Is the Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT the Goldilocks of sport adventure tourers? You know, not too cold and not too hot, but just right on value, features, performance, handling, and comfort.
It’s been around since 2002 as the DL1000 and now the proven and bulletproof engine has been upgraded to Euro 5 spec with fly-by-wire throttle, more power, and more techno.
While the engine is the same size, they now call it a 1050 and it comes standard in Glass Sparkle Black for $17,990 ride away.
The wire-wheeled flagship 1050 XT (Cross Touring) at $20,990 ride away in Pearl Brilliant White or Glass Blaze Orange (Aussie prices include 12-months registration) adds all the bells and techno whistles.
They include cruise, hill hold, slope and load-dependent braking, ride modes, traction control, leaning two-stage ABS and LED lighting.
The only thing missing is self-canceling indicators.
Otherwise, I reckon the flagship XT model is an ideal bike for touring our wide brown land in safety, comfort and style.
In fact, I reckon it’s the most stylish of all the sport adventure tourers, especially in the “Marlboro” colour scheme of my test bike. It looks like a handsome Dakar attacker!
The smooth ride-by-wire throttle and upgraded Bosch inertial measurement unit (IMU) on the XT allow for the host of hi-tech functions that make sport-touring safer and more effective on just about any road surface.
However, even the first level of ABS and traction control are still a little too interventionist on dirt roads. I’d prefer a bit more brake lock and wheel spin for tighter and more controlled cornering on gravel. It would be also handy to have the ability to switch off the ABS on the back only.
Otherwise, on gravel, it’s probably best to just switch off both traction and ABS.
The front brakes are very effective and responsive but probably with a little too much initial bite for gravel roads, while the rear brake has good feel and effect.
The XT’s braking system also features Hill Hold, Slope Dependent, and Load Dependent controls.
Hill hold automatically applies the rear brake when stopped on an upward slope to prevent it from rolling back; Slope Dependent control monitors the angle of the bike on a downhill slope to prevent rear wheel lift; and Load Dependent system automatically compensates for solo riding, two-up and luggage.
Other tech features include Low RPM assist which adds some revs so you don’t snuff it when taking off at the lights and the Easy Start one-button ignition/kill switch.
At the heart of the 1050XT is the creamy mid-torque feel of the 1037cc V-twin engine that now comes with three engine modes to smooth out throttle response for low-traction surfaces.
Transmission is like most Japanese gearboxes: silky smooth, faultless, and easy to find neutral.
While the drivetrain won’t set your hair on fire, acceleration is brisk and response is crisp. Goldilocks would find it just right.
So is the handling.
Factory settings closely suit my 75kg frame. I just needed to wind off a bit of rear preload with the convenient knob on the left side of the bike.
Heavier and lighter riders should be able to adjust the rear preload and fiddle with the fully adjustable 43mm KYB inverted front forks to find a setting that would even suit Goldilocks!
Its long-travel springs provide a plush and comfortable ride across the roughest country roads. Yet it still feels agile and sharp for an adventure tourer with a big 19-inch front wheel.
Suzuki’s big V-Strom feels just right for most roads, inviting you to travel far and wide and to facilitate your travels it arrives with a choice of two luggage accessories kits.
The Voyager pack features aluminium panniers and top box in powder-coated black ($3599) and anodised silver ($3699).
The Trekker Pack ($6199 in black and $6299 in silver) includes Suzuki plug-and-play heated grips, LED fog lamps, and a 4mm aluminium skid plate.
Pillions will enjoy the generous-sized seat and large hand grips.
However, some riders might find their seat too short and may even get pinched on the backside by the join with the separate pillion seat.
I found it very comfortable sitting forward on the seat which narrows as it approaches the tank.
This not only makes it ideal when standing for off-road riding, but also easier to get your feet on the ground despite the high 850mm perch. I’m just over 6’ tall and can place both feet flat on the ground with a slight knee bend.
I like the standing position, but I would roll the bars forward just a fraction and I’d prefer the big rubber-covered footpegs a little further forward. The pegs also get in the way when you stop and put your foot down.
The firm vinyl seat feels comfortable at first but it does get tiring toward the end of a long day in the saddle.
While the adjustable windscreen provides plenty of chest protection, it creates a lot of wind turbulence around your head in either the low or high position. I’d either remove it or add a deflector accessory on the top.
It’s also annoying that you have to get off the bike to adjust the screen with the handle on the front.
(A word of warning: When following a truck, the windscreen creates a bit of weave at highway speed.)
Making your touring more comfortable and convenient is the cruise control with the on/off switch next to the throttle and the setting controls on the left switchblock. You can set speeds in fourth gear and above between 50 and 160km/h.
These same controls also allow you to toggle through the reams of information and adjustment on the massive LCD screen.
While the screen is visible in all lighting conditions, some of the information in the bottom right hand corner is small and difficult to read.
Good to see the addition of a USB port to the left of the instruments, making it even more convenient for Goldilock’s next big adventure.
|Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT|
|Price:||$20,990 ride away|
|Engine||1037cc 90° V-twin, liquid-cooled, DOHC|
|Transmission||6-Speed constant mesh with back-torque-limiting clutch|
|Suspension (front)||43mm KYB inverted forks with adjustable compression, rebound and spring preload|
|Suspension (rear)||Link type, KYB shock with adjustable rebound damping and spring preload|
|Brakes (front)||Tokico radial-mount, four-piston calipers, 310mm floating discs|
|Brakes (rear)||Nissin single-piston caliper, 260mm disc with ABS|
|Warranty||2 Year Unlimited Kilometre|