History of the V-Strom
The V-Strom 650, internally designated the DL650, is a mid-weight, dual-sport motorcycle launched in 2004 with a standard riding posture, fuel injection and an aluminium chassis — now in its second generation since model year 2012. Marketed in Europe, Oceania and the Americas, the DL650 is manufactured at Suzuki’s ISO 14001 certified final assembly plant in Toyokawa, Japan.
The V-Strom 650 trades strength in a single area for adaptability to a variety of riding conditions: commuting, cruising, adventure touring, and to a lesser degree, off-road riding. The bike is variously categorized as dual sport, sport enduro tourer,street/adventure, commuter, or entry-level.”
According to the New York Times, the V-Strom has a loyal following worldwide, and the DL650 outsells Suzuki’s larger DL1000 two-to-one.
The name V-Strom combines V, referring to the bike’s V Engine configuration, with the German word Strom, meaning stream or current.
The V-Strom has a six-speed transmission with a fuel-injected and slightly retuned 645 cc engine from Suzuki’s SV650 sport bike, using a two-into-one exhaust system. An upright, standard riding posture contributes to the bike’s handling characteristics.
The engine is a 90-degree, liquid cooled, four stroke V-twin, with 81.0 mm (3.19 in) bore and a 62.6 mm (2.46 in) stroke, four valves per cylinder, and intake and exhaust valving each with their own camshaft. Its more relaxed cam profiles, compared with the SV engine, boost the power between 4,000 and 6,500 rpm, along with slight changes to the airbox and exhaust. Relative to the SV, the crank inertia (flywheel effect) is also increased by 4% via a redesigned starter clutch. As well, the DL650 engine uses a plastic outer clutch cover and engine sprocket cover for reduced weight and noise.
Unlike the SV engine, which uses cast iron cylinder sleeves, the DL650 uses Suzuki’s proprietary SCEM (Suzuki Composite Electro-chemical Material) plated cylinders, a race-proven nickel-phosphorus-silicon-carbide coating for reduced weight and improved heat transfer, allowing for tighter and more efficient piston-to-cylinder clearance, similar to a Nikasil coating.
- Engine electronics
The DL650 engine electronics aid starting and throttle control and uses Suzuki’s AFIS (Auto Fast Idle System), eliminating a fast-idle control. The engine control module (ECM) reads engine information, such as coolant temperature, via a 16-bit central processing unit (CPU), controlling the fuel system’s dual throttle bodies.
The DL650 uses Suzuki Dual Throttle Valve (SDTV) fuel-injection and exhausts via a two-into-one exhaust system with a catalytic converter in the muffler. European models meet Euro 3 emissions specifications. In the US, a “PAIR” air injection system reduces CO and HC emissions.
A stiff, twin-spar aluminum frame and swingarm accommodates a rear Showa mono-shock with hydraulic preload adjustment. Front Showa damper-rod forks are preload adjustable. The DL650 has a 19-inch front wheel and a 17-inch rear wheel.
- Instruments and bodywork
The bike’s instrument cluster includes a compact analog step-motor speedometer and tachometer (both with LED illumination) and a digital LCD unit with odometer, tripmeter, coolant temperature gauge, fuel gauge, LED neutral, digital clock, turn signal and high beam lights and an oil pressure warning light.
An adjustable windshield allows movement of 50 mm (2 inches) A small underseat compartment, suitable for small tools, gloves, or an owner’s manual, can be accessed by removal of the seat, via a lock located at the rear of the bike, just below the built-in rack.
European model 2004 DL650, note the lack of small round side reflectors, shown with aftermarket crashguards, belly-pan, centre-stand and windscreen.
US Model 2005 DL650, with aftermarket windshield and bracket, hand guards, Givi crash guards, Suzuki tall seat, and top case.
Awards and reviews
The V-Strom 650 was named one of the “ten best” bikes under $10,000 by Motorcyclist (USA) magazine, October, 2007—beating out, among many others, the V-Strom 1000. In a September 2006 article, Cycle World magazine wrote “the DL650 may just be the most shockingly competent machine in the world today.” A 2004 article from MotorcycleUSA.com said “it was hard to imagine another machine with a competitive versatility-per-dollar ratio.”Twice consecutively, the DL650 has earned the title “Alpenkoenig”, winning German Motorrad magazine’s trans-alp multi-bike test in 2005 and 2006
At the DL650’s launch, noted motorcycle journalist Kevin Ash said “taking everything into account – price, comfort, fuel range, general ability, you could argue it was the bike of the year,” adding, “there’s something honest and solid about the V-Strom.” Having ridden a DL650 as his daily rider, in 2005 Ash called it the “best bike you can buy.” Ash complemented the bike’s comfort, fuel range, engine and handling, faulting its brakes and corrosion resistance — and further describing the bike as “perhaps the ultimate all-round machine.” At the launch of the revised 2012 model, Ash noted that the previous generation, which could be very vulnerable to corrosion, had “been left behind, especially by direct rival, the Kawasaki Versys.”After the release of the 2012 model, Ash placed the Vstrom ahead of the Versys.