Suzuki as a company has existed for over 100 years. What's interesting to note is the fact that Suzuki first started to manufacture motorcycles and then moved onto cars. This fact can often go unseen in the Indian market, thanks to the vast popularity of Maruti Suzuki cars in the country. Nevertheless, Suzuki is renowned for making some really great motorcycles on a global scale. One of which is the Suzuki V-Strom. In India, we get both the V-Strom 1000 and the V-Strom 650 XT. Since the adventure tourer market in India is one of the fastest growing motorcycle segments in the country, we decided to spend some time with the V-Strom 650 XT ABS and here's what we think about the Suzuki's on and offroader.
What's the engine like?
As soon as you start up the V-Strom 650 and get it on the move, smooth and refined will come to mind. The Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT is powered by a 645cc liquid-cooled V-twin engine which comes mated to a 6-speed gearbox and produces 70 hp of peak power & 62 Nm of torque. Once it's on the go, power delivery is linear and the V-Strom maintains its composure really well on the road. Although it doesn't have a significant burst of power right off the bat, it can go like a bat out of hell, if and when required. However, given that the V-Strom is aimed at individuals looking to do long stints on the highway with the occasional fun off the road, the engine feels best suited to a calm style of riding. The mechanical rumble of the V-twin engine at idle exudes a feeling of grunt & power and definitely brings a smile to your face. The V-Strom mostly remains quiet till about 3000-4000 rpm, but after that, the mechanical rumble then takes on a more aggressive form, which does sound satisfying. Suzuki has done well to contain the heating in both traffic and highway conditions.
What's the ride and handling like?
First off, it has to be said that the Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT ABS feels right at home on the long stretches of open highways. The tyres, which are a little more biased towards the road, provide more than adequate grip and also inspire a bit of confidence to go a little harder. However, the bike isn't really a corner specialist. Don't get me wrong, it can take corners with relative ease but don't expect it to zip through tight traffic conditions. This brings us to the weight, which is 216 kgs. The V-Strom is not a very heavy bike and there is some confidence when you're approaching a set of twisties. Apart from this, the suspension setup provides a comfortable ride on long journeys as well as lower speeds. This is one bike you'll love riding all day long, and then some. Another interesting characteristic of the V-Strom 650 XT is the ever so slightly committed posture which urges you to go a little faster.
Does it look good?
This is quite a subjective matter. However, we do feel that the V-Strom 650 XT has a mix of both bold and understated styling elements. The Champion Yellow colour we rode had a certain 'look at me' element with the bright yellow bits on the bike. Overall though, the motorcycle has an essence of utilitarianism to it. The bike looks and is built to last, the fit and finish of the components, like the switchgear, have a quality feel. One thing, or rather two, which definitely stand out are the golden rims on the V-Strom 650 XT, it further adds to the character of the adventure tourer motorcycle. Another important point is the fact that most pictures of this motorcycle don't do justice. This is because the V-Strom looks a lot bigger in person, which, we feel, is a good thing for a bike competing in this segment. Even the instrument cluster, which is a mix of an analogue tachometer and digital readout for speed and other details, looks apt on the V-Strom 650.
Can it get down and dirty?
In a word, yes! The V-Strom is a very capable off-roader which will have you pushing the limits of a fairly difficult bit of terrain, with relative ease. The three-stage traction control program plays a big part in keeping the bike in control. We even got a chance to experience it in action when we encountered a wet patch on a bit of grassy path we were testing the motorcycle on. The V-Strom had no trouble tackling this sudden change in traction and got the bike back in the right riding position in almost no time. Suzuki has made sure that the V-Strom 650 XT pushes you to go off-road, thanks to it's to 19-inch tyres at the front and 17-inch tyres at the back. It also inspires off-road confidence because of the Japanese brand's reputation for building motorcycles which are reliable and sturdy. Also, the seat height, which is 835mm and the ground clearance, which is 170mm, combine to provide ease and comfort, even off the tarmac.
Is it safe?
The Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT ABS gets safety features like dual-channel ABS and three-stage switchable traction control mentioned earlier. Suzuki Motorcycles India has also provided a low RPM assist which helps during cold starts and stable idling. Furthermore, this feature also automatically increases the idle speed when the clutch is engaged or at a lower rpm. All these factors combine to make sure that the V-Strom 650 XT provides the rider with a safe and reliable adventure tourer, capable of munching up the miles with confidence. The braking, which is handled by 310mm dual disc brakes at the front and 260mm disc brakes at the back, have a good bite and provide adequate feel as well. On the practicality front, Suzuki has also provided 12V DC socket for charging requirements, which isn't a safety feature but is useful nevertheless.
Should you buy one?
Suzuki Motorcycles India had recently updated the V-Strom 650 XT ABS with new graphics, side reflectors and hazard lights. Apart from these changes, the V-Strom XT 650 ABS remains identical to the 2018 model. With a price of Rs 7.46 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), the Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT ABS makes a pretty strong case for itself. In conclusion, If you're looking for a reliable and comfortable adventure tourer which has no problem going the distance both on and off the road and also has the capability to makes every ride a memorable one, the V-Strom 650 XT ABS could just be the motorcycle for you.