Suzuki fails to impress with its new 2012 V-Strom

The Suzuki V-Strom 650 is the "poor" mans adventure bike. Much in the same way a Cessna is a "poor" mans personal aircraft. The little V-Strom does have some glaring strengths and no weaknesses, save one: It's boring. When Suzuki announced that a new one was going to be shown off, everyone got excited. All they had to do was fix the boring aspect of the bike, that's it! So did Suzuki fix it? Nope!

The problem is that BMW came out with an 800cc version of their awesome 1200GS adventure bike. Then Triumph came out with direct competitor to the BMW, with an 800cc adventure bike of their own. These two bikes are ugly, tough, well built, comfortable and will take you across any remote and inhospitable country you could ever want. When Suzuki announced that they were updating the V-Strom, we all thought that they would toughen it up, and make it a bit more dirt oriented like the BMW and Triumph.

It turns out that it looks, to the untrained eye, exactly the same as the old model. It really is like trying to tell two identical twins apart. One has slightly more arched eyebrows, but other than that you can't tell the difference. What I can't fathom is why did Suzuki even bother? Additionally I can't understand why the Japanese refuse to build an adventure bike to compete with the Europeans who are far in the lead in this category. It's not like it's a niche product, BMW sells tens of thousands of adventure bikes.

The V-Strom, until the BMW 800gs and the Triumph 800xc, sort of had a little niche all to itself. It wasn't big, powerful and intimidating like the BMW 1200GS or KTM 990 Adventure. It was smaller, lighter and modest. It performed it's role well (long distance pavement touring, with the occasional dirt road.)

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The best and toughest adventure riders out there who know how to use the internet, go to ADVRider.com. Looking at the discussion currently ongoing about the release, those guys aren't impressed. When your core audience and buyers aren't impressed, you've done something wrong. In Suzuki's case, they didn't do anything wrong, they simply didn't do anything. The whole thing is confusing for everyone.

There's nothing wrong with the new V-Strom. I'm sure it will be just as good as the old model. But that's the problem, just as good doesn't cut it. It needs to be better, it needs to be miles and above better to pull sales from the other adventure bikes, and it just won't. It will sell as it normally has. More of the same, is that what you really want Suzuki?

Comments

"The little V-Strom does have some glaring strengths and no weaknesses" -- It's tricky to update something which has been a sales success for many years. The only consistent problems have been the odd styling, which looks to have been adequately cleaned up, and the buffeting windshield, which has hopefully been remedied. It does everything well for a bargain price - much lower than it's Triumph and BMW competition. I'd say Suzuki did what they needed to do: This is not a maximum horsepower/"excitement" kind of bike-category.
That's true. it's hard to make better something, what is good enough. If I have to chose, I'll chose V-Strom DL650, the handling in the terrain is easy and funny, like with a mountain-bike. And power? Still surprisingly strong and is just 650. It's proven in Alps, Iranian desert, and those guys will never reach for DL-1000 or above mentioned 800's. DL650 is proven by dirt. BMW is still about showing at the public.....not eating a dirt ;)
I totally agree! Why make the bike more off-road oriented while over 95% of V-strom produced never left paved roads. I think Suzuki is doing great in this segment of adventure touring. They made an entry level adventure bike that appeals to new riders, or experienced riders who are new to adventure riding. It actually doesn't make sense to directly compete with what BMW and Triumph already good at making. The super tenere is a great example! Why buy a $14,000 Yamaha when you can buy a market-proven BMW R1200GS for about $2000 more?!
I don't understand your negative comments. First of all not everyone thinks it's a failure me included. Adventure touring bikes are by nature ugly and I think the new Strom looks not bad at all. I don't think any of them are what most people would call lovely to look at but the people who buy them don't care. You're attacking the bike because it doesn't excite you like more expensive bikes that in your opinion are much better. So if Suzuki made the bike you think they should have it would cost as much as the Beemres, KTM's, Ducati's etc. and what would the rest of us purchase? Not everyone can afford Euro bikes that cost thousands more to purchase and hundreds more to insure. Ever taken a GS in for routine service? VStroms are as reliable as any adventure bike out there and will take you any place those other bikes will. I know of a rider who lives in my area that rides an early model DL1000 and has 300,000 kms on it and has never had to do a major service. Just scheduled maintenance. What more do you want? People who want every bike to have every last feature on them and weigh less than the previous model should think twice. If that were to happen I can guarantee that there would be a lot fewer bikes on the road and more than half of the bike dealerships in NA would be out of business. We're in a global recession people and bikes are toys nothing more. They're the first thing to go when money gets tight especially if they all cost as much as a Ducati or Beemer.
Did you even read the article?
We all read it. What failed to impress you? Moving the oil cooler from behind the exhaust header up into the Radiator space? That smart move impressed me, it was the first thing I noticed. Guess that and the re-tuned engine got by you. Did you really ride one for this review, really?
Agree with Mike here. Moving the oil-cooler from it's exposed position is a brilliant move! Furthermore the new instruments seem to have gear indicator - also a welcome change. As for boring - this bike is anything but boring on good gravel roads. To be sure it is not a dirt- or off-road bike, but it's capability to handle bad, patchy, bumpy asphalt roads and good gravel roads is simply outstanding - and immensely fun! Driving it on a straight highway gets quite boring - but so does just about any bike when driving at street legal speeds. This bike is only as boring as the road you choose to drive it ! Pricewise it is also one of the bikes out there that offers the most bang for the buck - and that can't be bad :) Cheers, Rune
The military uses the term 'life cycle costs', referring to the total cost of running a machine. Purchase, fuel, insurance, tires, repairs, maintenance, residual value. This is where Japanese bikes (and cars) shine. Compare the life cycle costs of the Vstrom with the F800, over 10 years and 100,000 miles and see who comes out ahead. Riding experience is subjective, more often than not its about you and where you are in life.
Yes, we read the article. And we think you're going overboard. The DL650 is an excellent bike and I love mine to death.
Did you even ride the bike?
I think Suzuki missed the boat on the Wee. I like the updated look, the new dash but for the bike to compete with the other mid size adventure touring bikes it should be at least have 800cc. Everyone who has had a Wee or even a Vee I doubt they will go out and buy the new version for just cosmetic updates.
I purchased a 2012 DL650 around October, My budget could never justify the price tag of the BM or other variants. I have to take into account the simple facts. Reliability, Running costs, Serviceability and cost of service, THINGS that WILL GO WRONG while you are in the middle of no where and cause you to end up being stuck I design product for a living and am extremely aware that most riding done in hostile environments is potential for failure. Will this product stop in a hostile environment compared with a feature packed design? The likelihood with every added feature is yes. The more bells and whistles the more likely it will break. Coming from a Bussa to a 650 even the power by comparison isn't that bad. Bang for buck I think I am in front. We will see after I have put my first 100,000 K on it how it compares to my friends Beamer. I am already in front after his and my first service with similar K's. Mine didn't need anything "fixed"
Don't get me wrong guys. The V-Strom is actually a fantastic bike. It really is. The problem is that Suzuki got us all horned up about something new, but it's the exact same bike, even visually it hasn't changed at all. I was really expecting a 650 version of the 800xc or the 800gs. How cool would that have been? The 650 engine is so sweet and powerful for its size, it could have taken the lightweight adventure bike to another level. From a business perspective, what current V-Strom owners would trade in their old models for the new ones? Nobody really, since they are the same bike. For it to have been a true success, Suzuki needed to create a bike that would get NEW riders who wouldnt normally have considered a V-Strom and ALL the old riders who would have been falling over themselves to update their bike for the newest and coolest.
I think the point you make re: existing v-strom owners not wanting to swap old for new is valid. I have a DL1000 and love it but after 3 years, i am beginning to look for something different. I think that the GS1200 just too expensive, the Triumph 800 Tiger is a little too small and so I was hoping that the new V-strom would offer something exciting. Having seen the photos, i am instantly dissappointed. There is no chance that i would consider a swap for something that is basically the same but with a bit of superficial restyling. Why bother? I am now hoping that Triumph will bring a new restyled Tiger 1050 out...now thats a mouthwatering prospect - Matt, New Zealand
Couldn't have said better myself ! This bike in my opinion is a big yawn/ugh re-design disappointment...
Well I love the old wee but cant wait to see the new one in the skin, but I don`t now about the all new motor and gear ratio if the price is not to high. i will be on it if it looks as good as the photos
I'm not sure ADV Rider represents the Strom's "core audience and buyers". A total SWAG, but I bet (globally, at least) that more Stroms are commuting, 100% on-road touring, etc. than are being beaten down some gnarly single track thru the woods. It's an "off-pavement", not "off-road"-bike and Suzuki would be fools to make the re-design MORE dirt-oriented. That's what the DR is for. I also bet the VAST majority of ADVRiders (this one included) spend the VAST majority of their riding on maintained roads; and the VAST majority of Strom riders aren't hanging out on the ADV forum, they're either incognito or on VSRI and Stromtroopers. Compare with: - the Jeep folk who want a rough, ready, go-anywhere Wrangler - which they drive exclusively to the office and the grocery store. - the guy who pays extra for the long-bed pickup so he can haul stuff - but won't because he doesn't want to scratch the bed. - the guy who has a R1200GSA fully fitted because he routinely drives on a few miles of well-mainted gravel/dirt roads, while guys are passing him on Harleys and sport bikes.
I have a real Stromtroppers... 2003 DL-1000 Still mostly mint shape, with LOTS's of love given to by tree branches, bushes, cactus, and gravel pecks. What I WAS hoping for was a new 1000cc that would have a much more comfortable seat (OMG... ERRRR!!!!) better geometry, and fix the fricken buffeting windshield and fuel-surge fix. I have aftermarket fairings to fix the buffeting, however they also suck... it's just a bad distance from the rider and and poor angle. I don't ride with my chest on the gas tank all day long and anything else it's a fricken nightmare to sit upright and go faster that 40 MPH !!! I fully agree with you, What we got was a normal Wee-Strom with a mean-looking fairing and nothing else. So, I'll go sit in my corner again for another year and wait it out. Jojo
I could not agree more with you bro, apparently old Roman Boy thinks that the only real riding is found off road. Let me clue you in Rommy (and yes, I did read that thing you call a review). I have a Wee k7 that I ride on the street. Pavement, you do know what that is right, that black stuff most people ride on. I NEVER intended to ride it off road, it is my commuter ride and it KICKS ASS AND GETS 55 MPG. I tried riding it in the desert but the forks are just too wimpy and it was a bad experience. I went through the "crotch rocket" phase in my life and I'm very happy with my Wee thank you very much. Roman, if you think the Beemer or the Triumph are so great you should buy both. You stay in your dirt world and I'll stay in mine, I don't think you could handle the streets anyway and it would be safer for you there. STROMS RULE!
You might think it's a boring bike, but I think it's a lot of bike for the money. My 2008 has done everything I've asked it to do, and it will do anything a BMW GS will do (except maybe inflate one's ego). To me this bike is a great commuter and light tourer. Very solid, do most-anything machine. If I want to have fun on the twisties I'll ride my Ducati Supersport, and if I want to have fun in the dirt I'll ride my dual sport, but the little Strom will also do those things (to a lesser degree).
Suzuki stop the TEASE BS, and bring the GSR 750 and it will be selling like SV 650.
Thing is it's here - in Oz - and it's not .... unlike the new strom which is.
The new V-Strom looks great, as it has a few visual bumps ironed out - but for all that It’s the same great bike as the original 2004 version - but with better fuel management and grunt. I'm sure it will have the same appeal as the 2009 V-Strom I ride. Features that appeal: - It does 4.75km/100L no matter how you ride it, it will out-drag any car to the legal speed limit, the ABS will stop you in a hurry no matter how much oil is on the road, the lights are better than most cars, The tyres will last 12000 - 18000km - The tank will last to 440km - and still do another 20km The list of robust unburstable workhorse features is endless, that why it aint changed much as its already bloody good!
sorry typo - thats: It does 4.75L/100km no matter how you ride it. - other good features - Quick hand adjustment for rear shocks, Reliability - My V-strom has dome 38.000km in 2 years the only thing that went wrong was the rectifier which was fixed under warrenty. Unlike my older Hysong GT-650s - which cost me over $5000 in repairs.
while agreeing with everything you write I guess many of us would like to see a more offroad version. A bit more suspension travel, spoke wheels and, above all, protection for its vital organs. Australia, like the States has a huge network of unsealed roads that are so rewarding and takes us places otherwise unseen. I'd love an XC (as in Triumph 800) modded V-Strom to go with my DR650. Mr Suzuki, are you hearing me?
Roman, you condescendingly replied to a reader "Did you even read the article?" Yet In your "article" (more like a noob post on ADVRider) you made the following comment: "It turns out that it looks, to the untrained eye, exactly the same as the old model. It really is like trying to tell two identical twins apart. One has slightly more arched eyebrows, but other than that you can't tell the difference" You also said "...it's the exact same bike, even visually it hasn't changed at all." To which I have to ask: Did you even SEE the motorcycle? The EXACT SAME BIKE? Seriously? The use of such ridiculous hyperbole really weakens your credibility and exposes your biases. Not every update to a vehicle needs to be a radical re-design to be an improvement. Take the typical Ford or Chevy pickup truck. Generally the new model has the same engine and transmission with slight differences in body style and features. The new V-Strom definitely looks different (even to the untrained eye) and it appears to have a handful of improvements over the previous model. You're slamming Suzuki for apparently making a better product just because it's not the product you wanted them to make! It may not be a model that riders trade up for in huge numbers, but the new buyers will appreciate that it's a better bike than the previous model. The question I ask myself is: "Would I rather have the new model or my '07 with 23,000 miles on it? I'll be talking to my local dealer this week to put down a deposit on a 2012! I just hope he doesn't try to deliver an old one to me....'cause they're "the exact same bike" ya know! You can bet I'll be double checking the manufacture date just to make sure.
Looking at the comments - again here are more Comphensive features of the new 650 V-strom. The Engine Control Unit (ECU), which is powered by a high-performance 32-bit CPU, calculates the basic fuel injection amount based on information such as engine rpm, intake pressure and throttle position. It then makes corrections using data from the feedback sensor mounted on the muffler to determine the final injection volume that best matches the engine conditions and running conditions. Fuel injection and ignition maps are provided for each cylinder, coolant temperature and gear position to ensure accurate combustion control. As compared with the current V-Strom 650/A, the new engine offers 10% better fuel consumption (WMTC mode, Suzuki in-house research). The seat covering features a leather touch finish with a "V-Strom" emboss logo and red stitching, combined with a suede-touch finish that prevents slipping, thus delivering a higher sense of ownership and greater functionality.In addition, a low seat (20 mm lower than the standard seat) and a high seat (20 mm higher than the standard seat) with the same finish as the standard seat are available as options to accommodate a wide range of user preferences and body sizes.As a result of a change in the rider's saddle height and suspension settings, the seat height is 15 mm higher than the current model. This provides the rider with a more natural positional relationship with the handlebars. Thus, the seat, handlebars and footrests are optimally configured to ensure a comfortable riding position that reduces rider fatigue during long-distance touring. The upright position offers a greater freedom of riding which, together with the lightweight and slim body, creates a stronger feeling of unity between rider and machine. The newly developed engine delivers a higher torque in the low-to-mid rpm range thanks to the modified cam profile. While offering the distinctive beat feel of the V-Twin engine and ample torque for easy handling in the low-to-mid rpm range, the engine also exhibits powerful performance in the high rpm range.The new engine runs smoothly up to high rpm and features powerful engine characteristics (i.e. a wide power band), ensuring easy handling in a wide range of riding scenes from climbing a steep mountain pass to highway cruising and riding along a congested street. In addition to the improved clutch, shifting operation feel and reduced mechanical noise, the engine sound at idle has been refined to convey a higher sense of quality. Improvements in environmental performance and fuel economy have also been taken into consideration. Thanks to the increased fuel economy while keeping the advantage of the class-leading, long cruising distance, it was possible to reduce the tank capacity, allowing the fuel tank to be redesigned (lighter and more compact). This has resulted in the slim and sporty body design, contributing to ease of handling. The new engine not only offers versatility to the rider, but delivers thrilling satisfaction as well as a sense of quality. Although the bore x stroke (81.0 mm x 62.6 mm) is the same as the current V-Strom 650's, the new engine comes with new types of pistons, piston rings and cylinders. The new engine features a compact combustion chamber with large-diameter valves (31.0 mm for the intake and 25.5 mm for the exhaust) set at a narrow angle (14° for the intake and 16° for the exhaust) and shot-peened conrods. The cam profiles and crankshaft were also reviewed. While using the Suzuki Dual Throttle Valve (SDTV) fuel injection system and twin plugs of the current model, Suzuki Composite Electrochemical Material (SCEM)-plated cylinders and iridium plugs are newly employed, resulting in output characteristics with large torque in the low range, smooth revving up to the mid range, and leading to powerful output in the high range. The clutch release mechanism is changed to a cam type to improve the operating feel of the clutch lever. The operating feel of the gearshift pedal is also improved. The shape of the front fender is redesigned to allow smooth airflow to the radiator. The front forks are equipped with a 5-way spring preload adjuster, allowing the spring tension to be adjusted to suit the rider's preferences. The stroke is 150 mm, the same as the current model.In addition, the fork upper bracket has a new design that, combined with the silver metallic handlebars, produces a greater feel of quality. Wind-directing plates for the radiator are added for improved cooling performance and riding comfort. The oil cooler is changed from the air-cooling to liquid-cooling type. Cooling efficiency is increased by the addition of wind-directing plates. In addition, the holes in the wind-directing plates let the heat at the rider's feet escape (Patent application under process) The redesigned crankshaft enhances the beat feel of the V-Twin engine featuring unequal-interval firing, while delivering power output characteristics such as abundant torque and easier handling. It also raises the high-quality operating feel of the engine. The scissors-type primary gear reduces mechanical noise generated due to variations in engine rpm inherent to the V-Twin engine, resulting in a high-quality, sophisticated idling feel. The new V-Strom 650 ABS is equipped with an electrically controlled Antilock Brake System (ABS) that produces stable braking force under various road surface conditions. A lightweight and compact ABS unit specially designed for motorcycles is adopted. Current V-strom 650/A ABS Weight 1.5kg New 650 Vstrom ABS Weight 0.7kg As compared with the current model, a more convenient, compact and multi-function instrument cluster is adopted. An analog tachometer is provided on the left side and a large-size LCD display with brightness adjustment on the right side. The gear position indicator allows the rider to see the current gear position at a glance. The road freeze warning indicator and ambient temperature indicator alert the rider to the road conditions and clothing required. The road freeze warning indicator lights below 3°C and goes out above 5°C. The fuel consumption meter helps the rider to plan refueling when traveling in areas where gas stations are scarce. The meter select switch is located on the left switch box to allow operation without releasing the handlebar. A transponder type immobilizer system (SAIS) is newly equipped. The IC chip embedded in the key owned by the user allows the ID code to be checked instantly. Fuel injection and ignition are disabled in the event of tampering such as breaking the key cylinder or unauthorized operation using a duplicated key. By making it impossible to start the engine, this feature helps prevent theft.(This feature is not provided on models for North America.) More than just a facelift! - I'd like to take it for a test ride when it arrives in Australia.
Allan, Thanks for the very in-depth decription of the updates on the 2012 V-Strom. I do have a couple of question and maybe you would know the answers; ==>The redesigned crankshaft enhances the beat feel of the V-Twin engine featuring unequal-interval firing<== How does this compare with prior model years, were they equal-interval firing?? ==>Suzuki Composite Electrochemical Material (SCEM)-plated cylinders<== What was used in the past?? Thanks in advance for the help, Ron G
Thanks for the comprehensive read. All sounds good to me and I will have no qualms about moving to this new version once circumstances dictate that my 07 has outlived it's usefulness. The DL650 is more than fine by me. I have owned and ridden 1000/1100/1200 and 800 adv style touring bikes and the DL gives up very little overall. My DL650 shared space with 3 of these bikes, I still have it, the cachet bikes are history. The fact that the cost of purchasing and maintaining a DL650 is a fraction of the more prestigious "Cachet" bikes is merely icing on the cake. For less than the price of a farkled 1200 I can own fully kitted DL and DR 650's that provide tremendous versatility and reliabilty. Imagine, the Suzuki owner's manuals actually instruct as to how to change one's engine oil and filter etc. You even get a few tools that allow you to perform routine maintenence? Is the DL650 the Corrolla of the M/C world? Can't answer that one but If the general consesus is that this is so, I can more than live with that. Cheers...SteverinoB
experience has shown me the vast majority of riders with "adventure" bikes rarely ride off the pavement. it's all show. i rode a 650 v-strom from san diego to portland maine, about 4200 miles. very little interstate mileage and a few hundred miles on gravel and dirt in utah and kansas. the strom performed flawlessly and got exceptional gas mileage. get the new one or get an old one. they're terrific motorcycles. by the way, i left my gs 1150 in the garage when i did my coast to coast

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