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  • December 21, 2017
  • Dirck Edge
  • Chris Rubino
  • 77 Comments

2018 Suzuki V-Strom 1000: MD Ride Review

After attending the press launch for the 2018 Suzuki V-Strom 1000, we brought a test unit back to the MD office to put more miles on the bike on familiar roads. We went through all of the technical details, including the changes for 2018, in our report from the press launch. Nevertheless, here are the highlights. The starting point, of course, is the largely unchanged 90° v-twin 1000cc engine.

Changes for 2018 include a sophisticated electronics package that features a three-axis IMU that works together with a combined braking system with ABS.  Like some other modern IMU-centric systems (primarily on sport bikes), this enables the new V-Strom 1000 to assess traction needs in conditions previously unheard of on street bikes, such as allowing adjustment of brake pressure even when the bike is leaned over on its side. Adjustable traction control is also standard.


The fairing design for 2018 includes a taller windscreen that is adjustable for both height and pitch. No tools are required for the latter, and it can be changed quickly and easily.

The combined braking system is sophisticated enough to let the rider control front and rear brake pressure independently, unless the ECU determines a need to activate ABS or the combined feature.

An 1000 XT model is available this year with tubeless, spoked wheels and a tapered aluminum handlebar, but our test unit was the standard model with cast wheels.

The V-Strom 1000 has been around a long time, and it’s always been notable for its comfort. It was one of the first adventure bikes, and the bolt upright riding position with generous legroom is a hallmark of the machine. The current model is even more comfortable than the original, with a firmer, broader seat that provides a better platform for both the rider and a passenger. The reach to the handlebar is easy, and the rider feels in control with a relaxed, natural position on the bike. This makes negotiating dense traffic, for instance, easier than when hunched over.

Riders of different heights can experiment with different positions for the new wind screen. Our 5‘11“ test rider was able to find a position that minimized buffeting at the helmet level, but kept the chest and shoulders largely out of the wind. Suzuki has come a long way with their stock windscreen, learning from past mistakes that led many riders to swap the stock screen for an aftermarket unit.  Few riders will find that necessary, now, and the new, standard hand guards help keep your mitts warm, as well.

Of course, there is now a great deal of competition in the large-displacement, adventure tourer category. There are bikes with huge power and acceleration for instance, including models from KTM. The V-Strom 1000 doesn’t play the high horsepower game, but that doesn’t mean the 1000cc v-twin isn’t a satisfying performer. With a claimed 99 horsepower at 8,000 rpm and 75 foot/pounds of torque at 4,000 rpm, the V-Strom 1000 offers a broad plateau of satisfying power and acceleration at comparatively low rpm levels.

Unlike some competitors who focus on high peak horsepower numbers, the big v-twin in the V-Strom pulls with authority from as low as 3,500 rpm, but largely signs off shortly after 7,500 rpm. With a well spaced six-speed gear box (that shifts easily and positively), the rider can keep revs low for good fuel economy, but always have the right gear available for good acceleration. With all that torque, of course, this means carrying a passenger and luggage won’t make this bike break a sweat.

The adjustable suspension features firm damping that keeps things under control even when the bike is ridden hard. As delivered, our test bike didn’t absorb small, choppy bumps as well as we’d like, but a small adjustment to compression and rebound in the fork cured this.

It is surprisingly nimble on twisty roads (thanks, in part, to the wide handlebar and relatively narrow tires). On a Saturday morning ride with friends, I was easily able to outpace several sport bikes on a very tight back road with several 90° direction changes. The extra suspension travel came in handy here, as did the strong brakes (the front, radial-mount binders are particularly impressive).

We can’t be sure that the IMU, together with the combined braking system,  saved us from a slide or crash during our testing, but the big V-Strom 1000 maintained its poise even when traction became dicey (such as encountering rocks or gravel mid-turn). Of course, a rider should still use common sense, because even the most sophisticated electronic aids cannot cure gross errors.

2018 Suzuki V-Strom 1000XT

With a 5.3 gallon fuel tank, and mid-to-high 40s MPG achievable (even better mileage while cruising on the highway), the V-Strom 1000 offers generous range between fill-ups. The new 2018 model offers plenty of comfort to make those long rides easy, and enjoyable. Together with proven reliability, the strength of this bike is its ability to provide a fun, comfortable platform that is also economical and trustworthy for the long haul.

The 2018 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 isn’t the bike for riders looking to drag race with superbikes. There are high horsepower competitors (priced much higher, as well) that can serve that purpose. It is, nevertheless, the near perfect motorcycle for experienced adventure riders and tourers that are looking for the upright comfort offered by this category of bike, together with long-term reliability and economy.

The 2018 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 starts at $12,999 for the standard model tested, and $13,299 for the XT version (pictured above). Take a look at Suzuki’s web site for additional details and specifications.


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77 Comments

  1. Dan says:

    Just checked the specs and am impressed that it only weighs 511/514 pounds, I’d always assumed it was too big and heavy for me like so many adventure bikes (ie, Tenere). Maybe not!

  2. NRHretro says:

    About to be 60 years old, been riding for 46 years. I regularly make day trips that cover 600 miles or more, I’ve never had cruise control, nor a “throttle lock”, I do use a wrist paddle. This Verstrom is certainly a capable motorcycle, it has a lot to offer anyone that wants an “adventure” motorcycle, the lack of cruise control would not in anyway be a factor in any decision I made towards purchasing one, period.

    I am seriously considering a Kawasaki Versys 1000LT, as my next bike. The big Versys does not have cruise control, but it does come standard with several impressive features, including: luggage, (way more important to me than CC), wrist guards, manually adjustable windscreen, and last but not least, a sweet Inline 4 with 125 hp and 75 ft-lbs of torque.
    The bike has come out on top of several comparisons, despite having the lowest price tag.

    It lacks somewhat in off road capability, but that is not important to me, I am not looking for a dirt bike, if I was, it would probably be a KLX650. I am looking for a good road bike, and the Versys hits the nail on the head. It offers performance, handling, and comfort, a 2017 model lists for $12499. For more money I can buy a lesser motorcycle with cruise control. Heated grips are optional, but heated gloves are just as functional, and I already have them.

    I’m not saying that cruise control isn’t handy, I would not purchase a car without it. However, the lack of cruise control would never, ever, prevent me from purchasing an otherwise great motorcycle, particularly one that offers a lot of “bang for the buck”.

    • Scott says:

      Hey bud I have a new Versys 1000 LT for sale at my shop and would gladly give you a great deal on it. It is brand new on the showfloor. I can beat the price you listed as well. I’m in Virginia.

  3. austin zzr 1200 says:

    Nobody buys a v-strom for looks. In fact, I bought mine after my beautiful green zx6-r was stolen in part because I knew no one would steal it. It turns out to be the bike I have owned the longest because its soul and every day utility.

  4. Bubba Blue says:

    $13,000!!! As I was reading the article I was thinking about $8k, $8.5K.

    You can get a real motorcycle for $13,000.

    • Boatin says:

      There are not too many liter bikes in the adventure class for under 13K. What do you mean by “real motorcycle”. Are you implying this model isn’t?

  5. Grover says:

    Its amazing that SUZUKI has not figured out that a nice looking bike will result in more sales than an ugly bike. They must live in their own little vacuum-sealed world, never talking to customers or reading online forums. That front end has got to go.

    • ilikefood says:

      I disagree. I think this is actually the best looking bike that Suzuki has ever made. It’s a very, very low bar for sure, but still better than anything that came before it

    • Fred M. says:

      Suzuki stylists and management are clueless. They don’t even recognize when a bike is ugly. For years, the Suzuki Madura was cited by Harley riders as “proof” that the Japanese made hideous cruisers. Suzuki took the classy looking SV-650 and turned it into the hideous Gladius and then spent years trying to convince people to buy it before throwing in the towel. They made the B-King, which looked like the bastard child of a Battlestar Galactica Cylon and a Transformer.

      Sadly, sometimes ugly does sell, though. Look no further than the Hayabusa for proof of that.

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        I personally think Suzuki’s entire line of bikes looks pretty good right now. Can’t comment on the cruisers.

        • mickey says:

          The main problem is motorcyclists as a group can’t agree on what is attractive and what isn’t..or necessary, or functional, or practical… you get my drift

      • ze says:

        They developed the best engine in the world and designed the ugliest bike in the world to use it. Years later they decided to give another chance and designed other bike to use the engine. A naked now, and now much uglier than the first one.

  6. Scott says:

    I own a ’14 and put the ’18 windscreen on it and Suzuki gave me an ECU that has been upgraded. I am a General Manager of a Suzuki dealership and Suzuki sent some guys to my shop to test various ECUs on the ’14 and ’15 models. Afterwards they handed me an ECU and said “try it and get back to us with your opinion.” I quickly snapped it on and wow what a difference. Much smoother acceleration and less compression braking effect. Easier to ride slower now. So, now Suzuki has an upgrade campaign for owners of the ’14, ’15 models at no cost. I commute 112 mile a day on mine and absolutely love the bike. Yeah, it doesn’t have all of the creature comforts of the Euro bikes but it’s half the price!

  7. arrowrod says:

    My two cents: Where’s the “old man vision of beauty” parts kit?
    You can ride a Honda for 50 years, without major repairs. Need something to “behold”, to move me.

  8. Jeremy in TX says:

    Unlike most on here, I actually think it is a pretty good looking bike. Nothing stellar, mind you, but attractive enough, b especially for the class. It seems like a very good package at a good value.

  9. Fred says:

    As a owner of one of these new models, be aware of rubbing back paint at the clutch cover with your right foot. Look at Dirck’s last picture. The footpegs in these adventure bikes are further forward than other’s and for me when I brake the boot flexes onto the paint and wiped the matt sheen off the paint down to flat. Luckily it buffed up OK.
    Suzuki know all about it from the older model as they sell (not in my country Au)clear stick on protective film as an accessory item that should have just been included.

    • Jimmihaffa says:

      “…when I brake the boot flexes onto the paint and wiped the matt sheen off the paint down to flat. Luckily it buffed up OK.”

      Whew… you had me worried for a sec, Fred, that V-strom’s reputation for stellar beauty just might be compromised.

  10. Sentinel says:

    That cyclops bird-beaked thing is ugly as sin, but it looks to be a fantastic bike otherwise. Besides a serious face-lift, I really wish it came in a much lower version for us shorties!

  11. skybullet says:

    It really doesn’t matter if you “need” cruise control, heated grips or hand guards. It gives some buyers a reason not to buy the bike. They should be offered as options just to sell more bikes.

  12. bmbktmracer says:

    I’m sure it’s a great ride, but only under cover of a paper bag.

    • My2cents says:

      Wear a bag if you must but I’m sure the DL isn’t too ashamed to be seen with you.

      • bmbktmracer says:

        hahahhahahaha Zing!

        • My2cents says:

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  13. Gham says:

    I carefully read all 43 previous comments and would just like to say,I agree.

  14. My2cents says:

    Lucky for me I rode both the DL 650 and the DL 1000 back to back many years back and chose the 650, and why. The DL 1000 had a lot of extra punch but added weight and a higher CG, sometimes I wish for a little more umph from the 650 but that would be only 2% of the time. Suzuki builds awesome machines very solid platforms and all road capable. The ADV touring segment will at some point taper off and those folks leaving the fold will likely end up on baggers like the Street/Road Glide, Chieftain, and GoldWing. All adventure motorcycles suffer the same fate of being too high in CG for aging legs. Suzuki needs to get into the game with the 1700 sport cruiser/hard bag. The future is in lower CG.

    • Dino says:

      Ah, but that 2% of the time with more power in the 1000 is just glorious! If you are a g-force junkie, that rides like a sport bike but wants more comfort, the 1000 is the winner. For most others, the 650 is fine..

  15. Vrooom says:

    I’ve put about 250K miles on 2 02 V-Stroms and an 08. They are wonderful for adventure touring as long as your adventure isn’t more than dirt roads and 2 tracks. Every time I sell one I’ll go through half a dozen bikes looking for something that commutes, tours, and adventure tours as well, before going back. Have tried BMW, KTM, etc. They are usually better at one thing, but not the jack of all trades. I have a BMW with cruise control, but only use it on the freeway, which I attempt to avoid like the plague.

  16. Tyler says:

    I’m sure the sales wouldn’t justify it, but damn I wish they’d bring back the SV1000

    • Ken Davis says:

      As a former SV1k owner, I’d say, bring it back with some comfort. Loved the engine, but could never get right with the ergos.

      As to the Vstrom 1k, I’ve had the SV1k and a 2002 SV650s (the much better looking 1st gen SV) as my 1st bike. I’m a fan of Suz twins. I may have to give this one a try.

  17. dt 175 says:

    I wonder if my genius mechanic could graft all that imu stuff onto my turn-of-the-century TL 1000s…

    • todd says:

      I didn’t realize people actually wanted that stuff. I figured people just put up with it since you can’t really buy anything new without it.

  18. Frank says:

    No adventure bikes are really great looking. Some like the Africa twin and RE Himalayan look good to me though. Cruise control is not any different then any other convenience that comes along that we quickly decide we can’t live without. Motorcycling is just as much fun without all the modern electronics, and is as safe as the guy who’s driving the bike.

  19. Buckwheat says:

    Absolutely love my 2014 DL1000A. It’s been updated with stock Suzuki parts including heated grips, hand guards, center stand & now the 2018 windscreen. Looking to go with the new XT’s aluminum-oversized handlebar mounts for a less sit-up-&-beg position handlebar/position (maybe the Tiger 800’s handlebars).

  20. Aussie Mike says:

    In 2008 I old my XJR1300 & traded it on a SV1000. Then i traded in the SV1000 for a DL1000 (sic VStrom) in 2011. Great bike & totally practical. As the reviewer stated, it was very easy to hustle around tight twisty roads. My mates who were on much more expensive & more powerful sports bikes & sports tourers couldnt keep up with me. I traded it in for a Victory Hammer S (White with red stripes). The main reason: it was just plain FUGLY

  21. Jim W says:

    What a beautiful machine! It would look great in my garage next to my AMC Pacer and Pontiac Aztec!

  22. Neuman says:

    Ugly from several front end perspectives. Remember Spy vs Spy? I thought they fired the BKing designer…..

    I am sure it’s a great bike and at least you don’t have to look at it while you are riding it.

    • Rhinestone Kawboy says:

      I think the BKing was actually better looking. Dumb looking beaks.

      • Cyclemotorist says:

        No way. The B-King set the record for ugly. The exhaust must be taken into account.

        That said, can you imagine how well the B-King would have sold if it had acceptable styling?

  23. mickey says:

    A buddy and I rode to Cali and back from Ohio. 5500 miles in 11 days. I was on my ST 1300 he was on a 1000 V Strom. Must say we were both impressed by the big Stroms ability to cover huge miles in a day without breathing hard. He lubed the chain nightly but it never needed adjustment during the whole trip. (however his last 2 bikes have been BMW GS’s)

    I agree these days a bike designed to cover large expanses of the country should come with cruise std, as well as heated grips.

    Yea the beak is kind of goofy, and I would rather the bags weren’t so aerodynamically shaped at the rear, but I could live with either.

    Overall I’d say job well done Suzuki.

    If I wasn’t a munchkin I would certainly consider this bike, but unfortunately for me about 31 1/2″ seat height is as tall as i want.

  24. Dave says:

    Still can’t understand the hang up on trivial features like CC and heated grips. This is like turning down an excellent car because it doesn’t have the right screen or doesn’t pair with your favored brand of phone. Never mind how it rides or drives. These are not the things that make a motorcycle good or bad.

    • cw says:

      I think the hang up is when those features are becoming increasingly common on other bikes in the segment.

      CC for example – were the DL something more off road focused, the deletion would make sense. Not having it at least as an option makes a bike that is already playing catch up seem behind in one more regard.

      Need? No. Yet, very nice to have on the slab. If nothing else an a high quality, in-house-designed throttle lock would be something to offer.

    • Tom R says:

      Regarding heated grips: left the garage today at 40 degrees. It boggles my mind why anyone would not want these.

      Would you buy that “excellent” car if it didn’t have a heater?

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      When bikes are so very equal in all other regards, those kinds of things can indeed make or break a deal.

  25. DP says:

    Beak is no issue to me. I do not expect Suzuki to be pretty, but practical and durable. The only Japanese brand I did not own yet. Once I almost bought 650, maybe I should get serious again. But that CB500X is so damn good…

  26. Mark says:

    Hey Suzuki, it’s 2018 and you can’t buy any new car without cruise control. For a traveling bike, I’m not buying another lame throttle lock. No cruise = no sale.

    • WSHart says:

      Mark is right. For those that disagree just apply the same logic people that whine about a bike with a good sized gas tank being “too heavy” need to put to use:

      In the case of the tank, just don’t fill it. In the case of not wanting cruise control (and in this day and age it is inexpensive to add, especially with ride by wire bikes), just don’t use it.

      Right. Once you’ve toured the freeway with real cruise control you realize just how pleasant it makes long distance travel on a motorcycle.

  27. dman says:

    I’ve been riding for almost 45 years and own (among other bikes) a 650 Strom with over 50K miles on it. I’ve never had a bike with either CC or a beak. Don’t mind this bike’s beak and don’t really care about CC. I even like the yellow version. But I’m still dreaming about the Z900RS …

  28. turnergande says:

    ‘Woody the Woodpecker’ would be proud of that front end…in my humble opinion. No doubt a very nice bike in almost every measure.

  29. Tommy See says:

    I have owned and put a total of 164,000 Kms. On the 650’s now. I want the big boy as I have a lady that wants to ride with me. Should I or shouldn’t I go for it ? Please Santa Claus !

    • Dino says:

      I have not ridden the 650, and I know a lot of people say that the 650 is all you need, and probably are right.
      But almost twice the motor, for an extra 30-40 pounds weight, I just don’t see a better way if you are hauling for two, or just like to really haul! I have over 50k on my old Strom1000, and I never thought it was just too much!

    • EGS says:

      Have ridden a 650 solo and w/ pillion. It is certainly ‘enough’ solo but with a pillion I wouldn’t do long trips. OK for an occasional ride to the ice cream stand but it’s lacking on the slab and tiresome on long trips. It IS adequate 2-up but it felt like I was pushing things beyond its comfort zone.

      If frequent or longer 2-up rides are in your plans then the 1000 will be far more capable IMHO.

    • Stuki Moi says:

      Yes!

      Get the one tested; with the cast wheels. Spokes look cool, and are possibly more resilient for harder offroad, but are heavier; hence limit how plush you can adjust the suspension before the wheels start chattering.

      A V1000 was number one contender for me, until I test rode a friend’s brand new Africa Twin. And managed to tuck the front in some sand, scraping up the bike pretty bad; so I ended up buying it from him. The AT is fantastic. More comfortable than the Strom (though the latter is plenty comfortable as well), more off road worthy, but not nearly as athletic on tarmac. And with a much wheezier at speed (though more controllable in the soft) motor.

      The ‘Strom is firmly dampened, so my main concern would be whether my lower back could tolerate the combination of bolt upright seating and firm damping. The lighter cast wheels comes in handy for that. The AT is a floating couch, less jarring than even a GS or 1190/1290 set to the softest mode on their electronic dampers. But, unlike the e-damper bikes, you pay for the softness with much increased pitching, and a bit of wallowing, once the pace picks up.

      The ‘Strom’s stiff alu frame and “gsx” suspenders, makes it the most composed of them all, alongside the GS (and I assume the Multistrada, which I haven’t ridden in years.) It’s a “sportbike” when ridden solo, and a tourer 2up. While the AT is more of a tourer even solo.

  30. RyYYZ says:

    I had an ’02 V-Strom. I should probably just get a new one. I was seriously interested in the new MT-09 Tracer GT version, but for “reasons” Yamaha Canada has declined to bring it to Canada this year, only the regular model. Well, integrated cruise control and standard heated grips were the two big selling points of the GT. If I can’t have those, the V-Strom would probably as good a choice, and is almost certainly the more touring-oriented of the two. Plus I have experience with the V-Strom and know it is pretty much anvil-reliable.

    ps It’s still ugly. Even more so than the original, in the Yellow, silver and black version pictured above.

    • Dino says:

      I still ride my ’02 Strom. It was never that attractive when new, but compared to many models now, it looks like “dream”.. I think this new Vstrom just looks cobbled together… not just the beak, it just looks like a bunch of parts that sort of fit, though it’s not clear why. I’ll keep my old guy, or just bust it for the Kawi 900 retro!

  31. Rick says:

    I’m of the same mind. Is this a non-RbW throttle? Its also my lament with the Africa Twin. Anyway, Suzuki provides a lot of bike for the money.

    • RyYYZ says:

      Still has dual throttle cables, which I would guess wouldn’t be required in a RBW setup. Maybe not, but anyway, still no cruise control, which I agree is a disappointment. Unfortunately Yamaha Canada has not deigned to bring the Tracer GT model, which has cruise control, to Canada. I don’t know why they couldn’t have give the standard Tracer the cruise control, too, though.

  32. Rusty says:

    Great bike and write-up. I’ve been following the V-Strom progress for years and was sure this latest iteration, with all its nifty sensors and electronics, would include cruise control. It baffles me that in 2017 a bike designed to cover long distances would hit the market without cruise control.

    Same thing for the C14 Concours and Versys 1000.

    Yamaha can do it on the FJR, MT-10 and Tenere. C’mon Suzuki and Kawasaki, get on board. It’s just a couple more buttons and a few lines of code at this point.

    OK, rant over. I still would like to ride one.

    • Neal says:

      CC would require engineering a way to control the throttle other than a hand twisting a throttle cable. Yamaha has a RBW system on all of the bikes you mentioned. The FJ9 does not have CC because it is not RBW. There’s quite a bit more than buttons and code.

    • Tom R says:

      True cruise control has been on bikes with both RBW AND cable throttle systems for years. The first specific example I recall is the Suzuki Cavalcade touring bike from the mid-1980s, before Ride-by-Wire was even a glint in any motorcycle designer’s eyes.

  33. Montana says:

    A real world bike at a real world price.
    We’ll done Suzuki.
    Now drop the damned beak!

  34. Random says:

    As in the GSX 1000 bikes case, more bike than ever needed for their intended purposes with terrible aesthetic design. I wish I could overlook it but I still like to look at my bikes. What happened to the Suzuki that gave us the Katana, Nuda etc.? Even Honda is getting their mojo back…

    • Motowarrior says:

      There just aren’t many beautiful bikes in this category. Beginning with the original BMW GS, these motorcycles have been more about form following function. I’ve been fortunate to own about 60 motorcycles over the years and to my eye, at least, the MV Augusta F4 was the best looking by far. It paled in comparison, however, to the BMW adventurer bikes as something you would really want to go someplace on. Now that I’m really old and can’t tolerate sport bike riding positions for very long, I have a greater appreciation than ever for the V-Strom and similar iterations. As we all eventually learn, there is no one single perfect motorcycle. And BTW, you guys stop with the beak comments already. If that keeps you from buying an otherwise wonderful motorcycle, you have your priorities in the wrong order.

      • Scott says:

        You haven’t spent much time here at MD, have you?

        Folks here can come up with so many reasons not to buy a motorcycle it’s beyond belief…

        • WSHart says:

          Scott, so long as their reasons are valid why should they not express them and further validate that expression by not buying a bike that does not come equipped the way they want it?

          Oh wait! They should do just that! And we do. It is our money, not theirs and why should we buy something that is not equipped the way we have told them to do so for years and yet still they refuse to listen.

          What is beyond belief is the rate at which so many here claim to just “love” every freakin’ bike shown here and elsewhere on the web and yet don’t buy them.

          But they claim to “love” them all. FTN.

      • Tim says:

        My pick for the most beautiful motorcycle to date would be the MV Augusta Brutale. I have a friend with a 910 Brutale, Silver with red frame and red seat. Every little detail is perfect. Not only is it gorgeous, it sounds as great as it looks.