Suzuki V-Strom 1000XT Long-Term Test

In Issue 25 my first impressions of the Suzuki V-Strom 1000XT were mostly positive, which wasn’t surprising given I’ve been a fan of the V-Strom for years. Now with 12,000 miles showing, it’s time to look at what the bike has been like to live with so far over the winter months and into the summer, and consider whether it would be a good choice for a serious journey.

For context, the V-Strom comes with Bridgestone BattleWing tyres as standard and so testing has been almost entirely confined to on-road riding. That choice of rubber seems at odds with some of the bike’s adventure-oriented features like spoked rims and switchable traction control, but then the V-Strom has always demanded lots of aftermarket attention to make it really adventure-ready.

When we collected the bike from Suzuki HQ back in October, it was fitted with the optional (small and flimsy) plastic luggage boxes. A couple of weeks later, those were swapped for the far more appropriate and practical Suzuki-branded, aluminium SW-Motech TRAX ADV 38-litre top-box and 37-litre panniers. In that configuration, the bike is effectively now the X GTA.

My opinion of the V-Strom’s riding characteristics hasn’t changed. The combination of ergonomics, agility, braking performance, low-down torque and generous power, make it a confidence-inspiring motorcycle that’s effortless and fun to ride. The “Low RPM Assist” and super-light clutch are great features that help combat fatigue, and gear selection is consistently distinct – except changing up into sixth when a glance at the digital display is sometimes needed just to be sure.

This latest incarnation of the ‘Strom is much better looking and feels much more planted on the road than the earlier models and as the grunty v-twin has no problem carrying a pillion, it’s good that the rear spring pre-load is accessible.

The model being testing had a touch over 3,000 miles on the clock when we picked it up. At the time, the average fuel consumption recorded by the onboard computer was 46 MPG. That figure has now risen to 50 MPG (despite the addition of the larger, heavier luggage), so it seems I’m a tad gentler on the throttle than previous test riders. Suzuki’s quoted fuel economy is 58.85 MPG.

Depending on the kind of riding, the 20-litre fuel tank delivers up to about 200 miles of travel. The tank range display, which is one of the options selectable on the dash using the button by your clutch-side thumb, has proved reassuringly accurate the closer you get to running on fumes. Thanks to just the right amount of backlit illumination, the dash itself is as easy to read at night as in daylight. I’ve also been pleased to discover that the headlight offers exceptionally good visibility (even on dipped beam) when riding after dark.

The windscreen can be set at three different angles and adjustment is by hand via a simple ratchet. Adjusting screen height requires unbolting. After some experimentation to find what works best for me, the highest and more vertical setting is most effective at deflecting airflow. On the subject of which, the handguards do absolutely nothing to reduce its chilling effects. They’re certainly robust enough to protect against impacts though.

I wasn’t impressed with the standard seat at the beginning of this test, and I haven’t grown to love it any more since then. Other seat options are available from Suzuki, and there’s plenty of aftermarket choice too, but why a manufacturer would put a bone-hard seat on a bike that’s meant to be ridden for big miles day after day is completely beyond me. Thank goodness for Cool Covers coming to the rescue of my comfort.

On reflection then, will I miss the venerable, easy-going V-Strom when it finally goes back to Suzuki? Yes, very much so, as a very tractable day to day machine for use in the UK.

Can I wholeheartedly say it’s the obvious choice for taking on a big trip? Reluctantly, no – not when there are higher spec’d, more thoughtfully-designed options (with slightly smaller, more economical engines) on the market at a similar price point.

Suzuki- V-Strom 1000XT
UK OTR Price: £9,999

Suzuki- V-Strom 1000X GTA (with luggage)
UK OTR Price: £10,999

Summer 2019 Update

We’re looking forward to riding the V-Strom 650 later this year, but in the meantime the big 1000XT is still going strong on our long-term test. As of mid-June, the bike has clocked up almost 12,000 trouble-free miles. After 9,700 miles the rear Bridgestone BattleWing tyre was heavily squared-off and at the limit of legal tread depth. It was replaced at Fowlers in Bristol back in May.

Review by Iain Harper