Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT


After passing his test, ABR’s newest rider Will Sandilands discovers the gentle nature of the Suzuki is helping him become a better rider.

It’s strange how quickly you bond with a motorcycle. I’ve only had the V-Strom for three months, but when ABR’s editor told me it might need to be ridden by other writers for a couple of features, it felt as if I’d heard my girlfriend was planning to cheat on me with one of my mates. I’m not sure which I’d prefer, to be honest. 

I spent my first few weeks with the V-Strom commuting to work and going on local ride-outs, so, when a mate said he wanted to go to the Welsh valleys for the day, I jumped at the chance of a longer ride. 

After travelling 350-miles between 10 am and 7 pm, I began to truly appreciate how comfortable the seat on the V-Strom is. But it’s not just the seat. The whole bike felt smooth, easy and forgiving to ride. As a new rider, I even started to daydream for the first time while riding a bike, although I did quickly snap out of it and started concentrating again. Something else to be wary of going forwards.


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

POWER: 70bhp @ 8,800rpm

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)
20 litres
835 mm

TANK CONSUMPTION: 67.26mpg (claimed)

Admittedly, as a 26-year-old man with no aches or injuries, now is the time I could probably tolerate a less comfortable, more aggressive bike. During an excursion to a local off-road spot, I admit to feeling rather envious of a mate’s KTM 1290 Super Adventure, but I quickly reminded myself I had better learn to walk before I can run. For my purposes, the V-Strom is proving a great bike. 

It’s not perfect though. I’m not sure I like the rather basic dash. It’s easy enough to use but its small and is far less impressive than the TFT dashes on some of the other bikes I’ve seen. I also don’t like the lack of rider modes. Sure, you can adjust the traction control between three settings (off, one and two), but I’m not yet experienced enough to know which one I need. As a new rider, a ‘rain’ setting would be nice, at least. 

However, those niggles all but disappeared when my mate and I got into Mid Wales and we found ourselves travelling along plenty of windy, empty roads. The bike felt responsive, incredibly enjoyable, and I was within my comfort zone the whole time, despite upping the speed. Thanks to the gentle nature of this bike, I enjoyed the welsh countryside and those wonderful roads. 

I’m now looking forward to riding the V-Strom through the winter, which I didn’t expect to be saying to be honest. I can be a tad precious about the cold, but I have some trips planned and I look forward to updating you on them.