Now I will stand up on any a giant wet haddock, you’re suddenly not it is to ride and how pleasant it is to live soapbox and spit venomously towards the recent additions of South Africa’s favourite machines, the adventure bike. Why you ask? It’s just that every new adventure bike I’ve ridden over the last year has more buttons to play with than one of Elvis’ old outfits. Many minutes go by as you try to find the ‘optimum’ setting for ‘your style of riding’ – what a load of bollocks mate! Then comes the worst part, riding around after you’ve ‘fiddled’ then, slap me with too sure if you’ve chosen the best options for ‘your style of riding’ and irritatingly decide to change everything again in the quest for riding perfection. Again, what a load of bollocks mate! Many may disagree, especially if you own a new two-wheeled rolling computer and just bought a new smart phone that now links with your bike’s parameters, again, what a load of …
Anyway, back to these here Suzuki bikes. The first thing I noticed about the R144,899 V-Strom DL1000 was how simple with. Just switch it on, get on, and enjoy the ride man. And because of its relative and comparative simplicity the DL1000 is a refreshing option. The first big V-Strom came along in 2002 and basically stayed the same since. Then in 2014 Suzuki revealed this new version and it most certainly has a better build quality and looks far better. The original motor was 996cc and now the motor has swollen to 1,037cc and claimed to make around 100hp, which is a good 50% less than the big KTMs for example, but horsepower isn’t everything on an adventure bike, is it?
Instead Suzuki has their long stroke engine (100x66mm) focussing more on torque. This smooth and throaty sounding engine delivers peak torque of 100Nm at only 4,000rpm. So lazy days in the comfortable wide saddle short shifting through the super six-speed gearbox makes this adventure bike the gentleman’s choice. And one thing is for sure, after 12 years of refining their 90-degree V-twin, it will be supremely reliable and if you look around the motor and ease of access, very easy to maintain and service.
But the 228kg DL1000 isn’t just about the bigger engine because again I was impressed by the suspension package and whoever chose the damping rates deserves a daily lobster sandwich. He, or she, has not been perverted by all this electronic suspension trickery and instead matched the ride from the ‘basic’ KYB units to perfectly suit the V-Strom platform.
There is a bit of electronic assistance on the DL1000 though in the form of traction control that only has three setting, strong, not so strong and off, what else do you need, eh? And of course ABS, which I couldn’t figure out how to switch off, but never wanted to really. And while we’re on the subject of brakes, er, wow! These little Tokico callipers bite like an alligator on a pig’s arse. They actually shocked me at first by how powerful they are but the ABS will save you if your right hand gets a bit too eager.
Talking of eager, I was more than eager to ride the DL650XT after being impressed with the new thou’ and I wasn’t to be disappointed. In fact the R102,500 650 turned out to be the better bike mainly because of the 40k price saving for basically the same thing, but in some people’s minds they prefer big capacity engines and a ‘mere’ 650 won’t cut it. Well you’d be wrong because I believe that the DL650XT is one of the best value-for-money motorcycles on the market today.
The DL650 first popped its head up in 2004 using the, again, hyper-reliable SV650 engine. The 90-degree 645cc V-twin is just about the same unit from 2004 with minor detail changes and makes a decent 69hp and 60Nm, which swings the bike past 200km/h and will cruise along all day at legal speeds whilst sipping fuel, because this is one economical motorbike for its size, and its 20-litre tank will take you to the moon and back, maybe, depending on what you’ve been smoking.
But one big advantage over the DL1000 is the adoption of those gorgeous spoke wheels aiming the 215kg 650 more towards off-road antics. It’s easily as comfortable as its big brother too with another soft and wide seat – have ‘others’ forgotten how to caress one’s buttocks? Suzuki most definitely has not!
The engine is a peach and just rasping through the, again fantastic, six-speed gearbox, between its ‘meaty’ 6-7,500rpm zone makes you wonder if you’ll ever need more on a bike for daily commuting and long holiday hauls. I think not. A bike that does everything for an affordable price is exactly what the DL650XT is, and then some. So the V-Stroms live on and so they should. Reliable and so easy to live with is where they excel above the horrendously complicated and far more expensive options. And my choice between the two would have to be the 650 version because of what it offers for less. Then again I do like big motors and the lazy nature of the DL1000 might suit more people than you or I’d think.