MCN Fleet: V-Strom 1000 XT defies the cold

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My first 500 miles with the big XT have mainly been a baptism of ice and snow, rather than fire. Against a landscape of monochrome chilliness, there’s nothing more comforting than a simplistically excellent bike, and while there’s nothing very snazzy about the Strom’s mechanical offerings, I’ve been surprised by how well it copes on my varied A, B and Country road commute. 

My first impressions have been positive ones – apart from needing an Allen key to adjust the screen height, and a key to open the panniers – but that’s bound to change as the passing of miles and familiarity breed nuggets of contempt.

Dear Garmin, show me the way home

Finding destinations fast, and negotiating diversions, is even more important in winter as the cold and wet seeps in faster. I came across two diversions in just 40 miles during the recent snow as accidents had closed roads while cretins were extricated from hedgerows.

But with Garmin releasing a new zumo 595LM last month, it seemed like fate. A single hour in the workshop saw the V-Strom stripped back to its tank and underwear, and the powered mount fitted to the bars, with the wiring neatly routed back to the battery. I’d solder it into the loom if it were my own bike, but going to the battery is easier for something I’ll need remove later. I love how simple Suzukis are to work on. A couple of tools and basic logic are all that’s needed – which is refreshing compared to some modern bikes’ over-complexity. The 595 is equally great so far, and a tangible step up in every way from my old 395.

Next steps for the V-Strom

While cleaning the Strom I noticed a nasty deep slice in the rear tyre, prompting a slightly early change of rubber. The bike has covered nearly 3000 miles in total on its Bridgestone Battle Wings, which had got quite square, so the timing could have been worse. To replace the competent but uninspiring Wings, I’ve opted for a set of Dunlop’s brand new Trailsmart Max rubber. Full reviews of both the Garmin and Dunlops to follow.

For now, with a target to #ride5000miles this winter, I’m heading back out into the gloom for my daily dose of riding heaven.