Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT ABS review first ride

An adventure tourer is one of the hottest properties in India right now. The SUV of the two-wheeler world has had displacements from 150cc to 1260cc. Every motorcycle maker wants to cement their presence in this segment. Suzuki had the V-Strom 1000 but know that the volumes market is for a lower capacity offering. This was the very reason for bringing in the Suzuki V-Strom 650. Globally, there is also your regular V-Strom 650 and the top spec XT ABS. The latter is the one we get in India. We were in Jaipur for a full day riding the Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT ABS. Read on to see what we think of it and if you should buy one or not.

Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT front view
Design of the Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT ABS

This is one section that I purposely left out from the video review. The motorcycle more or less looks like the V-Strom 1000. Even the Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT ABS colour schemes are the same  – yellow and white. The beak is prominent and has carbon fibre like plastics used. The 19-inch spoke wheel in the front has a golden rim tape. The latter is dependent on the body colour one chooses, with the white unit getting a black rim tape. Suzuki has used a halogen bulb for the high and low beams. We unfortunately couldn’t check the throw at night.

Suspension of the Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT ABS

The tank looks chiseled and has well sculpted knee recess too. I quite liked the seat. It is soft and well padded. The seat height at 835mm wasn’t daunting for me, however it could be a spot of bother for someone who is around 5ft 5 inches tall. Suzuki will offer you a 815mm lowered seat, however the padding will be thinner. The rear wheel is a 17-inch unit, Both the tyres are Bridgestone Battlax units. The tail light is an LED unit while the indicators too are LED blinkers. A separate carrier too can be installed for carrying luggage.


I like the way everything is put up nicely. The build quality too is typical Suzuki – of high order.

Equipment on offer in the Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT ABS

The V-Strom gets tubeless tyres, It also has 2-step traction control system that can also be turned off. In this case, level one of the traction control system is for use on tarmac while level two decreases the power delivery and is for use in loose sand. One can also completely switch off the traction control. Suzuki also offers dual channel ABS and this cannot be switched off. There is some amount of storage space under the seat too. Suzuki has given a charging socket near the left handle bar. The windscreen is adjustable in three steps but requires an allen key.

Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT ABS

The instrument cluster of the Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT ABS is a digital-analogue unit and while it may seem a tad confusing at first, you will quickly learn how to use it. A select button on the handlebar as well as up and down arrows help with the menus on the console. The traction control modes can only when the motorcycle is stationary. One can also toggle between the average fuel efficiency, twin trip meters as well as the the distance to empty. The fuel tank has a capacity of 20 litres. Knuckle guards too are provided.

Suspension of the Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT ABS

Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT suspension

The telescopic front forks in the front and a rebound adjustment for the rear. This remote preload adjuster for the rear suspension can be operated by hand allowing the rider to quickly setup the suspension to match the riding style or in a case of two-up riding or with a full load of luggage without any tools needed. I found the suspension to be a bit firm. The front will let you know the surface that the motorcycle is going through. However, nothing is transmitted onto the handle bar or even the seat. This makes for a relaxed riding experience. The best part of this big capacity bike is that it doesnt heat up. Even when riding in the confines of the city. The motorcycle is also quite easy to steer.

Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT ABS

Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT ABS

In terms of handling, I quite liked it. I have ridden the Multistrada for almost the same distance as V-Strom 650. In contrast where the Multi feels a bit heavy, the V-Strom 650 feels as light as a 300cc motorcycle. It is very easy to lean the motorcycle on its sides – in short spirited riding is not a problem for this bike. The tyres are more oriented toward tarmac than off-road.

Suspension of the Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT ABS

While I am not used to riding motorcycles off-road, I have heard experiences from other journalists. They say that the sand is a place for fun and it indeed is. I dialled the traction control to level two and tackled the loose sand. I could however feel that the motorcycle wasn’t as confident when the going gets a bit tough. It is likely that changing to knobby pattern tyres may help with off-roading. However, this may compromise the on-road performance.

If you look at the refinement, the Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT ABS is very refined. If you’re someone who likes their motorcycles loud, then you got to look somewhere else or try aftermarket exhausts. The twin discs in the front and single disc at the rear do a good job of bringing this 216kg motorcycle to a halt quickly. However, a bit more feedback from the brakes will definitely be appreciated by all.

Engine and transmission of the Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT ABS

Suzuki uses a 645cc V-twin liquid cooled engine in the 650 XT. The engine makes 72PS of power and 62Nm of torque. It is mated to a 6-speed manual transmission. There is no slipper clutch on offer, however the gear lever doesn’t require much effort in stock form as well. The Suzuki is also deceptively quick.  What you and all the buyers will like is the oodles of torque on offer. The Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT ABS will be happy to trundle around in town at 3rd gear. This at 25kmph is just wonderful. If you want instant acceleration, then the wring the throttle and the V-Strom will be quick to respond. It will hit 120kmph easily in third gear. This tractability will truly win it many fans.

During the course of the 200km ride, the V-Strom sipped 27kmpl. This was with 80 per cent of highways and the rest of city roads. The gear shifts too are super smooth. Tucking under the windscreen will easily result in 160kmph and upwards. Even towards the top of its rev range, the V-Strom barely displayed any vibrations.

Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT
These Rev’it pants were borrowed from The Bearclaw – Adventure on Rent. You pay a minimal fee for the riding gear and it will be delivered to your destination as well as picked up. So no hassles of carrying riding gear. They don’t loan riding boots though
Final words on the Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT ABS

It is just a brilliant motorcycle. Never before did I have this reluctance to hand over a motorcycle back to the maker. The Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT ABS is perhaps just the perfect bike that I was looking for. It has a good balance of power that will not scare the novice and efficiency. If you are into mild off-roading, the V-Strom 650 will happily help you with it as well. What’s the deterrent though will be the Rs 7.6 lakh ex-showroom price. The price is a lakh more than the competing Kawasaki Versys 650. While I may not have the moolah right now to buy the V-Strom, I can definitely wait for a used unit to show up. For those of you who can afford to spend this much on a motorcycle, I will urge you to go for the V-Strom 650.

Things we like about the Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT ABS

So easy to ride, tractable engine with good efficiency and sweet handling

Things we don’t like about the Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT ABS

High price tag and limited off-road ability



Suzuki had conceptualised the V-Strom 650 for the Indian market a good three years ago. It was earlier decided that the regular 650 will be brought in but then better sense prevailed and the top spec XT made it to our market.

Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT ABS image gallery

Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT ABS spec comparison

2018 Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT ABS video review

To borrow riding gear for an adventure motorcycle ride, contact BearClaw

Images by Donald Dsouza



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