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2003 Suzuki V-Strom: Long Term Update Number Three

Another 2,000 miles racked up on our long-term V-Strom (you can see update No. 2 here), including a 1,000 mile round trip to the Laguna Seca World Superbike event, and back. In the process, we got to sample Suzuki’s accessory luggage, including top box and side cases. We also bolted on the taller Suzuki windshield. The prices for these Suzuki accessories are stated at the end of this article.

The V-Strom continues to impress us with its versatility and performance. After nearly 4,500 miles on the bike, it is still a blast to ride, as well as comfortable and nimble. We have also had zero maintenance costs, other than routine oil changes.

The trip to Laguna Seca and back was a bit of a nightmare, although, this was no fault of the V-Strom. As is usually the case, my personal schedule became grossly messed-up, requiring that I leave for Laguna Seca late Friday afternoon (close to 5:00 p.m.) from my residence in Temecula, California. Keep in mind that the one-way trip to my hotel room near the race track would be 450 miles — some of it driven through the rush hour traffic of the Los Angeles area I would have to navigate on my way north.

This trip was a blessing, as well as a curse, because it drove home the strengths of the V-Strom, and its one weakness as a distance tourer (lack of wind protection for your legs). The V-Strom couldn’t have been a more comfortable mount. I will leave aside, for the moment (and for comment in the next update — which, we promise, will come more quickly than this did) wind buffeting from the windshield, now switched to the optional, taller Suzuki shield. In all other respects, the V-Strom was examplary, proving to be an excellent high-speed, long-distance tourer.

The lack of fairing lowers, and the consequent lack of protection for your legs from the elements, did result in some significant discomfort as I traveled through the night along the coast of central California (where the temperatures dipped relatively low for this time of year in California). Chock this experience up to my own stupidity, however, because I could have easily packed away some wind protection for my legs in the Suzuki luggage. I didn’t.

At elevated speeds, the V-Strom’s gas mileage dipped into the high 30s, although low-to-mid 40s was the norm in less harried travel. Still, the large V-Strom tank provided range in the 200 mile area, before the flashing low-fuel warning forced me into a gas station.

The sit-up-and-beg seating position of this huge dirt bike-like machine continues to feel natural and comfortable. It not only keeps weight off the wrists (a common complaint with sport bikes, and even racier sport tourers), it minimized back discomfort (a problem I typically have on longer motorcycle trips) and provided confidence when manuevering the bike (both at low speeds and at high speeds). The stock seat was comfortable for two reasons. First of all, the cushioning is just about right, and secondly, there is room to move on the seat — you don’t want to stay in the same position for 450 miles, believe me.

The Suzuki luggage secures well to the bike, and provides huge storage capacity. The top box, alone, will hold two, large full-face helmets. Each side case will hold a full-face helmet, as well. The color match with the factory paint was perfect (something you won’t find with aftermarket bags, for sure), and the bags are installed, and removed, quite easily. A single key locks all three bags, and removes all three bags from their mounts.

The side bags do make the bike pretty wide here in California (where it is legal to split lanes on a motorcycle), but it is not a significant issue.

The MSRP for Suzuki’s three-bag set is $599.95, plus $199.95 for the mounting hardware. The price for the optional, taller windscreen is $79.95.