MCN Fleet: V-Strom 650XT - Beauty or a beast?

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I’m five months and almost 6000 miles in to my year with the Suzuki V-Strom 650XT and ever since I took delivery of it, perhaps even before, I’ve had this one little niggle about the bike that won’t go away.

I’ve already established that it suits my needs as a rider well, it’s comfortable, chews up long distance miles, is economical and quite versatile, but one thing I just can’t make my mind up about is whether or not I like the way it looks. 

It’s not a bike that attracts flocks of people when you rock up at a bike meet, in fact it largely goes unnoticed which is a bit strange as last year I was riding the extremely practical but slightly boring Honda NC750X and that got loads of attention and in my eyes the V-Strom is a better looking bike.

This is obviously completely subjective and I’m really interested to hear what some of you think as I just can’t decide. Sometimes I’ll look at the bike and think it looks great, the gold spoked wheels are stunning (but a bitch to keep clean), the banana yellow tank stands out as it glistens in the sun and the plastic finishing on the bike’s nose looks stunning when it’s polished and clean. 

Then there are other times when I’ll look at the yellow and think it’s ghastly, or think there’s too much cheap-looking plastic hiding the 650cc V-twin and the oddly placed decals can look a little tacky.

From some angles the V-Strom looks great, our Staff Photographer, Joe Dick, took some awesome snaps of it recently, but there are also angles where it doesn’t look that attractive with its overly pointed nose and ‘Micky Mouse Ear’ mirrors as Road Tester Adam Child recently christened them. 

One thing I do quite like is that the dash display is really neat, I really like having an analogue rev counter as opposed to digital, but that being said the info on the digital screens is also really clear. 

I like the aggressive adventure styling and the Suzuki luggage kit helps make it look complete. It also doesn’t look like a mid-capacity bike either, at first glance it’s hard to tell the difference between the 650 and 1000cc V-Stroms, which is quite cool. 

I guess the jury is out…. Is the V-Strom a looker or a little bit ugly? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts. Get in touch and let me know.

Finding twisty roads

In many ways the V-Strom has exceeded my expectations. I was expecting a super practical tourer/commuter and feared it might be a little on the dull side, but it’s punchy enough to enjoy too while also nailing those less adventurous essentials. My commute home is 68 miles of predominantly motorway riding, but it’s more and more with this bike I find myself looking for more twisty ways home, even if it means adding 20 miles to the trip. I expected I’d get bored, but I haven’t yet! 

In fact, I’d say the way it looks is the only thing stopping me falling in love with it. It’s like that really friendly girl who you enjoy spending time with but just aren’t interested in taking it further. 

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Oli Rushby

By Oli Rushby

Former sports reporter covering British Superbikes, World Superbikes and road racing