Off-road with a V Strom

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Hi Guys,
Great mag and, since having moved from England to SA a year ago, love having MCN Online to keep track of European trends and bike news.
I’ve just read your article on the new VStromX, and then followed the handy link to the original road test. Your tester accurately describes the bikes performance in the “cultured” environment in which the Strom performs exceptionally well.

The article then suggests, don’t take it off-road. I’ve appended a few pictures to possibly disprove that point.
Moving over from England, I was only able to bring one bike, and that was my limited edition BMW R1150RT.

9000 miles in a few months, and I ran out of tar road here in the Western Cape of SA. This is, however, biking Nirvana and every road offers tempting dirt roads leading into the crevaces and gorges of magnificent mountains and passes.

Looking for a bike to use as a commuter, but also capable of a bit of DS activity, I had settled on a 650GS. By chance, I stumbled onto the 650 VStrom, a demo model with 1500km’s on the clock – crumbs, the engine still had that new bike smell.

As second hand Strom’s are like hen’s teeth here in SA, I thought possibly the reputation for reliability and durability rings true and that the owners hang onto their bikes.
Having done over 200 000 miles (road only) on bikes, my foray into DS bikes is totally new. So, in order to limit costly “learning” expenses, I enrolled onto the BMW Off-Road skills course.

The Vstrom surprised all who participated on the day, from the instructors to the other riders. There was never an occassion when the Strom was left behind, and often, actually led the way against some stiff competition in the form of the various GS tools.

In fact, we even used the Strom to tow a 1150Adv up a gully, with the Strom running only on Bridgestone Trailwings.
Today, the Strom features in most of my off-road excursions where I have yet to find the bikes limits, be it technical riding in mountain passes to 140 kilometer, 100kph runs on dirt roads.

Personally, I think the Strom is unjustifiably labelled as “unable to perform off-road”. If riders are looking at a commuter and DS bike which offers the best weather and wind protection, unbeatable lighting for night riding, incredible handling on the twisties and an engine which delivers you to the mountain passes at 160kph day long rides, then the VStrom is pretty close to the perfect bike.

So possibly, all those blokes hacking around on lumpy thumpers are missing out on a huge touring opportunity, and I’d strongly suggest that they give the Strom a whirl. The VStrom has surprised me and will probably surprise many others, so it’s about time Suzuki woke up and offered these guys a version, made for the trail.
Thanks again for the great site and content.
Best Regards
Lawrence Brown
Cape Town
South Africa

Lawrence Brown

Reader's article

By Lawrence Brown