Test ride: Sense of adventure – Suzuki V-Strom 800DE

Let me be honest about Suzuki’s new V-Strom 800DE. I was certain I would not like it before I even rode it. How can you have a V-Strom without a V-twin engine. How ridiculous.

I loved my DL650, as Suzuki tags it, and still regret selling it (it has just been snapped up by another lucky owner).

It did everything I asked of it but I wanted a bit more power and performance. At a smidge under 5ft 8in, the heavier 1050 tested my strength wheeling it backwards.

I really wanted something in between.

Suzuki has now delivered with the V-Strom 800DE with the 650 continuing for the time-being as an entry to the popular sport adventure tourer range.

That said, the 800DE is an imposing motorbike because this off-road inspired version, the only one currently available, has a 21in front wheel which makes it feel higher than my 650 with a 19in wheel.

But this V-Strom does not look as chunky with the front end now featuring fashionable vertically-stacked hexagonal headlights which make it look slimmer. The LED lights should also be brighter at night, solving the biggest gripe I had about riding my V-Strom 650 in the dark.

The new 776cc engine may be a parallel twin but it feels and sounds like a V-twin. The 270-degree crank gives the character of a 90-degree V-twin but is smoother.

The engine has strong low-down pull and plenty of mid-range punch. There is little point revving it to the limit which helps economy with a respectable 58mpg on the test route, not far short of the claimed 64mpg.

The 800DE’s longer exhaust, compared to the naked GSX-8S which shares this engine, makes it slightly more powerful with 84.3PS at 8,500rpm while torque is the same at 78Nm at 6,800rpm.

The extra power and performance is a welcome boost over the long-serving 650. The new engine pulls cleanly, picking up crisply from 2,500rpm, and feels brisk and smooth in the mid-range.

Suzuki makes good gearboxes and the six-speed transmission has a positive shift but I found the clutch lever heavier than my current one. It is not a hassle with a bi-directional quickshifter, for clutchless changes, standard.

Three engine modes adjust the electronic throttle with a sporty A (active) set-up, standard B (basic) and more relaxed C (comfort). On road I just left it in A and revelled in the sprightly performance.

The traction control has three on-road modes and an off-road gravel setting which allows more wheelspin but not excessive slipping. It can also be switched off.

The anti-lock braking has two levels of intervention and the ABS to the rear wheel can be disengaged. Twin 310mm front discs and a 260mm rear have good feel and feedback and reassuring stopping power.

I had forgotten how much I miss the cossetting ride of a V-Strom and the 800DE takes this to a new level of comfort.

The suspension has 220mm of travel for off-road use and is adjustable, front and rear.

The standard set-up is a big step forward compared to my 650. The back end feels soft when you sit on the tallish seat but not once riding.

On the road, it feels well sorted, soaking up poor road surfaces without feeling soggy.

The handling inspires confidence. The 800DE is so agile flowing along twisty roads that it’s easy to forget this is a big adventure tourer.

I like the five-inch TFT dash’s clean, simple display of a lot of information but would fit the optional 80mm taller high screen. The good news is that the frame to which the screen is fitted makes a good mounting point for a sat-nav device or smartphone.

The V-Strom 800DE, from £10,499, is a tasty bit of kit with an excellent new engine. Even though it is not a V-twin this new motorbike deserves to wear the V-Strom badge.

If I was changing my 650 V-Strom now, the 800DE would be a serious contender. Maybe my current retro ride will not be my last motorbike after all!

Find out more about the Suzuki V-Strom 800DE at orwell.co.uk/suzuki/new-suzuki-motorcycle-range/adventure/v-strom-800de

Check out our Suzuki V-Strom 800DE video road test on our YouTube channel.