Driving report Suzuki XF 650 Freewind

Driving report Suzuki XF 650 Freewind

Fresh breeze

As a compromise between high and low end, the Suzuki XF 650 Freewind blows into the market segment of single-cylinder all-rounders.

There is no need to stretch your moistened finger in the air to find out where – and where – the wind is blowing: the new Suzuki XF 650 is unmistakably a declaration of war on the BMW F 650.


Like the Bavarian-Italian »Funduro«, the Far Eastern »Fun-Enduro« presents itself as a hiker between worlds. A pinch of off-road machine for the rough, a powerful shot of fun bike for the tumult of the city and curve, a good portion of motorhome to broaden your horizons – if the Suzuki bill works, this results in a mobility guarantee for all the vicissitudes of life. And an inexpensive one on top of that: the Freewind costs 10,290 marks, a good 2,000 marks less than the white and blue competitor.
The first impression: The XF 650 doesn’t show its low price, it doesn’t look “cheap” at all. The perfectly fitting plastic parts, the dignified two-tone metallic paintwork, the stainless steel silencer, the massive, elegantly integrated luggage rack made of cast aluminum, the aluminum swing arm with seriously made axle mounts – there is nothing to complain about. Only the (retrofittable) main stand fell victim to the calculatory red pencil.
“Just fill the 18-liter tank, buckle up your luggage and take off,” advises the Suzuki brochure. It could also mean: »Just go ahead«, because the Freewind user interface quickly awakens the feeling of old familiarity. The home side’s position was once called the upright sitting posture offered at the XF: a short distance from the relatively high, cranked, wide handlebars, but quite a lot of space between the seat and footrests. With its seat height of 83 centimeters, the Freewind nevertheless accommodates the widespread desire to be able to gain land while standing without contortions. And for those who would like to be even closer to the earth – please do: by repositioning the central shock absorber and lowering the fork, the machine can be brought to its knees by an additional three centimeters.
The Freewind‘s command post offers the usual Japanese standard on its periphery in the form of user-friendly switch units. At the center of the action, on the other hand, a break with tradition: instead of pointer instruments, a rectangular screen that slumbers dull and expressionless when it is idle.
Ignition on, choke (on the fork bridge) pulled, pressure on the starter button, and spontaneously the place comes to life. The motor falls into a slightly increased resting pulse, the frequency of which is shown in a quasi-analogue manner on the now illuminated display. Without a lot of gas and without magic on the smooth clutch lever, the load starts moving. And that very quickly. The 650 single-cylinder, which was taken over from the DR 650 SE except for the modified cylinder head with double carburetor system, is a particularly successful representative of its class: powerful in the acceleration from low speeds, above it lively and lively – if need be, the XF cranks Single up to the limiter, which puts an end to the game at just under 8500 rpm. In addition to the positive performance balance, there is an above-average cultural offer: vibrations are practically not noticeable, and the mechanical noise level is within acceptable limits. The power transmission is also convincing: the five gears of the gearshift box click cleanly and quietly, and there are no ugly reactions to abrupt load changes.
The chassis of the XF 650 is built around a steel single-loop frame with double beams – a layout that is common in enduro construction. The 19-inch front wheel runs in a sturdy fork with 45 millimeter thick stanchions, which struggles for additional torsional rigidity via a stabilizer mounted above the fender. With success: even under the toughest use of the powerfully gripping 300-millimeter disc brake, it does not twist. The coordination of spring rate and damping is well chosen: the front section reacts sufficiently sensitively to small bumps without knocking through under heavy use.
With that she is in good company with the hindquarters. The central spring strut (with expansion tank and adjustable rebound stage damping) activated by the obligatory lever system responds sensitively and smoothly irons all bumps that paved roads and paths have to offer without teetering. Beyond paved paths, the Freewind (literally) quickly reaches the limits of its concept: The tight ground clearance allows the machine to scratch the ground with its belly after small hops, and slight drifts on loose ground end due to the poorly profiled tires and the relative high machine weight quickly in a stable side position.
None, the XF 650 plays its trump cards best when it has solid ground under its feet: Handy and neutral in tight bends, precise in fast corners and stable up to top speed. This is 160 km / h, and the Suzuki is so free to let the wind blow around its nose.

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