Suzuki V-Strom 1000XT First Impressions

Does “oodles” have a Japanese equivalent? I hope so, because in terms of power and low-down torque the Suzuki V-Strom 1000XT is certainly deserving of the pronoun.

After 40,000 miles some years ago on a first-generation DL650, which remains my favourite bike out of all those I’ve owned, I confess a predisposition towards liking the V-Strom. However, aside from the mirrors being a throwback to 2004, the 1000XT is a far cry from those early models. Overland is running one on a six-month test during the autumn and winter. The ride home from Suzuki HQ in Milton Keynes, on a mix of motorway and twisty country roads, provided 170 miles of opportunity to form an initial, and mostly very positive, impression of handling and ergonomics.

The 1037cc V-twin engine is smooth and eager it its delivery of grunt right across the power band, with 4000 RPM being the sweet spot for torque. Overtaking is effortless, as are gear changes (thanks to the super-light clutch) and vibration-free cruising at higher speeds. Braking performance is really superb, and the always-on ABS is as effective as you’d expect. The V-Strom’s long wheelbase (1555mm), 19” front wheel, fully adjustable suspension, and the rigidity of its lightweight aluminium twin-spar frame conspire to achieve confident and very stable handling. It feels remarkably light and agile, despite its 233kg. The 1000XT model has switchable traction control (normal, sporty and off), spoked rims, and Bridgestone BattleWing tubeless tyres. It’s disappointing to discover that it doesn’t come with a centre-stand as a matter of course.

Riding position is high and upright, and there’s plenty of legroom. Bar position and width are good, although personally I’d like them a little higher. The seat is a bit of letdown though. Despite being generously proportioned, it’s bone hard, and circulation sapping after a hundred miles or so.

The adjustable screen is currently set in one of its lower positions, which means the wind hits the top of my lid. I’ll be experimenting with that in the coming weeks.

The instrument panel combines an analogue tachometer with a brightness-adjustable LCD display for speed, gear position, trip distances, fuel consumption, tank range and so forth. It’s all easy to read at a glance in daylight. Time will tell what it and the big headlight are like in the dark. Immediately below the instrument panel is a 12v power socket, ideally placed for charging a mounted phone or satnav.

The bike we’re testing came with the optional standard Suzuki top-box and panniers fitted. They’re impractically small and flimsy, and definitely not worth paying extra for when the choice of affordable aftermarket luggage is so broad.

Seat comfort aside, my overall first impression of the V-Strom 1000XT is that I’m going to be doing a lot of smiling this winter.

UK OTR Price: £9,999 (not including luggage)

Review by Iain Harper.