I try to avoid talking about this too much on TMO but you may know that over the past year I’ve suffered from increasingly severe depression. When you’re at the stage that I am, the thing mental health professionals are most concerned about is self harm. So far I’ve had minimal desire to chuck myself off a bridge (the River Severn is so cold this time of year) but clearly there is something deeply wrong and self-hating going on because I find myself really intrigued by the “new” V-Strom 1050 that Suzuki revealed at EICMA this week.
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Am I really such a fool that I can be charmed by the simple addition of cruise control? Maybe. Or maybe I feel flattered that the Japanese company clearly pays attention to The Motorcycle Obsession; the new bike’s dashboard accessory bar is a blatant copy of the jerryrigged accessory bar I had put on my 2015 V-Strom 1000. Whatever it is, I can genuinely see myself considering this bike in about two years… when its initial pricing has been reduced and Suzuki is desperately trying to get models out of dealers’ doors by offering accessories and low-rate financing.
The bike I’ll be looking at then will effectively be the same one I bought in 2015 and sold in 2017, powered by effectively the same 1037cc liquid-cooled 90-degree V-twin engine that itself is effectively a watered-down version of the powerplant that drove the TL1000 some 22 years ago. But in this upgraded Euro 5-compliant guise the engine now produces a claimed 106 horsepower (as opposed to 100 hp). And some moderate technowhizzbangery means you should be able to tweak the character of the engine somewhat.
There are three levels of traction control, three available riding modes, and apparently Suzuki has (finally) sorted out the snatchy throttle issue that’s been a complaint for many V-Strom 1000 owners since its major overhaul in 2015. In fairness, although I did notice the issue it never really bothered me.
“A new ride-by-wire throttle delivers a natural and linear feeling, while slow speed riding is aided with a more stable idle,” it states.
I have long felt that Suzuki has a habit of delivering bikes that would have been really impressive had they been presented five to 10 years beforehand. And once again such is the case here; this bike would have had us wetting ourselves in 2014. An internal measurement unit means the aforementioned traction control is lean sensitive, as is the antilock braking system. Speaking of which, riders can select two different levels of intensity for the ABS – a feature aimed at those who want to take their bikes off road – though the media release isn’t clear as to whether it can be turned off completely.
The bike’s new screen has 11 different settings, according to Suzuki, but will probably still need to be replaced by an aftermarket item. Here’s hoping a Givi AirFlow for this bike gets produced soon. Meanwhile, you now get a USB outlet in addition to a 12V outlet, the latter located beneath the passenger seat. Lights are LED, of course. There is also an attractive “full LCD screen” about which Suzuki says very little save the fact it exists. But, as I say, the thing that really charms me is the thought of cruise control.
Hindsight being what it is (nigh three years have gone by since we parted ways), I think that, if I am honest with myself, my soggy and miserable Iron Butt experience lay at the heart of the animosity I developed for the V-Strom 1000. I suspect that spending 21 hours riding in the rain will sour you on just about any bike, but especially so if said bike lacks cruise control. I also now have the benefit of having spent a number of years with a bike that was ostensibly sooooo much better, but actually wasn’t. Not when it came to core experience, at least.
In terms of getting from A to B in relative comfort, I’m willing to bet the new V-Strom 1050 is on par with or even superior to the Triumph Tiger 1200. It’s definitely less top heavy (handling noticeably better than even the Tiger 800), as well as being less heavy in general. It’s more fuel-efficient and, although pricing has yet to be announced, a hell of a lot cheaper – both in upfront costs and maintenance. With the addition of cruise control, the V-Strom 1050 feels like a very legitimate proposition.
Keep in mind, though, it’s unlikely to be more thrilling than… well… pretty much every adventure bike currently on the market, save the V-Strom 650 and V-Strom 250. The Big Strom’s new name implies a boost in capacity but, in fact, the number of cubic centimeters remains the same as the outgoing generation. The V-Strom 1050 also still has a colossal exhaust that likely produces the same anemic growl.
Peak torque is now oh-so-slightly less than before (73.7 lb-ft vs the 74.5 lb-ft of old) and now comes in at 6,000 rpm as opposed to 4,000 rpm. This suggests the new V-Strom will be a little more revvy, and working toward the bike’s peak horsepower (now arriving at 8,500 rpm vs 8,000 rpm) won’t seem as pointless. On the outgoing generation it often feels there’s nowt more than noise beyond 5,000 rpm.
So, I suppose it’s an improvement. Or, at the least, not a bad thing. With peak torque arriving later I’ll assume the bike’s road manners will be even better. Indeed, this engine tweak was probably done to help smooth out throttle response. Simultaneously, though, it will become even sillier to take a Big Strom off road. Not an issue for me but I do know that some people like to push their Stroms to the limit.
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Suzuki is keen to emphasise the V-Strom 1050’s new styling but if you look at a picture of the bike and place your hand over the front fairing you’ll notice that, in fact, almost nothing has changed. The bits that have changed are charming, though. Ten years after everyone else started doing so, Suzuki has taken to offering retro-esque styling on some of its models; here we see shades of Suzuki dual-sports from the 1980s. Or, dual-sports of today if you live in the United States, where DR-Z models are still sold. I kind of like the look and can’t help but be charmed by the clever way in which the stacked LED headlight is made to look like square headlights of old.
The new V-Strom 1050 is now thinner and less long. Width is now 870 mm, compared with a previous 930 mm, and length is now 2,265 mm, compared with 2,280 mm – though the actual wheelbase (1,555 mm) remains the same. These numbers won’t mean a damn thing to you but remember that my personal parking/storage situation places unforgiving perimeters on a bike’s size. Once again I find myself charmed by the 1050. On the downside, it appears the new Strom has picked up 4 kilograms (8.8 lbs). And, confusingly, the bike is now somewhat taller though it hasn’t gained any ground clearance.
The fact that I’m deep diving into specs like this means I am actually considering this machine as something to look at seriously after, as I say, Suzuki does its Suzuki thing of slashing prices and offering a shedload of incentives. Speaking of which, now is a great time to get a deal on the previous generation. Checking the interwebs, I’m able to find multiple examples of zero-mileage 2019 models being offered for £8,000 – some £2,400 less than the RRP suggested by Suzuki’s official website.
The V-Strom 1050 is set to arrive in dealerships in spring 2020.