- Fake globetrotter, real roadster
- In the saddle
- In the city
- Motorway and expressways
- Off-piste (a little)
- Practical sides and accessories
Fake globetrotter, real roadster
The younger ones don’t remember it, but it was not so long ago (the turn of the century) Suzuki was not far from being the king of the motorcycle planet. It was the blessed time when this site was launched (1999), when these model (s) were sold by shovel. There was also the inevitable GSX-R 1000, already queen of endurance and champion of the quality-price-power ratio, the SV with the playful twins and (we get there) the V-Strom road trails. After the version 1000 slammed in 2002, the V-Strom 650 – unveiled in 2004 – was another instant hit for Suzuki, immediately rising to the top of world sales for mid-size trails (650 to 800cc). The problem is that the competition was not very fierce in the segment and the growing popularity of this type of machine also corresponds to a slow erosion of Suzuki’s market share. Logical, given that the offer has continued to grow: Kawasaki Versys 650 in 2006, Honda Transalp in 2007, Triumph Tiger 800 in 2009, Honda NCX in 2012 … It was also in 2012 that Suzuki reacted and revisits its DL 650 after eight long years. And the pace today is accelerating. Those who thought they would be quiet until 2020 can revise their calendar as Suzuki has decided to support its little V-Strom with an XT variant with more adventurous accents. Why ? The official response is that the demand for “off-road” style machines is steadily increasing and the XT logically responds to this demand..
Let’s start right away with what’s changing. The most glaring difference is the abandonment of spoked rims in favor of spoke models. Made of aluminum, they are suitable for tubeless tires since the spokes are anchored on a double vertical web rather than on the rim itself, thus preserving the seal. The dimensions are identical to the standard V-Strom with 110 / 80-19 ”at the front and 150 / 70-17”, just like the original fitment of the Bridgestone Trailwing..
The XT is also differentiated by the original presence of an engine guard, hand guards and a two-tone saddle. Ah, I forgot! Miss XT is also entitled to a little stylistic joke with the transplant of a duckbill under the double lens, not to ape (like everyone else) the BMW R 1200 GS, but rather the line of Suzuki DR, old trails of the range in the 80s and 90s.
And that’s all ? Almost, since Suzuki also offers a plethora of accessories to make its XT even more adventurous, especially with “square” luggage, crankcase protectors…
For the rest, we find the characteristics of the “normal” V-Strom with its aluminum frame and its small 645 cm3 twin delivering 60 Nm of torque at 6400 rpm and 69 horsepower at 8800 rpm. Side suspensions, we are entitled to 150 mm of travel. Curiously, the weight is unchanged with 215 kg all full made despite spoked rims deemed to be lighter.
In the saddle
Unsurprisingly, the saddle height (835 mm) has not changed and putting your feet on the ground for small riders is complicated. With 1.70 m, we find ourselves balanced on the tips unless opting for the “slight sway” option to have at least one foot flat at a red light … Under the pilot’s eyes a table of full board: gear engaged, two daily trips as well as their respective average consumption indicator, a fuel gauge, a water temperature gauge … Above all, the information can scroll on the dashboard by means of a trigger on the left commodo. Ultra practical and almost unexpected on a Suzuki of this segment !
On the finish side, it varies from very good to less good depending on where you look. The spoked rims are sublime and the paint is of good quality. The black aluminum frame and the engine foundries also flatter the retina, but the quality of certain plastics (the black ones) still leaves something to be desired, as does the appearance of the side stand or certain body adjustments..
Still, the XT is more opulent than the “basic” V-Strom. On the ergonomic side, the brake lever has an adjustment wheel, unlike the clutch. In front, the screen is adjustable in three positions with a small mechanical session. For journalists this is not practical, but it is true that a normal owner does not change his settings every four mornings…
In the city
Unsurprisingly, we find on the XT the same qualities that made the reputation of the original model as a “good horse”, at ease everywhere. Apart from a saddle that is too high for those over 1.70 m, everything is fine on board. The clutch – not adjustable – is neither too hard nor too soft and easily adjustable and the gearbox can be forgotten. As for the twin, it is remarkably flexible in use. In the last gear, it is almost possible to go down to idle speed (around 35 km / h) and – in intermediate gears – pick-ups are vigorous from 3000 rpm. The cycle part is to match with a focus on the soft and progressive angle (thank you the large handlebars) and a good balance in the maneuvers at very low speed. The hydraulics lack a little finesse on the retarders, but this small defect is largely offset by the large suspension travel. More subjectively, the spoked rims also seem to provide a slight increase in comfort on big compressions, but we’ll get to that a bit later. Finally, the general narrowness should make it a valuable ally in the city. For fans of queuing up, on the other hand, the observation is more mixed, because if the large handlebars go over the mirrors of a traditional car, it comes up to those of oiled family livestock trailers and SUVs….
Motorway and expressways
This Suzuki XT is doing very well with the punishment of highway journeys. In sixth gear, the engine purrs at 5,000 rpm at 110 km / h and climbs to 5,900 rpm at 130 km / h, a speed at which the twin vibrates little, if at all, depending on the revs. The large tank, bubble and hand guard combo gets the job done at legal speeds, leaving only the top of the helmet and lower legs exposed. For heavy riders, however, the optional screen with a deflector is recommended. No more effective in absolute terms, it offers the enormous advantage of eliminating almost all aerodynamic eddies and significantly reduces whistling in the helmet..
As for the comfort of the saddle, it is in the standard, neither Pullman, nor piece of wood. There remains the unknown of square suitcases which could strain the stability at high speed. The streamlined standard models, tested in parallel on a classic V-Strom 650, only cause a slight flutter at largely outlawed speeds.
The course concocted by our opener Jean-Pierre Goy (you know, the “motorcycle” lining of James Bond) made us take some of the most beautiful virolos roads between Ain and Savoie with a loop around the lake of Bourget as a dessert.
Good dough, the 650 XT bends to all types of uses without complaining. To dawdle while admiring the landscape, it is perfect. The flexible and well-tuned suspensions accommodate all types of asphalt while we surf on the fat of the torque by naturally shifting the upper gear to 5500 rpm.
If the urge or the need to increase the pace is felt, the V-strom XT responds as well. Neither precise like a Kawasaki Versys, nor frank and of a block like a Triumph Tiger, the small Suzuki will probably be able to follow the rhythm of the machines previously mentioned during a “colonial quarter of an hour”, but that is frankly not its vocation . Always healthy, it pumps lightly on its suspensions when you start to push it to its limits and the lack of bite and brake feedback do not encourage you to grab the right lever at the Too Tard panel … Too bad, because the train front accepts this kind of constraint without stiffening or raising the machine once on the angle. The twin does not like to be abused too much either. Beyond 6,000 rpm, it experiences a slight downturn where power and torque seem to peak. Everything returns to order around 7000 revs and we can then extract the last horsepower to the red zone, well helped by a box capable of chaining reports on the fly without the aid of the clutch. But the twin has undeniably lost the playful side at high speeds of the previous generation. Despite its age, the original Bridgestone Trailwing rim, once properly heated, nevertheless fulfills a sporting pace. In short, the ideal with the XT is to ride at 70% of its potential, an area in which it will deliver the best efficiency-pleasure ratio. Their arsouilleurs will prefer its big sister 1000 cm3, downright more playful on the engine side and equipped with formidable braking efficiency..
Off-piste (a little)
Our convoy, always led by our opener / stuntman, was treated to a special off-piste route based on very smooth dirt tracks, small dirt tracks alternating mud and stone as well as a few pseudo-trialising passages. Having tried an XT 650 with the new Bridgestone A40s, which perform better than the original original Trailwings, a mid-size trail is as comfortable in these conditions as a giraffe on an ice rink: non-existent traction, blur general on soft ground, feeling of crossing skis at each sharp turn … But there is something. Jean-Pierre Goy, again, knows a little about off-roading since he runs a pilot school entirely dedicated to this kind of annoyance. And so to play on the roads, the man simply deflated our tires to 1.5 bar. The result is amazing for a machine of this size with real feedback on the handlebars and “natural” sensations off-piste without the machine turning into a sea serpent once back on the road. Well, deflating the tires did not transform the little Suz ‘into an enduro 450 either, and the driving position standing on the footrests may hamper taller riders with a handlebars anchored a bit too low. But the 650 XT comes out with honors and proves that despite its road vocation and a consequent size, escapades off the beaten track are possible, even for a neophyte..
Tested in parallel with a basic V-Strom, the adventurer was significantly more comfortable in this exercise, helped by its Excel rims. Lighter and more flexible, they greatly facilitate the work of the suspensions on successions of bumps and provide additional comfort on very large compressions. Guardians of the anti-bitumen temple will object that a disconnectable ABS is missing, but for occasional excursions such a device is not really mandatory..
The front is not adjustable, so you just have to tune the stern with the bow. Originally, (solo without luggage) the agreement is perfect, giving the V-Strom adventurer sauce an excellent balance whatever the quality of the bitumen. The hydraulics and the choice of springs denote a typical comfort orientation. The other good news is that the XT’s shock absorber is equipped with a handy preload adjustment dial located on the right side at the junction between the frame and the rear buckle. So you just have to play with the wheel until you find the initial balance..
Add to that a plush seat trimmed to offer a wide range of motion and you’ve got a great ride. Like the standard V-Strom…
The V-Strom 650 XT is entitled to a dual 310mm diameter disc and dual piston calipers stacked up front and a 260mm single disc mated to a single piston caliper behind. In use, the power is there, but the system lacks cold bite and even “lukewarm”. Paradoxically, the phenomenon is much less sensitive at a very sustained rate, the platelets seeming to gain by biting as they heat up. The ABS is well calibrated up front, with late entry into action and little feedback in the lever. It is much worse at the rear with quick releases as soon as you apply a little too much to the right pedal.
Official consumption is announced for 3.9 L / 100 km in the normalized cycle. In reality, it is much more while remaining reasonable. In muscular driving, it is possible to occasionally climb to 6.5 liters on average, but at the end of our day and a half of testing, all of our 650s showed fuel consumption varying between 5.2 and 5.5 on their dashboard. liters. Combined with the 20-liter tank, we obtain a total autonomy of around 350 km.
Practical sides and accessories
When the last V-Strom 650 was released, we pointed out that the novelty was only an evolution of the older generation. But sometimes it’s good. If you lift the saddle of the XT, for example, you’ll find an “old-fashioned” space capable of accommodating a bunch of very useful trinkets like a real U, a rain suit and a second pair of summer gloves. By forcing a little, we should even be able to add the future mandatory yellow vest … Well, access is blocked by a reinforcement bar surmounted by the closing mechanism, but we are far above the standards of the genre..
More annoying for a road, you have to dig into the options catalog to have a side stand (268 €). In this catalog, you will also find everything you need to cut the road, eat the bollard, swallow asphalt, in short, travel with a big V: suitcases, top-case, engine guards, heated grips … The fact that Suzuki offers a bunch of accessories is great, but turning a 650 XT into a GT adventurer doesn’t just have its advantages. Several of our test machines were almost in full option mode: side crankcases, luggage plus additional supports … And the excess weight, even empty and without a passenger translates into significantly lower performance. This remark is also applicable to all mid-size trails on the market. So if your intention is to regularly cut the road in duo with weapons and luggage, it is better to choose (at random) the V-Strom 1000.
As advertised, this XT variant does not differ fundamentally from a classic V-Strom. Healthy, sober and comfortable, it will adapt with good grace to all types of use: home-work trips, Sunday walks, going on vacation and even a hint of off-piste. In short, a kind of Swiss army knife with Teriyaki sauce revamped to meet the current expectations of customers in the segment as closely as possible. And to get your hands on an XT, it will be necessary to add 600 € compared to the standard model, that is to say an addition which climbs to 8 599 €. It’s almost a giveaway when you know how much a pair of Excel tubeless rims costs at retail … Faced with its competitors, on the other hand, this XT suffers the full brunt of the new pricing policy of Suzuki, former world champion in the quality ratio. price: the Kawasaki Versys 650 ABS is priced at € 7,699 and the Honda NCX 750 at € 7,999, just like Yamaha’s XT 660 Z Tenere. There remains the case of the Triumph Tiger 800, much more expensive (from € 10,190 to € 12,490), but offering services and performances of a whole new level….
- Getting started
- Engine availability
- General comfort
- Braking lacking bite
- ABS too present
- Some finishing details
- Saddle height
Suzuki DL 650 VStrom technical sheet
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