The 2017 V-Strom 650 may not be an all-new model, but it’s not far off. The long-suffering 645cc V-twin engine has been around so long that universities let their students practice archaeology on it – but not only does its perky engagement mean that it’s never been anything less than great, Suzuki have now updated it for 2017.
Now Euro4 compliant, the capacity stays the same, but some judicious revisions mean marginal increases in power and torque. There’s a new fuel injection system with 10-point injectors, resin- coated pistons and exhaust camshafts from the new SV650 – amongst more than 60 engine component revisions. Another is the addition of dual spark heads with high-ignition nickel spark plugs for improved efficiency.
The old exhaust is gone, too – replaced with one that looks very redolent of its bigger 1000cc stablemate. It’s lower and lighter, and tuned for increased power and midrange, while still packing enough precious metal into the catalysers to satisfy the green movement.
For added security, the new Strom comes with three-mode traction control lifted straight from the V-Strom 1000. The rider can select three modes (1,2 and off). Mode 1 has a lower level of intervention applied at a later timing allowing a certain degree of rear wheel spin, while Mode 2 has a higher level of intervention that’s applied instantly, controlling and preventing the slightest amount of spin.
The chassis comes across from the previous model; an aluminium twin spar frame and swingarm. There’s no disappointment there, there wasn’t anything wrong with the old one.
There are tweaks though, with the plastic sections eliminated from the tank to shave 5mm of width off each side. Combined with the new tank also being slimmer, the rider has more scope to move about, and it’s easier to get feet to floor.
The road-focused 650 gets newly- designed 10-spoke cast aluminium rims (front and rear are 100g lighter combined) while the XT gets a set of bling new goldie-looking laced rims. Both wheel options wear a 110/80 R19 up front, and 150/70 R17 where the drive comes from.
The pilfering of the V-Strom 1000 stock cupboard continues with the instrument panel, which includes an analogue tachometer and a brightness-adjustable LCD speedometer (as well as odometer, dual trip meters, gear position, coolant and air temperatures, battery voltage, range on remaining fuel, average fuel consumption, instantaneous fuel consumption, traction control mode, a fuel gauge and clock). There’s also a 12v power outlet to power your satnav, phone, kettle or curling tongs.
Ahead of the dash is a new screen that’s three-way adjustable, and
Suzuki claim they’ve reduced buffeting and turbulence. It’s also 9mm taller than the previous model, and is even claimed to boast a 9% reduction in lifting force.
The front end and headlamp are more thefts from the 1000, and combined with the rear end from the bigger Strom, the new 650 can use an integrated three-luggage system with no additional brackets or tools. The system comprises side cases and a 35L top case, all coded to the ignition key, while there’s also an optional 55L top case available.
But the most striking thing about the new middleweight adventurer is the overall effect. While it steals much from its bigger brother in terms of parts and style – both were inspired by the legendary DR-BIG – the proportions and balance feel absolutely bespoke: it just works. It’s easy for the XT to become a bit overladen with fripperies, but, kept simple the duo are a massive improvement over the old models. Having seen them in action on a recent visit to Japan, we can attest to them looking good on the move, too. And the whole package is a kilo lighter, despite the higher spec – what’s not to like? Well, if we’re being picky, those gold wheels don’t go well with that yellow.