Suzuki discovered it had a good thing in its V-Strom 1000 "sport enduro tourer" so it went one step further hoping to broaden its base of potential buyers by introducing a smaller, lighter, less expensive version, the DL650. It inherits much of its larger cousin's features including the frame, swingarm, front forks, wheels and tires, but comes in a user-friendly package.
Suzuki's V-Strom DL650 is easy to ride and extremely comfortable.
The first thing I noticed, the first thing most women notice when they approach a motorcycle, is the seat height. Could I handle the high-ish 32.3-inch seat height (an inch lower than the 1000 version) of this smaller V-Strom. Seat height is mostly irrelevant if you're a seasoned rider--and that I am--but I still needed to take extra care when backing into and out of parking spots.
I spend a lot of time discussing seat height because for a woman it's so important she has confidence when riding a motorcycle and so much of that confidence is derived from control of the bike. Flat footedness and even bent knees provide maximum control of the machine.
My 5-foot 6.5-inch frame (plus 2-inch rubber heels) allowed me to reach only my toes to the ground. I few times on my test ride I had to ask someone push me into and out of parking spots, because when your legs were as stretched as mine, you have no bend in your knees to muscle the bike forward or backward. Short riders I know who ride taller bikes make a habit of dismounting the bike and then walking it into and out of parking spots. You can do that with this V-Strom 650 because it's so light at only 417 pounds dry (that means without fluids).
I'm not quite sure, though, why it's called an "enduro" because the bike's not really meant for off-road riding. The Bridgestone tires are pure street rubber. I'd be leery about steering them into the dirt. Stick to light sand and gravel.
Out on the road, the V-Strom is so easy to handle you'll forget you've got seat height issues. The four-stroke, 8-valve, DOHC, V-twin fuel-injected engine is basically the same that powers Suzuki's fun, nimble and very popular SV650. The transmission has six gears, a feature I really like. As I was cruising comfortably at 60 mph in fifth gear at 4500 rpm, I realized I still had another gear. Kicking the bike into sixth gear lowered the rpm by 500 making the ride that much smoother. The gears changed effortlessly. There is lots of torque throughout the entire powerband, but particularly on the low end where I think it's needed the most with a bike of this small displacement. The V-Strom 650 has plenty of kick and has no problem keeping up with much larger motorcycles.
The brakes consist of two-piston dual discs up front and a single piston single disc in the rear. They do the job so well I needed only two fingers to engage the front brake lever.
The suspension glided over bumps in the road. The 43mm front forks provide enough rigidity to smooth out the roughest of pavement surfaces. And I found the stock setting on the Showa hydraulic rear shocks just right.
The rear spring preload is adjustable to accommodate additional weight by turning a knob located just below the right sidecover.
The seating position is upright with the handlebars angled toward the rider. I had to lean in slightly to reach them putting a little pressure on my palms. I also had to roll my hands forward of the grips just a bit to reach the clutch and brake levers and I have long fingers. The brake lever is
None of these "body fitment" issues were a bother. The motorcycle is so light and nimble that I didn't feel it overpowered me. The wide, comfortable leather sculpted seat positions the rider "into" the bike, as opposed to on top of it. Knees fall nicely into the curves of the tank and front fairing. It doesn't take a lot of work to ride the V-Strom 650. You just might want to be able to put your feet all the way down.
Specs at a Glance
The fairing and the three-position adjustable windshield (changeable with a screwdriver) together direct enough wind away from the rider adding to the overall effortless ride of the DL650.
Suzuki V-Strom 650
Seat height: 32.3 inches
Fuel Capacity: 5.8 gallons
Weight: 417 pounds dry
The V-Strom 650 is very versatile in that it can cruise comfortably like a cruiser, run around town like a commuter bike, or tour long distances like a touring or sport touring machine. Don't let the fact that it's a 650 dissuade you into thinking you're settling for a lesser bike. This is a motorcycle one can be happy with for years, and the price is right at under $7,000.