New Suzuki V-Strom unveiled at EICMA

Launched today at EICMA in Milan, Suzuki have reinvigorated the V-Strom with two new models, the 1050 and the 1050XT which is aimed directly at the adventure travel market.

Dramatically restyled to improve the looks – never a V-Strom strongpoint – Suzuki’s new adventure tourer looks immeasurably better, has a 7% power increase, different throttle response modes and is loaded with new electronics. But where to start with the updates?

Perhaps the bodywork is as good a place as any and full marks must go to the team at Suzuki for evolving what they had into something which is both sharp and aggressively modern, yet oozes slab-sided 1980’s styling cues. The chosen colour schemes celebrate either the company’s off-road range or the desert-racing history of the DR-Zs. The beak, tank and side panels all clearly hark back to the DR Big singles of some 30 years ago, demonstrating and integrating Suzuki’s own heritage, but I can’t help but see early BMW GS PD in there too. I think the DR beak and new rectangular (arguably more conservative) LED headlight really work well visually and the orange and white colour scheme is definitely the sharpist.

The angular handguards are standard and both the screen and seat are height adjustable on the XT. The seat can be 850mm or 870mm high but the peg position is low, giving good comfort and the pegs themselves are wider than the last ‘Strom, making standing easier. Finally, that shapely fuel tank holds an impressive 20 litres and seems sculpted to fit riders whether standing or sitting.

Beneath the tank much of the old bike remains, though heavily revised. The 1050 engine is the same 1037cc v-twin that has been in the V-Strom since 2013, though now it produces an increased maximum of 107bhp and is fully Euro 5 compliant. It will be interesting to see how the power delivery compares to the old model because the graphs show higher torque and power across much of the rev range, but not crucially low down where it’s lovely to have when travelling fully loaded.

Surprisingly the extra power and better emissions, achieved through new camshaft profiling and a heftier catalyst in the exhaust, result in Suzuki claiming exactly the same 57.6mpg as the old model, which means a theoretical 250-mile range, depending on luggage, weather, road surfaces… The paint finish on the engine cases has changed but thankfully the sublime clutch assist system remains.

The engine hangs from the same alloy twin-spar frame and the alloy swinging arm carries the spoked rear wheel and the adjustable monoshock suspension. There’re adjustable upside down KYB forks and the whole bike weighs in at a not insubstantial 247kgs, but it should be noted the XT includes centre-stand and engine crash-bars as standard.

The biggest technical changes are taking place within the electronics, even though the number of acronyms also remind me of the late 80s. The overall package is called SIRS (Suzuki Intelligent Ride System) but it can be divided. First there’s the IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit) which works in concert with the EMU (Engine Management Unit) to enable the MTBS (Motion Track Braking System) to govern the ABS whether upright or cranked over. The ABS itself has two modes and can also be switched off for riding on loose surfaces. Then there’s the SDCS (Slope-dependent Control System) and LDCS (Load-dependent…) which govern braking weight depending on the angle of your dangle and even apply brakes when deemed necessary. The HHCS (Hill Hold Control System) does the same thing to help you get going on an incline and there’re 3 traction control modes to assist there too. There are 3 throttle modes depending on how you’d like the bike to answer commands, but these are not different power maps. Then there’s even cruise control on the XT for when you are actually moving and can’t bear to be in charge yourself.

Frankly it’s all a bit exhausting, but demonstrates that Suzuki are determined to play with the big boys and certainly aren’t chasing the lighter, simpler overlanding ethos. We look forward to testing the new V-Strom 1050XT having spent so much time with most of the earlier models and will be able to report on how it all works in practise. It sounds like a super roadster which will tour Europe with alacrity, let’s just hope it’s robust enough for the punishing world of overlanding.

The 1050XT and the slightly less trick 1050 will be in UK showrooms early next year, but as of going to press the price is TBA.