The wait is finally over for Will Sandilands as he picks up his first ‘big’ adventure bike
It’s said you’ll always remember where you were when JFK was shot, or when man landed on the moon. Alas, I was only a twinkle in my parent’s eyes when those world events took place, but for me, the day I picked up my first big bike, the Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT, will forever be etched into my memory for the crushing disappointment that soon followed.
Regular ABR readers will know I’ve spent the past 18 months since I passed my motorcycle test building my way up from the V-Strom 250, to the mid-size 650, with the target of riding off into the sunset on Suzuki’s flagship adventure bike, the new for 2020 V-Strom 1050XT. While I’ve had an absolute blast on the smaller machines, there was never a doubt in my mind what the end goal was. So, I was understandably excited when the day I’d been waiting for finally arrived and I picked up my first ever ‘big’ bike, a box fresh 1050XT from Suzuki’s UK headquarters in Milton Keynes.
So, when I returned home, I was absolutely gutted to discover the UK had just been put under a nationwide coronavirus lockdown and my chances of exploring the world on my new pride and joy anytime soon were somewhere between zilch and zero. OK, I know it was selfish to be concerned about something so trivial during a global health crisis, but I couldn’t help but feel genuinely disappointed.
However, since travel restrictions were eased, I’ve been spending as much time on the big V-Strom as I can. Immediately, it’s obvious the bike has more sex appeal than the previous models that have slept in my garage. And, while I haven’t been biking long enough to share in the nostalgia the V-Strom’s retro adventure styling seems to evoke (I rarely make it through a whole sentence about the 1050XT without someone mentioning the DR-Big), I can see it looks edgier and more exciting than the previous model, the V-Strom 1000.
My bike’s bright yellow and blue colour scheme has split the office, but I like the attention it draws from bikers and non-bikers alike when I’m parked up.
On the road, I’ve been impressed by how light the handling is for a bike of its size and weight (247kg wet). In fact, the handling is far more agile and responsive than the smaller machines in the V-Strom family. I also can’t help but smile every time the 106bhp, 1,037cc engine delivers a thump of power as I accelerate. I’ve found myself getting carried away in the sportiest rider mode, which can be quite jerky if I’m not extra smooth on the throttle, but I love the fact it keeps me on my toes.
My only disappointment with the 1050XT so far has been with the LCD screen. While it’s perfectly functional, it can’t help but look old-fashioned in a world where flash TFT displays are commonplace on adventure bikes. It takes a little shine off, what so far, is proving to be a fantastic motorcycle to ride.