Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT

ABR sales guy Will reflects on his introduction to adventure biking on Suzuki’s V-Strom 250 and 650 adventure bikes.

Around this time last year, I wrote my very first Adventure Bike Rider article. I’d just passed my test and was handed the keys to the Suzuki V-Strom 250. It was the smallest long-term review bike in the ABR garage but I didn’t care. I was ready to experience the freedom of the open road. 

I rode the bike for six months and enjoyed the introduction a smaller, lower powered motorcycle gave me to adventure biking. It forgave all the mistakes I made and helped develop my riding, but I was soon longing for more power. I wanted to be able to sit at motorway speeds comfortably and not feel like dead weight when riding as part of a group. So, I had a big grin on my face when Suzuki provided me with a V-Strom 650 to ride. The difference was incredible. 

Numerically, you get 71 bhp from a 645cc V-twin and that’s enough to let you fly past cars while overtaking with ease. It’s a far cry from the 250 which needed me to execute almost perfect timing to overtake at motorway speeds. The 650 sits just shy of 6,000 rpm with power to spare. Again, this was poles apart from the 250 which struggled to reach those speeds, let alone stay there. In addition to the practical applications, the increase in power came with an increase in fun, but I’m very happy to report there were no major incidents, although there were some valuable lessons learned. 

SPECS AT A GLANCE

PRICE: £7,599
ENGINE: 645cc, 4-stroke, liquidcooled, DOHC, 90-degree V-twin

POWER: 70bhp @8,800 rpm

TORQUE: 62Nm @ 6,500rpm

SUSPENSION: Front; Telescopic, coil spring, oil damped. Rear; Link type, coil spring, oil damped

GEARBOX: 6-speed constant mesh

WEIGHT: 213kg (wet)
TANK CAPACITY:
20 litres
SEAT HEIGHT:
835 mm

FUEL CONSUMPTION: 67.26MPG (claimed)

Both the V-Stroms I’ve ridden have been completely reliable, something I came to appreciate even more when I made the decision to ditch my car and become a fulltime biker. Everything about both bikes is exceptionally functional. The large wing mirrors, LED screens, large dials and big spongy seats are designed for consistent ease of use, and they do it very well. However, the seat on the 650 does become quite uncomfortable after a few hours in the saddle. I would prefer something harder for long distances but for pottering around the Cotswolds on Sunday afternoons it’s excellent. The suspension on both bikes is on the softer side and the front forks aren’t adjustable, but for my day to day riding along A-roads and country lanes they’ve proved perfectly adept. The bumps and unavoidable holes are absorbed easily, and the ride quality of both bikes is good. For longer rides I’ve put a set of Mosko Moto Reckless 80L soft pannier system on the bike to carry all my kit (see page 18). 

Overall, my favourite thing about the 650 is the enjoyment it has given me. On the 250, I knew a bigger bike was coming and there was a sense of ‘doing my time’ on a smaller bike, but I would happily keep the 650 indefinitely. I’d recommend the path I’ve taken as a new rider by starting on a smaller bike and moving up. The gradual increase in power has allowed me to learn from my mistakes, mature as a biker and begin to learn the skills I need to keep me riding for many years to come.