Choosing a car at dealership. Thoughtful grey hair man in formalwear leaning at the car and looking away
?I dunno, but the profile reminds me of the roadrunner, y?know, from the cartoon.?
?I?m thinkin? a chicken??
?Hmm, maybe that angry woodpecker, like on the mufflers??
?Nah, I?m stickin? with the roadrunner . . ?
I?m not sure if Suzuki designers foresaw the backyard brain trusts that would inevitably pick apart the styling direction of their latest effort – the 2014 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 ABS.
But there?s a lot more to discuss here than just a critique of the ?beak?, the homage to the pointy protuberance of the 1988 DR-Z rally bike and the follow-up ?DR Big? production models of Suzuki?s first large ?adventure? bike lineup – the DR-750S, DR-800S etc.
Suzuki launched a second generation 650 cc model a couple of years ago and the V-Strom faithful have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of this V-Strom 1000, its one litre-sized bigger brother.
The 2014 V-Strom 1000 starts with a redesigned chassis that is 13 per cent lighter and 33 per cent stronger. New 43 mm KYB inverted front forks combine with a dial-adjustable rear shock to provide a sporty ride and confident handling.
The wheelbase has been stretched by 20 mm but overall length is down by 10 mm (yes, even with the beak). Tokico four-piston monoblock front brake calipers with 310 mm floating-mount dual discs replace the previous twin-piston setup, complemented by a rear 260 mm disc and standard ABS. And although tire size has not changed new lightweight Enkei alloy wheels feature a fresh 10-spoke design.
Under the rider, the new V-Twin engine manages a slimmer design even though it has been bored out by 2 mm, bumping the engine size from 996 cc to 1,037 cc.
And, yes, while there?s ?no replacement for displacement?, a slew of new components – 10-hole fuel injection (up from a four-hole system), two iridium spark plugs per cylinder and a modern 32-bit engine control module, to name just a few of the features – combine for better bottom-end torque, quicker response and an improvement in fuel economy.
The motor pulls nicely with a V-Twin beat pulsing beneath the engine whine. The engine loafs along easily at highway speed, spinning sedately below 5,000 rpm in top gear, but with plenty of reserve oomph left for passing.
My tester was fresh out of the box with only two klicks on the clock, so I tried to be kind. But even that break-in ride, mostly along backcountry roads, averaged an acceptable 4.8L/100km.
On following treks with more urban content, the V-Strom would burn 5.4L/100km but my overall average still worked out to an even 5L/100km (comb). A 400 km range would not be impossible.
The 16 per cent improvement in fuel economy spurred the design of a slimmer tank (20 litres instead of 22 litres) to sit above the slimmer engine. Increased cooling capacity has eliminated the need for an oil cooler, saving weight, and a new, 2-into-1 single-muffler system also lops five kg off the total mass, with the side benefit of a lower centre of gravity and easier bracket access for touring luggage. Overall, the bike?s curb weight has been reduced by 10 kg.
The 2014 V-Strom 1000 ABS also features Suzuki?s first Traction Control System, monitoring the engine, transmission and wheel speeds, and reducing power if it detects wheel spin.
The rider can operate a rocker switch on the left grip to choose from Mode 1 with lower sensitivity, Mode 2 with increased sensitivity for rainy day rides, or to switch to the ?off? setting.
The ABS does not shut off, so, despite any promo pictures, the V-Strom 1000 ABS is not really aimed at the dual-purpose market. But truly determined back trail riders can mine a wealth of accessories – fog lights, aluminum skid plates, plastic under cowling, mirror extensions – to cover any situation. Ground clearance is unchanged from the last model at 165 mm.
The V-Strom 1000 is a tall but comfortable ride. Seat height is up 10 mm (850 mm) over the past model, perfect for my tall inseam, but alternative seats (+30 mm or -30mm) are also available. The three-height adjustable windscreen can also be bumped through three different-angled settings on-the-fly.
And the cockpit is topped off by a full suite of instrumentation with a round analogue tach, LCD speedo and readouts that include an odometer, dual trip meters, gear position indicator, coolant and ambient temperatures, voltage, riding range, average and instantaneous fuel consumption, the traction control mode, fuel gauge and a clock. There?s also a 12V DC outlet below the gauges for nav or other accessories.
To wrap things up, the V-Strom 1000 ABS is illuminated by a new LED rear brake light in back while, up front, the vertical-stacked headlight assembly shows design influences from the Hayabusa and GSX1000R superbike. And we?re back to the beak again.
Anyone considering the V-Strom 1000 ABS ($11,999) might as well move up to the more tour-friendly V-Strom 1000 ABS SE ($12,999) that, for the extra grand, adds hand guards, a centre stand and side cases (29-litre left side, 26-litre right side) with mounting brackets. A 35-litre top case and adaptor plate will add about another $1,100 to the price.
I?m always torn between the two sizes of V-Strom. I was about to argue for the lighter weight and nimbleness of the 650 compared to the 1000 but a quick study of the specs reveals that the 650 is only 14 kg lighter. And the V-Strom 650 mounts the same wheel and tire sizes and is actually, believe it or not, a little longer in length and wheelbase compared to the V-Strom 1000.
So the choice comes down to fuel economy (sometimes up to 1L/100km less for the 650), power and whether you tend to ride solo or two-up, and price, with the V-Strom 650 ABS listing for $9,099 and the V-Strom 1000 ABS starting at $11,999.
And, um, then there?s that beak.
I got used to it. And beauty is in the eye of the beholder, after all.
Or so they claim.
Suzuki V-Strom 1000 ABS 2014 (DL1000) at a glance
ENGINE: 1,037 cc liquid-cooled, DOHC, 90-degree V-twin
TRANSMISSION: Six-speed constant mesh with chain final drive
WHEELBASE: 1,555 mm
LENGTH: 865 mm
BRAKES: Front 310 mm twin discs; Rear 260 mm disc
SUSPENSION: Front Inverted telescopic, coil spring, oil damped; Rear Link type, coil spring, oil damped
TIRES: Front 110/80R19M/C 59V; Rear 150/70R17M/C 69V
CURB WEIGHT: 228 kg (503 lb)
SEAT HEIGHT: 850 mm
FUEL CAPACITY: 20 litres
FUEL ECONOMY: As tested 5L/100km (comb)
COLOURS: Pearl Glacier White, Glass Sparkle Black, Glass Desert Khaki or Candy Daring Red (as tested)