Somehow, the ADV has evolved into a purely urban machine. Suzuki have understood the assignment and turned in their submission. We evaluate it over two states and a few hundred kilometres
Story: Joshua Varghese
Photography: Apurva Ambep
It is not everyday that we get to test a touring motorcycle by actually touring on it. In that regard, Suzuki Motorcycle India’s idea of doing a small road trip from Madurai in Tamil Nadu to Kochi in Kerala astride their V-Strom SX motorcycle was the ideal first ride experience. In addition to testing the baby V-Strom based on the parameters it was built for, it also gave us the chance to enjoy some amazing roads, delicious cuisine and picturesque locations. A great combination then. Is the V-Strom SX also a mix of all things good? Here is what we think.
The styling of the V-Strom SX is not something that would have taken long because Suzuki already have their own big ADV range to draw from. The challenge here would have been to keep things as close to the V-Strom as possible without majorly altering their existing Gixxer 250 platform and the Japanese marque has done exactly that. The SX proudly displays the same silhouette as its larger siblings in a slender, more compact package. The crisp yet purposeful front beak draws back into slim bodywork that comprise fuel tank covers flanked by a pair of small fairing elements. When viewed in profile, this small fairing at the front and the sub-frame panels complement each other by being the biggest splashes of colour on the SX; especially in the fluorescent yellow and orange paint schemes. Most of the lower half of the motorcycle including the 17- and 19-inch wheels are finished in black. The only contrasting element here is the engine which is finished in a deep golden hue. In comparison to the visually busy front and profiles of the SX, its rear is rather simple with a sturdy luggage rack being the only point of interest. I did spend a few hours on the road after sunset and found myself wishing for a better spread of light from the LED headlamp on Tamil Nadu’s unlit highways. Considering that the high beam only illuminated the branches of the trees, this may have been an adjustment issue.
The instrument cluster is a similar story because Suzuki have not gone overboard in making things any fancier than necessary. The digital screen is simple to use and displays all the basic items in a clear and crisp format. Things get slightly busier once you pair a smartphone with the Suzuki Ride Connect over Bluetooth because that claims almost one-fourth of the screen. By the way, readers please note that some features are available for Android smartphones only. I appreciate how Suzuki have slightly tilted the screen upwards. Such attention to detail makes things a lot easier when spending long hours in the saddle and what a place to be.
The seat is 835 mm off the ground and that is a sweet spot of accessibility for most riders. Slightly raised handlebars and well-placed foot-pegs complement the comfortable seat and offer a relaxed rider triangle that supports touring. Standing up on the pegs will be a cramped affair for tall riders but Suzuki insist that the SX is not meant for off-roading. They are placing this motorcycle as an adventure sports-tourer whose appetite for off-roading is limited to broken roads and mild trails. That said, this V-Strom does a commendable job of living up to expectations.
Speaking of which, the powerplant is the same smooth, rev-happy unit that we have seen in the Gixxer range. The 249-cc, oil-cooled, single-cylinder engine dishes out 26.5 hp at 9,300 rpm and a peak torque of 22.2 Nm at 7,300 rpm. It continues to be mated to the same six-speed transmission with no changes to gear ratios or final drive gearing. A usable chunk of torque manifests from as low as 3,000 rpm, peaks in the mid-range before tapering off towards the redline. In sixth gear, the SX will pull cleanly from as low as 40 km/h and also supports most calls for an overtake without fuss.
The clutch action is light and it is hardly a problem when navigating through traffic. At 167 kg, this V-Strom is not too heavy but good weight distribution masks even that heft quite well. Past the chaos of Madurai town, the Suzuki settled in for a nice cruise on the highway. About 110 km/h (indicated) is this motorcycle’s sweet spot where one can cover large distances comfortably. Wringing the throttle some more will present higher speeds but at the expense of some comfort due to errant vibrations. Predictably, some parts of the highway were under construction and required the customary detour over unpaved road and the SX took it in its stride. The suspension (identical to the Gixxer) is set up on the softer side and returns an respectable ride quality that supports long-distance riding.
The mountain road that crosses into Kerala just after Theni is a beautiful ribbon of tarmac that snakes up and down the Western Ghats; an ideal place to vet the motorcycle’s handling. The SX responded to steering input well and fell into a curve with minimal effort but prefers a smooth, flowing riding style as opposed to quick flicks. A small price to pay for good ride quality, I would say. Even when muscled into a corner, it commits to the line quickly after an intial moment of uncertainty and is ably supported by the suspension and the grip levels of the MRF Meteor dual-purpose tyres. One of the highlights of the following day was a similar strip of corner-carving heaven in Munnar and there too the Suzuki stood its ground admirably even on wet tarmac. The only area where I would like to see some improvement is braking. The current set-up feels adequate and does its job rather well but I feel there is some potential left to be unlocked with better feel at the lever if not more powerful brakes.
At the end of our roadtrip through two states, there are more things to appreciate about the V-Strom SX than complain. This motorcycle makes sense for a rider who is looking at a jack-of-all-trades type of machine that can accommodate their urban usage while also indulging a plan for long rides without fuss, provided there is no hardcore off-roading on the itinerary. At Rs 2.12 lakh (ex-showroom), the V-Strom SX is the most accessible motorcycle of its kind and makes a strong case for itself as a good value-for-money proposition. More importantly, it is fundamentally a good motorcycle that one will enjoy riding.
Watch the video of the first ride review here:
Also Read: Triumph Tiger 1200 first ride review