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Chris Long, Suzuki Dl650 Review

Chris Long, Suzuki Dl650 Review
17 May
Written by Jonathan Hughes

Lets start the adventure

Review of the Suzuki Vstrom DL650. This is a bike I have bought for myself from Bolton Motorcycles, so not a test ride. Its a pre-registered 2019 bike, 0-miles.
This bike is unlike anything I have ever chosen before, it is a Sports Adventure Tourer (as Suzuki call it), so a swiss army knife of a bike. I chose it because I like to take my wife as pillion, and my current bike (Kawasaki Z900) is not well suited for a pillion (but I am keeping it, I love this bike). So the Vstrom is an addition to the garage, and as such must be cheap for me to own which it very much is.
Being pre-reg, is a significant saving from RRP, and also being new means residuals remain strong. Also I have added this to my existing policy with BeMoto, who I add are superb, and to add the 2nd bike to my policy is peanuts! I was actually very surprised at how cheap to add. With this and the claimed ~70mpg from Suzuki, it adds up to be a cheap bike to run.

So I took ownership of the bike on Friday evening, gave it a short ride and also took it out solo Saturday morning just to fuel up while my wife got ready. On first setting off, the bike feels tall, heavy and unfamiliar, but this feeling soon goes away, the first bend you take it around and you'll realise it isn't unmanoeuvrable, it corners very well indeed, and powers out of corners well with the superb torque from the Vtwin motor which sounds great. Come to a stop at lights and its easy to reach the floor with the left foot, holding brake with right foot. Set off and the low RPM assist will stop the bike from stalling, you don't notice it, but it is there, I think it just helps that first few miles familiarity where you may be a bit 'on off' throttle setting off.

I took the bike, with my wife on the back to Glasson Dock, we picked this destination as is a nice stop while never so busy, so easy to maintain social distancing as per the rules, and good to take some photos. We headed up the A6, through Preston, Garstang, Cockerham Sands on to Glasson Dock. I added 5 clicks of preload to the rear to allow for the pillion, and this felt great. Even with pillion, it is easy to flick the bike around and crank over through the bends. I have ridden several bikes with pillion and with the Vstrom I feel the weight and affect of the weight a lot less on the Vstrom than any other bike. Very comfortable too. Plenty of power to overtake cars when necessary. The Vtwin motor has a good amount of torque, and also a lot of engine breaking, rolling on or off the throttle is not as silky smooth as an Inline4 motor but it never will be, it is easy and quick to become familiar and smooth with a little clutch slip so not to jerk the pillion around too much (granted with pillion you have to ride with 100% smoothness, so is a tall order to take an unfamiliar bike out with pillion). The suspension is excellent, it only has preload adjustment at the rear, so you are limited to the stock setting, which is absolutely fine. It doesn't bounce around and dip much braking even with pillion. Well done Suzuki! The stock tyres are Bridgestone Battleaxadventure A40, 19inch on front, 17inch on the rear, the tyres are excellent and do not need to be changed atall, I had plenty of grip (even though the tyres are new), this was on dry roads and a small amount of gravel while looking for a good photo stop on Glasson Dock car park.
The bike as an excellent amount of tech goodies, it comes with ABS (as all UK bikes over 125cc must), 3 stage traction control (off, 1 and 2), which will startup on whichever setting you leave it (including off) unlike other models which will not save an off setting for startup. But what I notice more and I very much like, is the dash. The display is old school (Im not sold on TFT yet) and has very clear and every info you could desire. It has a mechanical rev counter and electronic large speed display, with gear indicator (yes all normal), but then it includes more information in the lower part of the dash (which other bikes may have but you can only display 1 selection at a time and scroll through). So here at the top of the lower screen it has trip 1 and trip 2, which are linked to 2 different average MPG, and if you reset the trip1 it will reset MPG1 at the same time, same fro trip2. So you can use this for total trip and between fuel stops. Yes its a simple idea but a very good useful one, this part also show the dash illumination setting which is adjustable. Also on display in centre of screen is the air temperature (I miss this on my Z900!) TC setting and time (these 3 pieces of information are static), then the bottom of the lower dash is where the MPG is on display - so Avg1, Avg2, current MPG, also fuel range. To the left of the display if the water temperature, and along the bottom edge is the fuel gauge.... the most useful dash on a bike I have had, while positioned in easy eyeline while riding. The dash also includes a 12v socket, ideal for charging devices while in use, this has a good waterproof cover.

Considering the bike is new, 0miles, well, I think it showed 3miles when I took it. So the engine is new, and tight, and MPG I would expect to not be quite as good as it will become after being run in. I fuelled up with standard shell 95 octane, full tank, which I think is 20litres if I remember correctly. I set off with pillion, and we seemed to get caught at every set of red traffic lights, we got to Preston and this town has about 3 gazillion set of traffic lights at which we stopped at every-single-one of them, riding out of Preston after perhaps 30miles estimated I thought "the fuel gauge is still showing full" so I scrolled to range, and the bike told me I had 210 miles range, at this point we were averaging 61mpg. For the ride home we avoided Preston and took the A59, headed through Whalley, Sabden, picked up the A56 past Winfields, through Ramsbottom, Bury, Bolton back home. The bike at this point was showing 66.5mpg, upon arriving home covered 120miles, had lost just 2 bars from fuel gauge and range showing have 130miles remaining. This bike is excellent on fuel with a huge range! I also noticed I had used the whole width of the rear tyre.

Buffering, I heard people had been fitting Halfords universal mirrors as these are more aerodynamic (and reduces buffeting), and perhaps a different screen to direct air over helmet. I didn't exceed 80mph and never felt any issue. I did notice I was warm all day, perhaps I am familiar with air blast from a fully naked bike. No bugs on helmet, but many on front of bike.

Here I normally summarise and ask, would I buy this bike: Yes I would, well, I have! and I am very pleased that I have, it exceeds expectations. I don't believe I would benefit from more power from the 1000 or new 1050 Vstrom, rather I would miss the great MPG and fuel range I have from this 650.
What would I change - very little, it doesn't need a tail tidy, different tyres, levers, screen. I am however considering engine bars and bash guard from Heed, I will add tank grip just to protect the paint from my knees, Oxford Insugrip on the levers (because I like them), perhaps an exhaust change because I like the Vtwin motor sound (and loud pipes save lives afterall). I already added tanklock for my Kappa tank bag, and a phone mount which I use as satnav.
Chris Long, Suzuki Dl650 Review
Chris Long, Suzuki Dl650 Review
Chris Long, Suzuki Dl650 Review

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