2017 Suzuki V-Strom 650 & V-Strom 650XT First Look Review

The new V-Strom proves that ADVs don’t have to be huge to be awesome.

2017 V-Strom 650 and 650XT
A fully farkled 2017 V-Strom 650XT, complete with all the option accessories including a tall touring windscreen, top case, side cases, fog lights, and crash bars.Photo: Suzuki

For 2017 the Suzuki V-Strom 650 gets a big revamp, the second major redesign since the bike's introduction in 2004. The styling is new and more angular, with a strong resemblance to the reworked V-Strom 1000, which was also updated this year, oddly as a 2018 model. Both the V-Strom 650 and the more off-road oriented V-Strom 650XT (first seen in 2015) get a beak-style fairing and stacked headlight, and both models now have a three-way height-adjustable windscreen. The fairing holds a new multi-function instrument panel is similar to the V-Strom 1000 panel, but has functions unique to the 650s.

2017 V-Strom headlights
The previous V-Strom had side-by-side headlights similar to the old SV650S, while the new bike has a narrower stacked assembly.Photo: Suzuki

The new fuel tank maintains its 5.3-gallon capacity, but is shaped to be thin at the rear to flow into a reshaped seat that’s said to help riders set their feet squarely on the ground. It’s a strategy that’s worked well for many bikes, and is all the more important on long-travel ADVs. For those that want to use the V-Strom for touring (lots of people do!), the subframe now incorporates fixing points for accessory luggage. A new muffler is located lower on the bike’s flank to accommodate side cases or saddlebags.

2017 V-Strom seat
The V-Strom’s subframe now integrates low-profile mounts for Suzuki’s accessory hard cases (as seen on the V-Strom 650 Adventure). The seat is reshaped and thinner toward the front to make it easier to get both feet on the ground.Photo: Suzuki

As has been the case since the beginning, the V-Strom 650's engine comes from the venerable SV650, which we tested a few months ago as an early release 2017 model (click here for the SV650 First Ride). Differences between the SV engine and the V-Strom mill include alternative cam timing to increase midrange torque and different throttle bodies.

The V-Strom 650’s revised fuel injection still uses SDTV (Suzuki Dual Throttle Valve) on new 39mm throttle bodies, now with Suzuki’s Low RPM Assist feature that raises engine speed during take off and low-speed riding to smooth the power delivery and to help reduce the possibility of stalling. The feature may actually prove pretty useful off road.

2017 V-Strom 650 muffler
A new muffler has a more geometric shape (plus it’s bigger) and rests lower on the bike’s flank to make room for luggage.Photo: Suzuki

Suzuki’s one-push Easy Start system (as seen on the GSX-S1000 and SV650) is also included this year. One thing the V-Strom gets that the SV doesn’t is traction control. It’s a simple three-setting system (1, 2, and off) that should add a level of safety and control to this versatile bike.

Rolling stock is the same 19-inch front, 17-inch rear combo as before, but the standard V-Strom’s cast hoops are said to be lighter. The 650XT rolls on spoke wheels that are more capable of taking abuse. The XT also comes with handguards and a lower engine protector, which appears to just be a simple plastic cover.

2017 V-Strom 650 dash
Look familiar? It should. Like the 2017 V-Strom’s bodywork, the dash is from the V-Strom 1000. Compared to the previous 650 dash this one has a black gauge face instead of white and has a second, smaller LCD display.Photo: Suzuki

Color options and pricing are yet to be determined, but Suzuki says bikes will be in dealerships in February of 2017. The V-Strom 650 Adventure, with its hard side cases, tall windscreen, and tubular engine guards, remains the same for 2017.

2017 V-Strom 650 in yellow.
2017 V-Strom 650 in yellow.Photo: Suzuki
2017 V-Strom 650 in white.
2017 V-Strom 650 in white.Photo: Suzuki
2017 V-Strom 650 in black.
2017 V-Strom 650 in black.Photo: Suzuki
2017 V-Strom 650XT in yellow.
2017 V-Strom 650XT in yellow.Photo: Suzuki
2017 V-Strom 650XT in white.
2017 V-Strom 650XT in white.Photo: Suzuki
2017 V-Strom 650 in black.
2017 V-Strom 650 in black.Photo: Suzuki