From a distance the bike looks quite tall, but get astride and it’s appreciably low enough to just about get both feet firmly planted on terra firma. It’s also hard not to appreciate the relation between the bike’s high-set handlebar, comfortable seat and mildly rear-set foot-rests. Together they make for a riding position that will be very comfortable indeed. There is also a large luggage rack (which is a bit too blingy for my liking) for you to pack in your gear when your heart gives in to the wanderlust that a bike like this will inevitably inspire. The fact that both the clutch and brake levers are adjustable for reach is another plus in favour of the bike. The other thing that would get a huge thumbs-up, especially from long distance riders, is the conveniently placed (it’s on the nearly upright instrument console) full-size 12V power socket that can keep your add-on sat-navs going all day long or can be used to charge the phone when its low on battery.
Thumb the starter and your ears are greeted by a mild cough that settles into a deep rumble that is typical of a big V-twin. This aural experience is also the first time you are introduced to the V-Strom’s party piece: the engine. Like V-Stroms that have come before this new-gen motorcycle, the current bike continues to use an eight-valve, liquid-cooled, 1,037-cc, 90-degree V-twin. It’s a refined unit mated to a six-speed gearbox and has a 100-PS output rating. While that sort of an output is expected from a litre-class adventure bike in today’s day and age, what’s really noteworthy is the way this engine makes its output. There is a very healthy bottom and mid-range, which means that cutting across town through peak traffic on the way to the photo shoot could be accomplished without breaking into a sweat. You’re not constantly modulating the throttle or working the gearbox. You can do 40 km/h in third with the engine turning over at just about 3,000 RPM. If you need to get going because the roads are opening up, all you do is twist your right wrist in one smooth motion and watch the bike gather pace as its peak torque of 103 Nm kicks in at 4,000 RPM. It’s not the brutal kind of acceleration but a more progressive yet strong pull that is totally non-intimidating and, therefore, thoroughly enjoyable. As the engine spins quicker, the bike picks up pace rapidly and the transition from two to three digits on the digital speedometer happens quite fast. The engine is redlined at 9,250 RPM with its 100 PS being churned out at 8,000 RPM. Meanwhile, the tall deflector keeps you well-protected from the wind blast without hampering your vision of the road ahead. The gearbox shifts smoothly, too, complementing the V-Strom’s refined heart.