With great bulk comes not so great handling. That’s the harsh truth when it comes to motorcycles. Suzuki though, with its rather large V-Strom, seems to have found a loophole: Design a bike that looks like it weighs the earth but in reality isn’t much porkier than a hefty sport bike.
The V-Strom is a really big bike. It adopts the typical beaky style that most modern adventure bikes seem to favour. Above the protruding mudguard sits a teardrop shaped headlamp that lies below a nine-way adjustable windscreen.
The fuel tank has a tapered design and Suzuki has reduced its capacity from 22 litres to 20. The result is a tank that feels natural to grip with your thighs. The tall handlebar and forward set pegs feel perfectly placed when you need to stand on the foot pegs and tear through the rough stuff. The rear end is much more subtle and utilitarian with chunky indicators, an aluminium luggage rack and a broad exhaust.
The Suzuki turns plenty of heads on the road. But it’s mainly down to how imposing and large it looks; this is not a very pretty motorcycle.
The V-Strom is almost all new for 2014. The old engine has been bored out from 996 cc to 1,037cc and the V-twin motor gets new pistons, injectors, new dual plug heads and a heavier flywheel. Peak power of 101 PS may not sound so hot but this isn’t a hyperactive sports bike.
It may sound rather cruiser-like on paper but make no mistake, this is a very fast motorcycle: 0-100 kmph should take less than four seconds and the Strom surges to 180 kmph with absolute ease. Top speed should be just over 200 kmph.
This motorcycle has great ride quality: It manoeuvres rough roads at high speeds with no stress on the rider. Even deep potholes and sharp speed breakers can be easily dealt with by standing on the foot pegs. But what happens when you come to a set of corners? While the high centre of gravity and narrow, dirt-friendly tyres may cause some apprehension, it takes just a couple of corners to realise that this is a surprisingly friendly and willing motorcycle.
At Rs 17.1 lakh (on-road Pune), the V-Strom is not cheap. In fact, a Hayabusa costs just Rs 1.1 lakh more. But there are very few motorcycles that can offer the same practical, stress-free and real-world riding performance. This is a motorcycle you can take to Ladakh without a thought.