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Review

Review of a 77,000km Suzuki V-Strom DL1000

By Mario

The machines we usually review are box-fresh and set up by the distributor. Which is fine for knowing how a brand-new machine will feel when you take delivery. But what will it be like a few years and many kilometres down the road? We tried a well-used V-Strom to find out.

Back in 2014, Suzuki NZ launched a new DL1000 V-Strom, replacing a machine that had been around since 2002. And we liked it a lot. Taking our test machine on a long trip around the Kaipara, its relative lightness, sharp handling, comfort and brakes all impressed. As did the price, which undercut its rivals by $5,000 or more.

But how does a comparatively cheap, mainstream motorcycle stand up to the years and miles? What does the ‘Strom feel like today compared to when it was new, and what went wrong or needed replacing to get to nearly 80,000km?

hero shot of 'bike

'Strom still looks good 3+ years on

Familiarity breeds content

One of the Ride Forever instructors loaned us his well-used V-Strom for comparison. It had effectively been put out to pasture, as a sponsorship deal meant the team was now riding shiny new Kawasakis.

Close up of engine

In there lies the ghost of the TL1000

There’s something about Suzukis. Whether it’s slinging a leg over a GSX-R and heading down pit lane, or jumping aboard a ‘Strom to join the traffic, there’s a welcome sense of familiarity; a feeling that everything will be exactly where you want it and work just the way you expect. Hondas are similar, but Suzuki somehow have this quality nailed. So clambering onto the DL1000’s perch was a bit like coming home. The one thing I’d been warned about was the clutch action, with the bite occurring quite far out. It had been that way since new, apparently, and because it’s hydraulic there’s no adjustment. On our new bike in 2014 there was a slight ‘two-stage’ feel to the clutch bite, so let’s just say they vary.

Otherwise, initial impressions were largely unchanged. Oh, with one exception: this machine had a very loud Two Brothers can on it.

Close up of Two Brothers can

Home-brew Two Brothers set-up is loud

Had some work done

The exhaust mod had been done purely by way of an experiment, replacing a Yoshi can that was a bonus accessory when the ‘bike was new. But some other changes had taken place over the ‘Strom’s lifetime, largely when things came due for replacement.

The biggest change was to the rear shock. The standard unit was kaput at 40,000km and, because it was non-serviceable, it was replaced by a Nitron unit, also fully adjustable. Billet machined and hand built in the UK, Nitron suspension has a solid reputation and the ‘new’ shock, now 37,000km old, doesn’t feel baggy in any way.

Close up of Nitron shocks

Fully adjustable and re-buildable Nitron replaced stock shock

Up front, the fork oil had been replaced every 12,000km or so, along with the tyres. The tyres were always replaced as a set, favouring Conti Trail Attack 2 over the OEM Metzler Tourance. When tested new, the Suzuki felt very sure-footed on the Metzlers and the Contis feel at least as good. Partly, this is a reflection of good suspension and steering set-up, relaying good feedback to the rider. So, after 77,000km, the Suzuki still gets full marks for handling.

Close up of radials

Radial Tokicos still powerful with good feel on replacement

A 14T front sprocket makes the DL1000 a tad sprightlier and gets the mill running in its sweet spot of about 4,000rpm at 100km/h. An ex-Suzuki mechanic tells me that the engine lasts longer kept spinning at 4,000-5,000 revs, rather than the more natural-feeling 3,000-3,500, at which the Strom still provides plenty of go. Something to do with the pulses being smoother on the bottom end.

Other than that, it has just been consumables. The fork seals were replaced at 60,000km, the head bearings at 70,000. A reusable K&N filter was fitted at 20,000. Chain and sprockets are replaced as a set, lasting 30,000km on average (big V-twins are tougher on chains and sprockets than multi-cylinder ‘bikes). Brake pad life has been excellent, with fronts lasting 40,000km and rears 60,000 (and replaced with original parts).

Servicing involved new oil and filter every 10,000km along with a valve check/adjustment, and the spark plugs were replaced at 50,000.

Close up of odometer reading

Yes, 77,128km and still going strong

Cheap thrills

With no major or expensive dramas during its life to date, and remaining a thoroughly enjoyable motorcycle to ride after 77,000km, the V-Strom presents a reassuring picture of high-kilometre motorcycling. It has not had an easy life, but it has been regularly and thoroughly serviced, with no scrimping on replacement parts.

Side view with cosmetic issues

Cosmetic issues could be easily dealt with

Close up of scratch

Some tiny blemishes in the plastic clear-coat, but fastener still shiny

Close up of scratches

Only the scratches betray level of use

Close up of small chips and scratches

A few chips and scratches, but nothing major

Would a screaming track missile or cheap commuter be any different? That’s unlikely, so long as the same attention was given to servicing. Sports ‘bikes have unrivalled engineering, and they’re designed to take a pasting. Equally, commuter machines are made for mileage in all weathers, and parts are usually cheap come service time so there’s no excuse for not replacing them.

An unexpected point in the Strom’s favour, however, was the finish. Having been ridden in all weathers, all year round, and with no passionate fettling and polishing, the DL1000 stood up well.

Close up of bike finish around ignition

Suzuki's finish belies reputation

Close up of finish around tyres

Overall finish has held up well for a workhorse

So, if you’re considering buying a bike but struggling to afford something new or a low-mileage minter, take heart. Today’s bikes can rack up the kilometres reliably. The key is to ensure any machine you buy has been properly serviced according to the manual, by people who know what they’re doing.

Close up of wing mirror

V-Strom mirrors are excellent. Lack of rust a bonus

Specifications

Model: 2014 Suzuki DL1000 V-Strom
Engine: 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, 90° V-Twin
Capacity: 1037cc
Fuel System: EFI
Transmission: 6-speed, chain drive
Seat Height: 850mm
Kerb weight: 228kg
Fuel capacity: 20.0 L