2012 Suzuki V-Strom 650 | First Look

Revealing adventures to come

By Tim Carrithers, Photography by Suzuki

Suzuki is rolling out a new mid-sized adventure bike, basically because the existing V-Strom 650 has been around since 2004. That makes it 49 in dog years. And aside from a refreshingly affordable $7499 sticker price—$7999 with ABS—the long-suffering ’Strom is short of just about everything it takes to run with the likes of BMW’s F800GS and Triumph’s Tiger 800 here in 2011; shorter if you’re planning actual off-road work.

Our first look wasn’t much of a look at all. Suzuki’s marketing-department striptease started with a skimpy stylized outline against Alpine peaks and blue sky: a Cirrus silhouette foreshadowing the future. The strategically blurred and cropped images that followed generated more questions than answers. At least until an itchy trigger-finger at Suzuki Europe inadvertently posted pictures and details for a few hours before the bike’s launch. Changes are mostly external, but these photos reveal a V-Strom 650 with more than fresh paint and graphics.

We expected something bigger than the current 645cc, 90-degree, eight-valve V-twin, but no such luck. Stylized side cases dress things up a bit, the first five cogs in this latest six-speed transmission are closer together and a new radiator keeps things cool. Compression dips to 11.2:1. Beyond that, essential engine dimensions—including those oversquare 81.0 x 62.6mm cylinders—remain from the current SV650-derived lump.

ABS-assisted Tokico calipers and 310mm floating rotors look familiar. Aside from a slightly longer 61.4-inch wheelbase, the twin-spar aluminum frame appears status quo as well. Listed at 472 lbs. complete with 5.3 gallons of fuel and anti-lock brakes, the new 650 is 13 lbs. lighter than a current comparable U.S.-spec “Wee-Strom” despite cast wheels and street-biased rubber better suited to Paris than Dakar. Stronger than dirt? Probably not. Nobody leads off a high-end adventure bike with preload-adjustable, 43mm conventional fork legs, but basic underpinnings will help hold the bottom line closer to $8000.

The old ’Strom’s angular, science-fiction styling gives way to a more graceful aesthetic, with better wind protection from a three-position adjustable windscreen and more efficient engine-heat management.

Is this Suzuki’s answer to your accountant wearing the Eddie Bauer catalog? Maybe there’s a more dirt-worthy variant hidden behind some other cloud, along with some actual information…

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