||Sealed chain|
|RAKE/TRAIL||25.5 degrees/4.3 in.|
|FRAME TYPE||Aluminum twin-spar|
|FRONT TIRE||110/80R-19 Bridgestone Trailwing BW501|
|REAR TIRE||150/70R-17 Bridgestone Trailwing BW502|
|FRONT SUSPENSION / WHEEL TRAVEL||43 mm KYB inverted fork; compression and rebound damping and spring preload adjustability / 6.3 in.|
|REAR SUSPENSION / WHEEL TRAVEL||Single shock; rebound damping, remotely adjustable spring preload / NA|
|FRONT BRAKE||Dual 310mm rotors; radial-mount four-piston monobloc calipers, ABS|
|REAR BRAKE||Single 260mm rotor with single-piston caliper and ABS|
|SEAT HEIGHT||NA (estimated 32 in.)|
|CURB WEIGHT||503 lb.|
|FUEL CAPACITY||5.3 gal.|
|COLOR CHOICES||Candy Daring Red, Glass Desert Khaki. Adventure model: Glass Sparkle Black|
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