Suzuki V-Strom 1000 XT: the rule of balance

Two weeks riding the Suzuki V-Strom 1000 XT. A lot of water, lots of trips, a little off-road driving. I was sorry to finally give her back. His best gift? The general balance, the rich electronic equipment and the ability to “fly” over the roughness of our roads. All with a great value for money

The XT Globe Rider is a particularly rich version of the V-Strom 1000 on sale on the Italian market. Compared to the basic bike it has, in fact, LED fog lights, heated grips, side stand extension to park on soft ground, side bags, engine bars, centre stand, the tank bag and a tank protector.
It is in much respect similar to the UK V-Strom XT 1000 XT with Adventure Accessory Pack and other accessories.

Everything revolves around the classic 90° longitudinal V-twin engine from 101 hp to 8000 rpm. An engine detuned to adapt it to use on a motorcycle of this category. The maximum torque, of 101 Nm, is in fact placed at only 4000 rpm, thanks to the use of a valve on the exhaust system that optimizes fueling depending on RPM.

To make the engine even more usable there is also a rich set of electronic equipment. To begin with the “Low RPM Assist“, which prevents the engine from stalling when starting or running at very low speed. As far as the transmission compartment is concerned, there is traction control that can be adjusted to two levels, and the clutch that double-down as anti-slip if you downshift too happily.

The suspensions are widely adjustable, with the possibility to set the preload of the rear shock absorber via the easily accessible handle on the side of the bike, in case you travel with a passenger.

The V-Strom is a rather big and high bike, without reaching the exaggerated levels of certain competitors. On the other hand, it is relatively light, weighing 233 kg in running order, and after a few miles, you will immediately become familiar with it.

The first thing that stands out is the comfort of the ride, the ergonomics and the care put in aerodynamic protection. The small plexiglass is adjustable clicking in multiple positions, and in any of those protects you from the wind, allowing you to travel with the visor open, without having the windshield in front of your eyes. No matter how fast you march, there are never any air whirls to bother you, either alone or in two.

The engine is very quiet, I’d call it polite. It develops the right amount of torque in fluidity. Maybe it lacks just a bit at low revs. But this suits well this kind of bike, where you don’t need an aggressive engine response.

What’s even surprising is the smoothness of the transmission.

Whether you cruise in higher gears or downshift, the bike remains smooth, with no jerks. A passenger may think to travel on a vehicle with an automatic gearbox. This isn’t the case, the V-Strom has a traditional 6-speed gearbox, but it manages to convey this relaxation that will be particularly pleasing to those who use the bike for touring.

Suspensions are stiffer than I expected. Of course, the fork shows that we are not on a sports bike if we brake abruptly, as is almost always the case in any bike of this kind, but in general the bike setup is a bit on the firm side, more biased on road use than off-road. The same can be told about OEM tyres, the Bridgestone Battle Wing Radial. They are tyres that can be used off-road if necessary but are designed to give the best on the road, coping well with both clean surfaces and dirty or wet.

In the about 800 miles I covered with the V-Strom, I really appreciated the dynamic behaviour on road. You can cruise, but you can also push harder. Don’t expect a sports bike handling, because for that there are sports bikes. If you let it glide between the bends instead, you will discover a very fast bike, even on damaged surfaces. Always consistent and stable, always willing to forgive minor driving errors.

The traction control is very well tuned. On level 2 it intervenes slightly earlier than I would do: it perceives any minimum loss of grip and regulates the torque of the engine in a smooth way, allowing the rear wheel to resume full grip with the asphalt. On level 1 it intervenes slightly after the moment in which I would intervene by peeling the gas. Knowing this, you learn to trust it and you end up riding faster.

Cornering ABS also works well. I had to force myself to do some panic stops on less than ideal surfaces and… the bike ended up doing everything on its own. Among other things, during the most decisive braking, even if you use only the front brake lever the system will engage the rear brake too, to give more balance to the bike. The only downside is that the footpegs in the corners touch the ground a bit too early than I expect. But we’re talking about tight bend angles.

The disadvantage, for nostalgic people like yours truly, is to feel a little useless. But I realise it’s just a different way of driving.

The same safe behaviour can be observed on the motorway when even at higher speeds, the Suzuki is always stable.

What about the tires? On uneven surfaces they did the job, ensuring good traction of the rear wheel even on soft gravel and mud. However, the front tyre does not allow you to bend aggressively. On asphalt, however, they went very well. I ended up using the whole surface when cornering; helped by a profile not designed for 50-degree bends. They’ve always been reliable, without showing signs of fatigue. And at the end, they looked beautiful, with the wrinkles on the compound indicating that they had worked at the right temperature. They worked well and gave me confidence even in the wet. So much so that when the test was over, when I jumped on my old Aprilia Tuono without electronic controls and equipped with more sporty tires, it took me some time to resume my old habits to understand how far I can push.

Last but not least, consumption. Using the throttle carelessly you expect around 48 mpg, but with paying too much attention, in my 800 miles I averaged a more than decent 55 mpg.

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