Long-Term Suzuki V-Strom 1000 ABS Conclusion

Saying goodbye to our V-Strom with a final update and recap of the past 11 months.

After more than a year in the Motorcyclist long-term fleet, the DL has proven to be tough, reliable, easy to take care of, and a wonderful commuter and tourer.©Motorcyclist

WRIST: Marc Cook
MSRP (2014): $12,699
MILES: 15,021
MPG: 40
MODS: Nothing further, your honor

Front brake pads were just about done at 15K...©Motorcyclist

Concluding a long-term evaluation is like ending a relationship. Do you part on good terms? Or are you just happy to see the machine go? For the Strom and me, it's mixed emotions. Over the course of the year, the Suzuki V-Strom has really impressed me. It's capable, easy to live with, a fantastic touring bike, and a wonderful commuter. Everything you ask of it, it does.

It is not, however, an emotionally engaging motorcycle. And, for you, that might be just fine. Ask yourself: Do you want a bike that gets your pulse racing, even if it sometimes causes pain (think teenage love)? Or are you happy knowing exactly what comes next and never being surprised (old couples’ love)? Answer honestly and you’re halfway there.

Owning it, in air quotes, has been painless. Maintenance has been absolutely nothing on the V-Strom. Aside from the fussy layering of the plastic over the fuel tank and to the fairing—requiring the removal of five panels and 13 fasteners to lift the tank—it’s easy to work on. Oil changes are a cinch, which is good because they come every 3,500 miles. Beyond insanely expensive spark plugs ($40 each and there are four), the Suzuki offers no maintenance headaches. After 15K miles, were I to continue on the V-Strom, I’d install new front brake pads (they’re just about done) and start thinking about new sprockets and a chain.

...but the TKC 70s were just getting started at 1,000 miles.©Motorcyclist

How about all those modifications? In the end, the bike gained no appreciable power from altering fuel-injection settings or running a slip-on exhaust. I like the Holeshot’s sound and low weight and believe Holeshot’s Dale Walker when he says that his bike-specific tuning module, airbox mods, and K&N air filter element added almost 4 hp and 5 pound-feet of torque at the respective peaks and boosted power in the midrange. But that’s at a package cost of around $800. The G2 Throttle Tamer was a good upgrade at little cost though; I’d do that one again.

Tires. I haven’t worn down the Continental TKC 70s just fitted, but they seem like a great on-road/fire-road compromise, much like the Avon Distanzias used previously. The front tire is a little squirmy over rain grooves, where the Avon was solid, but overall the TKCs are a great choice. Handling is neutral, dry grip is very good, and there’s no degradation in ride quality. Of all the tires I’ve run, though, I liked the Avons the best.

Over the year, I added a bunch of modifications that, in reality, brought me to V-Strom 1000 Adventure spec, like adding luggage, a centerstand, belly pan, touring windscreen, and hand guards. At $13,999, the Adventure model gets you those accessories for less than their à la carte costs on the base machine. I’m not a huge fan of the stock hard side cases though. The SHAD SH36 side cases I tested are much bigger, and the Dakar soft bags are more flexible and narrow. But adding a top box, like the Trax 37-liter unit, provides enough capacity to make the Suzuki side cases workable. The only Suzuki accessory I’d avoid are the heated grips.

One of the last mods tried was the SHAD comfort seat (shadusa.com; $390), which I like even better than the excellent stock saddle. It has a bit more passenger room and is pleasantly firm without making the bike feel taller. The SHAD seat was also black, which turned out to be a lot easier to keep clean than the tan seat on the “khaki” version of the DL.

After more than a year in my possession, the DL has proven to be tough, reliable, easy to take care of, and a wonderful commuter and tourer. In fact, it’s one of the most serene mile-gobblers I know. What the V-Strom might lack in terms of outgoing personality or outright performance it more than makes up for in versatility and quiet competence.