BRM headed to the home of Suzuki NZ for the Oceania launch of their new middleweight adventure machine, the V-Strom 800.
Words: Paul Pics: Steve Caudwell / Geoff Osborne
We’ve been fans of the V-Strom since it was released back in 2002. Since that time, even though there have been a number of updates and variations, the bigger two of the V-Strom range have featured V-twin powerplants, with the smaller 650cc version in particular garnering legions of fans. But when the 800DE was first unveiled in 2022 at the EICMA motorcycle show, a hush descended over the room as it was revealed the new model gets a parallel twin and that ‘V’ now stands for versatile.
Suzuki has made some pretty spectacular powerplants over the years and this new parallel twin could quite easily join the list, as it’s really something special. Nice and narrow thanks to an innovative split balancer system, the 776cc features a 270-degree crank to add a bit of character and produces 84hp and 78Nm of torque. It doesn’t sound like it’s going to be anything spectacular, but from the saddle it certainly performs.
Wrapped around the motor is a new rugged tubular steel frame with a bolt-on sub-frame which should keep the adventurous ones happy, while they’ll also be liking the 21-inch wheel sitting at the front. In a first for a V-Strom there’s switchable ABS (the rear can be deactivated) plus an off-road specific traction control setting which allows a certain amount of rear wheel spin before reducing power. There is also three throttle maps (A, B & C) which all offer maximum output but get there with softer curves, and there is also two levels of ABS as well as rear off.
A nice touch is the standard up/down quickshifter which ensures you can keep the motor on the boil, although the twin is so smooth and flexible you can easily run a gear higher or lower without an issue. The new 5-inch TFT dash is a pleasure to use, and it’s great that you can adjust all the settings without needing to delve into sub menus. Everything is there at a glance.
Showa handle the suspension with the fully-adjustable forks and monoshock (complete with remote preload adjuster) offering 220mm of travel. It’s not the massive amounts of travel we’re used to seeing with full-on adventure machines, but then you also don’t get the tip-toe stance with the Suzuki as the seat is a confidence giving 855mm from the deck. A nice big 20-litre tank should see a theoretical range of 450km if riding like a nana, but with a bunch of throttle-happy journos we were looking more like 300km before starting to worry.
With a price of $18,999 + ORC, the new V-Strom is certain to attract a lot of attention, with Suzuki NZ confirming they’ve already had solid pre-orders. The super-smooth motor is the stand-out feature, with more than enough stomp for the road while also being flexible as we headed onto muddy, gravel tracks. With torrential rain for the most of our press ride, the 800DE handled every situation better than any V-Strom before it.
Build quality looks to be solid, with one machine taking a tip over and coming away with barely a scratch. The electronics all work seamlessly and are easy to swap between, and being able to deactivate the rear ABS means slides into turns are now possible.
On the road and the 21-inch front wheel didn’t cause any concern, and a spirited ride over the twisting Para Paras back into Whanganui showed that the Suzuki is more than up to the task of keeping with any adventure bike and a decent amount of sportier machines.
Expect models in stores by July 2023. Alternatively, head to your local Suzuki dealer and put your name down for one.
Check out the next issue of BRM for an in-depth report.
|Engine Type||4-stroke, 2-cylinder, liquid-cooled, DOHC|
|Engine Displacement (CC)||776|
|Bore x Stroke||84.0 mm x 70.0 mm|
|Fuel System||Fuel Injection|
|Overall Length (mm)||2345|
|Overall Width (mm)||975|
|Overall Height (mm)||1310|
|Ground Clearance (mm)||220|
|Seat Height (mm)||855|
|Curb Mass (kg)||230|
|Suspension – Front||Inverted telescopic, coil spring, oil damped|
|Suspension – Rear||Link type, coil spring, oil damped|
|Brakes – Front||Disc, twin|
|Brakes – Rear||Disc|
|Tyre – Front||90/90-21M/C 54H tube type|
|Tyre – Rear||150/70R17 M/C 69H, tube type|
|Fuel Tank Capacity (L)||20|