Only true haters would deny the BMW 1250 GS being the king of adventure motorcycling. The big GS has been and still is the baseline for the ADV class – the one that all others are compared to. It does everything superbly well, has a killer of an engine with torque everywhere, is comfortable for long trips even with 2-up, handles surprisingly well off road and has the build quality that only BMW is known for. It simply is the best all round motorcycle one can buy.
But, the big boxer is also the most expensive bike in class and it’s not as reliable as its japanese classmates like the Honda Africa Twin and the Yamaha Super Ténéré. Also in that class are the KTM 1290 Adventure, the Triumph Tiger 1200 and the Ducati Multistrada 1260… all very very good bikes!
The Suzuki V-Strom 1000 XT was mostly considered ‘unworthy’ to be in this class. Its lack of sophisticated electronics, relatively low power (although similar to the Africa twin’s power) and its lower price tag, made that it was often compared against the little brothers of above mentioned motorcycles, like the BMW 850GS, the Triumph Tiger 900, the KTM 1090 & 790 and the Yamaha Ténéré 700.
Enter the new Suzuki V-Strom 1050 XT!
We wrote about its unveiling at EICMA 2019, but last week in Spain, it was officially presented to the press, offering a bunch of reporters their first ride. Unfortunately I was not among those reporters, but I did see their reviews and rode the 1000 XT last year. Here’s a summary of their experiences:
Although the looks didn’t change that much – it’s still unmistakably a V-Strom – the design is more angular than its predecessor. You either love it or hate it. General consensus around the reporters was that they like it… and I can only agree!
Although the new name suggest otherwise, the engine capacity for the 1000 and the new 1050 is exactly the same: 1037cc. Due to changes to ignition timing, a reprogrammed ECU, altered compression ratio, a revamped exhausts system, a larger catalyst and ride-by-wire 49mm throttle bodies, the number of horses has been increased from 99 to 106. Peak torque remains more or less the same, but was shifted from 4000rpm to 6000rpm.
The electronic package is the biggest change compared to the outgoing model. With a new LCD dashboard (no, not TFT, but nonetheless offering great overview and readability), Ride-by-Wire, cruise control, two-level adjustable ABS, Hill-Hold, traction control with four sensitivity modes, a three-mode Drive Mode Selector, the Easy Start System and, quite important, a USB outlet (why don’t other bikes offer this simple feature?), the V-Strom is brought up to par with most of its rivals in the class.
Well, aside from another windscreen (offering better protection, but not adjustable while riding anymore), the rest stayed pretty much the same. Same wheels, same suspension, same frame, etc. For a lot more details on the new Suzuki V-Strom 1050 XT have a look here.
Prince to the King?
The V-Strom has always had one thing going for it – the thing that repeatedly caused it to be compared to the King of ADV – its engine! Although not as powerful as BMW’s boxer, it has been praised for its torque and overall ‘smiles for miles’ feeling. Luckily, the upgrades to the engine have not altered this at all. If anything, it has become better! And now, with the upgraded electronics and looks, I suspect it will become a genuine classmate of BMW’s big GS. Moreover because of its price. Even though increased to $14,800 for the XT model (and you want the XT model with all the electronic goodies mentioned above), it’s still well below the $17,900 base price of a BMW 1250 GS.
So, if you’re on a budget and/or prefer Japanese reliability over the BMW label and/or don’t want to ride what everyone is riding, take a look at the new Suzuki V-Strom 1050 XT – the Prince to the King of ADV!