Since passing my unrestricted A entitlement I’ve always wanted a go of a large adventure style bike. The only problem is I am vertically challenged (5’7″), and off-road style bikes often have high seat heights which make stopping tricky for the shorter legged person. I know some manufacturers do smaller seats to accommodate for this but didn’t feel like jumping in at the deep end with a huge bike and no confidence. It was by chance that I was at an open day, testing the new GSXR250 (review here http://ridewithpeaks.com/suzuki-gsx250r-2017-review/) when I mentioned that I had not tested an adventure style bike before. Instantly I was ushered towards the 2017 DL650, I was told to sit on it and check it out for size. It wasn’t too bad, I was still tippy-toeing it which wasn’t very comfortable with such a weighty bike. Before I knew it though I had been lured into taking it out. I found the best course of action was to just put one foot down and lean the bike over slightly to be able to touch the floor. Simples!
The 2017 V-Strom DL650 is the smaller brother of the DL1000. The 1000 rivals the likes of the BMW GS1200 the Ducati Multistrada and the Honda Africa Twin, and the 650 takes aim at some of the other smaller CC adventure/tourer bikes like the BMW F800 range and the Yamaha Tracer series. The V-strom has been going since 2004, and Suzuki claims that they’ve sold over 230,000 total DL’s worldwide, it is easy to see why a budget price that is still packed with features. The 2017 model comes with adjustable rider modes, traction control and ABS as standard and as always a wide range of accessories are available from added bars and protection to huge panniers.
The 650 version uses the hugely successful V-twin engine from the Gladius, to which in turn comes from the SV650. It is tinkered with compared to the gladius and the SV, and I’m pretty sure that the gearing is better, it seems more torquey and willing to go, but at the same time as being smooth.
2017 sees both V-strom get pretty large makeovers, mainly to hit euro4 emissions regulations. The 645cc V-twin engine hits the Euro4 requirement, after some clever engineering but also boosting peak power compared to the outgoing engine.
Despite being nervous about not being able to touch the floor, headed out into the Cheshire countryside. Riding it through the town was a delight, the torquey engine, made it a delight to navigate the streets to get to the open roads and sweeping corners. The steering was light and precise with plenty of lock, perfect for filtering through rush hour town centre traffic. A nice addition to the bike is the low RPM assist system which helps prevent stalling when pulling off. The bike automatically raises the idle speed slightly, a nice novelty.
I didn’t really know what to expect in terms of handling having never been on this style of bike before. I have seen people throw adventure bikes around, I remember seeing a guy scraping the panniers on a GS on track. I don’t really think I’m up to this standard so I started out taking it pretty easy and just enjoying the scenery. Pretty soon though, confidence levels were building and I was enjoying myself more and more. Throwing a large adventure bike around through twisty corners, but it blew my mind. The upright riding position gives great control on the bars allowing you to really lean it into the corner. The seating position is great and the seat itself allows you to move around on it easily yet is still comfy on a long journey.
The main wow factor was that you can through this bike around like a sports bike, except it’s a sports bike that’s comfy and you can do distance on, and has a fuel tank that you can get decent mileage out of. The only problem s that it doesn’t look like a conventional sports bike. I am fine with how it looks, and I do have to admit I have a bit of a thing for wire spoked wheels. They are a thing of beauty. This is a complete hoonigan machine, and it’s only the 650! I can’t wait to ride the 1000. The tyres are nothing short of fantastic and the brakes likewise. The suspension felt good, quite soft on the road but that is what I would expect. The screen is large and gives very good protection from the wind blast, I found myself riding with my visor open, without a problem. I’ll be quite happy to ride his bike for hours and hours without a problem the next step for me is to have a go on the 1000 after I enjoyed this that much. That will be the true test, roll on 2018!