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Suzuki V-Strom 650XT Review: BikeWale Off-Road Day 2019

18 November 2019, 05:51 PM Vikrant Singh

Introduction

Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT [2019] Right Front Three Quarter

The Suzuki V-Strom 650XT is one of the better all-round ADVs on the market. It is comfortable enough to do long distances on. And, as we have seen through the course of our reviews, it can very well handle some of the off-roady stuff dished out to it as well. 

But, we wanted to put the motorcycle through a more serious series of off-road tests. Tests that are designed to highlight how a motorcycle behaves and feels when performing the most fundamental techniques needed when riding off the road. Welcome then, to the BikeWale Off-Road Day.

Test 1: The Walk

Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT [2019] Action

Score: 22/30

The idea here is to walk with the bike. But instead of pushing it, the rider must use the engine drive to move it. So, for the rider to be able to walk the bike through obstacles with ease, the clutch on the motorcycle should be easy to modulate. It should also be easy to find the motorcycle’s balance point. And finally, none of the bike hard parts – like say the stand or the footpegs – should foul with the rider’s boots or legs.

Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT [2019] Action
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Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT [2018-2019]

Last known Avg. Ex-showroom price

₹ 7,55,161

In case of the V-Strom, there’s no issue with the latter. The motorcycle also has something like an anti-stall feature, which keeps adjusting the idle revs to prevent the bike from stalling. And that meant, even though it was easy to find the right bite point on the clutch to match our walking speed through the slalom, we had to adjust the bite point every time the anti-stall kicked in. 

As for its weight balance, that was easy to manage. And not just at the time of starting out. But, every time we changed direction at the cone, the lean angle of the bike changed and with it the balance. But, each time, we found it easy to manage without much effort or time.

Test 2: The Braking

Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT [2019] Action

Score: 21/30

Braking on dirt is a completely different ball-game compared to doing it on a grippy tarmac. The loose surface offers no consistency, no predictability, and the stopping distances can go up alarmingly. So even though 60-0kmph might seem pedestrian off-road, it was both trying and a tad scary on loose gravel. 

Now, unlike some of the other motorcycles on the test, one cannot switch off the rear ABS on the V-Strom. And that meant for starters, the braking distance went up. In a straight patch, it wasn’t alarming. But, coming down a slippery slope or wanting to make a 180-degree direction change using the rear brake (the fastest way to make a U-Turn on dirt) would be a challenge on the Suzuki.

Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT [2019] Action

But, both the front and the rear brakes offer good feel and bite. It’s also easy to modulate the brakes. And, the ABS calibration on dirt ensures the bike holds its line under braking; there’s no front end lock to cause a tuck, and it stays upright even when it comes to a standstill. 

Test 3: The Slow Slalom

Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT [2019] Action

Score: 23/30

To slow things down and to make it adequately challenging for both, the rider and the motorcycle, the distance between the cones was kept small. In fact, it was only as much as the motorcycle’s length!

And, as was the case with ‘The Walk’, finding the balance point would be the key to run a quick and tight line through the slalom. It would also be important to be able to modulate the clutch and throttle precisely so as to avoid running wide off the cones.

Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT [2019] Action

The V-Storm did all of it and more with utmost ease. It was easy to keep its balance even at crawling speeds. There was enough steering lock to run a close line, and we never found the clutch or throttle to be snappy enough to upset the bike or our intended line.

Test 4: The Log Hop

Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT [2019] Action

Score: 21/30

There are two ways to get past an obstacle - you can be a sissy and skirt around it, or you can be brave and macho and a bit foolhardy and hop over it! We preferred the latter for our test. 

Now, on lighter dirt bikes, hopping logs doesn’t present a big challenge. You can get it wrong and still get back up and try again. But, on a 200kg-plus bulked-up machine with many things to break, including your leg, one has to be more prudent.

Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT [2019] Action

What you need then, is a bike with good front suspension travel and damping, good low-end grunt to be able to pick up the front just before hitting the log, and sound rear damping so that it doesn’t ‘kick-up’ when the rear tyre hits the log. The V-Strom has the grunt and offers good clutch control. It has a rear that’s more than up for this challenge. And the front works too, but not as well as one would like. So, even though the bike gets across the log without too much drama, we feel, over taller obstructions, it might struggle. 

Test 5: The Cornering

Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT [2019] Action

Score: 21/30

Imagine riding on an open, wide and flat trail. It has sweeping corners, ones you can see through. Wouldn’t you want to corner and slide through some of those corners? I know I would. Therefore, to test how our bunch of motorcycles cornered off-road was equally important. And it was fun!

What you need from the bike to do this is offer a good tyre grip on dirt and gravel. A front end that’s talkative and not too flip-floppy. And good mid-range grunt and precise throttle response to power out of corners; and possibly get a drift in there as well.

Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT [2019] Action

The V-Strom feels a little front-heavy, to begin with. So, tipping it into a corner on gravel didn’t feel very intuitive. But, once we had it leaned over, the mid-range poke and the throttle response made it fun and fast at corner exits. You can turn off the traction control completely too, which then allows you to hold your drive through a corner without the power cutting out. It also makes it easy to slide the bike!

Conclusion

Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT [2019] Left Side View

Overall Score: 108/150

Final Ranking: 4/6

Two in the team rated all the bikes present on all tests. The combined overall score for the V-Storm was 108 points. Which, as it turns out, is in the top four. It scored well for its balance through the Slow Slalom, and its stability and drive in the Cornering test.

Gallery

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