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A
Second Look…

by Rick K. for webBikeWorld.com

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Owner Comments (Below)▪ wBW

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Also: Suzuki V-Strom 1000 ABS Blog

Introduction
Now that I have several hundred miles on the new V-Strom 1000 ABS
Adventure, it’s time for a more in-depth look.
This will be a work in progress and I’ll add more thoughts as the
miles accumulate.
And who knows? I may even change my mind about the bike. It can
happen.
I also started the Suzuki V-Strom 1000 ABS Blog,
where you can find links to reviews, owner reports and other information
on the bike.
Background
I posted a Suzuki V-Strom 1000 ABS
“First Impressions” report soon after taking delivery of the new
V-Strom “Adventure” model. This is my full review.
Pricing
The Suzuki V-Strom 1000 ABS (a mouthful of a namde) is available in a
standard and Adventure version for 2014. The Adventure comes with the very nice and easily removable locking
panniers along with a set of pretty hefty crash bars on either side of
the engine, which can be used to mount lights or other accessories.
It also comes with the hand guards, which I first didn’t like but
have since changed my mind. They’re not too bad actually — certainly not “real”
protective hand guards
with a metal crash bar backing like you’d have on a true dirt bike,
similar to the Cycra hand guards
(review) I
added to my recently departed DR650. Since the V-Strom isn’t an off-road bike, I’ve
decided that the
hand guards on the Adventure are good enough.
The plastic faux engine bash plate is still pretty pathetic though, but
surely some aftermarket manufacturer will come up with a good
replacement for it (Suzuki has one as an option).
And the Adventure also comes with the slightly
taller “Touring
Screen”, which offers good coverage also with just a little bit of
buffeting only with certain types of helmets. I’m sure the aftermarket
will have windscreen options soon also.
The standard V-Strom 1000 ABS has a list price in the U.S.A. of
$12,699.00. If you went à la carte, the bags and mounts would add another $1,624.85; the hand
guards list for $84.95; the engine crash bars have a list price of
$399.95 and the touring screen lists for $234.95. Add it all up and you have $15,043.70.
Since the Adventure model lists for
$13,999.00, if you want all the goodies — and unless you really, really
don’t like black (the only current color for the Adventure) — you’re
better of going for the
Adventure.
It’s interesting to note that the Adventure is listed in Suzuki’s
“Touring”, “Dual Sport” and “Adventure” motorcycle categories, while the
standard V-Strom hits only two, missing out on “Touring”.

The Good Stuff So now that I’ve
been riding the bike for a couple of weeks, has my thinking changed?
Well, more on that in a minute. But first, let me list the good stuff,
in no particular order.
Fuel Capacity and MPG
I was shocked when the V-Strom sucked down an entire 5-gallon jug of
high-test on my first fill-up and there was still room to spare. That’s
a lot of go-juice! The bike is pretty hefty (more on that in a bit) but
I don’t really notice much difference if the tank is full or empty, a
good thing.
Just for reference, the stock BMW GS capacity is also 5.3 gallons.
The GS Adventure takes a crazy 7.9 gallons; a lot of weight up top on a
heavy bike like that.
I’m averaging about 50.4 MPG during break-in, which I guess is OK.
Transmission

The shifter feels very precise and solid and I haven’t missed a gear
yet. The movement feels a bit stiffer than I’m used to though and stiffer than the easy-clicker
shifter on the GW250.

The V-Strom’s shift lever is firm enough that
if I’m wearing boots with a thinner than normal uppers (like the
Oxtar TCS race boots
(review)), my big toe hurts after a while, believe it or not.
This is more noticeable in city riding when I’m shifting more
frequently. Not a problem when I wear thick leather boots but I thought I’d mention it.

Tires

Now that the mold nubs are gone and the Bridgestone Battle Wing tires
are fully broken in, they feel a lot better (the tires, that is…). They have good grip and
I’ve been right out to the edges, although I still think they understeer
a touch.
Running the big V-Strom over in a sharp corner takes more lean
than you think, and on many corners, just when I think I’m fully
committed to a lean that will work, I sometimes have to dial in some
emergency full rudder to crank it over even
further to get it through the corner.
Also, the front tire does not like
“tar snakes” one bit, as I discovered in a couple of hot (literally)
corners. When the bike is leaned over, the front tire will slide and hop
very quickly on a tar snake or if there’s a piece of loose gravel or
dirt.
The tires do have some road noise and they’re not dirt tires
by any means; in fact, on identical dirt roads, the GW250 is much better
— sounds crazy, but true.
I’ll probably try some different tires at some point, although at this
point, there aren’t many options for the 110/80R-19 59V front and
150/70R-17 69V rear.
Suzuki recommends 36 PSI front and 42 PSI rear for solo or
two-up riding and I don’t usually like to second-guess the engineers,
but I may try a couple pounds less in the front to see if that helps
prevent the nervousness when the tire sees the snakes.
Suspension

No complaints here, the suspension is fully adjustable front and rear…although I’m not messing with it. I learned my lesson on that with the
Triumph Thunderbird Sport (Blog). The
V-Strom with factory setup feels a little stiff to me but it’s fine for street use.

Seat

I actually like the seat; it’s nothing fancy, but it’s wide and firm
enough and leagues better than the awful seat on the
Suzuki GW250 (Blog). I definitely
have to do something about that GW250 seat — it’s a butt-killer.
Instruments
The V-Strom’s instruments aren’t too complicated and they’re easy to read in all light
conditions. I really like the
gear indicator and use it all the time. All motorcycles should have one. I also like the fuel gauge,
which seems pretty accurate (although I haven’t really compared it yet
to actual). And the big covered electrical outlet right in the center of
the dash is a charm (photo right above).
Lights

The stock headlight seems good, as do the yellow turn signals
with clear lenses (and incandescent bulbs). The LED brake light is
pretty cool also. I’ll probably add a set of

Clearwater LED lights (reviews) to the accessory bars or something
and I also need to figure out where to mount a pair of
BikeVis Bullets (review)
visibility LED lights, which are a must-have on any motorcycle in my
opinion.

Mirrors

I’d rate the mirrors as very good; I can see everything I need to behind me
and they have a good range of adjustment. There’s just a small amount of
my shoulder showing on the inside of each, so I may try a set of mirror
extenders just for kicks, but I’m fine with the mirrors actually. Suzuki lists a pair
of extenders for $79.95 (part number 990D0-11JME-010), but I’ll see if I can find
something cheaper.
Windscreen

The windscreen is simple and it works about as good as the more complex
types and that’s why I like it. I haven’t tried it in the up or down
positions yet but will do so. I’m sure the aftermarket will be all over
this, it should be very easy to make a new windscreen for the V-Strom.
If someone comes up with a taller ‘screen, I’ll try it just for kicks.
The windscreen has two positions, forward and back. In the latter, it
keeps the air off of everything up to the top of my helmet. In fact, on
a warm day, it’s too efficient and I have to pop open the face shield on
the helmet to let in some air. I’ve noticed with some helmets (e.g., an
Arai Defiant we’re currently reviewing), there’s some buffeting around
the sides. But on other helmets, like the good ol’ HJC CL-16 (review),
one of my all-time favorites, it’s pretty quiet.
Bottom line? Sometimes simpler is better. I didn’t expect the
windscreen to work at all, but it does a pretty good job for me.
Adjustable Levers

Nice that both are adjustable, although I wish they’d adjust inwards one
more notch. The hand grip rubber feels good too; it’s like an
aftermarket type I installed on the DR650.

My finger constantly hits the tip of the high beam switch, turning the high beam on.

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Switchgear

The switches all feel good and it’s much easier to use the turn signal
switch on the V-Strom than the GW250. On the GW250, I have to look down
to get my thumb situated correctly, it’s just an awkward reach. No
problem on the V-Strom.
However, the high beam flasher and on/off switch lever sticks out too
far and my left forefinger hits it, which turns on the high beams. This
happens a few times on every ride; part of the problem is the handlebar
bend, which I find awkward, and the width, with seems too wide for me.
So I’m probably placing my hands closer to the inside than normal. I’m
going to trim about 2-3 mm off the end of the switch lever to see if
that helps.
Panniers

The saddlebags — aka panniers — are nicely designed and they fit very
nicely also on to the bike. They’re easy to remove. They could be a bit
larger…but maybe not, because I can actually swing my 30.5″ inseam over
the back of the bike and climb on, something I couldn’t do on the DR650
without a lot of effort (it had the panniers).

Foot Pegs

No problems here either, at least for my 30.5″ street pants inseam.
Suzuki lists a 30 mm lower and 35 mm taller seat option, both available
in black/red or khaki (looks more like gray to me) for $234.95 each.
I’ll stick with the stock seat, it works fine and places my feet
correctly.

The foot pegs have “hero tabs” underneath, but it seems to me that you’d
have to be on a near-overboard port or starboard tack to get the things
to touch ground. I’ve been all the way to the edges of the tires and
it’s nowhere near close enough to scrape, so I’m not sure who’d be crazy
enough to try it.

The Bad News

There are a few things I’m still not too fond of on the big V-Strom. You
probably noticed I didn’t mention the engine in the “Likes” department? That’s because I still think the engine really is a mis-match for this
bike, for a number of reasons.

I think just too lumpy at low RPMs. It is exactly — and I
mean exactly — like a big Ducati engine in the way it sounds and
responds at anything under 3,000 RPM. And since Suzuki tuned the big
v-twin
for monster truck style torque from 0 RPM up to about 4,000 RPM, where
you’re going about 72 MPH in 6th gear, that means the bike is in the low RPM range just about
always.

The big pistons rock back and forth (forward and back actually) and it
sets up a vibration in every RPM that can be felt through the bike.

Forget slow speeds — which means forget off-roading — because 1st and
2nd gear, along with the instant on/off throttle response and the
monster torque (and those big slapping pistons) all conspire to work
completely against smooth riding, both off-road and in the city. Better hope that
you never get stuck in stop/go traffic on this thing…it isn’t fun!

This engine
would be perfect in a wheelie-terror stunt/street “naked” bike,
but it’s out of place in an
“adventure tourer”. That’s my opinion and I’m sticking with it.

Now perhaps the abrupt throttle and instant on/off engine response will
smooth out over time; certainly I’m becoming more accustomed to it. Burn
thinks different gearing might help and I’m open to trying that also.

That Sound

I can actually live with the engine, but the one thing that really
drives me nuts is the engine whine/whistle I noted in my “First Impressions” report,
where I have an .mp3 recording of the sound. It literally drives me
nuts.

Maybe I’m overly-sensitive to that particular sound frequency, but
it never stops and it is really, really annoying. In fact, if I end up
short-selling the bike, it will be because of the noise. We’ll see what
happens after a couple of thousand miles and an oil change…

I’m sure some owners won’t
agree, but that’s the way it is. Be
sure you start up the bike and rev it a few times and listen before you
buy. You’ve been warned.

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Video: Suzuki V-Strom 1000 ABS Features

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The Handlebar
My feelings about the handlebar haven’t changed. I still think it’s cheap-looking and
it also has an awkward bend for me. It’s too much of a reach for my 34″
shirt sleeve arm length and it’s not high enough for good control whilst
standing on the pegs.
I’m definitely looking for a good-quality replacement, but I’m hoping I
won’t have to mess with new brake and control lines.
The bar mounts look cheap also but there’s not much I can do about
that except maybe replace the cheesy bolts with some high-quality
polished units when I replace the handlebar.
The bend of the bar makes my right hand hurt; I noticed it
immediately upon taking delivery of the bike and it hasn’t gotten any
better. This will surely vary, depending upon the owner, but I’m not a
fan at all.
Brakes and Traction Control
They’re ok and they work is about all I can say. I fail to see why the print press raves
about the V-Strom’s stoppers. There’s just no instant grab there; the
brakes feel more casual, like my old BMW K75 than a modern radial
caliper in 2014. Like I said, they’re acceptable and they stop the bike
in pretty decent fashion but they’re
nothing to rave about.
And how about that ABS? You can’t turn it off — a definite sign that
this bike has zero off-road pretensions. Yet, they added the traction
control that you probably won’t need. TC on a sportbike? Maybe…for
about 1% of riders.
When it’s set on #2 (the highest level), the traction control helps tame the instant
wheelie response of the abrupt throttle when you’re on a gravel road, so
that’s good.

Attention to Detail
Suzuki could have done a better job at finishing the V-Strom. 14
thousand bucks is a lot of dosh in my book but there are some very
unfinished-looking parts on the bike, like the mess of brake lines hanging on the back of the front fender.
What looks like the Suzuki exhaust tuning device is attached to the
pipe just below the muffler and it looks like it could easily become
caught on a branch or rock if the bike ever truly went off-road. By the
way, Suzuki never really says the bike is off-road capable, so in the
end, the “adventure-touring” look is kind of like a motorcycle version
of a 21st Century SUV — rugged in looks only but not designed to go
off-road.
Although I have to say the same for the BMW GS or the big KTMs. Anyone who has any intention of going off-road should stay far away from one of these big adventure-tourers
— again, that’s my opinion.
The DR650 is about as big as I’d go for true off-roading and, as
Chris B. (an occasional wBW contributor and all-around ace mechanic)
discovered, smaller is better when it comes to dirt.
All told, the Suzuki just seems to have more cheap-looking parts and
missing attention to detail than I expected and when compared to my previous Ducatis
and other bikes I’ve owned.

The Weight
One of the things that interested me about the V-Strom when I first read
about was its supposedly lighter weight compared to other big adventure-tourers.
I’m not sure what the definition of “light weight” is, but the V-Strom isn’t.
Suzuki doesn’t list the weight of the Adventure version but
the standard model is listed at 503 lbs.. I’m assuming that means dry weight,
with no oil or
fuel, as is the custom of the Japanese manufacturers.
For comparison, BMW lists the “unladen
weight, road ready, fully fuelled” of the R 1200 GS Adventure at 573
lbs. and the standard GS at 523 lbs., so there’s not much difference.
Since gas weighs about 6.3 lbs. per gallon, a full V-Strom tank of
5.3 gallons weighs about 33.4 lbs. So the V-Strom standard version with
a full tank of fuel weighs a minimum of 536 lbs. Add the Adventure
version’s panniers, pannier mounts, crash bars and a few pounds for the rest and I’m
estimating that the Adventure probably tips the scales at around 565
lbs.
That’s pretty heavy in my book and one more reason not to take it
off-road. The V-Strom feels all of its weight when pushed in the garage
and also when leaned over in the turns. Like they used to say, if
“road-hugging weight” was a good thing, everyone would be driving a
Kenworth…

Conclusion
I went into this with eyes open, not knowing what to expect. Regrets?
Well, I
think if I had been presented with the opportunity to test ride the V-Strom before buying, I
probably would have taken a pass. That’s not always the case, because
most new bikes or cars feel so new and shiny and different that a test
ride or drive doesn’t do much to change the potential owner’s mind, unless something is
radically wrong.
So the bottom line is that I’m not as thrilled as I thought I’d be with the
V-Strom and I’m a little disappointed. But I’ll soldier on, in the
interest of science. Again, this is all one man’s opinion and I’m
probably in the minority.
And one more thing: remember that I bought and paid for this bike with
hard-earned webBikeWorld cash, so I can call it as I see it, not
beholden to anyone.
I’m very interested to hear from V-Strom 1000 ABS owners with your
opinions. Be sure to check the Suzuki V-Strom 1000 ABS
Blog for updates on accessories and information.
Publication Date: May 2014UPDATE: See the Suzuki V-Strom 1000 ABS
Blog
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 Posted on : May 21, 2014
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