Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT Road Test

Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT Road Test

Compared to my 2016 DL1000A, the new 1050XT V-Strom feels like a 650. It is much narrower at the tank and is a joy to slow manoeuvre around the car park. 1st or 2nd gear – full lock and go around in circles. Changing the direction of the circle is also an easy change to make.

The 1st to 2nd gear clunk is still there but much less noticeable – or this could be because of the 1000 miles on the new 1050XT compared the 16,000 miles on my V-Strom. The torque, however, is very different. Coming out of a roundabout in 2nd gear and opening the throttle resulted in a substantial push. My V-Strom is a joy in these situations. Just keep the motor buzzing, and I will be making effortless progress. This scenario is even easier on the new 1050XT. The few additional foot-pounds of torque are very noticeable. It isn’t BWM GS level of push but heading in that direction.

The 1050XT had wire wheels (spokes) but retained the standard 19-inch size, rather than going to the gyroscopic 21-inch. Despite the wire wheels being heavier than my cast ones, the front end of the new 1050XT feels much lighter. For tyres, the 1050XT was fitted with OEM Bridgestone A41s and my previous generation V-Strom has, almost new, “real” A41s adorning its wheels, so the lightness isn’t a result of new versus older tyres.

Neither is the lightness unnerving; it is just different. Being familiar with the planted front end on my V-Strom, something that is familiar but also quite different takes a few miles and a few corners to become confident with. Once my brain had made the necessary adjustments, the faster steering made the new 1050XT a joy to ride. What is more confusing is that the “curb weight” for the new 1050XT is 19kgs heavier than my V-Strom – quite some feat of engineering Suzuki have pulled off.

An area where Suzuki could have made a simple change to is the rear hugger. Despite cleaning the rear subframe where the right-hand rear footpeg hanger bolts on, the crap always seems to get in there. The rear subframe, and the rear shock which is protected by a narrow flap, deserve better and a hugger would have been a great improvement to see. Suzuki is perhaps the only motorcycle manufacturer that still fits decent size front mudguards to there bikes, so why ignore the rear? I would also wonder why Suzuki has left the oil filter hanging out in the breeze rather than behind the plastic shroud as standard. A shroud is now an option, or you can specify a fancy metal one.

If I was buying one today, I’d be ordering a Givi belly pan and a rear hugger for the dealer to fit, before it left the showroom.

The LCD dash for me is overly busy. I like the boring traditional rev counter and speedo that I have. I get that they are expensive to manufacturer compared to software and an LCD panel, and I think the designer’s idea was to copy the traditional instrument layout onto the LCD screen. The reality, though is confusing and not as simple to read. When making progress through the backroads, I want information in a single glance. I don’t want to go fishing for it. Perhaps that all gets easier with more time on the bike.

Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT LCD Display

In redesigning the exhaust for Euro 5 compliance, Suzuki has moved the clamps out the firing line for road dirt and relocated the exhaust valve somewhere I couldn’t find. Wherever it is, it isn’t anywhere road crap can get to it. With all of the electronic fueling, it might not even be fitted on the new 1050XT.

The fueling has three maps, and for me, B was the best. The A setting is very abrupt. C is a little on the soft side and would be great for rainy days. B when working the throttle on a country lane it can snatch on initial opening, yet I could never get the precise circumstances nailed. It does it occasionally, and there will be a specific number of revs and a certain amount of roll-off, before opening the taps again that causes the snatch. No biggie, just something I noticed.

As for comfort, my backside loved it. Very comfortable. The seat is narrow compared to my V-Strom, but I never noticed the seat at any time during the day. Not once. A great sign that if something doesn’t even get noticed, the designers must have it right. The same is true for the screen. I run a Givi Airflow and can do motorway speeds with my visor up if I wish. I’ve also changed the older V-Strom barn door mirrors for something more aerodynamic. The result of these modifications is a peaceful ride, and the new 1050XT is very close in standard trim.

At 5 feet 11inches (1.80 meters) and with the standard 1050XT screen in the highest position, there was little wind buffet, and I could engage the cruise control and enjoy the ride. Suzuki appears to have spent a lot of time working on the aero on the new 1050XT. Sitting just behind and to the offside of trucks on the motorway, there was little or no squirming in the rough air. On my own V-Strom, I can feel the disturbed air making the bike twitch.

Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT

So there you have it … Easier to ride. Lighter. The torque is noticeable. In need of a couple of accessories. The LCD is mildly irritating. All that remains is the price.

The “1000cc” adventure bike market is highly competitive. V-Strom 1050XT – Triumph 900 Tiger – Yamaha 900GT and the BMW F900XR. Add or subtract from the accessory list and they all come out at about the same money. There is a lot to like and enjoy on the V-Strom 1050, but for £11,500 (UK list on the road price) for the XT version that I rode, heated grips would have been a welcome addition.

It was an excellent day for riding, and I enjoyed all of it. Whether you buy a V-Strom 1050XT or one of the other bikes from the “1000cc Adventure Bike” club, is going to come down, very much to personal choice and a lot of haggling with the dealer over accessories.

Unless, of course, one of the manufacturers makes a noticeable cost differential happen. 

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