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2018 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 and 1000XT: MD First Ride

When Suzuki introduced the original V-Strom 1000 for the 2002 model year, we frankly fell in love with the machine. From our first test, we knew Suzuki had a winner despite the odd looks and the fact that “race replicas” dominated the market at the time. That smooth, torque-rich 1000 cc v-twin, together with extremely comfortable, upright ergonomics and surprising handling capabilities converted us to fans of the V-Strom formula.

A 650 cc version later emerged, and became a better selling version for Suzuki. The 1000 cc version bounced back with a complete redesign for the 2014 model year, and again impressed us.

Last week we rode the 2018 V-Strom 1000 and 1000XT at a press launch here in Southern California. Yes, the model year designation is 2018, and each of these new bikes builds on the platform introduced in 2014.

Both the standard and XT model get several new features for 2018, including an advanced electronics package, including an Inertial Measurement Unit (“IMU”), ABS and combined braking. The three-axis IMU works together with the “Motion Track” anti-lock ABS and combined brake system. This allows adjustment of brake pressure based on available traction, even when the bike is leaned over in a corner.

Also new for 2018 is the fairing design and taller, adjustable wind screen. A healthy 49 mm taller, the screen is adjustable for both height (requiring an Allen wrench) and pitch (no tools required). A total of three separate height positions and pitch angles are available.

It should be noted that the combined brake system allows the rider to independently control front and rear brake pressure unless the system (including feedback from the IMU) dictates a need to activate the ABS or combined braking features. This is a welcome development for advanced riders, in particular, who prefer manual control of front and rear brake pressure.

The 1000XT is new this year (a 650XT was introduced earlier), and it differs from the standard model with tubeless spoke wheels and a tapered aluminum handlebar. The fact that the wheels are tubeless allows both the standard and XT models to run the same Bridgestone tires in stock trim. A 19″ front and 17″ rear wheel are featured, as before. Both 1000 cc models also get standard handguards (with heavier bar-end weights) this year.

The new engine introduced in 2014 is largely unchanged, although “refinements” keep horsepower (claimed 99 hp at 8,000 rpm) and torque (75 foot/pounds at 4,000 rpm) virtually identical, while improving emission levels to comply with Euro4 standards.

Riding the new models revealed some subtle improvements from an already excellent 2014 platform. The added comfort from the new windscreen and handguards was immediately noticable. We didn’t change the height of the screen at the press launch, but we did try the tool-less adjustment of the screen’s rake (which literally takes just a few seconds) and were surprised at the differences it would make to buffeting and wind height. We have a test unit for a longer term evaluation, and will comment on this more later.

With regard to the new IMU and combined brake system with ABS, we don’t really have anything to report. As far as we know, the system never had to intervene during our brief evaluation during the press launch. More importantly, since our test rider likes to independently control front and rear brake pressure, the non-intervention of the system was appreciated.

That same, strong, smooth power from the 90° v-twin, and sure-footed, stable handling we appreciated when testing the revised 2014 model is still there. The V-Strom 1000 still makes the bulk of its power down low and in the mid-range. Swift progress can be made while keeping the rpm levels between 3,500 and 7,000.

Suspension performance still offers a good combination of firm damping and reasonable compliance, although small, square-edged bump absorption could be improved a bit. In this regard, the XT model was notably more compliant with its off-road style spoked wheels.

The brakes are outstanding, particularly the front binder, with both good feel and excellent power. Together with the six-speed transmission that shifts both positively and easily (and a light clutch pull) hustling the big bike through the twisties is a relatively low effort affair.

We look forward to putting more miles on our test unit and reporting back to our readers. For now, it looks like Suzuki has taken the venerable big bore V-Strom package and made significant improvements for its customer base. Suzuki also offers plenty of accessories, including the saddlebags that now mount tightly to the frame (and shared with the 650 cc V-Strom platform). The standard model is priced at $12,999, while the XT is $13,299. Both should be available in U.S. dealers now. Take a look at Suzuki’s web site for additional details, specifications and color options.


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48 Comments

  1. Joe L says:

    I have a 2014 Vstrom 1000 and enjoy it. All the power is down low and it will easily exceed the speed limit at 4K rpm.. Very easy to ride and excellent suspension. Very smoothe.
    Negatives- windscreen- I purchased a Vstream tall model with mixed results. The bike is very airy and excellent in hot weather. The beak seems to send much air into the cockpit via the opening around the handlebar.
    Exhaust- I replaced the heavy can with a GPR deeptone. Much better sound and very light.
    Luggage stinks. It’s way to small and not worth the money. Don’t buy it. Shad has excellent luggage for the bike that will hold a helmet. Ironically, the stock luggage is made by Shad. I plan on pulling mine, selling it and replacing.

  2. GP says:

    I bought my ’12 DL-650 new, and quickly found it to be the “Honda Civic” of motorcycles. This “new” DL-1000 is the “Accord”. Both are very competent, but neither is very exciting.

  3. yellowhammer says:

    Seriously, what is purpose of these beak protrusions on japanese and german bikes? Aero? Fender? Serious question.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      At one time, they were there as water and mud deflectors. It was actually quite effective on the older GS bikes (R1150 times at least.) I suspect a lot of beaks now may primarily just be market defined styling elements, but I don’t know for sure. Maybe most beaks are still functional. The beak I had on a Buell Ulysses certainly wasn’t.

    • Stan says:

      Purpose or not, they have always caused me to feel intense distaste and aversion. The beak look simply repulses me. And to think, there are engineers and managers in Japan and Germany who sketch those out and propose them to upper management and the whole group exclaims “We like it! Wow we are going to fund that development!” It’s like group delusion.

      • CrazyJoe says:

        Maybe it’s to compensate for the missing dirt bike fender A foot or so above the wheel. Take a look at the T 7 on the home page it has neither a beak or a dirt bike fender. Just a little black unfender like sheet of plastic. Which is uglier?

    • Gary says:

      It can be used to open a really large bottle of beer.

  4. pBrasseur says:

    Affordable, reliable, easy to maintain with dealers everywhere (everything the Euro competition is not…). No wonder I see so many on the road.

  5. Tim C says:

    My God the Beak People are right. I couldn’t put a finger on it but was thinking this bike didn’t look as good as I used to think. So now that I compare, turns out this is correct, doubling the beak size works about as well as Princess Vespa going back to her old nose.

  6. My2cents says:

    Awesome machine as are all the adventure motorcycles. At the large displacement level I wonder if the debate should be final drive choices?

  7. Mick says:

    I wss eager to check out the first 1000 that I rode. I was out with a friend. We swapped bikes for a while. I expected the four valve water cooled Suzuki to have a whole lot more power that my air cooled two valve Ducati Multistrada. I suppose it does if you rev it to the moon. But if you are just riding it down some really twisty roads. It didn’t seem to make nearly as much power as the venerable Ducati. My friend was quite surprised also. That really gasted my flabbers for such a popular bike.

    • todd says:

      That’s not surprising. The DL1000 only makes a little more power at a slightly lower RPM than the old air cooled multistrada. It’s rated at 98hp at 7600 rpm while the Ducati needs 8000 rpm to hit 84 hp. The Ducati is probably a couple cheese burgers lighter and likely has lower gearing so the two are fairly close in performance.

      Both will easily get spanked by some squid on a 600.

  8. randy says:

    I’m still in love with my 07 SV1000. If you’ve got the inseam these should (are) outstanding bikes. Not a fan of all the electronics. All that stuff and no CC. That’s the only electronics I’d want. I realize it’s not RBW but my 05 Road King had a quite nice CC. It saves me tickets, especially on bikes that speed up to expensive speeds when you’re not eagleeyeing the speedo.

  9. Butch says:

    I had an 04′ model for a couple of years. Power was adequate and linear. Quite comfy for my 6-3 frame.
    My biggest complaint was that the handling was greatly diminished with a full tank of fuel.
    Too much weight up high.
    Like the new look.

  10. mechanicus says:

    “A beak, a beak! My kingdom for a beak!”

  11. Buckwheat says:

    I ride a 2014 model and absolutely love it. The way the engine makes power, the suspension devours crappy pavement (and good pavement), the fuel mileage, the “teaching/requirement” of throttle control, passenger comfort, great chassis & brakes, the more I ride it the more I like it. Very under rated & appreciated bike. Especially when living with it on a daily basis.

  12. MGNorge says:

    “I got’s to have more beak!

  13. Yoyodyne says:

    Suzuki is showing the curb weight as 511 lbs. Assuming that’s the same as wet weight/ready-to-ride weight, that puts this at EXACTLY the same weight as the Africa Twin. Interesting, I would have guessed the Zook would weigh more…

  14. Fred says:

    How is the windscreen from the GT version (yellow pictured) still not good enough as it still needs an aftermarket type spoiler fitted at the screen top?
    Surely Suzuki could discover how to make a windscreen that does not buffet, using those wind tunnels that they own ???? Seems not.
    They seem to ignore the taller Euro & US sized rider in favour of their shorter Japanese test riders, or simply ignore the rider altogether, and just air flow the bike.

  15. VLJ says:

    Needs a bigger exhaust can.

  16. ABQ says:

    It is a very nice bike. But it is still just too tall for me. Everything else is perfect.

  17. skybullet says:

    Looks like great ergos for all day riding and the 1000cc V-twin should have plenty of power. Like the GS, probably less than 5% of all riding will be off road. Too bad the bike has to be much heavier to withstand dirt use. Too bad about the Cruise Control, maybe next year.

  18. dt 175 says:

    OH COME ON!!!! i’m aleady de-hydrated for the T7…

  19. Gary says:

    I have mixed emotions about spoke wheels. I like the fact that tires are tubeless, but I can’t help but wonder if the wheels are as durable as cast. I assume they are significantly lighter … but that flange that the spokes attach to has got to add some weight.

    I still don’t understand how any manufacture can festoon a bike with so many electronic rider aids (traction control, ABS, gyro sensors, etc.), while at the same time leaving off cruise control. It boggles the mind.

    • endoman38 says:

      If cast was more durable, that’s what would be on dirt bikes. There’s a reason the use spoked wheels for offroad.

    • Stuki Moi says:

      The spoked wheels are likely a good bit heavier than the cast ones. But more flexible, and less likely to get damaged by hard hits.

      Cruise control on a bike with a proper throttle, requires a mechanical motor to pull the throttle cables for you. And hence get pricey to build and test to the standards required for anything that controls such a critical part of the bike’s operation. “Most” bikes with CC, are RbW ones, as once a computer already controls the throttle, whether it does so based on suggestions from your wrist, or from your CC Set button, doesn’t really make much of a difference.

      • Gary says:

        Good point. I forgot that the Strom still has a mechanical throttle cable. So many bikes these days use a rheostat.

      • Gary says:

        I have always understood spoked wheels are lighter.

        • Jeremy in TX says:

          The spoked wheels I’ve handled have always been noticeably heavier than comparably sized aluminum cast wheels.

        • todd says:

          The spoked aluminum rims on my XR650L are noticeably lighter than the chunky cast wheels on my Ducati Monster. There’s a lot more material in a cheap gravity cast – though porous – wheel than in a forged aluminum hoop with wire spokes. One thing that might be tilting perception, the thick knobbies feel like they weigh twice as much as the thin but wide street radials.

          • Grover says:

            This Suzuki is not intended to spend much time off-road so the cast wheels make a lot more sense. Spokes are harder to clean and require more maintenance. For a true off-road machine I would put up with spokes.

    • joe b says:

      I think cruise control, on this bike, is asking a lot. I doubt its made for unending freeway miles, there are other products for that. And, the flange adding weight? really! Todays spoke wheels are a far cry from previous versions, not to mention its fashionable.

      • Gary says:

        Yamaha Super Tenere. Ducati Multistrada. BMW GS. Triumph Explorer. All adventurer tourers. All have cruise control.

        • Grover says:

          This bike needs cruise control as its primary mission is on the highway, not offroad. I’ve gotten used to cruise control on my bike and would not buy a mile muncher without it. If all the other manufacturers can offer it then Suzuki better do what they have to do to make it an option on their “Adventure” bikes.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “I have mixed emotions about spoke wheels. I like the fact that tires are tubeless, but I can’t help but wonder if the wheels are as durable as cast.”

      wonder no more, these should be way more durable, and not by a small margin either. the benefit of cast has never been their “strength in use”, no their “strength” has always been in cost (to manufacture).

      see what i did there…?

    • pBrasseur says:

      Suzuki offers models with both spoke and cast, depends on the type or riding you do. I would probably pick cast because I ride mostly on roads, they are lighter and should favor handling.

      • todd says:

        Have you compared the weight? I noted above that I’ve found some spoked rims to be lighter than some cast rims. In some cases then, they might be the same. Cast rims are just cheap to make, that’s why they do it.

  20. Jeremy in TX says:

    I think it is a good looking design,. I hope it sells well for Suzuki.

  21. austinzzr 1200 says:

    willing to overlook the beak for this awesome machine. A poor-man’s GS that may outperform it

    • Gman says:

      An educated buyers smart buy in the most popular market today.

    • Matt says:

      LOL. While I don’t own a GS, I have ridden plenty of them though. But the VStrom is not going to outperform the GSA. Especially in the dirt.

    • paquo says:

      i wouldn’t be seen on a gs, this though,especially the grey/white one is nice