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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.