November 11, 2021

2020 Suzuki VStrom 1050XT

2020 Suzuki VStrom 1050XT

I'm going to start by saying, this bike, for me, was a massive surprise. I think maybe because they have always been around. This as far as I can tell is the 3rd iteration of the V-Strom using basically the same engine, tweaked and fettled slightly each time. and because Suzuki has chosen to refine rather than rewrite the big-bore V-Strom, it doesn't get as much fanfare and acclaim as it possibly deserves. More about this later.

Running a 19-inch front and 17-inch rear, both tubeless spoked wheels, the MY-2020 Suzuki V-Strom XT is set up for Adventure Touring. It loves to pound the highways and will do it all day, but it's just as happy to barrel down a gravel road. The power plant is a 1,037cc V-twin set up to meet Euro-5 emissions standards. It's got 106 hp, 75lb.-ft torque, a 6-speed transmission. The seat height is adjustable, but from the factory, it's 33.7 inches off the ground. Other stats include 6.3 inches of travel front and rear, 43mm inverted fully adjustable forks, a 20L fuel tank, and it weighs in at 235kg wet.

The V-Strom 1050 also has some awesome electronics. Suzuki has stopped short of giving complete rider modes, but they do give you 3 sliding scales, meaning you can really set up the bike how you like it. Suzuki calls it SDMS, which is essentially Throttle Map A, B, and C, 4 levels of traction control, and 2 levels of ABS. The bike also has a hydraulic clutch and ride-by-wire throttle, meaning it also has cruise control, which was an absolute win for me.

Fuel economy
The bike arrived full and I burnt through that first tank in around 280km. Suzuki recommends running the bike on premium 95 octane fuel. At the first fill-up, the gauge was showing zero km to empty, but the bike only took 17L. The VStrom 1050 is equipped with a 20L fuel tank, so there's obviously a 3L reserve. Tell you what though, this came with the eye-watering price tag of almost $50!
When I started commuting, I would do 250km per tank, and it would be around $25 to fill the bike (2014 Yamaha MT07) these days its costing me around $30-$35 per week and I'm hovering around 300km per tank of 91 in the Tenere 700. It's quite a jump in running costs to go from $35 per week to $45 per week for the same distance. However, I'm hoping the less than average fuel economy is down the to engine in the VStrom being brand new. On the open road, the V-Strom more than matched its competition with similar-sized engines in fuel economy.

With the seat in high mode, the V-Strom is a comfortable place to sit. I liked the geometry of my knees and found it an easy bike to ride sitting or standing. The seat is good for anything up to 200km, but if you plan to be in the saddle all day or multiple days in a row as we did, then you may want to look into ways to make the seat a little softer. The rest of the ergonomics were great however, the levers and bars were pretty much where I wanted them and easy to adjust. Pillion accommodation is a little cramped with the pegs being quite high, but it was fine for short trips.
The screen upfront is adjustable but because of where the clasp is you do need to get off the bike to adjust it. Not a major, and given the clasp is a massive silver buckle type thing, I'm guessing it was a design choice they made. It would be nice to be able to change the height of the screen while riding, or at least from the saddle. Also, the screen has many notches meaning it's almost infinitely adjustable between the highest and lowest setting, but I did find it not quite high enough.

It's clear to see the V-Strom 1050 is styled after the DR Big of old, and clearly shows elements from the new Katana too, with its square front headlight. In pictures I felt the bike looked a little plastic and "meah", but in person, the aesthetics soon grew on me. I found the Red and white colour scheme quite striking.

Lighting and Gauges
All LEDs on this puppy, and they have done a great job. the Headlight does a brilliant job of lighting up the road, and the tail light is super bright. The single colour LCD display does look a bit busy when you first look at it, but you soon get to understand the simplistic controls and read-outs. You have an up and a down button, as well as a menu button, interestingly you cant change your Odo, trip, or fuel consumption gauges while in cruise control mode as these buttons double as Set, Increase and Decrease speed controls.

With its large rear grab handles, the Suzuki V-Strom is easy to manhandle around the garage/driveway. They're made from a plastic composite and feel rather solid, the factory rear rack is also pretty handy. The handles and rack are one piece and held on with 4x 10mm bolts which are nice and easy to remove to install something like a Ventura rack. The rear seat is held down by a clasp, released by the key, and the main seat is held down by 2 Allen key bolts. Suzuki also includes some longer spacers to raise the main seat, all housed in form-fitting cutouts under the pillion seat. Nice job Suzuki.
The XT model I tested came with factory crash bars around the engine, which stuck out a good amount. I could see them saving not only the engine but the plastics in a drop. I also loved how Suzuki chose to put a USB-A port (standard USB port) on the side of the display, instead of your standard AUX power port. I reckon 9 times out of 10 you would be charging a phone or GPS, so that is exactly what you need up there.
There is also a standard cigarette lighter type connection under the pillion seat.

So there you have it, The Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT, all things taken into account, it's a win.
Suzuki has chosen to refine an already winning design, instead of rewriting the book. The engine has been around for ages and Suzuki has given it a few more CCs and cleaned up the emissions. As for the bike, they have refined the looks and tweaked the tech.
They have made a good bike better, and I was well impressed. For the roughly $19k they're retailing for currently, you could buy one, and make a few minor modifications and it would still save you a pretty penny over much of the competition.
I've heard many people say "Adventure on a budget" when it comes to Suzuki's V-Strom 1050, and I agree, but that's not a bad thing. If anything it leaves more money in my bank account for accessories and to actually ride the thing.