2014 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 ABS Review – First Ride

Suzuki’s return to the big-bore adventure-touring market

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Suzuki V-Strom 1000

Editor Score: 82.5%
Engine 17.5/20
Suspension/Handling 12.5/15
Transmission/Clutch 9.5/10
Brakes 8.25/10
Instruments/Controls4.5/5
Ergonomics/Comfort 7.75/10
Appearance/Quality 8.0/10
Desirability 7.0/10
Value 7.5/10
Overall Score82.5/100

The big V-Strom returns for 2014 in a much anticipated reincarnation of its original form. Obvious outward appearances aside, the new Strom boasts increased displacement and midrange power from its redesigned V-Twin, better handling and improved stability from its new chassis, and an electronics package including non-switchable ABS and a three-position Traction Control system; TC a first for any Suzuki motorcycle.

For two days Suzuki subjected a select group of attending journalists to sample, critique and enjoy the virtues of the 2014 V-Strom 1000 ABS. Blacktop was the primary surface upon which we travelled, but a short stint atop dirtier roadways emphasized the adventurousness of the Strom as well as reminding a few of the attending journos (me included) to the precariousness of riding a 500-pound motorcycle outfitted with street tires through deep sand.

80s Suzuki DR-Z Dakar racer

Fashion inspiration comes from Suzuki’s own late-eighties Dakar entry. Note the beaked front end, a current Adventure-Touring profile associated with competing models, but this bike certainly gives Suzuki original styling cred.

Introduced in 2002 with no major improvements since, it wasn’t necessarily difficult to improve the decade’s old design. But Suzuki didn’t just throw new components at the aged model and call it done. Suzuki sent a team to interview current V-Strom owners to determine the bike’s weak points then address them accordingly. Their findings resulted in focused improvements to:

Highlighted areas represent revised engine components. Suzuki says the new, larger pistons weigh the same as previous ones. Each cylinder boasts two iridium spark plugs compared to a single conventional spark plug in the old model. The two plugs are controlled independently by their own ignition coils.

Highlighted areas represent revised engine components. Suzuki says the new, larger pistons weigh the same as previous ones. Each cylinder boasts two iridium spark plugs compared to a single conventional spark plug in the old model. The two plugs are controlled independently by their own ignition coils.

  • Low-to-mid range power/torque
  • Increased high speed stability
  • Reduced weight and bulkiness
  • Updated styling design
  • Integrated 3-piece luggage
  • Increased range of genuine accessories

Improved engine performance comes via larger displacement (996cc to 1037cc) achieved by increasing the bore from 98mm to 100mm while leaving the stroke the same at 66mm. Throttle bodies now boast 10-hole fuel injectors (replacing the four-hole injectors of the old model) improving fuel atomization.

Overall gearing is shorter due to a numerically higher primary-drive ratio, while sixth gear goes to a 1:1 ratio from the previous model’s slightly overdriven ratio. Both are designed for snappier freeway passing power without an undue increase in engine vibes.

2012 Suzuki V-Strom 650 ABS Review: First Ride – Video

An alligator count resulted in a four-second timeframe for the Strom to accelerate from 65 mph to 75 mph while in top gear. At 55 mph, though, a downshift from 6th to 5th is required to quickly dispatch slower moving traffic. Otherwise, the engine outputs enough low- and mid-range power to keep things exciting and vibrations to a minimum. Above 5,000 rpm you’ll notice some engine vibes sneaking into the bars and footpegs, but you’re never cruising at this rpm (85 mph is still below the 5k-rpm threshold) unless you’re purposefully wanting to experience the rush that comes when the tach sweeps past 6,000.

2014 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 cornering

Cornering clearance is sporty, but aggressive riders will be touching down peg feelers early. The next to go on the right side is the lower edge of the exhaust pipe.

On-road handling manners are vastly improved by virtue of a frame/subframe combo that’s 13% lighter and 33% more torsionally rigid. A fully adjustable, 43mm, inverted KYB fork and pre-load adjustable shock maintain the Strom’s 502-pound (claimed, wet) composure at speed and compliancy when circumstances are more docile.

2012 Adventure-Touring Shootout – Video

The level of flickability is what you’d expect from a tall bike (33.5-inch seat height) with a long wheelbase (61.2 inches), a 19-inch front wheel, long-travel suspension (6.3 inches front and rear), carrying its fuel load (5.3 gal.) in the traditional location – slow. The addition of nearly one inch between contact patches certainly didn’t help increase transition speed but does make for better high-speed stability. In achieving the longer wheelbase Suzuki actually shortened the distance between the front axle and swingarm pivot and lengthened the swingarm.

2014 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 off-road

Like a lot of Adventure-Touring bikes the V-Strom’s off-road worthiness depends on the abilities of its pilot. Some may scoff at the idea of anything less than asphalt beneath the street tires of the Suzuki, but the V-Strom 1000 weighs 69 pounds less than Triumph’s Explorer model.

Given the chance, however, the big Strom will make quick work of a twisty road, its tires and cornering clearance restraining it from higher levels of aggression. Lending to the 2014 V-Strom’s better handling is an overall reduction in curb weight, dropping from 520 pounds to 502 pounds full of liquids.

2014 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 exhaust tuning butterfly valve

We’re not engineers but this seems like precarious placement for the delicate ECM-controlled Suzuki Exhaust Tuning butterfly valve – especially for any daring off-road adventurers.

Helping shed weight and improve handling is the redesigned exhaust system that replaces the old dual muffler arrangement with a single muffler and relocates the exhaust can from under the seat to a lower placement on the bike’s right side. Suzuki says the new system saves 10 pounds – more than half of the entire bike’s weight reduction. Increased radiator capacity and the loss of the old model’s oil cooler accounts for another 3.3-pound reduction.

There is big news in the electronics department, courtesy of Suzuki’s first-ever motorcycle traction control system. The switchable, three-mode (1, 2, Off) system monitors front and rear wheel speed, throttle position, crank position and gear position then controls rear wheel slippage via the ignition coil and secondary throttle valve.

Suzuki deserves kudos for developing a first-time TC system that, even when in level two, does not abruptly retard power, but rather softly restricts power delivery without disrupting corner exit drive or chassis composure.

2014 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 handlebar

Traction Control levels are selectable on the fly via left handlebar switchgear that also toggles information such as the tripmeters, odometer, fuel range, etc.

Unlike its TC system, the V-Strom’s ABS is non-switchable, and while it works very well, many will prefer to disable the ABS – at least to the rear wheel such as the Enduro Pro mode with BMW’s ABS system on the R1200GS. And while not an electronic rider aid, the Strom 1000 comes equipped with Suzuki’s Clutch Assist System (SCAS). Like other slipper clutches, SCAS helps reduce reverse engine torque when snapping high-rpm downshifts and also reduces clutch pull by a claimed 13 percent.

2014 Suzuki V-Strom instrument display

The V-Strom’s instrument is legible but the one missing electronic rider aid component and corresponding readout we’d like to see added is cruise control. Note the easily accessible 12V power outlet.

Improved rider comfort comes by way of a handlebar that’s 34mm closer to the rider, and a longer seat-to-peg distance that results in an extra 15mm of legroom. The seat/tank junction has also been narrowed, and while this helps disguise the tallness of the Strom’s 33.5-inch seat height, there remains a wide feeling between your knees due to the width of the fuel tank. Seat foam is a little on the stiff side but all-day riding is manageable. Suzuki offers Low and High seat options, reducing and increasing seat height by 1.2 inches and 1.3 inches, respectively.

Passenger pegs were raised 33.1mm and moved forward 7.7mm. A nice design element is the inclusion of passenger grab handles into the rear luggage rack.

The new windscreen is three-position adjustable by simply pressing forward to change its lateral movement, while its vertical positioning requires unbolting the screen from its mount. There’s also an optional touring windscreen that’s 40mm higher and 20mm wider.

The new windscreen is three-position adjustable by simply pressing forward to change its angle, while its vertical positioning requires unbolting the screen from its mount. There’s also an optional touring windscreen that’s 40mm higher and 20mm wider.

MSRP for the 2014 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 ABS is set at $12,699. The V-Strom 1000 Adventure model includes hand guards, touring windscreen, side panniers and mounting brackets, engine guards, and bottom cowl for an additional $1,300. Both of which seem appropriately situated between Triumph’s Explorer ($15,699) and Tiger 800 ($10,999).

Once we get a V-Strom 1000 in our test fleet, we’ll be able to evaluate it against the Triumph Tigers and other comparable adventure-touring bikes to discover how its price and performance stack up. Until then, however, you, like us, will have to wait until April when both long-term press bikes and retail units become available.

2014 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 with off-road tires

On display outside the Yoshimura pit at the Anaheim II SX race was this V-Strom outfitted with Continental Twinduro tires – a necessary upgrade for any serious off-roading. Note the Yosh exhaust, pinstriped wheels, blackened rack and air scoops. The only missing component is a metal bash plate for protecting the exposed exhaust pipe and oil filter.

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  • bbtowns

    What’s up with cutting the fuel tank by 1/2 a gallon! I have to say, you aren’t going to get to the North Canol or from Dawson City to Eagle Plain on 5.3 gallons unless fuel economy has dramatically improved (I usually get 46 on my old model Strom in these stretches). Range was a huge asset on this bike, you could depend on 230 miles a tank, now I’m guessing that’s declined by at least 20 miles.

    • http://motorcycle.com/ Tom Roderick

      Suzuki claims that fuel economy has improved by 16%, which should compensate for the decreased fuel capacity and provide an equal range of travel.

      • bbtowns

        If they get that you’re right. Still I’d take the extra 36 miles and not fill the tank all the way if I wanted to lose weight. But I’m sure the decision was about aesthetics and weight, which probably pleases more riders than my solution would. 54 mpg would be a heck of an accomplishment.

        • DickRuble

          This bike needs to get on some sort of diet. 80lbs overweight.

          • sgray44444

            I agree, but ALL of the bikes in this category need to lose some weight, in my opinion. Then again, the majority will never see dirt.

          • WalterFeldman

            More people who have never ridden it talking out their arses….

          • Glenn

            Now Walter stop holding back, tell us how you really feel?
            Your probably right and lets face it this not a dual purpose bike,it’s an all roads bike,no trails but great gravel runner.

          • sgray44444

            You’re right, I haven’t ridden it. But I owned the previous gen 650 and have ridden the 1000. They’re great bikes, but for serious offroad abuse a diet could only help things. So, where exactly did you get a ride on this brand new model, Walter?

  • Craig Hoffman

    Suzuki’s big twin is a solid easy to service gem of an engine. Good to see the old girl living on. Have fond memories of my old TL1000. These latest versions should be durable and last until the end of time…

    • Infadel Macgee

      Had mine now 12 years and it’s running like a beast .

  • Chris_in_Kalifornia

    I wish they’d use that engine in a street bike retro styled like a GS1000 and short enough that us short riders could ride it. I just managed with a 2004 Vstrom by lowering links, and raising the forktubes. 28″ inseam sucks. BIGGER FUEL TANK PLEASE. Out here in So Cal and indeed most of the west, range is very important. That was one thing the 650 Vstrom got me to buy it for. I had a 90 mile each way commute and it gave me the ability to take alternate roads home without finding a place to get fuel should there be an earthquake. Yeah, the 5/14 junction was closed for quite some time a while back for that. Also closed when a fuel tanker truck crashed and burned there. Alternate routes home added a minimum of a hundred miles. I had a gold wing before that and had to fill up going and coming. Same with the burgman I tried. What a pain. I know. Not that many feel the need for that much fuel but it kept me from buying a HD XR1200.

    • Craig Hoffman

      Nice service from that 650! Suzuki builds a good twin. Pretty much mandatory to put a can on the thing. No so much for any performance increase, they just sound so nice. My TL has a Yosh full exhaust on it. Best sounding bike I ever owned. Then there is that solid power delivery. A dyno chart can’t show the character of an engine. The 90 degree twins have a nice character. The right hand is connected to the rear tire in a cool way.

      • Chris_in_Kalifornia

        I put a Staintune replacement muffler on it so I could actually hear it. Otherwise the only thing I could hear was a sound just like George Jetson’s car in the cartoon. I also changed the 15 tooth countershaft to a 17 because I spent most of my time on the freeway at 70 or so. Stalled it a couple of times at first but once I got used to it, it was great. Clutch didn’t seem to care. I did switch to pure street tires after locking the front wheel 3 times. Scary freaking moments… Idiots in cages pull over without looking. Didn’t drop it any of those times. Didn’t ever drop it except when I was rear ended at a stop sign. It fell over a couple of times in my yard from wind. If you like wind, come live in the Antelope Valley of CA.

        • stephanie croc

          this one has ABS so will not lock up. Must ask though – don’t you EXPECT to get the cars pull out occasionally? Being ready for it is good insurance for a longer life

  • Y.A.

    Pls pls pls bring back the SV1000 but give it some balls

    • Infadel Macgee

      You mean like my 97 TL1000S ?

      • Y.A.

        Yea but without the weird rotary damper. A good old telescopic shock will be fine

        • Infadel Macgee

          Rotary damper is long gone , that’s the first thing to swap out when buying a TL . Way too big of a deal made about that piece of crap. Many new bikes get their shocks replaced .

  • Fred Johnson

    I’ve owned lots of cycles. BMW’s, Hondas, Yamaha, Kawa, and Suz. One
    of my favorites is the 650 Vstrom. It was one of the least expensive
    new, yet I was very comfortable doing three 800 mile days in a row one
    year on an 8000 mile 3 week trip to Alaska and back to MN. Got stunning
    gas mileage too. The bike didn’t even give me a hiccup on that trip
    and it was already 5 years old. I can’t say enough good things about
    the Vstroms and the value they are for the money.