Review: Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT World Adventure

This year Suzuki is offering the V-Strom 1050XT in a World Adventure edition on the Belgian market. Due to Corona perils, we weren’t able to wander off with the V-Strom to the other side of the globe, so we picked out a worldly adventure close to home: the two of us went for a ride from the Belgian coast to the Pajottenland.

Suzuki pimps the World Adventure with a decal set with reflective details, aluminum cases, adjustable footpegs that they got from Gilles Tooling, a GPS mount, a Hepco&Becker aluminum bashplate with World Adventure label, heated grips and LED high beams.

You can get this adventurer in a yellow-blue, gray-blue or black livery. The black sparkles in the sun, which you can expect from “Glass Sparkle Black”. The many stickers are a bit over the top, but all in all it looks quite right.

When revamping the V-Strom in 2020, Suzuki returned to the legendary Dr. Big from yesteryear – just like they did before with their Katana. The new lines and the square headlight look nice and are reminiscent of the oldschool adventure bike.

However, the looks were not the most important innovation. Suzuki finally put its biggest adventure bike on the same level as the competition by adding a full electronics suite thanks to ride-by-wire. For example, there are now three riding modes, adjustable traction control and ABS, hill hold control and low-rpm assist (so you won’t stall it on departure).

The 1037 cc lung capacity remained unchanged, but the engine still received a new type designation. Previously it was the V-Strom 1000, now it’s called the 1050. The engine got a different tuning, resulting in the peak of 107 hp now coming a little later than before. The maximum torque remained unchanged at 100 Nm. Those aren’t numbers you would expect from a liter bike. Rivalling bikes nowadays easily spew out 150 horsepower and more. I wonder if we’d notice that out on the road.

When I get on the bike, it turns out that I can easily touch the ground with both feet. The seat is narrow at the front, so the height of 850 mm isn’t a problem. Unfortunately it’s also on the small side, which means there’s not much space to move around. And the aluminum boxes are hanging quite high which means the pilion doesn’t have much room for the upper legs. Something else you immediately notice: it’s a heavy one, this 1050XT. Without the WA package it weighs in at 247 kg.

Thanks to the Suzuki Easy Start, you can start with a short press on the starter button. Feels a little weird on a motorcycle. The handlebars are on the narrow side for an adventure bike. The sitting position is neutral, upright and it’s easy to wrap your knees around the tank.

Once we’re up and running, the V-Strom 1050XT lives up to its reputation as a smooth ship. The gear changes are easy, and thanks to a light clutch and good gas dosage in mapping 1, this adventure bike can be ridden ever so fluently. Or was it mapping 3? I kept forgetting. Anyway: the smoothest, least aggressive mapping. Let’s call it “Rain”. Give those riding modes a name, Suzuki! Also the engine brake is never abrupt. All this results in a shock-free ride, which is particularly appreciated by my pilion. Be warned: the distance between the first and the second gear is on the longer side, so brisk shifting is necessary to avoid a false neutral.

If you choose the other extreme for the mapping (1? 3? Sport?) then the Suzuki really shows more dynamism and you’ll never notice that there’s “only” 107 hp and 100 Nm on tap. However, when you close the throttle, there is an on-off reaction.

Despite the 19” front wheel and the many kilos, the XT steers smoothly and it’s easy to put it from one ear to the other. Although I am usually not a fan of the Bridgestone A41 tires, they were able to convince me on this bike and I never caught them off-guard.

The suspension is limited in its adjustments but it does a sublime job. Humps and bumps are flawlessly filtered out and the V-Strom neatly sticks to the chosen line when cornering. A handy dial switch lets you quickly adjust the spring preload for a duo ride. The brakes do their job well, they are doseable and offer enough bite when necessary. Apparently the brakes are “load dependent”, but you obviously don’t notice that.

While riding I wanted to move the windshield, but unfortunately that’s not possible because you have to be at the front of the bike to do this. Weird choice. Turbulence is always there, sometimes more, sometimes less, depending on the speed in combination with the position of the shield.

For the weekend in Pajottenland I click my XT on the XT: my Garmin Zumo on the V-Strom, that is. As a result, it’s impossible to ignore that the dashboard of the V-Strom is rather outdated. The LCD display feels cheap and old compared to the clear TFT screen of the GPS.

Although the dashboard of the XT is quite reflective, it’s easy to read. But there is so much information crammed on it, that it takes a while to find the desired numbers and letters. Moreover, the menu is operated by the same switch as the one for the cruise control, which sometimes results in an abrupt switch-off of the latter, followed by a painful ‘groin-meets-fuel tank’ moment.

There is also a handy USB port on the side of the dashboard and it’s a pity that the fog lights are operated by an aftermarket button. Looks a bit cheap.

Conclusion

This wasn’t love at first sight, but after one week of riding, the Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT World Adventure really grew on me. This is typically one of those bikes that won’t blow you away during a test ride at the dealership, but one you’ll bond with after a while. The incredibly fluid engine characteristics, together with the ultra smooth clutch, make this long-legged bike into an ideal travel companion. Also for duo rides.

You won’t experience a dull moment on this Suzy: despite modest figures on the powerchart, the XT blazes away. It doesn’t shy away from sporty cornering and the suspension effortlessly soaks up bad roads like a charm.

With the addition of some necessary electronics, the Suzuki is again up to par. Or almost. Somehow the 1050XT still feels a bit old-fashioned. Like its illustrious predecessor, the Dr. Big. Which in this case is a compliment to the V-Strom.

Photograpy: Fien Leerman & Jan F

Pros

+ Homogeneous package
+ Modest all-rounder
+ Friendly when necessary, stingy when possible

Cons

– Boring look?
– Outdated display

Tech specs

Engine

Engine capacity: 1037cc
Engine: 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, 90˚ V-Twin
Bore: 100.0mm x 66.0mm (3.9in x 2.6in)
Compression ratio: 11.5 : 1
Lubrication: Wet-sump
Ignition: Electric
Fuel system: Fuel injection
Transmission: 6-speed constant mesh
Drive: Chain
Starter: Electric
Power: 79.0kW @ 8500rpm (107.4PS)
Torque : 100.00Nm @ 6000rpm (73.76lb.ft)

Dimensions and weights

Overall length: 2265mm (89.2in)
Overall width: 940mm (37in)
Overall height: 1465mm (57.7in)
Wheelbase: 1555mm (61.22in)
Ground clearance: 160mm (6.3in)
Seat height: 850-870mm (33.5-34.3in)
Kerb mass: 247.0kg (544.6bs)
Fuel capacity: 20.0 litres (4.4UK gallons)

Chassis

Front suspension: Inverted telescopic, coil spring, oil damped
Rear suspension: Link type, coil spring, oil damped
Front brakes: Disc, twin
Rear brakes: Disc
Front tyres: 110/80R19M/C 59V
Rear tyres: 150/70R17M/C 69V

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