Long term update: 10,000 mile round-up
Nearly there... the odometer’s on 9998 and the last digit is heading towards 9. I can’t help but watch, waiting for the clock to ping into a perfect 10,000. I’ve never known why it’s so exciting to see a clean, crisp rounded number on the dash – but it is. The figure represents nearly a year of commuting, trail riding, weekend frolics and touring, so it’s the ideal time to look at what I’ve learnt about the Strom so far.
The V-Strom’s 650 V-twin is exactly what I need for the type of riding I do – commuting. It’s 100 miles from my house to the office and the Vee makes a great companion. It’s so easy to ride, manageable and relaxed. There are no annoying vibrations and I can ride it all day without getting flustered.
I love the practicality of hard luggage. And Suzuki’s stuff is pretty good, the boxes are well made, the luggage rack is easy-peasy to fit and the top box and left pannier take a helmet each. The set can carry enough gear for two people on a camping trip with space left over, so I’d be confident travelling with them. The only hindrance is the extra width, which makes filtering difficult, especially during rush hour on the M25. And the other negative is that one of the pannier locks has rattled itself loose.
The front brake is a bit of a let-down. It lacks feel and stopping power, which results in me having to grab a fistful before corners. The V-Strom’s ABS works fine, but there’s no option to switch it off (unless you disconnect the rear wheel speed sensor) should you fancy locking up the rear to help with off-road riding.
I’m happy with the regular 55mpg I get, which means roughly 240 miles to a full tank. If it’s been a busy week and I want to make good pace then it drops to 220 miles but that’s still good enough for me.
I wasn’t happy with the original screen so I opted for an aftermarket Powerbronze flip screen for £75. Four bolts attach it to the front fairing. You can adjust the screen (and the standard one) by unscrewing it and fixing it in one of three other positions. But it’s fiddly and time consuming, and you need a screwdriver. This screen gives a similar amount of wind buffeting, but less noise.
I’ve got the official Suzuki heated grips and I’ve never been happy with them. They’re expensive (£225) and nowhere near as good as other grips I’ve tested – they just don’t get warm enough. Although it’s a relatively comfortable reach to the bars, they could do with being brought forward a touch. The clocks are basic but informative and the overall riding position is relaxed.
My XT model of the V-Strom gets SW Motech sumpguard, crash bars, a beak and handguards. They’re all good quality and worthy additions for what is ultimately a road bike with off-road protection. All it lacks are wider, metal pegs to stop boots from slipping off the standard skinny rubber pegs.