Suzuki’s V-Strom SX is one for the road

Suzuki’s V-Strom SX is one for the road

A good road-biased machine, the V-Strom is a nice tarmac touring bike with all the quality and reliability associated with a Japanese motorcycle

A good road-biased machine, the V-Strom is a nice tarmac touring bike with all the quality and reliability associated with a Japanese motorcycle

Suzuki has finally taken its first step in the quarter-litre adventure touring segment by launching the V-Strom SX. The company refers to it as a ‘sport adventure tourer’ which is interesting as it is based on the exciting and proven Gixxer 250 platform. It is same as the Gixxer 250, yet different. So, what is similar and what is different between the two?

First, what Suzuki has done is taken the Gixxer 250’s main frame and made a few modifications to the mounting points to accommodate the new bodywork. The subframe, however, is all-new. The chassis is unchanged and so is the fuel tank capacity, which at 12 litres is small for an adventure touring motorcycle. The headlight and indicators are identical to the Gixxer 250’s, while the tail light seems to be taken off the previous 155cc Gixxer.

Both the fork and the preload adjustable monoshock, are the same as the Gixxer, down to the amount of travel. The swingarm, however, is new and longer. Also, the point where the front axle attaches to the bottom of the fork is off-set to make it easier to accommodate the 19-inch front wheel. These tweaks have added 100mm to the wheelbase, taking it up to 1,440mm.

Like the chassis, the 249cc, oil-cooled engine, too, remains unchanged and it is in the same state of tune as the Gixxer 250. The internal gearing and final drive sprocket sizes are the same too.

A big change is seen in the ergonomics; the seat height has gone up by 35mm, to 835mm —  tall, but still not as tall as the KTM 250 Adventure’s 855mm. The handlebar is all new and the footpegs have been moved slightly forward. 

It gets a decently sized aluminium top box rack as well as bungee hooks on the pillion footrest hangers.

To summarise, the V-Strom is a product of cost-conscious platform sharing, and its transformation from a street naked bike into an adventure motorcycle is commendable — visually, for sure. 

V-Strom SX style: fresh look, feature packed

The V-Strom SX’s styling takes clear inspiration from the V-Strom 1050. The shape of the bodywork is mainly flat surfaces with a few creases, be it the beak under the headlight, the fuel tank or the plastic extensions attached below it. It is a similar story with the shape of the tail panels. 

There is a non-adjustable windscreen, too, and it does a decent job of deflecting head-on wind up to the chest area. 

The layout and positioning of the LCD display makes it easy to read even when the sun is overhead. The unit features Bluetooth connectivity facilities such as call and message alerts or turn-by-turn navigation. Another nifty feature is the USB charger that is available as standard, but the current port cover is a little flimsy to use.

V-Strom SX engine: smooth and sublime

The Gixxer 250’s engine is undoubtedly one of its strongest attributes and it is the same in the case of the V-Strom SX. What is impressive is its excellent refinement and tractability that allows you to ride the bike lazily in the city, without the need to change gears too often. However, given the engine’s unchanged state of tune (from the Gixxer), you have to really rev it to access all of its performance on the highways. The good news is, you will never tire of doing so because of how smooth the engine feels at high speeds. This should appeal to people who are looking for a sporty streak in their quarter-litre adventure touring motorcycle.

Crucially, in sixth gear at 80kph, the engine feels calm. There are next to no vibrations at those speeds and even a steady 100-120kph does not seem to cause too much strain on the engine. Beyond that, the performance begins to taper off.

V-Strom SX rideability: comfort class

Suzuki has managed to nail the rider’s triangle on this motorcycle, in keeping with the commuting and touring application. The seat is flat, wide and quite spacious, even for a 6-feet tall rider. The new handlebar is positioned at a comfortable reach from the seat and even the footpegs are not too rearset. The riding position is so relaxed that even after spending close to a day in the saddle, you are unlikely to feel fatigue or a backache.  

As for the ergonomics, when you are standing on the pegs and riding offroad, you will notice that the handlebar is placed a little lower than ideal, especially for taller riders. That forces you to bend further than what is comfortable to reach the handlebar.

That said, the 19-inch front wheel and MRF Mogrip Meteor tyres, give this bike the required ability and grip to ride across a light mud trail. In fact, with 205mm of ground clearance the V-Strom SX should be able to tackle more of the rough stuff. However, the limiting factor is the suspension. It is set up for road use and with only 120mm of travel at the front, you would do well to keep off mounds or climbing over rocks. Over mild off-road trails, you will still have a decent time.

The bottomline is that the V-Strom is a good road-biased machine and the way it rides and handles is proof of that.

V-Strom SX chassis: stable and predictable

Suzuki usually gets the chassis set-up right on its motorcycles and it has, on the V-Strom SX as well. The bike feels reassuringly planted on straights at high speeds as well as when it is leaned into a corner. The best part is that the feel from the front end is not as numb as expected of a bike running a 19-inch front wheel. Also, while there is ample amount of grip from the tyres, the increased road noise caused by the tyre pattern is what you will have to put up with.

The ride quality, though, feels stiff at low speeds but thankfully improves as you carry more pace over bumpy roads. The brakes, again, being taken off the Gixxer 250, leave almost nothing to complain about as bite and feedback is available in generous amounts. 

V-Strom SX verdict: eye of the Strom

The V-Strom SX carries all the strong virtues of the Gixxer 250 and bundles them with a more spacious, upright and comfortable riding position. As a road tourer, the V-Strom SX is, perhaps, one of the most accomplished options that you will find at this price point. As far as off-road ADV capability goes, however, the 19-inch front wheel and 205mm ground clearance is about all it gets. This is not an off-road ready motorcycle and it is essentially a Gixxer 250 on stilts. That makes for a good commute as well as highway machine, albeit at a ₹ 30,000 premium over the street naked machine.

In fact, at ₹ 2.11 lakh, it undercuts the KTM 250 Adventure, its primary rival, by ₹ 25,000, even though it definitely is not as capable off-road as the Austrian bike. V-Strom badge-worthy, then? Well, not really. What it is, is a nice tarmac-touring bike with all the quality and reliability that you would associate with a Japanese motorcycle. 

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