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Suzuki V-strom DL650 review

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  • Suzuki V-strom DL650 review

    Plenty of great info around about this bike, but figured a summary might handy for anyone thinking of buying a V-strom 650. My brother was selling his so figured I better do a review before it was too late. I read a pile of stuff but always keen to add to this if you have further tips and comments...

    Suzuki's SV650 road bike was introduced back in 1999. This bulletproof sporty V-twin had great handling was a favourite with everyday road racers and helped establish the every popular lightweight twins race class. In 2004 it morphed into the V-strom 650: slightly detuned, a 19 inch front wheel, it immediately became a favourite with adventure riders. It also became known as the Wee-strom as it was smaller than its big brother, the V-strom 1000. The 650 is definitely a favorite, and apparently outsells the 1000 model by two to one. There were constant tweaks to the design, but generally there were three broad groups.

    Generation 1 ran from 2004 to 2011.
    Generation 2 2012 - 2016: got a higher seat, quieter gearbox, more power, more rear suspension, and was lighter.
    Generation 3 2017 to current: gained a luggage rack, adjustable traction control, and throttle assist to reduce the chances of stalling.

    Plenty it seems. After lots of discussion, and reading dozens of reviews, it can be summarized as the bulletproof budget priced all rounder. Some minor problems were fixed in the early years and the reliability of the twin engine is famous. Along with its competitor the Kawasaki Versys it's the cheapest mid-sized twin cylinder adventure bike available that's also comfortable for riding two up. And the handing characteristics make it equally at home for commuting, carving through the twisties, or roaming easy dirt roads. And unlike many Japanese bikes, nowadays, it's still actually made in Japan.

    I want to focus more on the known issues and problems, something most reviews don't cover. The only problem was there almost aren't any. And it took heaps of digging to find them.

    On very early models, failing stators were an occasional issue. Eventually Suzuki issued a recall and it was resolved a long time ago. Another problem on early models, on high beam the two lights used too much power through the switchblock and could fry the wires. I suspect all old models would have been fixed with a replay.

    There's a high pressure fuel screen actually built into the fuel pump that can eventually become clogged. Apparently it's not serviceable. A popular mod is to bypass it and install an aftermarket fuel filter in the fuel line between the tank and the injectors. It doesn't seem to happen often but might be worth looking into if you do long rides in remote areas. Usual warning signs are loss of power at high revs, so it sounds as though normally you'll be able to ride home still.

    So what about the modern versions? The front forks use the old rod style set up. While most owners find these acceptable, more spirited riders will find their limit quickly and may want to fit Plex valves, intiminators or emulators to mimick a cartridge fork.

    The V-strom is on the heavy side. It's 10kg heavier than its closest competitor, the Kawasaki Versys 650. And comparable to the weight of most adventure bikes around the 800cc mark.

    I can't find any cases of anyone actually damaging their oil filter but it does look quite exposed. As does the exhaust pipe. Many fit a skidplate or pan plate if riding a lot of rocky roads.

    After that problems become very subjective. Average sized riders usually love the sitting position. I'm very tall and found my legs felt a bit cramped, I would want to lower the pegs or raise the seat a bit. Conversely, very short riders can have trouble reaching the ground and may want to cut the seat down.

    Most riders find the seat very comfortable. But some say they feel themselves sliding forward toward the tank too much. At six foot four tall I felt this, my brother at six feet high didn't. So it's probably height related. The windscreen falls into a similar category. Most love it, some hate it. I think it just depends on how freakishly tall you are.

    I was really scraping the barrel to find negative comments. Some riders feel the ignition key is too big. But oddly enough others like the size as its easy to find. Go figure.

    If you are chasing a cheap rock solid twin cylinder mid sized adventure bike for highways and easy dirt roads, it's hard to go past the V-strom 650 (also check out the Kawasaki Versys 650).

    If you are looking for power, look at its big brother the 1000.

    If you don't need to double someone but still chasing a cheap ultra reliable twin, then the Honda CB500X could be worth a look.

    And of course if you want to spend more money, the choices really start to open up.

  • #2
    DL650s have always been popular with the mechanics in the bikeshops I've worked in. The motor is as reliable as a hammer, everything else is good enough.

    The CB is a different animal altogether. I've owned one, and whilst it was fun, it was NOT a good bike at speed - buzzy and cramped. The DL is a much better travelling option.

    Sent from my SM-G975F using Tapatalk

    Too old to die young.
    '18 EC300 SixDays
    '13 EC300R
    '05 EC300
    'Oh God knows EC250
    And about a hundred road bikes, mostly Yamahas for some reason.


    • #3
      when we do ADV rides which are mixed with dirt bikes the Vstrom boys are always the slowest and fall off the most, and most of the time its low speeds because of the weight and they just can not do half the speed a dirt can over uneven ground, Vstrom are not dirt bikes. They are good at going down dirt roads that cars have no issues with, if you find a little mud the front wheels lock up because of the low guard, so many so called ADV bikes have this BS front guard design that's all looks and no form for real riding

      Vstrom is a good cheap bike for dirt metro ADV rides, out bush i would not be taking a Vstrom ,a dr 650 while not as comfortable can handle a much greater range of conditions

      Total Entertainment 14 250, STIC powered, KYB suspended.
      Huskly lovin bike whore


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