SUZUKI DL1050 V-STROM (2020 - on) Review
- Low-down grunt and linear power
- Good value for money at £10k
- Lighter than most litre-plus adventurers
At a glance
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
The standard version of the new-for-2020 Suzuki V-Strom 1050 might lack many of the XT model’s luxuries, but it does get most of the basics right. And at just over £10k on the road, it’s decent value too.
Comfortable, calm and composed, the V-Strom is very easy to ride and confidently turns its hand to a bit of everything. Those who prefer their motorcycles solid, simple, stripped-back and sensibly priced may ask why you’d want any more. The Suzuki is brisk rather than fast, demands very little, has some thoughtful touches and obliges whether you want to commute, cover distance two-up or just have a bit of fun at weekends.
With its cast wheels, road rubber, modest suspension travel and lack of crash protection it’s not going to coerce enthusiastic off-roaders away from their KTMs. And with little in the way of flash gadgets or cutting-edge tech, it won’t invite someone to hop off a spangly new BMW R1250GS to check out the Suzuki’s fancy toybox. But if you don’t want to ride round the world, don’t want to follow the crowd and don’t want to have to take out a second mortgage just to pay for a load of hi-tech thingamajigs you’ll never use, the base-model V-Strom 1050 is well worth a look.
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
Front brakes are surprisingly sharp, those four-piston, one-piece Tokico calipers giving instant bite and masses of power. Forks are fully adjustable, though soft springs mean they’re eager to dive deep into the 160mm of travel when you brake hard. The shock, adjustable for preload and rebound, feels fine at normal speeds, but over uneven surfaces at pace and you do get jolted out of the seat from time to time.
Through turns the Strom is stable, holds a line obediently and has decent ground clearance. This standard model’s steering geometry is microscopically more relaxed than the XT version, even though they share the exact same frame, swingarm and suspension. The difference simply comes down to the fact that the regular V-Strom is 11kg lighter, with less weight at the front of the bike (thanks to not having engine crash bars), meaning the standard Strom rides 5mm higher on its springs and sits fractionally further backwards, increasing rake and trail.
Turn-in speed is measured rather than manic, though sticking with slim, old-school adventure tyre sizes (a 110 front and a 150 rear) helps keep it reasonably nimble. Its 236kg kerb mass is substantially less than a big BMW too. In fact, the V-Strom is lighter than a Honda VFR800 – so while it’s not as agile as a Yamaha Tracer, it definitely doesn’t feel hard work along a twisty road.
EngineNext up: Reliability
Despite the number in its name going up from 1000 to 1050 this year, the V-Strom keeps the same 1037cc V-twin it’s had since 2014. Power has been nudged up to 106bhp – that’s seven horses more than last year’s 1000 – thanks to new camshaft profiles giving more lift and less overlap. Peak torque has been reduced a fraction, but only right at the very bottom end of the rev range. On paper the headline figure drops from 75 to 74lb·ft and now needs 6000rpm rather 4000rpm, but rest assured this hasn’t suddenly become some rev-hungry two-stroke.
No, the V-Strom retains the same gutsy, grunty, relaxed feel it’s always had. Peak performance and outright speed remain a long way short of a GS or Multistrada, but the Suzuki’s party piece isn’t an arm-wrenching top-end. Rather, it’s all about its easy, willing, even-handed delivery.
The soft, warm, smooth pulses of its veteran V-twin feel casual and composed, with a torque curve so flat from 4000 to 7000rpm you could iron a shirt on it. Tall gearing means third is all that’s needed to roll around leisurely between 40 and 80mph, with enough revs in hand that it can be stretched to three-figure speeds. Sixth is set for something like 150mph – clearly it can’t ever reach that, but the overdrive-like feel keeps revs down at cruising speeds.
Clutch action is light and the gearbox shifts easily without any quickshifter assistance. The most noticeable glitch in the powertrain is a twitchy throttle response in the sharpest of its three throttle modes that’s especially irritating in town. But dial it back from aggressive ‘A’ to medium ‘B’ setting and that nervousness vanishes. The softest ‘C’ setting is so ultra-slow action it’s not really worth bothering with.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
With more than 20 years of evolution and refinement – and six years in its current capacity – the V-Strom’s engine is a very safe bet. And with little in the way of extravagant technology going on, you don’t have to worry about keyless ignition packing up, or semi-active suspension going on the blink, or an IMU failing: the standard Strom doesn’t have any of those things to begin with.
The V-Strom 1050 continues to be produced in Japan. Some of the engine bolts and fairing fasteners look a step up from Suzuki’s older stuff, but overall build quality and attention to detail look to be much the same as the previous V-Strom. The 2017-on model receives positive reviews for reliability from owners, though the older 2014 machine gets much more mixed feedback, perhaps because it’s been around for longer and so the mileages will be higher, with cases of corrosion and electrical issues. Still, Suzuki’s three-year warranty should give a new owner confidence.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
At £10,147 on the road, the V-Strom looks massively appealing next to those ultra-premium adventure flagships, getting on for almost half the price of a top-of-the-range BMW R1250GS or Ducati Multistrada 1260. It’s certainly a lot of the bike for the money – just a few hundred quid more than the entry-level version of Triumph’s new Tiger 900 or Yamaha’s Tracer 900. It’s less than a Kawasaki Versys 1000, and a lot less than Ducati’s Multistrada 950 or Honda’s Africa Twin.
Selecting the standard Strom saves £1300 over the XT version – whether that’s good value or not depends on how much you want the posher bike’s additional gadgets, spoked wheels and practical extras. If you can live without them all, that’s a healthy saving.
Running costs should be pretty modest for a litre bike, with decent 50mpg-ish economy, long 7500-mile service intervals (15,000 between valve clearance checks) and reasonable spares prices. Given its affordability and hardly hedonistic reputation it’s not expensive to insure either.
The base-model V-Strom is deliberately sparse and simple. There’s no centrestand or handguards, while hi-tech touches like cruise control, hill-hold control and cornering ABS are saved for the XT model. Gadget fans do get a USB power socket hidden under a rubber flap though, which is handy, especially given there’s a rail to mount a sat-nav or phone above the dash. Other simple but practical touches include solid pillion grabrails, a small luggage rack, a sunshield for the dash, and a remote preload adjuster.
Traction control has two levels of intervention, though both are fairly conservative. Throttle response can be set to three levels of aggression, with all giving the same maximum power. The LCD dash looks busy and a bit dated in 2020, but it does have a tank-range countdown and a useful two-stage reserve light, which really helps you stretch the 20-litre fuel tank as far as possible.
Suzuki’s official accessory list includes heated grips, luggage, foglights and plenty more, but the prices don’t, shall we say, appear to offer the same level of value the rest of the V-Strom does.
During August and September 2020, Suzuki offered a free City Pack on the V-Strom 1050, netting you a 55-litre top box with mounting kit, and a centre stand. The kit was previously worth £549.
|Engine type||Liquid-cooled, 8v, 90° V-twin|
|Frame type||Aluminium twin-spar|
|Fuel capacity||20 litres|
|Front suspension||43mm KYB forks, fully adjustable|
|Rear suspension||KYB monoshock, adjustable preload and rebound|
|Front brake||2 x 310mm discs with four-piston radial Tokico calipers|
|Rear brake||268mm disc, single-piston Tokico caliper|
|Front tyre size||110/80 R19|
|Rear tyre size||150/70 R17|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||51.4 mpg|
|Annual road tax||£93|
|Annual service cost||-|
|Used price||£9,800 - £10,000|
How much to insure?
|Warranty term||Three years|
Top speed & performance
|Max power||106 bhp|
|Max torque||74 ft-lb|
|1/4 mile acceleration||-|
|Tank range||226 miles|
Model history & versions
The original V-Strom was powered by a detuned 996cc V-twin taken from the infamous TL1000S. Cast three-spoke wheels and aluminium twin-spar frame place it squarely as a road-going upright all-rounder rather than a down-and-dirty hardcore dual-sport bike. Slight upgrades in 2004 with a smarter ECU, adjustable windscreen and different mirrors. GT versions had three-piece hard luggage. Discontinued for 2009 due to emissions rules.
After being teased for a year, the V-Strom was relaunched with a larger 1037cc motor, power boosted to 99bhp, fresh beaky styling, upside-down forks and Suzuki’s first road-going traction control. An eight-kilo diet (228kg) thanks to new single silencer, lighter headlight and no oil cooler. Cast wheels only, with still little in the way of serious off-road intent.
Taller windscreen, new linked cornering ABS, and cleaner Euro4-compliant motor thanks to a second catalyser in the exhaust. Torque drops a whisker from 76 to 75lb·ft. Regular V-Strom now joined by a new XT version with tubeless wire wheels and tapered handlebars for a £500 premium.
Adds cruise control, cornering ABS, hill-hold control, a centrestand, engine crash bars, handguards, spoked wheels, adjustable seat and screen height, plus brighter 80s-style paintschemes. Different mirrors and LED indicators too. Same engine output, but the XT is 11kg heavier and costs £1300 more.
Fantastic value all-rounder built to a very similar brief as the 1000, but with a smaller 645cc V-twin from the SV650. Less power (70bhp and 46lb·ft) but lighter (213kg), better on fuel and £2400 cheaper. Also comes in XT guise with spoked wheels.
Owners' reviews for the SUZUKI DL1050 V-STROM (2020 - on)
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