Introducing V-Strom

Published Monday, July 9, 2012 by Bryan

I spent all week questioning my review of that Kawasaki Versys I wrote about last time. I scoured the web for other riders' reviews, and mostly found things that confirmed my thoughts. But in the process, another bike was repeatedly mentioned as a point of comparison: Suzuki's DL650 V-Strom.

As I began to compare the Versys and the V-Strom (also known as the "Wee-Strom", because it has a 1000cc bigger brother by the same name), I found that many things were similar: great price, 650cc engine, shape, seating position, size. One thing finally stuck out though, a major oversight I hadn't noticed about the Versys: its carrying capacity. Despite both bikes being about the same weight, fully-fueled, the V-Strom is rated to carry over fifty pounds more of equipment. This is important, because my estimate for carrying both Amanda and I with all of our gear and a little luggage was right at the limit of the Versys. In fact, the Versys was even rated to cary less wait than the my Triumph! The V-Strom would preserve our packing headroom.

I had asked a dealer about the V-Strom before. Suzuki just remodeled it for 2012, and the word is that they're just flying off the showroom floor. The middle of summer isn't a great time to buy either (because everyone is excited about riding, not about selling), but I couldn't resist searching Craigslist, anyway. Boy, am I glad I did.

Bryan smiling aboard a black Suzuki DL650.
Happy on the new motorcycle.

Above, you can see me on my new 2011 V-Strom. This bike was posted on Craigslist by a dealer south of the city on a Friday morning. Amanda and I ran down to view it Saturday morning. After a short test drive for me, and a short test-sit on the pillion seat for Amanda, I left a deposit as a promise to bring my Triumph back for a trade-in inspection. It was just obvious that it was the right bike for us: great power and control, comfy seating, many unexpected upgrades, and a great price with low mileage.

A black Suzuki DL650 with panniers attached.
So much room for packing!

Here you can see one of the big benefits: hard, lockable luggage. We estimate that each of those bags is nearly the size of both of the fabric bags that hung on the Triumph. You may also be able to pick out: handle bar covers and heated grips (for warmer hands), adjustable windscreen (with velcro already in place to hold the Fastlane pass), engine protection bars, center stand, tail rack, water bottle (or small-item) storage. And, the few things you can't see: fuel injection, fuel gauge, unified ignition and steering lock, and anti-lock brakes!

Inside a garage, a green Triumph Bonneville is parked in the foreground, and a black Suzuki V-Strom is parked in the background.
Old meets new.

And so, right away on Tuesday I rode the Triumph back and agreed on a price (the bikes did meet briefly, as you can see). I was able to go out for some parking lot practice and a quick ride on the holiday, and then I commuted on it both Thursday and Friday. It continues to impress. From the great handling to the ease of using the center stand, or from the easy-starting of fuel injection to what looks to be much-improved gas mileage, it has just been a pleasure to ride so far.

The Triumph served us well, but I think our two-wheeled mileage is about to explode.

Categories: Motorcycle