THERE is a special feeling you get riding a motorbike. It’s that go anywhere, escape life, find freedom feeling, and you get that in spades on the 2020 Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT. It feels like big dirt bike, with its upright seating easy to reach handlebars.
It just feels right, quite frankly, and having previously owned a DR-Z, this author felt the memories from that time period flooding back. To be fair the V-Strom provides a lot more oomph from the engine and has a heap more style and tech.
The updated V-Strom 1050XT draws on styling features from its DR-Z desert racer heritage, and features sharp lines, an adjustable windscreen that’s great for freeway riding and wind protection, and a new headlight design.
The V-Strom feels nimble, although a little top-heavy, when you first ride it. It felt a little strange tipping into corners initially, but we quickly adjusted to the style and enjoyed eating up the kilometres in no time.
The big dual sports bike doesn’t disappoint on the tarmac or in the gravel. Our test bike came with spoked wheels, designed for off-road riding, but felt just as comfortable on the road.
Power from the 1037cc 90-degree V-Twin is a claimed 79kW and is smooth and predictable. The bike has a strong torquey mid-range, which adds to the excitement and pleasure of this bike.
Gear changes are effortless from the gearbox and clutch. The V-Strom comes with three ride modes too, and we noticed a significant difference between ride modes A and C.
We found the ride by wire throttle a bit ‘snatchy’ in mode A, smoother and more rideable in ride mode B, where it doesn’t feel like it loses much power, with ride mode C great for wet weather or those that are still learning.
Cruise control features too, but it’s a little sensitive, as it turned off a few times. We’re not sure whether we inadvertently bumped the switch, but haven’t had this happen to us on any other bikes.
Handling from the front 43mm KYB forks with adjustable compression, rebound and spring preload link type and the rear KYB shock with adjustable rebounds damping and spring preload, was predictable and grew on us.
Being not vertically challenged, yours truly still found it a struggle to flat foot on this bike, although the seat can be adjusted 20mm. If you’re on the shorter side, you may find the bike harder to handle in off-road conditions.
Braking on the V-Strom was strong from the Tokico radial-mounted, four piston callipers up front, with the dual 310mm floating discs offering good bite. It makes the front suspension dive a decent amount under harder braking, not to unlike a dirt bike.
The rear single pot Nissin calliper with 260mm disc offered good support to the front. There are three ABS modes too, but it can’t be turned off completely, which some may find annoying, particularly off-road.
The Big Twin comes with a host of tech features too, including SIRS (Suzuki Intelligent ride system), cruise control, hill hold assist, load dependent control, slope dependent control, ride-by-wire, and a motion track brake system.
There’s also a back torque limiting clutch, low rpm assist and an immobiliser system. There is a USB port on the side of the dash and a 12v DC outlet under pillion seat.
The dash is easy to read, with plenty packed into the display, and the menu system is easy to navigate. We did find that you have to hold buttons down for a couple of seconds on some options and not others, which can be painful.
Self-cancelling blinkers would be a great addition to this bike. It takes a little getting used to having to manually turn them off (so old school). The foot pegs with integrated rubber that pushes down when you stand for better access to the metal spikes is a nice touch.
It’s especially good for off road riding. Hand guards offer good protection and comfort from wind and cold too. The factory fitted centre stand is useful while loading up the luggage and while maintaining or servicing the bike.
Added panniers and top box luggage offer great storage and look and feel durable. We would have loved to have had the big Strom longer, and to have loaded it up and gone away on a long trip or weekend away.
Our bike was supplied in Pearl Brilliant White and Glass Blaze Orange and in our opinion it’s the best colour, but it also comes in Champion Yellow No. 2, and Glass Sparkle Black which looks meaner than its name suggests.
Two versions of the 2020 Suzuki V-Strom are offered, the 1050XT (our test bike), which starts from $20,990 ride away, and the V-Strom 1050, which is available from $17,990 ride away.
Our test bike was provided by Suzuki Motorcycles Australia. To find out more about the 2020 Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT, contact your local Suzuki dealer.