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Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Suzuki Reveals Full Details on the V-Strom 650 ABS

After Suzuki mistakenly released information on the 2012 V-Strom 650 ABS last week, we received the official, final press material for the new model. We now have all the details, as well as new photos.

The new styling is apparent from the pictures, but many of the details were not understood last week. We will try to set the record straight.

The new windscreen is adjustable in three positions. As the windscreen is adjusted upward, it moves slightly closer to the rider, and slightly away from the rider when adjusted downward. As we pointed out last week, Suzuki is emphasizing the effort it put into the design of the new windscreen, perhaps because it is aware that this was a customer concern with the older model.

The new seat with its V-Strom embossed logo is 15 mm higher than the current model. Suzuki indicates that optional low seats and high seats (20 mm change from the standard seat) will become available. The higher seat, of course, should improve rider comfort by allowing legs to stretch out a bit more.

Comfort was a big focus in the design of the new model. The slightly smaller fuel tank is more slender at the rider’s knees. According to Suzuki, this enhances the bikes handling, and also allows easier reach to the ground. The air outlets on the side cowlings are claimed to not only improve cooling and wind protection, but enhance styling, as well.

The muffler has a new design, as does the rear luggage rack, which is now made from a resin material, rather than the aluminum used on the current model. The rack is lighter than the current version, and incorporates passenger grab handles.

Aside from the obvious body panel changes, there are subtle changes, including a revised shape to both the front and rear fenders. The front fender is said to improve airflow to the radiator to aid cooling.

Although the new model still features an engine displacing 645cc, it has received many changes. Cam profiles were change to improve low–to–mid range RPM power and torque. The use of single valve springs, rather than double, reduces mechanical losses and therefore slightly increases power and torque. A switch to iridium spark plugs is also said to improve throttle response and fuel economy. A new idle speed control makes the bike easier to start and perform better in cold weather.

The clutch release mechanism was changed to a cam type to improve operation and feel. The clutch also has a thicker cover to reduce mechanical noise.

The old model featured air cooling of the engine oil, but the new model receives a liquid–cooled oil cooler, which should stabilize oil temperatures and improve engine reliability.

Suzuki also redesigned the crankshaft and the primary gear, both of which contribute to improved refinement and lower mechanical noise levels.

All of these changes are said to significantly increase low-to-midrange power delivery, and Suzuki has provided a dyno chart comparison which shows the new engine making equal or better horsepower and torque everywhere from idle to redline. Suzuki also claims that the new engine offers 10% better fuel consumption, which would offset the slightly smaller gas tank.

A new, more sophisticated ABS system performs better and is substantially lighter. The suspension appears to be unchanged from the existing model, which means spring preload adjustment in the fork along with spring preload adjustment in the shock (by a simple knob that can be hand-operated), as well as rebound adjustment in the shock. The V-Strom continues with the same 17 inch rear and 19 inch front wheels.

The instrument cluster is entirely new with several new functions. An analog tachometer sits alongside a large LCD display that can be adjusted for brightness. A gear position indicator accompanies a road freeze warning indicator and ambient temperature indicator that can alert the rider to dangerous road conditions. In addition to a fuel gauge, there is now a fuel consumption meter that can help riders plan refueling stops. All the other, usual indicators and instrument features are available, including dual trip meters.

The redesigned headlights continue to offer dual low beams and dual high beams from H4 bulbs. Finally, Suzuki has incorporated a theft protection system based on the bikes ability to identify a chip embedded in the owner’s key.

One of the pictures features a white V-Strom, but the U.S. market is only scheduled to receive the orange and black models (also pictured). Suzuki has not determined the price it will charge here in the U.S. market at this time, but the bike should be in dealers by mid-November of this year. Note that Suzuki is still working on accessories to offer with this bike, and the photos of the bike with accessories may not represent what is ultimately made available to the customer in this regard.


  1. Sumanster says:

    I like the new styling much better than the old one’s. Even the panniers look good (hopefully they get the go-ahead), unlike those functional but hideous aluminum boxes so many dual-sports have. Better fuel economy and throttle responses are plusses, as is the fuel consumption meter.

    I might seriously consider buying one of these!

  2. Vince says:

    I’ve been looking for a leftover ’09 1000 with no luck. As a bigger man ( 6’5″ 290lbs ) who’s been riding for over 40 years, I need at least 1000cc’s for adequate low-end and mid-range. Bring out a new liter V-Strom! Also make the needed updates to the suspension and brakes.

  3. Jeff says:

    Make one in 1000cc and I’ll buy it.

  4. Bob says:

    I’m kind of shocked by the finicky criticism directed at the newest, improved V-strom 650.

    First, the bike is not for hardcore off road riding, just fire roads and some hard gravel , as evidenced by the cast wheels. This is a good thing. And yes, I know people have taken them everywhere with some success. For the price discount over the BMW GS800 and the Triumph 800 Adventure XC, be happy with the superb mostly on road ability.

    Second, a lot of things were improved. This is commendable. If Suzuki failed anywhere, it was in not improving the front suspension. The V-Strom 650’s universal #1 complaint from ride reviewers is the numbness and lack of feedback from the front end. The caveat with improving it is cost. In the future, the front and rear suspension together could be improved. This would make the bike much better, according to reviewers.

    I appreciate a higher seat, better fuel mileage as the climate warms, and, so far, a better seat and windscreen. A higher vantage point is safer for the rider to see and be seen over traffic. The ergonomics are still either delightful or better. The ugliness is gone. The bike finally looks great, in a universal motorcycle way. The slimmer tank is much more attractive. I’ve been waiting for a more expressive color, and burnt orange is it, along with being burnt orange being restrained like most modern vehicle colors. All of it 13 pounds lighter, and better ABS standard I think. If the power isn’t enough, you are looking at the wrong kind of bike.

    I applaud the Japanese, their bounce back from WWII devastation, and the long history of Japanese bikes in America. To ride in the Sixties and Seventies in the United States mostly meant riding a Japanese brand motorcycle. There were almost no HDs, unreliable Bonnevilles, and a lot of custom choppers. That was mostly it. The latest V-strom is pretty good innovation from a country that has been stagnating economically for twenty or more years, like the United States has been since the turn of the century and will continue to without a Congress that solves problems. A more dynamic economy attracts designers and corporate thinking about bike design that is usually more dynamic, such as Germany.

    The professional reviews will all probably say that the front end suspension always has and still needs to be replaced with something better. Totally agreed. But we want that price advantage too at the same time.

    Motorcycles are great fun.

    The V-strom 650. Go anywhere, do anything , in style, with perhaps the greatest all around ability, and function and capability, for the money. Now good looking too!

  5. Grover says:

    From the comments already, I can’t see too many existing Strom owners updating to this too quickly. If they had made it a 750 with a little more offroad ability, I would consider it. It is just too road focussed for me – I may as well keep my naked 1250 Bandit.

    • hanno says:

      1250 Bandit ?

      I thought you were waiting for a 750 with better off-road ability …

  6. Zombo says:

    Look under the brake pedal and you’ll see the Y-junction where the back cylinder’s pipe meets the front .

  7. klrman says:

    The bike you are looking for is still a Honda, the NT700V.

  8. Ferenc says:

    so, it appears my comments were blocked, so i try again:
    is this a real or a photocropped bike photo? what happened to the second cyllinder’s exhaust leading to the muffler?

  9. william says:

    I like the looks. I have been thinking about getting this bike. Or the BMW G650GS, thats the 650cc version. I am glad they did not make it an 800. The 650 twin seems like a good size for fuel milage, and not making a big heavy beast of a bike. There are too many choices for big heavy bikes as compared to lighter ones already. I am short and the BMW actually sits and feels much better, but I don’t like the single cylinder. I was hoping an upgrade to the Suzuki would make it smaller and more like the BMW650. For me they did not really make the changes for me to rush to the store and buy one. Why don’t they make a shorter twin cylinder adventure bike? The BMW 650 single is closest, I guess? I had a KLR650 but after filling up that gas tank it handled so bad. So much weight way up high, terrible idea. I rode it in a simple dirt trail and fell over so many times it was silly. I never filled it up again. Actually I am looking for more street duty though, so Vstrom and BMW are close as compared to other dualsports. The high gas tank of the Vstrom worries me because I am thinking to repeat my KLR situation. BMW gas tank is lower under the seat, seems smarter.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      I’ll bet the F650GS the (800cc one… marketing morons) is no heavier than the 650 Vstrom.

  10. joe says:

    all the talk about the new instrument cluster and no pictures.

  11. Alan says:

    I want the white one with the trax bags!!!! of course, the white one isn’t coming here!! dammit suzuki!!! I want the white one!!!!!
    orange or black? what the hell, those are harley colors!!! bring the white one!!

  12. Tom R says:

    The top picture, with two riders, saddlebags, and trunk (presumedly loaded with thier “stuff”) looks static-like the bike and riders are standing still…which is appropriate because with that much mass going up a mountain road a 650cc machine isn’t going anywhere quickly.

    • Geep says:

      I see a 650 v twin with two people on it with factory luggage and I lament at the passing of the Honda GLi SilverWings of the 1980s, ahead of its time, an ok saler at best, but Honda never really felt right with a baby GoldWing. I still feel there is a market for a 500-650 cc one up/two in a pinch touring bike but with more traditional “touring” styling

      • Tom R says:

        Agreed that a smallish to mid-sized sized tourer would be welcomed, but two-up “in a pinch” means a very small, metric-sized, microscopic pinch.

        Heck, just make her get her own ride.

  13. Foogunheimer says:

    Yawwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwn. Wake me up when it loses 150#.

  14. johnny ro says:

    I don’t think of it as an actual on/off road bike. For that Suzuki offers the DR. This is, to me, a road bike with some off road styling.

    To me, its a comfortable SV650 with more upright seating and better wind protection. The bigger front wheel handles the usual crumbled pavement better.

    Thats why I bought my 2006. This one is mildly upgraded and looks nice in black.

  15. MikeD says:

    Oh Suzuki… u sou Cleisy… (^_^ )

  16. S Calwel says:

    If Suzuki had lowered the weight and bumped it to 800cc it would be a contender for me. Now I am shopping for a KTM SMT or Tiger 800.

  17. Kent says:

    Minor evolutionary tweaks.
    Same price as before.

    More power. Better mileage. Lighter ABS. Easier starting in cold weather (mine starts just fine, actually). Less weight on a few key parts (the rear rack is *super* heavy, as is the front fairing section).

    They decided to keep the same formula and make it slightly nicer. They disappointing a bunch of folks by not making it a KTM, Triumph & Yamaha fighter. Whatever.

    My ’05 is a great all around bike, and this one sounds slightly nicer. Good job ‘Zuke.

  18. John says:

    It’s always interesting trying to figure out Japanese moto designers. It seems like they spend more time watching anime than riding motorcycles. The Vstrom has been a great motorcycle for almost a decade. Great pricing, good performance, superb reliability, questionable styling (although we’ve all kinda become accustom to her face), are some of the hallmarks of this wonderful motorcycle. The 650 MAY be the most practical motorcycle ever made.

    So here we are, just short of a decade later. That is time for plenty of long term reports, and speculation as to what would improve this bike. It looks as though Suzuki has addressed a few of those issues. Almost everyone has done something to their windscreen. Either aftermarket, or jerry rigged, most owner solutions have been better than stock. I don’t know anyone that has ever even mentioned oil temperature or engine noise, but I suppose those “improvements” are welcome. But let me cut to the chase. This is an “adventure bike”, yes? Well then where is; engine protection, clutch and brake lever protection, A 21″ FRONT WHEEL!!!!, a standard center stand, aux, power, and above all, a decent off road capable front fork! And don’t EVEN get me started on taking fuel capacity away. You made the GAS TANK SMALLER????

    These items are not exotic, or particularly expensive. Yet they should really be standard on ANY motorcycle that touts itself an “adventure bike”. Unless of course the “adventure” is to be for the wrong reasons. I owned a 1000 Vstrom for a number of years, and loved the bike. I always felt it was lacking on front fork, and never really felt comfortable AT SPEED on gravel or dirt. Don’t get me wrong, these are not “off road” bikes, in my opinion. But it would be relatively simple to make them much more capable in dirt and gravel. Now I know a number of guys will jump in here with stories of where they rode their Strom, and what it can do. But, my point remains, it ain’t no rally bike, however it could for a minimum of OEM cost be MUCH better off tarmac.

    KTM, Triumph, Yamaha, and BMW are moving cleverly in this direction. While Suzuki has a terrific bike in the Vstrom, they could have an industry leader, and still come in comfortably under all of them in sticker value.

    Or not.

    • Andrew says:

      It’s not hard to figure out Japanese moto designers at all. OK, so they didn’t make the bike for YOU – it doesn’t mean it has no purpose. Just let go of the fantasy that VStrom is anything else than a road bike, and you’ll start to understand why they make it, and who they make it for. I am interested for example and last thing I wanted is 21″ wheel and larger tank. What I want is a comfortable, practical road bike combining reasonable performance and handling, reasonable economy, upright riding position and a solid constructino that will stand up to daily use with minimal maintenance. I also want it to be inexpensive and I’m OK sacrificing some gizmos for the sake of lower price… for example I don’t need the suspension adjustable in million (mostly pointess) ways, as long as the standard setting works reasonably well. VStrom is not, by design, a true adventure bike. You can still have plenty of adventures on it though, because it is simply an effective road bike.

      • John says:

        Hey Andrew, in all due respect, I didn’t say I wanted the Vstrom made just for ME. I also didn’t say “it had no purpose”. As a matter of fact I said,”The 650 MAY be the most practical motorcycle ever made”. The oil change alone is the most simple and easy change I have ever performed on a moto. And, I’m under no illusions about the purpose of the Vstrom (I have used one to tour over 20,000 mi.). It is a road touring bike that is capable of handling gravel and dirt surfaces. What I think would be an excellent improvement for the Vstrom would be primarily suspension, particularly front fork. Also, perhaps selfishly, I would love to have at least the option of a 21″ front wheel.

        I live in the West. We have many paved roads that can be connected over mountains with gravel roads. This is when those items ( suspension and front wheel ) are an asset. Also, it can also be a LONG way between gas stations. I have had to transfer gas to friends with smaller tanks, and I have smelled the gas on their gear that has splashed from “auxiliary” tanks strapped to their bikes.

        From your list of needs for a bike, it seems like you’re describing basically a road bike. In fact you say;

        “What I want is a comfortable, practical road bike combining reasonable performance and handling, reasonable economy, upright riding position and a solid construction, that will stand up to daily use with minimal maintenance”.

        There are so many road bikes already available. It seems as though good “adventure bikes” are a more rare commodity.

        I appreciate off road capabilities in a moto, and I feel one can still travel VERY rapidly over tarmac with a 21″ front wheel. In fact, on some of the paved roads upon which we travel, the more narrow wheel, and aggressive tire is an advantage because of road debris, sand, and gravel encountered around fast tight corners. I have seen in the rear view mirror more than a few times, friends in an “oh s#%t” moment because of sketchy road surfaces.

        So there we go. Perhaps you and I are looking for a bike with a different use in mind. The ‘strom is still a great scooter, we all have our fantasies to make a good thing better. Ain’t America great!

        • Andrew says:

          Yes, as you say we are looking for different bikes – you want adventure bike, what I want is an ordinary all-purpose road bike. Nothing wrong with either. All I’m saying is that Vstrom *is* an ordinary road bike by design, as it always has been. While people took it in all kinds of unexpected directions, Suzuki never promised Vstrom to be anything else than a road bike. So it just seems to me a bit unfair to complain that it isn’t what it never set out to be, that’s all.

          But I agree there are more ordinary road bikes than there are adventure ones, so I understand your desire for one… I hope someone builds it for you 🙂

  19. Vrooom says:

    If the aftermarket doesn’t work quick, the new buyers will be left wanting. High priority includes bash plate, crash bars, a whole new gas tank with the old capacity or more, suspension upgrades, non-“kappa” luggage alternatives, etc. I’m a huge Strom devotee, but this just didn’t make the changes I was looking for.

  20. Dave B says:

    Wow, I loved my 2005 wee Strom and this one sounds even better…. Can’t wait. Orange and black looks much better on the V Strom than the HDs. And I got a consistent 50-52 mpg before, so this is even better. Glad they didn’t make it bigger with poorer fuel economy.

  21. kpaul says:

    Still ugly but when the apocalypse comes (be it by financial, war, or global climate change) it’s probably the bike to have 🙂 Indeed the black one needs some machines gun mounts to look like something out of Mad Max

    • ziggy says:

      Yeah, if the apocalypse magically paves the entire earth.

      • MikeD says:

        LOL. Nah, i don’t think it’s that road focused.

        • ziggy says:

          …take a look at the v strom offroad photo thread at ADV rider. Other than a few guys upright on hard pan, every other shot is some guy’s bike laying sideways in the dust and mud.

  22. todd says:

    Should have made it a 800 hundred! And upgraded the suspension. I’ll keep my 04 for now.

    • MikeD says:

      Nah, 650 is fine.

      Spoked wheels, tube-less tires, radial calipers, USD Forks, a swing arm that doesn’t look made on my backyard out of $1.00 worth left over scrap metal, undertail exhaust or under the engine and a bigger screen…yeah…i think that would do for now…lol.

  23. craigj says:

    It’s still ugly and it’s momma still dresses it funny.

    (and I own a 1000 …)

  24. jimbo says:

    Well, I’m more enthusiastic about the bike now than last week. The long list of improvements seems like they paid close attention to previous comments.

    It’s really not all that much trouble and cost to upgrade the suspension. Is a center stand offered or not?

    I might give one a test ride. The increased seat to peg spacing is especially welcome for someone 6-3 with 34″ inseam.

    Styling wise it looks quite presentable overall. Compared to the outgoing, horrifically ugly pig (only owners disagree), it’s world class rolling art work.

    Price seems reasonable by today’s standards. Considering what appears to be utter chaos in Japan caused by the earthquake and nuclear power plant scandals, it’s a miracle anything new like this comes from Japan now.

    • warprints says:

      Agreed. The engine improvement, while maybe marginal, do make this a bit nicer than just a bodywork do-over. Still, I’ll keep my 2007 … even tho it only gets 50+ mpg.

  25. Chris says:

    If another website is to be believed… The price is or will be $8099 in the US…

  26. Steve D says:

    Well they scrubbed off “some” of the ugly and tweaked a few things that needed it. Other than that.. YAWN. Shame really. The basic platform is an outstanding value but I still think they’re a generation (an a half) behind on the styling. It’s close but Kawasaki is still ahead.

  27. Eric says:

    Oh man – I can’t wait for the 1200 model!.. There will be 1200 model, right? Mommy? Tell me the big bad man will make a 1200!! 🙂

    • MikeD says:

      +1…if anything to see what the kick out the door…(^_^ )…The S10 still Queen 4me.

  28. Stone996e says:

    Shazzzam! Now that we know the seat is higher and the windscreen actually moves back as well as up….that makes all the difference in the world. Not. Thank goodness the press release cleared up all this talk about Suzuki motorcycles becoming extinct while the company concentrates on their auto production.

  29. Mr. Mike says:

    Major refreshes cost major money. Looks like they addressed some issues, hopefully without raising the price too much. Unfortunately suspension wasn’t one of them. I hadn’t realized some of the issues they addressed were issues at all. I never felt the engine was putting out too much mechanical noise and I didn’t think oil temperature was a problem and I live in the South. Also I wish they would have left the tank capacity alone to get better range from that 10% efficiency increase.

  30. Eric says:

    I like the refresh. It updates the looks (finally!) and addresses some of the complaints with the previous model. I find the burnt orange a bit more eye-catching w/o being garish. As Kagato noted, hopefully this will keep the inevitable price increase to a minimum.

    That said, I wish Suzuki would take a lesson from Triumph and offer a more off-road ready version with upgraded suspension, wheels/tires, etc. If they don’t have the budget to carry two versions then go the route of Yamaha and offer it as a limited edition, pre-order only model.

    • Montesa_VR says:

      A more off-road orientation would be welcome. The DL650 is mostly an SV650 engine dropped into a DL1000 chassis. A true adventure bike chassis for the 650 V twin might get the bike down into KLR650 weight territory. I think that would compete nicely with the latest midsized adventure bikes from BMW and Triumph.

  31. kirk66 says:

    If Suzuki would have done a “duc” bill front mud guard it would have made the “refresh” look more Euro. The aftermarket should jump on that. They needed to put an alum rock guard on from the factory, as well. Additionally, if they were cleaver marketeers they should have offer the bike with a 21 inch hoop for the “true” adventure guys. But over all looks are Honda conservative. Not bad, but I expected more.

    • Mr. Mike says:

      I’m personally not a fan of the “duc” bill found on many Euro models. Glad Suzuki didn’t jump on that bandwagon.

    • MikeD says:

      AWAY with the StinK7NG bILLS ! Im sick of the stupid cliche/stereotype of each and everyone on the Duals having to sport one to look the part.
      Stop the cookie cuttiness.

      • Nasty says:

        Having never ridden a ‘strom 650 or 1000, I can say it looks capable enough (with the engine guards & skid plade in the first photo). The plastic skid plate on my KLR has done a good job of protecting the engine from flying rocks and I haven’t felt the needs to add more (weight, cost, etc.). This ISN’T an off road machine but looks like it’d be just fine on fire roads.

  32. Kagato says:

    Minor refreshes are good things. Keeps prices down.

  33. ABQ says:

    I can appreciate all the work that they put into it to make it a better bike. I hope that they will sell a loaded edition like the model in the top picture.

  34. nome says:

    “slightly smaller gas tank” is mentioned twice, so I assume the change is no insignificant?

  35. Jim says:

    Halleluiah, they finally raised the embossed logo that was such an obvious failing of the Wee-Strom.

    Stopped at a Honda-Kawasaki dealer Friday, trying to find a chain breaker and I was amazed to find fewer than a dozen bikes in the approximately 3000 sq ft show room and half of them were used. A half dozen cruisers, with the rest being small-mid displacement dual sports and a lonely KLR 650. Not a CBR, Ninja, Wing, ST or Concours could be found. The rest of the showroom had an equally thin offering of quads and a few leftover snowmobiles.

    It was sad really and a damning commentary on the state of the motorcycle industry and particularly for the Japanese manufacturers. In contrast business seems much brisker up the street at the BMW and Triumph dealers, who had at least one of each model, if not each model in every available color.

    • Tom says:

      Jim, the fact that BMW and Triumph are selling more bikes than the Japanese says a lot about the economic recovery. Those of us in the multinationals or the investor class have recovered. We buy BMWs and Triumphs. Those with blue collar jobs and low/mid income levels have not recovered, and not likely to for a few years. The Japanese bike makers depend upon that demographic. Sadly, it’s as true as ever, the rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and the middle class vanishes.

  36. The Other Tim says:

    ….If I was going to buy a bike in this catagory, I’d take the Versys anyday. The first words that come to my mind after reading this are ‘minor refresh’.

    • CT Cantrell says:

      Why? I’m also drawn to the Versys, but the Wee’ is very highly regarded and “any day” is very uncompromising. Just curious.

    • Dave says:

      I’m always surprised to hear the Versys being chosen over the DL’s. Aside from funky styling, isn’t the Versys lower tech/spec in almost every way (steel frame, parallel twin with less power, basic no-link rear suspension, etc.)? If it works better then I guess that stuff doesn’t matter.

      • jato says:

        I’ve owned both. The Strom just did’nt work for me. The mechanical racket from the motor made me nervous, tank to wide at the knees and the seat was brutal among other things. The Versys was a much beter fit and felt more polished to me and I loved the motor. It was a hoot to ride. Having said that, I like the revised Strom and am glad they fixed some of the problems. Both the previous bikes were butt ugly but the new Strom is easier on the eyes.

        • Neil says:

          The previous model was too ulgy for me. I did not trust that the windshield would work and be relatively quiet too. The seat was ok but had too much weight on my sit bones and not spread out enough for longer rides. The Versys seat was horrid so I just said game over right there. Tested the NT700V. Horrendous motor. So lean it just plain did not want to go. Stalled it trying. – So the new VStrom looks pretty nice to me. I could use a jack of all trades and keep it for a change.

      • 80-watt Hamster says:

        Less money, less weight (not a whole lot, but feels a bunch lighter), fit better. And there was a deal on the Versys at the time.