After attending the press launch for the 2018 Suzuki V-Strom 1000, we brought a test unit back to the MD office to put more miles on the bike on familiar roads. We went through all of the technical details, including the changes for 2018, in our report from the press launch. Nevertheless, here are the highlights. The starting point, of course, is the largely unchanged 90° v-twin 1000cc engine.
Changes for 2018 include a sophisticated electronics package that features a three-axis IMU that works together with a combined braking system with ABS. Like some other modern IMU-centric systems (primarily on sport bikes), this enables the new V-Strom 1000 to assess traction needs in conditions previously unheard of on street bikes, such as allowing adjustment of brake pressure even when the bike is leaned over on its side. Adjustable traction control is also standard.
The fairing design for 2018 includes a taller windscreen that is adjustable for both height and pitch. No tools are required for the latter, and it can be changed quickly and easily.
The combined braking system is sophisticated enough to let the rider control front and rear brake pressure independently, unless the ECU determines a need to activate ABS or the combined feature.
An 1000 XT model is available this year with tubeless, spoked wheels and a tapered aluminum handlebar, but our test unit was the standard model with cast wheels.
The V-Strom 1000 has been around a long time, and it’s always been notable for its comfort. It was one of the first adventure bikes, and the bolt upright riding position with generous legroom is a hallmark of the machine. The current model is even more comfortable than the original, with a firmer, broader seat that provides a better platform for both the rider and a passenger. The reach to the handlebar is easy, and the rider feels in control with a relaxed, natural position on the bike. This makes negotiating dense traffic, for instance, easier than when hunched over.
Riders of different heights can experiment with different positions for the new wind screen. Our 5‘11“ test rider was able to find a position that minimized buffeting at the helmet level, but kept the chest and shoulders largely out of the wind. Suzuki has come a long way with their stock windscreen, learning from past mistakes that led many riders to swap the stock screen for an aftermarket unit. Few riders will find that necessary, now, and the new, standard hand guards help keep your mitts warm, as well.
Of course, there is now a great deal of competition in the large-displacement, adventure tourer category. There are bikes with huge power and acceleration for instance, including models from KTM. The V-Strom 1000 doesn’t play the high horsepower game, but that doesn’t mean the 1000cc v-twin isn’t a satisfying performer. With a claimed 99 horsepower at 8,000 rpm and 75 foot/pounds of torque at 4,000 rpm, the V-Strom 1000 offers a broad plateau of satisfying power and acceleration at comparatively low rpm levels.
Unlike some competitors who focus on high peak horsepower numbers, the big v-twin in the V-Strom pulls with authority from as low as 3,500 rpm, but largely signs off shortly after 7,500 rpm. With a well spaced six-speed gear box (that shifts easily and positively), the rider can keep revs low for good fuel economy, but always have the right gear available for good acceleration. With all that torque, of course, this means carrying a passenger and luggage won’t make this bike break a sweat.
The adjustable suspension features firm damping that keeps things under control even when the bike is ridden hard. As delivered, our test bike didn’t absorb small, choppy bumps as well as we’d like, but a small adjustment to compression and rebound in the fork cured this.
It is surprisingly nimble on twisty roads (thanks, in part, to the wide handlebar and relatively narrow tires). On a Saturday morning ride with friends, I was easily able to outpace several sport bikes on a very tight back road with several 90° direction changes. The extra suspension travel came in handy here, as did the strong brakes (the front, radial-mount binders are particularly impressive).
We can’t be sure that the IMU, together with the combined braking system, saved us from a slide or crash during our testing, but the big V-Strom 1000 maintained its poise even when traction became dicey (such as encountering rocks or gravel mid-turn). Of course, a rider should still use common sense, because even the most sophisticated electronic aids cannot cure gross errors.
With a 5.3 gallon fuel tank, and mid-to-high 40s MPG achievable (even better mileage while cruising on the highway), the V-Strom 1000 offers generous range between fill-ups. The new 2018 model offers plenty of comfort to make those long rides easy, and enjoyable. Together with proven reliability, the strength of this bike is its ability to provide a fun, comfortable platform that is also economical and trustworthy for the long haul.
The 2018 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 isn’t the bike for riders looking to drag race with superbikes. There are high horsepower competitors (priced much higher, as well) that can serve that purpose. It is, nevertheless, the near perfect motorcycle for experienced adventure riders and tourers that are looking for the upright comfort offered by this category of bike, together with long-term reliability and economy.
The 2018 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 starts at $12,999 for the standard model tested, and $13,299 for the XT version (pictured above). Take a look at Suzuki’s web site for additional details and specifications.
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