Test ride: Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT

It’s easy to dismiss Suzuki’s new V-Strom 1050XT as just a colourful rehash of this sport adventure tourer that has won fans for its hard-working, all-round ability.

I should know – I’ve been riding the 650 version for two years and it does everything I ask of it without shouting ‘look at me’.

Not so the revamped 1050 which, in XT guise, complete with gold-rimmed wire wheels on my eye-catching yellow and blue test bike, goes back to the future.

The new model is a retro-inspired refresh harking back to the iconic DR Big. It pays homage to that original adventure machine with even chunkier, more muscular styling set off by ultra-bright traditional colour schemes and that traditional bold beak.

It’s hardly surprising given that both were designed by the same person and the styling really works on the modern interpretation.

And the amount of changes under the skin are borne out by the new V-Strom 1050XT winning respected French publication Moto Journal's award for 'Motorcycle of the Year', with a rating of 91 out 100 after a thorough evaluation of its ability, spec and price.

It’s the same 1.037cc V-twin engine but tweaked to meet Euro 5 emission regulations. Power is hiked 7% to 107PS, and arrives 500rpm higher at 8,500 revs, but torque is down one to 100Nm but peaks at 6,000 rather than 4,000rpm.

While this strong motor still pulls willingly from low revs, it’s slightly more entertaining at higher revs and encourages using the six-speed gearbox. The new ride-by-wire throttle also gives a smoother power delivery.

But what really sets the 1050XT apart from the V-Strom 1000 is a wealth of new electronic gadgetry which is useful rather than ‘hi-tech bling’ you pay for but never use.

There are four traction control settings, including off, and three engine power modes to adjust for riding style and conditions. The XT’s enhanced electronics package model also has a six-axis inertial measurement unit. Suzuki’s Intelligent Ride System also provides cornering ABS and linked brakes that can detect and adapt to load and inclines.

But what I really appreciated was the 1050XT’s new cruise control and hill-hold assist.

The cruise control is one of the easiest set-ups – switch it on, control the speed via the modes rocker switch and brake or click the throttle fully shut to turn it off… second nature and simple.

The hill-hold assist is so unobtrusive you don’t realise it is working until you don’t roll back or forward on a hill – it’s even more of a boon when riding two-up.

Suzuki held back from electronic suspension adjustment for the V-Strom 1050XT and stuck with the previous set-up, admittedly tweaked for the extra weight of the electronics.

It doesn’t worry me because the V-Strom is a comfortable, stable tourer that’s sharp enough to tackle the twists and turns with verve. It doesn’t feel like a 247kg bike, always well balanced even weaving through slow-moving traffic. The new seat is thinner and can be lowered from 870 to 850mm if you’re not tall.

Talking about adjustment – altering the XT’s screen is a doddle. Just flip the clip at the front and raise or lower it. The screen also has a bracing bar, above the new TFT instrument display, which is ideal for mounting a sat-nav device or mobile phone holder and it can be charged on the go from the USB port.

The 1050XT, priced from £11,299 at launch, is still a lot of bike for the money and an honest, good-value jack of all trades. It now has even more power to surprise thanks to a range of electronic rider aids.

Find out more at orwell.co.uk/suzuki/new-suzuki-motorcycle-range/adventure/v-strom-1050-xt