Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT test


The mid-size trail passes Euro 4 standards: 645 cm3, 71 hp and 62 Nm, 216 kilos, € 8,899

A simple, accessible, versatile and efficient motorcycle

For 7 years, from 2004 to 2010, the Suzuki V-Strom 650 was the best-selling model among mid-capacity trails! A pure commercial box and a probable cash cow for Suzuki, since the technical and mechanical basis was shared with the SV then the Gladius. In short, a box. The peak of sales took place in 2007 and they have, quite logically, a little withered after, even if the restyling of 2011 has revived a little interest in this machine. And in the meantime, the trails were back in fashion a little, except that everyone was back in the niche: thus, the V-Strom mk II had to deal with new entrants, in particular the Honda NC 700 X and Triumph Tiger. 800. This is why a new version is born and takes the opportunity to get Euro 4 compliance..

At the same time, the V-Strom 650 is equipped with a small electronic package to be in step with the times and in particular anti-skating. The XT version of our test is considered "high end" compared to the standard V-Strom 650, which is also in the catalog. The 500 euros which separate them give you an engine guard, hand guards as well as pretty golden spoked rims, instead of the spoked rims. Until now, Suzuki has sold two-thirds of XT for one-third of standard. Like what, the options, it immediately marks her man.

Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT review


With this evolution, the 650 adopts a front face that comes close to the stylistic codes inaugurated by the third version of the 1000 V-Strom, which appeared in 2013. It is therefore more modern, even if the tastes and the colors, it is not debatable. not. At Suzuki, we also admit having heard (and received the message) that the aesthetics of the V-Stroms were not their first quality, preferring to highlight reliability, versatility and interior beauty. Before continuing that trails are rarely canons of beauty: it’s true, but there are exceptions, Honda Africa Twin, Ducati Multistrada and Aprilia Caponord in the lead. What is more damaging, on the other hand, is the quality of the assemblies and the materials which is absolutely nothing premium and Suzuki has accustomed us to better on recent productions: which proves that ultimately the V-Strom is a "old" product, but between the frame reinforcements, the black treatment of the exhaust, its chrome plastic end, the hoses not too hidden along the engine, the large oil filter that protrudes on the standard version without engine guard , the V-Strom, despite its new paints and in particular its flashy yellow, has a little trouble flattering the retina.

The front takes the look of the 1000

Say goodbye to these considerations: Suzuki is claiming its off-road roots and its very rich all-terrain track record with this V-Strom. The color yellow is a tribute with the lineage of RM, while the duckbill refers to the DR-Z of Dakar 1991. Will that speak to the typical customer, whom Suzuki knows to be? an 85% man, that he is generally in an age group between 35 and 50 years old and that he uses his motorcycle in all circumstances, especially on a daily basis and during short trips which often last less than 5 days ? Perhaps. Or not.

But what does it matter, basically: what matters is that the V-Strom does the job. Already, it meets Euro 4 standards and should therefore have the right to circulate in Paris (and elsewhere) for some time. And that is good. Suzuki has notably developed this engine block, certainly younger, but the contribution of 60 new mechanical references (including pistons, segments, camshafts, new 10-hole injectors, exhaust and many others), allow it to ” be both cleaner, but also more powerful, going from 69 horsepower on the old model to 71 on this one, obtained at 8,800 rpm. The torque, meanwhile, is 62 Nm at 6500 rpm.

The engine passes Euro4 and now delivers 71 horsepower

No driving modes here (at the same time, do we need it with 71 hp?), But some electronic aids: the Easy Start system (to avoid stalling), Low RPM Assist, as well as a control traction adjustable on 2 levels and disconnectable. The V-Strom being called upon to respond to a wide range of missions, we will appreciate the presence of an adjustable screen on 3 levels, as well as a luggage rack and a 12 V socket located under the dashboard. The chassis is largely unchanged, but the tires are new: Bridgestone Battlax Adventure A40; It should be noted that the standard version takes on the previous generation Bridge TrailWing … And it’s anecdotal, but all the same: it gains 1 kilogram compared to the previous version, including 50 grams on the LED taillight and 290 grams grams on headlight optics…

The top case can accommodate two helmets

In the saddle

At 830mm, the saddle has nothing Himalayan in its posture even if a trail, by nature, operates a small natural selection. The 1.70 rider will therefore not put his feet on the ground. The fact remains that the V-Strom is nothing intimidating and that it immediately seduces with its natural driving position, its fairly neutral ergonomics, as well as the adjustment of its front brake lever..

Among the small changes that benefit the new vintage, we note that the saddle is new and that its sides are a little thinner as is the tank at the crotch, even if it is still 20 liters. The screen is adjustable, with tools, on 3 levels and in the high position, it is 9 mm more generous than that of the old model.

Ford crossing

Another novelty: the dashboard. A large analog tachometer is in the center (red zone at 10,000 rpm) and digital windows are located to its right. And the least we can say is that this dashboard is super complete! In addition to the traction control (adjustable on levels 1, 2 and off), there is the time, air temperature, gear indicator engaged, fuel gauge, water temperature gauge, small on-board computer with autonomy, average consumption, voltmeter … who can say better for this price? As a bonus, it’s easy to handle thanks to a left stalk with a new control pad.

Well, there’s more than: a single small press on the starter button and with the "Easy Start" function, the V-Strom comes to life in a rather muffled and discreet hum..

In the city

Where we tried it, in the mountains (and in particular in the Serra de Montsant Natural Park) around Tarragona, in the south of Barcelona, ​​there was no town. So for the interface on the periphery, we will talk about it another time, even if the V-Strom seems narrow and should pass easily between cars. On the other hand, we crossed villages and appreciated the good flexibility of the twin, which allows to cruiser at 50 km / h at 3000 rpm in 3rd and even at 2500 rpm in 4th.

Another good point for urban use: the Low RPM Assist, which, as soon as you gently release the clutch handle and even without putting a millimeter of gas, increases the engine speed by 300 rpm, which makes it possible to start smoothly, even maneuver the bike without stress, or get a little more smoothness when traveling in traffic jams. It will only de-stress beginners, while experienced bikers will find it cool too. !

The V-Strom 650 XT on a curve

We immediately find what made the quality of the V-Strom and its ease of handling associated with a lightness that reinforces its historic ability to make it a handyman in town..

Another good thing: braking, easy to dose and progressive. Bad point: for a versatile machine that has to do a lot of town, a space worthy of the name under the saddle would have made it possible to put a small U-lock, a small rain jacket or even the beautiful and obligatory yellow chasuble..

On highways and main roads

6000 rev / min in sixth: no doubt that at this rate, the V-Strom will take you to the end of the world. Even at the end of Germany, at 7000 rpm at 150 cruising. Sorry, but we did not have the opportunity to test the maximum speed, which is anyway anecdotal on a mid-size trail; at the speeds reached during this test, already largely illegal, no stability problem, in any case. In cruising, we appreciate the bubble that deflects the air at the shoulders or even the helmet if you are not too tall.

The V-Strom 650 XT in a straight line

Comfort is at a very good level, thanks to an excellent saddle that was forgotten during a full day on the road. The suspensions are typed with a preference for flexibility, a basic setting that is relevant. The shock absorber preload can be easily adjusted using a very accessible knob. And the hand guards of the XT version are a significant plus.

We note some vibrations in the footrests and in the tank, but they are not annoying and then we are on a twin, what, it’s normal that things live a little! As for the times, they are correct in view of the 71 horsepower, in particular because this engine is very linear and does not have a marked power peak. It is full, responsive, responds all the time: a good traveling companion, not exuberant, but efficient. We are therefore both on a new bike and consistent with the old models, which was already one of the strong points..

On departmental

First corner and first pleasant surprise: the new Bridgestone Battlax Adventure A40 transform the behavior of the motorcycle! Lighter thanks to their carcass using Kevlar, they allow a real gain in agility, with a bike that falls naturally on the angle without forcing, very neutral in its behavior, with a super healthy front axle and in which we trust right away. This is not an anecdote for two reasons: you can choose an "entry-level" motorcycle (this is not pejorative) and still be receptive to the pleasure of driving, while precisely and in order to get the prices, these "entry-level" motorcycles sacrifice the pneumatic mounting to save a few sesterces. None of that here, with these excellent Bridgestones, both thanks to a reduced warm-up time and excellent grip since all the testers present, very quickly and without asking any questions, used the whole tread.

The Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT in a corner

In fact, the V-Strom excels in what we ask above all of a trail: to walk the nose to the wind on the secondary network, forgetting all the vicissitudes of the contemporary world and without taking the lead with his mount. Thanks to a very flexible engine, certainly linear but efficient and to a gearbox overall without reproach (an opinion not shared by all colleagues, but the lack of break-in can explain this), the V-Strom will flourish on small yellow roads of Michelin maps.

But the real good trail has more than one trick up its sleeve and in particular that, casually, not to amuse the ground as soon as it turns and you want to put gas. Here too, and in particular thanks to its excellent tires which blend well with its healthy chassis, the V-Strom is capable of creating a surprise. Good front end, precision, confidence, it allows straightforward cornering! Linear motor and available over a wide range: the outputs are of the same barrel, a word that does not go with its precision at the chord point. Belt and shoulder straps: traction control. Obviously, the chassis wobbles a bit on its suspensions while the tips of the boots scrape the asphalt, but as long as it moves, there’s life. To find out if the V-Strom reaches perfection, go to the braking department…

The V-Strom 650 XT on departmental

But we have the right not to drive like a moron all the time and at 90 km / h, 4000 rpm in sixth, the V-Strom cuts its way. Calm…


Simple, classic, proven: the frame is a double aluminum cradle, robust as it should be. The new rear buckle, the new saddle flanks and the new passenger footrests allow the fitting of optional luggage that is thinner than before. On the standard version, the 10 spoke wheels are 100 grams lighter than the previous ones. There are no small savings, my good lady !

The conventional fork offers 150 mm of travel and we did not notice too pronounced mass transfers on our route. Finally, the new Bridgestone tires are 110/80 x 19 in front and 150/70 x 17 behind..

Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT on the corner


Two 310 mm discs in front, a 260 mm disc behind: this is standard. On the other hand, the small 2-piston Nissin calipers could seem puny. It turns out that during our test, still quite fast and on hyper twisty roads, there are no criticisms to be made on the braking as such, given the power and the philosophy of the machine.

On the other hand, the central ABS is identical to that of the previous generation, which amounts to saying that it dates from 2011. And that’s a shame, because it is hyper sensitive. Too sensitive. On the attack, in aggressive piloting mode, as soon as you reach a bump in the terminal phase of braking, there is a small release of the brakes which brings you up the glottis in the chinstrap and it’s not cool. So, we keep a little on hand, which is a shame, because we have already underlined the excellent tires and the front axle..

There are two 310 mm discs at the front

Finally, a trail being supposed to do all-road and rolling track, which Suzuki moreover does not refrain from exploiting in its advertising films, it is a pity that the ABS cannot be disconnected in this use. Or at least, the back.

Comfort and duo

No duo during this test, but remarkable and noticed comfort. Good saddle, good protection, supple suspensions, but not soft, little vibration. What else? Well thought-out ergonomics where even large journalists (by size) are not curled up and stay fresh and refreshed at the end of the day. That’s good, so…

Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT road test

Consumption / autonomy

With 20 liters in the tank, the work done on the exhaust, the injection and the nickel spark plugs allows Suzuki to claim the best range in the category: 497 km with a full tank, which makes just 4 liters per hundred.

Good: we had 6.2 l / 100 on the on-board computer, but that can be considered as a maximum, because given the roads taken, we did not often pass the sixth. Neither the fifth. Neither the fourth. And not too much the third. In fact, half of the route was done by throwing oneself head to head on super twisty roads, perfect for a WRC stage, while staying in second. Because as it breaks at 106 km / h on the odometer, the second of the V-Strom already allows to inquire a little on this type of roads.

The 20-liter tank offers good autonomy

Good news, however: a fellow journalist, younger and stunted, was using the third report. Balance: 5.4 l / 100. We can therefore say that the V-Strom 650 is sober !


A proven base, an acclaimed achievement, a mastered technique and reasoned evolutions: the new V-Strom aims just without doing too much or going astray. Easy, efficient, it actually seems able to respond well to all situations, without fuss, but with surprising consistency and versatility. Like what, simple motorcycles are good !

In the end, the V-Strom 650 is a bit like the Dacia Duster with two fewer wheels. It is not necessarily dreamy at first, but in fact, it does everything and even more for a price that is just unbeatable. And compared to its three Japanese rivals, the Suzuki is on target because it is more comfortable and more versatile..

The V-Strom 650 gets the job done, all at a good price

Since 2004, 172,300 V-Strom 650s have been sold around the world. No reason why this should not continue, despite the much fiercer competition, but also more expensive; because the alliance between the simplicity and the efficiency of this machine hits the mark and is able to still seduce many bikers looking for a tool capable, in addition, of providing a little escape.

Strong points

  • Ease of handling
  • Real versatility
  • Very interesting price / performance ratio
  • Smooth and efficient motor
  • Complete dashboard
  • Healthy frame
  • Very good comfort
  • Very good original tires

Weak points

  • ABS not disconnectable in TT, sensitive as soon as you attack
  • Finishing
  • Place under the saddle

Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT technical sheet

Test conditions

  • Itinerary: 220 kilometers of mountain road around the Serra de Montsant Natural Park, usually very winding, in the vicinity of Tarragona (Spain)
  • Motorcycle mileage: 48 km (!)
  • Problem encountered: none, we even gave it an express break-in !

The competition: BMW F 700 GS, Kawasaki Versys 650, Honda NC 750 X, Yamaha MT 700 Tracer

Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT video test

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8 thoughts on “Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT test

  1. Hopefully it will sell better than the previous one because for my part I have always bought them much cheaper than the list price.

    June 2019 after a first in September 2016 and for me it is the best value for money on the market.

    The only point that deserved to be improved is the front brake.

  2. Rectif: contrary to what you write the motor has not evolved with

    This latest version: case-hardened connecting rods

    Forged pistons … were the endowment

    Initial in 2016.

  3. "The taller builders will, however, have plenty of room to place their legs in the ideal tank cutout and allow the tank to squeeze securely."

    so no .. not at all..

    I am 1.86m tall and my legs find themselves banging against the tank just under the notch, with each downshift or pressing the rear brake, my knees go up slightly and find themselves pushed outwards by the tank..

    to flee for adults

  4. Quotealain81
    It has nothing to envy to a 1200 GS look level anyway

    You are going to have problems NO

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