With powerful engines, a comfortable ride, and a whole host of riding aids to assist with tricky situations, it’s no surprise adventure bikes are among the most sought-after motorcycles these days. The segment is doing particularly well in the Philippines thanks to the wealth long ride destinations and trails with which to explore.
Yet adventure riding need not cost an arm and a leg. Suzuki hopes to offer a competent and value for money alternative to the popular European adventure bike offerings with its V-Strom 1050 XT.
A nod to past Suzukis
Launched just a few months ago, the V-Strom 1050 XT is Suzuki’s flagship adventure bike. And because 2020 is Suzuki’s 100th anniversary, the V-strom featurs several design touches paying homage to illustrious dual sport models of the past that helped shape the V-Strom into what it is today.
The V-Strom 1050 XT nods to the DR Bigs of the past, the DR 750S and DR 800S, with its orange and white color scheme, first debuting on the original DR Big. The yellow livery is also a tribute to Suzuki’s motocross colors.
The Suzuki V-Strom has gone through several facelifts in the past, from split headlights to round, stacked headlights. For this model year, it takes on the more angular headlight of the Katana. Adventure fans will be delighted to know that it has carried over its distinctive beak. The side fairings have been reshaped to better channel air around the rider.
Easily the biggest change is in the engine. The new V-Strom is powered by a new Euro 5-compliant 1037cc, 90° V-Twin engine. This new powerplant produces 107 Ps at 8,000 rpm and 100 Nm of torque at 6,000 rpm. The larger engine has been tuned to deliver a “flexible character and strong linear drive.” This is 6-speed transmission and ride-by-wire electronic throttle control system that adjusts to the rider’s command.
The engine’s power is reigned in by features like the S.I.R.S (Suzuki Intelligent Ride System) which governs the SDMS (Suzuki Drive Mode Selector). It has three different drive modes and a traction control system, also with three modes of selection. This gives the rider much more freedom to select the mode and settings he’s most comfortable with depending on the condition.
Besides the riding modes, there are also systems like the Suzuki Easy Start System and Low RPM Assist. It also comes with cruise control, hill hold, and hill descent control. There’s also a Motion Track Brake System which includes lean-angle sensitive ABS.
How will the rider know what mode he’s on? That’s easy with the new, large LCD screen. This fully digital display includes a tachometer, digital speed readout, large gear indicator and various other displays. It can be configured to display trip info, fuel consumption, and range as well.
The entire bike is built on a twin-spar aluminum frame for light weight and rigidity. Up front, the inverted KYB fork has spring preload adjustment plus both compression and rebound damping force adjustment. All that’s needed is a screwdriver for easy tuning while on the trail. The cast aluminum swingarm is controlled by a single rear shock with a simple knob under the seat for remote, hydraulic spring preload adjustment. It rolls on 19- and 17-inch cast aluminum wheels shod on adventure oriented tires.
The bike gets a conventional split seat, however, the front portion goes all the way up the tank for easy positioning in tough conditions.
Being the more hard-core XT, it comes with wire-spoked wheels, knuckle covers, an aluminum under cowling, an accessory bar, and center stand. There’s also seat height adjustment, USB port, and 12V DC socket as standard equipment.
We’ve definitely covered a lot about the bike, but the specs don’t quite give a glimpse of how it rides. Admittedly, I’m not experienced when it comes to riding off-road. Still, the V-strom made it quite a breeze to handle.
Despite its size, the V-Strom is incredibly easy to control, thanks to the light weight, ride-by-wire throttle, and various riding aids. The aids prove their worth the moment you start the bike.
One of my favorite features is the Low RPM assist. This feature constantly adjusts the throttle with your clutch input. Put simply, it’s an anti-stall feature. I found myself simply releasing the clutch gently, letting the bike roll forward with no stalling. It also helps in low speed cruising. The V-strom comfortably chugs along at 3rd or 4th gear, traveling at 40 km/h and 1,500 rpm without any complaint or hint of stalling.
Another great feature is the hill-start assist. On steep slopes, the bike will keep the brake on as you let go of the front brake and gentle apply throttle and release the clutch. This means it won’t roll back, letting you pull away smoothly.
Thanks to these aids, even a newbie to off-road like me can easily manage the bike, whether on road or in the rough stuff.
For more experienced riders, the drive modes leave a lot of room for customization. Finding the right setting is easy thanks to the very intuitive control buttons on the left handlebar. There are three riding modes to choose from, three traction control settings and 2 ABS modes. This lets you have various combinations that best suit your riding style. To change to some modes, the bike needs to be stationary though.
The stock ride is already very comfortable, especially off-road, but these can further be adjusted with the rear suspension dial for when you have a pillion.
The front windshield is also easy to adjust thanks to a simply lever. Unlock it and you can slide it up and down to the desired height.
ABS and traction control hardly make their presence felt. The brakes bite immediately but predictably. I found myself just using the front confidently. Additional safety systems monitor the front and back of the bike to ensure you don’t accidentally wheelie or endo while braking.
Finally, in XT trim, the V-Strom is already well equipped to handle most rough rides. Despite being street biased, its tires can handle some light off-roading. In stock form, it also has provisions for side panniers and a rack that can handle a top box.
Priced at PhP859,000, the V-Strom is definitely far more affordable than the usual adventure bike choices out there. Performance-wise, it matches even the more expensive European competitors. Thanks to the riding aids, it’s also far more forgiving, especially for those not quite as experienced with adventure bikes or riding off-road. This is a great adventure bike to start with, but won’t leave you wanting.
It’s no surprise that the V-Strom already has quite a following in the Philippines. With these new updates, it looks even better and is even easier to ride than before.