By: Dave Abrahams
Cape Town - When I rode the second-generation Suzuki DL1000 V-Strom adventure tourer at the national launch in May 2014, I said we would take performance specifics such as top speed and fuel consumption under advisement until we’d ridden a new V-Strom over our standard test route.
So it is to the eternal credit of the Cape’s newest Suzuki franchise, Thruxton Motorcycles in Bellville, that they went to considerable lengths to ensure we were given the opportunity to subject their new contender to the unmerciful inspection of Mr Garmin and his friends in the sky.
Thanks to its no-nonsense spread of mid-range power the big Suzuki went up to an indicated 180km/h very quickly indeed and topped out with the digital speedometer flickering between 208 and 209 at 7900rpm - way short of the 9250rm redline - less than halfway down our Six-Kay straight, with the rider hunched down behind the screen (set to its lowest position for the exercise) and the traction control set to ‘OFF’.
True top speed turned out to be exactly 200km/h, for a speedometer error of 4.5 percent.
Flat out on a cool, wind-still early morning the V-Strom was comfortable, surprisingly quiet and felt reassuringly stable, and it handled everything we threw at it with aplomb, although the steering became noticeably lighter above 180km/h.
It seemed immune to the slings and arrows of our outrageously bumpy suspension test section, floating through at a steady 90km/h where 80 on a sportsbike is hard on both kidneys and spine, so I was pleasantly surprised when the test bike showed far less tendency to nosedive under braking than when I rode the same example at the media launch - which leads me to suspect that the factory’s median suspension settings have been ‘retuned’ by Suzuki SA to better suit beefier South African riders.
However, it seems to have made the front end a little more sensitive in fast cornering - and I do mean fast; the V-Strom swooped through our ride and handling section at an average of 131km/h where 120 is the pass mark for sports machines.
On fast sweeps, however, there was a slight but distinct wavery feeling from the handlebars - almost like a long, slow headshake. It was more in warning than misbehaviour and, given that the V-Strom’s ground clearance is practically limitless, perhaps a timely one.
All of which merely emphasises that the V-Strom is not a sports bike, but a commendably agile and well-balanced light tourer, capable of holding its own in most situations on tar or (reasonable) gravel roads, where its light (for the class) kerb weight of 228kg stands it in good stead.
Another pleasant surprise was how well it handled the daily grind of commuting. The DL1000 is comfortable and stable at traffic speeds, its V-twin engine and twin-spar chassis slim enough to slice through the gridlock and its mid-range torque instantly available to grab the gaps before the cagers know they’re there.
The seating position is also upright and high enough at 850mm to look over the roofs of most of the weekday lemmings, far enough ahead to suss out their sillier moves before they even know they’re going to make them, and take appropriate action.
V-Strom chat-rooms are awash with comments from mostly North American riders that the second-generation model’s fuel-injection is occasionally prone to violent over-response from very small openings - and their often amateurish suggestions as to how to fix it.
It happened to me exactly once during several hundred kilometres of test riding, when I was showing off to myself, standing on the footpegs while riding at little more than walking pace in second across a green area near my home - and the only effect was to cause me to sit down unexpectedly as the Suzuki suddenly leapt forward.
It’s unlikely to be of any interest to more adult riders unless you plan on using the V-Strom for observed trials.
Our major crisis of confidence at the SA media launch concerned Suzuki’s repeated claim that the DL1000 would return a frugal five litres per 100km. Maybe it would – if you rode it across the Karoo at a mind-numbingly steady 80km/h. In the real world of commuting, test riding and Sunday morning fun rides the V-Strom averaged 7.14 litres per 100km which, with a tank capacity of 20 litres, should give you in excess of 270km between pit stops.
At R134 750 the DL1000 V-Strom is in an odd position as the smallest and lightest of the ‘big’ adventure tourers, but that may work in its favour if you are looking for an easy-to-ride, manageable everyday bike that will take you down the road less travelled every weekend and bring you back with a grin all over your face.
Suzuki DL1000 V-Strom
Engine: 1037cc liquid-cooled four-stroke V-twin.
Bore x stroke: 100 x 66mm.
Compression ratio: 11.3:1.
Valvegear: DOHC with four overhead valves per cylinder.
Power: 74kW at 8000rpm.
Torque: 103Nm at 4000rpm.
Induction: Digital electronic fuel-injection with two 45mm dual-butterfly throttle bodies.
Ignition: Digital electronic.
Clutch: Hydraulically-actuated multiplate wet clutch.
Transmission: Six-speed constant-mesh gearbox with final drive by chain.
Front Suspension: 43mm KYB inverted cartridge forks adjustable for preload, compression and rebound damping.
Rear Suspension: Gas-charged monoshock adjustable for preload, compression and rebound damping.
Front brakes: Dual 310mm discs with Tokico four-piston radial-mount monobloc callipers, ABS and traction control.
Rear brake: 260mm disc with single-piston Nissin floating calliper, ABS and traction control.
Front tyre: 100/80 - 19 tubeless.
Rear tyre: 150/70 - 17 tubeless.
Seat height: 850mm.
Kerb weight: 228kg.
Fuel tank: 20.0 litres.
Top speed: (measured) 200km/h.
Fuel consumption: (measured) 7.14 litres per 100km.
Price: R134 750.
Bike from: Thruxton Motorcycles, Bellville, Cape Town.