The KYB forks and rear shock have new internals, which give the 1050XT a tauter, plusher feel compared to the old bike. It’s not a massive change, but does feel slightly firmer without ever becoming crashy and unpleasant.
On the smooth twisty roads at the world launch the 1050XT handled sweetly – it’s not as sporty as a Multistrada, but it’s now not a million miles off. The Tokico monobloc brakes easily cope with the XT’s 247kg, though it’s questionable how much use the new 'load dependent control system' is.
It’s meant to spread the braking force – like a linked brake system – when the new inertial measurement unit (IMU) senses the back lifting but how often is that likely to happen on a 247kg V-Strom?
Fundamentally, it’s the same engine as the old model’s – a 1037cc 90-degree V-twin derived from the long dead TL1000. But Suzuki have had to make it more efficient to get it through Euro5 emission regulations, changing the camshafts to reduce the valve overlap and fitting ride-by-wire to increase fuel metering accuracy.
The upshot of the tinkering isn’t much in terms of power – it’s up 6bhp to 106bhp – and peak torque actually drops by 1ftlb to 74ftlb. But those peak figures don’t tell the whole story.
Suzuki has reshaped the torque curve so instead of peaking early and dropping through the midrange, it does the reverse. So as you wind it on during an overtake, the new bike feels like it’s got more go – it feels keener to get to the 9500rpm redline and makes the old machine’s power delivery feel a bit bland.
Throttle response from the new ride-by-wire is generally smooth and predictable – you can feel a slight jolt off a closed throttle at low revs, but it’s never enough to become an issue during mid-corner roll-ons.
The first iteration of the Suzuki V-Strom 1000 (2002-2008) suffered terribly from corroding fasteners, banjo bolts and so on.
But the 2014-2019 model was a huge improvement and there’s no reason to expect the new 1050XT will go back to the bad old days. The engine has been around for over 20 years with no reports of major issues and we don’t expect the changes to create any problems.
The ride at the world launch included thrashing the 1050XT’s nads off down canyon roads then tootling through villages and cruising along motorways. The new bike averaged 42mpg and we’d be surprised if more normal riding earned less than 50mpg.
Service intervals stay the same as the old bike at 7500. The insurance group is 12 – the same as a Honda Africa Twin and par for the adventure bike course.
As ever with V-Stroms, value is right up there. With a 2020 launch price of £11,299, the XT is £700 cheaper than the Africa Twin and over £2000 less than BMW’s base model R1250GS.
Suzuki’s problem going forward is the new Tiger 900 and BMW F900XR – the posh TE version of the new BM is £600 cheaper than the 1050XT, and the Tiger 900 GT is likely to be cheaper, too, when it is launched in 2020.
Sure, they’re lower capacity, but power is about the same and they’re very good. The base model 1050 is £9999, but lacks so much kit that we can’t imagine many riders being tempted (see below).
Insurance group: 12 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.
The big news is the new V-Strom has lots of electronics, and as ever Suzuki couldn’t resist giving a couple of systems acronyms that are no help to anyone.
SIRS is the Suzuki Intelligent Ride System, which is another way of saying 'the electronics', while SDMS stands for Suzuki Drive Mode Selector, which is actually a throttle response selector.
Mode A is the sharpest, and perfect for most road riding situations, B feels pretty much the same while C is noticeably softer – good for icy conditions. The XT also has three traction control levels, plus off, and like the SDMS, you can adjust it on the go if you shut the throttle.
There’s Low Rpm Assist, too, which is an automatic anti-stall system, plus Hill Hold Control which detects when you’re on a slope and stops you rolling back, and two levels of cornering ABS intervention.
Electronics aside, you also get an adjustable screen (though you can’t adjust it on the go), centrestand and a wide range of accessories. The only obviously missing kit is a colour TFT screen and the LCD one fitted looks a bit old hat. The Adventure package gets you side cases and a top box, plus all the fitment kit, for £2499 (£629 cheaper than buying the parts separately).
The base model looks a bit sparse though, with no cruise control, cornering ABS, cornering traction control, hill hold control, adjustable saddle, 11-way adjustable screen, DC power outlet… the list goes on. It is £9999, but we can’t see many buyers going for it.