Text: Christa Neuhauser • Photography: Enrico Pavia, John Howell
Combining spirited V-twin performance with excellent comfort and good handling at a reasonable price, Suzuki’s versatile V-Strom models have created a near cult following over the years.
We got to test ride the new 2012 V-Strom 650 ABS and ABS Adventure models at the U.S. press launch in the mountainous Piedmont region of the Carolinas. Exclusive to the U.S. market, the V-Strom 650 Adventure adds a touring windscreen, crash bars, and aluminum panniers with mounts made by SW-Motech. The two-day route started and finished in Charlotte, NC, with an overnight in the quaint town of Little Switzerland. The tour along the famous Blue Ridge Parkway and environs, with light traffic and lots of twisties, was a perfect venue for evaluating the new bikes.
Powertrain & Performance
Although the original V-Strom 650 used the SV650’s engine, the 2012 model is powered by the same engine as Suzuki’s Gladius. This lively, 645cc V-twin shares the 81mm bore and 62.6mm stroke but receives different pistons, cylinders, intake camshafts, and valve springs. A redesigned crankshaft enhances V-twin feel, and a scissors-type primary gear reduces mechanical noise. Single valve springs (which replace doubles) reduce internal friction, and a high-speed 32-bit ECU plus fine-atomization fuel injectors improve efficiency, for a claimed 10 percent gain in mileage.
Suzuki reports improvement in the critical 4,000 to 6,000 rpm range, although it doesn’t offer power numbers. Engine performance isn’t overwhelming, but it’s certainly strong, especially when riding solo. V-Strom’s 650 engine delivers pleasing street-friendly power over a wide rpm range. You have power at 3,000 rpm as well as 8,000; it feels mellow at low revs, with a substantial midrange. The top-end pull provides some thrills, and it can deliver triple digits when asked. At high rpm some vibrations reach the rider, but generally the bike feels smooth. V-Strom’s docile and civilized nature makes it a good choice for beginners or intermediate riders; it will also appeal to some grizzled veterans.
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For the complete article of the riding impression(s) and technical specifications, please purchase the March/April 2012 back issue.