Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT 2020 Review | rode on good bitumen, crappy backroads & sandy firetrails

Review of Suzuki’s V-Strom 1050XT
Belting along Australia’s backroads requires
a touring bike that is comfortable and capable
— and Suzuki has delivered just that with
the 2020 V-Strom 1050XT.
We rode the new V-Strom on good bitumen, crappy
backroads, hard-packed gravel and even some
looser, sandy firetrails and through all this
it performed well.
The Adventure bike style might be there, but
it’s more capable SUV than Dakar competitor,
and Suzuki really wants you to know it’s
a touring bike, not an Adventure bike.
The big-bore V-Strom has always offered good
real-world performance at a pretty decent
price point, but was overshadowed by more
capable machines at the top end and its own
650cc sibling as a lighter, cheaper option.
For 2020, Suzuki has really sharpened up the
1050XT version to offer an all-roads touring
bike that is very capable and very affordable.
The 1050 maintains the qualities V-Strom owners
want — value, real-world performance and
State-of-the-art performance has never been
the V-Strom’s modus operandi; it targets
buyers unimpressed by luxury bike costs or
Euro pizazz.
Such buyers usually value longevity highly.
Fast enough and bullet proof is typical of
The same recipe sold a lot of

Bandits and of course drove the runaway success
of the 650 V-Strom.
The 106 horses have strong legs.
It’s not a torque monster, but has what’s
required, never feeling stressed.
Unlike many large V-Twins, it happily pulls
from 1800rpm in top gear.
Power builds evenly without dips to the redline.
The engine is smooth at all commonly used
rpm, the rider feeling only a soothing V-Twin
For long-distance work it’s a peach of an
engine — it even sounds good (although Euro
5 seems to have made bikes even quieter).
The bike felt enthusiastic in the sharpest
throttle mode (A).
The other power modes dial it back noticeably,
with the dullest mode (C) only needed for
really challenging conditions.
The V-Strom has a taught chassis, giving it
a solid, quality feel.
Despite a longish wheelbase, it turns eagerly.
The 1050XT has one of the better emulsion
rear shocks.
Typically, emulsion shocks struggle with bigger
hits and overheating.
Neither issue was noticed with the V-Strom.
The shock isn’t silky smooth, but it never
kicked hard and was consistent.
Many riders factor in a performance shock
at purchase.
In this case, a spring change to suit rider
weight is all it may need.
$1500 saved, possibly…
Some Suzukis in the past have exhibited front-end
It was most likely a fork/frame flex thing
and was only noticeable when pushing on rough
The V-Strom showed none of this and it’s
great Suzuki has it sorted.
(It was always sorted on GSX-Rs, not so with
some lesser models.)
The bike has enough adjustability to suit
a wide range of riders.
My personal preference is for compliant suspension
and quick steering.
The Suzuki has a mainstream setting, aimed
at 80kg riders and relatively conservative
steering geometry (offering good stability).
My weight and style are a long way from the
mythical median rider, so changing the set-up
to my personal preferences tests a bike’s
To do that, the V-Strom’s steering was sharpened
by dropping the forks through the triple clamps
by 12mm (a 10-minute job) and extra preload
dialled into the shock, lifting the rear.
This changed the balance, tilting the bike
forward, improving the steering response.
The textbook says there would be a small loss
of stability.
None was noticed.
Being a light rider, the fork compression/tension/preload
adjusters were backed right off.
The rear rebound damping was set to the fastest
recovery possible, consistent with an occasional
Set-up tip: If the recovery is too slow, it
will stop wallow, but the shock packs down
over bumps.
Eventually, it kicks you in the butt — sometimes
like a size 13 boot.
These settings turned the Strom into an impressive
The ride was reasonably plush and rough road
grip improved.
It darted into corners like a 17in-wheeled
bike, easily changed lines mid-corner, and
held a line through rutted corners.
The comfortably low pegs ultimately limit
corner velocity.
In a crowded market of flashy premium bikes,
it’s easy to overlook the V-Strom, dismissing
it as less motorcycle for less money.
This isn’t the case.
The blend of comfort, chassis performance
and tractable power rolled into a bullet-proof
package is a good one.
The bike builds on the Strom’s traditional
strengths, keeping it relevant.
The V-Strom 1050 XT comes close to the illusive
dream of “one bike for all situations”.
Yet, despite appearances, the XT isn’t really
an off-road bike.
The close-fitting front mud guard, rubber
pegs and limited ground clearance largely
rule that out.
It’s not without ability, but others are
better at venturing into the scenery.
As a long-legged, all-road tourer, it delivers.
For minimalists, it’s exactly the bike they
want, capable of swallowing miles with only
moderate bank account damage.
It does so in an understated way (maybe not
the yellow paint variant).
There’s a reason V-Stroms have been Suzuki’s
biggest sellers and the additional appeal
of the new one will no doubt continue the

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