Suzuki V-Strom 1000 (2017): first road test and review

Phil West
By Phil West
PhilWestNew Former Editor of Bike, ex-Road Test Editor of MCN, ridden more bikes than he can remember. Likes: GTS, Paso, Mantra. Dislikes: own rust bucket LC and 900 T-Bird daily driver.
2017 Suzuki V-Strom 1000

While the fully updated V-Strom 650 is the more compelling news, we shouldn’t forget the revamp its bigger brother, the V-Strom 1000, has also received for 2017. Reintroduced only in 2014, the V-Strom 1000 has also benefitted from a raft of changes, not least to the engine to ensure it now complies with the Euro4 emissions regulations that came into force this year. And while, admittedly, the updates aren’t as far-reaching as on the 650 they do go a worthwhile way to increasing the big bike’s competitiveness in what has become one of the most hardest fought-over motorcycling categories of all – large capacity adventure bikes.

2017 suzuki V-Strom 1000

To present these changes and give us the opportunity to test their worth, Suzuki staged a world press launch this week for the two new bikes at Tarragona, south-west of Barcelona.

What’s immediately striking about both is now how similar-looking they are – so much so that more than a few journalists struggled at first to tell them apart. This is a result not only of the 650 being restyled to deliberately resemble the 1000 but also because the 650’s proportions are virtually the same as the 1000, too. So, I’ll let you into a little secret shared with me by one of the Suzuki personnel. The biggest giveaways are threefold: the 1000 has a black engine, the 650 silver, the 1000 has inverted forks where the smaller bike’s are conventional and, not finally but one of the most conspicuous, the 1000 benefits from radially-mounted four-piston Tokico brake calipers where the 650 has fairly budget and basic conventional two-pot items.

VIDEO REVIEW: New 2017 Suzuki V-Strom 1000
Revamped for 2017 with to increasing the big bike’s competitiveness in what has become one of the most hardest fought-over motorcycling categories of all – large capacity adventure bikes.

But if the 1000 looks largely unchanged, don’t be fooled. There’s a host of updates here that, collectively, noticeably improve the big V-Strom in more than a few welcome ways. 

As with the 650, the idea, as the Suzuki engineer in charge of the project, Nobohiro Yasui, told BikeSocial, was simply to enhance and improve upon the proven and popular characteristics the big V-Strom already had. Or, in his own words, to ‘Make it more V-Strom’.

Job Number One was to get the V-Strom 1000 compliant with the new Euro4 emissions regs. But as the 1000 model is only three years old (whereas the conspicuously aging 650 dates all the way back to 2011) it was deemed unnecessary to make expensive wholesale changes to the powertrain. Instead it merely receives fuel injection and ECU mapping tweaks. Unlike with the 650, which received over 60 new engine internals, there’s no performance gain to this – in fact, although peak power is unchanged at 101bhp at 8000rpm, peak torque is down very slightly to 74lb-ft from 75. to look perfectly at home in a café-racer, especially one as sleekly sculpted as the Racer with its fairing lowers running neatly into the shapely petrol tank, and its trim tailpiece’s seat-hump in matching white with red and two-tone blue flashes.

2017 Suzuki V-Strom 1000

Similarly, if you think you recognize many of the new V-Strom 1000’s cycle parts, you’d be right again: the inverted, fully adjustable forks and rear shock are unchanged compared to the old, as are its Tokico, radially-mounted, twin four-piston brake calipers. But then, there was nothing really wrong with either of those anyway.

 What IS new, however, are welcome improvements and additions to what before was arguably a fairly basic spec, even for a bike at the budget end of the big adventure bike spectrum. The first of these is the addition of the cornering ABS system Suzuki debuted on its all-new GSX-R1000 superbike earlier this year. This is joined by both the Low RPM Assist and Easy Start systems Suzuki also added to the V-Strom 650, compliments the existing traction control system and collectively significantly improves the V-Strom 1000’s array of electronic rider aids and brings it more in line with more expensive bikes in the category.

2017 Suzuki V-Strom1000

Second, although that front fairing may look familiar, the nose cowling part of it is actually new as well, and incorporates a redesigned, ‘stacked’ headlamp while the one-hand adjustable screen (which can be raised or lowered on the move, unlike that of the 1000’s little brother) is now taller by a useful 49mm. Additionally, there’s a revised, more comfortable saddle while, on the standard version, like with the 650, there are new, stylish, 10-spoke cast alloy wheels.

While finally, and again just like the new 650, there are now not one, but two models of V-Strom 1000 to choose from: the stock version, which like the 650 comes in white, black or RMX-motocrosser inspired yellow at an impressively low £9499, or this new XT version, which comes in the same colour ways but like the 650 again wears alloy wire rims (gold on the yellow option, black on the others) plus MX-er-alike tapered alloy handlebars for £500 more at £9999. Interestingly, though, unlike the 650, the hand guards and belly pan are standard on both 1000s which seems to make the £500 premium a little more uncomfortable on the 1000 than it is on the 650. Oh well…

Of course, the killer question is what does all that little lot add up to on the road. Our day-long test may have been of only the XT version (although dynamically there should be no difference) but it did cover around 150 miles of pretty much all types of road even including a short off-dirt section.

And the immediate thing that struck me was that the new V-Strom 1000 is… pretty much the same – but mildly and pleasingly improved at the same time.

Even at standstill, thanks to the pleasingly tactile seat (it’s covered with the same material as Suzuki’s MX bikes, apparently), those gold wire rims, the sharpened-up nose fairing and brighter colourscheme, the big V-Strom is undoubtedly fresher, slightly more up to date and conspicuously better equipped than before. For a bike that is as keenly priced as ever, that’s good.

Also good is how it goes. Yes, on the whole, with so little changed to the drivetrain and chassis, the V-Strom 1000 is much the same as before. But then there wasn’t that much wrong and, don’t forget, Suzuki were after evolution not revolution.

 
2017 Suzuki V-Strom 1000

So, from the off, the big V-Strom is familiarly easy, neutral, uncomplicated and natural. As a road-orientated, fairly straightforward, V-twin adventure bike it always was. However, the new Low Rev Assist and Easy Start systems, though largely inconspicuous, are undoubtedly a bonus; I never had any real problem with the familar clocks (although the addition of a central 12v power socket directly underneath them is a little distracting), while the new screen is decent enough, crisp and easy to adjust. So far, so good.

The unchanged ergonomics, seat apart, are familiar and pleasing, too. One of the old V-Strom 1000’s strengths was that it had ‘real world’ proportions (especially compared to some gargantuan litre class adventure bikes). In other words: there’s little about the big Suzuki that’s intimidating, in fact it doesn’t feel that much bigger than its 650 little brother. On balance, I’d say it feels about 10% larger than the 650 all round, but it’s not a dramatic difference. On the move that makes the 1000 instantly easy and instinctive. Its balance is decent, it’s slimmer than many rivals (Triumph three cylinder and Kawasaki’s four immediately spring to mind) and the V-Strom 1000’s ride quality from its decent, multi-adjustable suspension is welcome, too.

But if the V-Strom 1000 doesn’t feel much bigger than the 650, it’s certainly more potent and more imposing, both of which make it a significantly different bike to ride.

The big twin may have enough grunt down low and sufficient power up top to be pretty much class competitive (although it certainly hasn’t the legs of the latest from KTM or Ducati) but, compared to the 650, it’s also enough to get you into serious trouble if you’re cack handed – something you certainly don’t want around the sheer cliff-drop hairpins of our Tarragona test route. While the whole plot, though a decent handler, being more substantial also requires significantly more input and effort from its rider to keep on the straight and narrow when pushed hard. All of which is a roundabout way of saying the 1000 V-Strom is a more serious and demanding bike to ride – and certainly to ride quick – than its almost toy-like 650 little brother. Suffice to say I was already welcoming the addition of the new ABS to go along with its traction control…

But that also makes the updated 1000 a far more long-legged, arguably more versatile (despite being bigger, it’s better off-road, for example, than the 650), more pillion-friendly and plusher bike, too.

2017 suzuki v-strom 1000

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS: Suzuki V-Strom 1000 XT

Engine type

liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, DOHC, V-twin, 4-valves

Displacement

1037cc

Bore x stroke

100.0 mm x 66.0 mm

Compression ratio

11.3: 1

Maximum power

101bhp @ 8000rpm

Maximum torque

74ft-lb @ 4000rpm

Lubrication system

Wet sump

Clutch type

Wet, Multiple Disc

Fuel system

Fuel Injection

Ignition system

TCI

Starter system

Electric

Transmission system

Constant Mesh, 6-speed

Final transmission

Chain


Frame

Aluminium twin spar

Front suspension system

Telescopic forks, Ø 43 mm adjustable for compression and rebound damping

Caster angle

25º

Trail

109 mm

Rear suspension system

Swingarm, (link suspension), preload adjustable, single shock

Front brake

2 x 310mm twin discs disc, four-piston radial calipers, cornering ABS

Rear brake

265mm single disc, two-piston caliper, cornering ABS

Front tyre

110/80 x 19

Rear tyre

150/70 x 17

 

Overall length

2,285 mm

Overall width

865 mm

Overall height

N/a

Seat height

N/a

Wheel base

N/a

Minimum ground clearance

N/a

Kerb weight

N/a

Fuel tank capacity

20 litres

Oil tank capacity

3.5 litres

Price

£9,999 (V-Strom 1000 = £9,499)

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