What The Suzuki V-Storm 650 XT ABS Lacks In Style, Makes Up For In Performance
Let me save you some time (and aggravation on Instagram). You want to travel. You think a bike is the way to do it. You think 500cc single-cylinder machines are a bit too mainstream, and want something “big”. You should thus buy a Suzuki V-Strom 650. It will let you go places without being a mechanic, tweaker or motocross champion, and will help you start crossing things off your bucket list. It starts at Rs 7.46 lakh, and offers a heck of a lot of value.
The elephants in the room are the Royal Enfield 650 twins — the Interceptor and Continental GT – which offer the same cubic capacity at a much lower price. Rest assured, however, that with the Suzuki, you’ll get significantly more capability to go where you want to. When it comes to motorcycle travel in India, one needs to consider a whole bunch of un-sexy practical aspects. Will the bike scrape its belly on speed bumps or rocks? Will the tyres hold up over rough terrain? Will the motor begin coughing and give up in the mountains? Can I take along a pillion in comfort? No, yes, no and yes, in the case of the V-Strom 650.
The 650 may be new to us in India, but it’s based on a series of bikes that have been tried and tested over a number of years, and have proved to be friendly and reliable companions. The 90-degree V-twin motor is buttery-smooth and torquey, making 69 bhp of power and 62 Nm of torque, allowing for easy slow and fast riding alike. It’s simple and classic, by way of standing still and not adopting too many frills. There’s basic traction control, ABS brakes and a simple LCD console. In terms of competition, it squares off directly against the Kawasaki Versys 650, with near-identical specs. Where it differs is with its spoked wheels (19-inch in the front for extra off-road choices) and updated electronics. Unlike the Kawasaki, there’s no adjustable fork, but you do get rebound damping adjustment at the back — which is the most critical tuning to have, if you could have just one.
The result is an extremely plush ride that, when combined with the smooth motor, makes doing long tours very comfortable indeed. The windscreen does its job, but I wish it were adjustable without tools. As it stands, you need to loosen screws to change its height. There’s a 12V socket for accessories up front, making it a get-on-and-go sport tourer. Despite being north of 200 kg, the V-Strom is quite easy to manage. Suzuki has included an anti-stall feature, so the engine doesn’t suddenly die on you during a U-turn (this is typically the way heavy bikes tend to be dropped).
As it stands, Suzuki has launched the 2019 model, which gets new graphics, a hazard light and side reflectors for added safety. So should you buy the V-Strom 650? If you like to travel, and potentially want to go where the roads can be punishing, then yes. The spoked wheels will hold up better against a bashing than alloys, the suspension feels well set up for poor roads and the price is just right. Don’t get it if you like to carve corners, or need something that looks sexy. The Suzuki will simply get you there (wherever ‘there’ may be) and make you want to carry on.
7.46 LAKH (EX-SHOWROOM)
WHAT WE LIKE
Ruggedness, comfort, refinement
WHAT WE DON’T
Fiddly windscreen adjustment, not very ‘sexy’
Performance – 4/5
Design – 3/5
Handling – 4/5