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2015 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 ABS SE Review


by Pascal Bastien ,

Suzuki takes on the ultra-competitive full-size adventure bike segment with the 2015 V-Strom 1000 ABS SE. It is completely different from the outgoing model and even from the new V-Strom 650, which received more of an update than a thorough redesign.

The DL 1000 returns with a fully redesigned frame, a revised suspension featuring a long-travel, upside-down fork, radial brake callipers with ABS, and 19” front and 17” rear wheels. The tires are designed for a mix of 70% road and 30% dirt.

The new model follows the recent trend of muscular styling and, at first glance, it looks more handsome than direct competitors. The “duck beak” of the old DR 750 S remains, as does the V-twin from the original V-Strom launched in 2002. The naked, tubular rear section, meanwhile, is reminiscent of BMW and KTM models, which means it’s perfect to attach a host of accessories.

Equipped for the long haul
In top-of-the-line SE trim, standard content includes a 9-way, height-adjustable windshield, a centre stand, a cargo rack, hand guards, and two small plastic saddlebags that are nicely shaped and matched with the rest of the bike. The instrument panel is much simpler than what the Germans offer, yet all the necessary info is there, including real-time and average fuel consumption, ambient temperature, gear position, and even traction control mode.

The thick, non-slip rider’s seat offers excellent comfort, and the riding position overall doesn’t put a strain on any body part. Other than a slight dose of turbulence around the head at highway speeds, the adjustable windshield provides good protection. The rear passenger benefits from a relaxed seating position courtesy of a short but comfortable seat, and ergonomic grab bars.

Familiar engine meets new electronics
The 2015 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 ABS SE uses a 1,037cc V-twin engine that produces 101 hp and 73.9 lb-ft of torque. It’s unbelievably smooth and flexible for a twin-cylinder mill, and the vibrations and sound effects it generates are not excessive. You can re-accelerate from just 1,500 rpm without any hesitation or jolt from the engine, even in fifth gear -- something that’s definitely appreciated around town and on busy highways.

Much more advanced than its ancestor, the new V-twin precisely manages throttle input and thus proves easy to modulate, regardless of your riding style. It packs a strong punch at 2,500 rpm, and will not relent until it reaches 7,200 rpm. For quick takeoffs, there’s no need to hold the gears; just maintain engine speed around 4,000 rpm, which is where peak torque comes in.

Despite a very short first gear (clearly designed for trail riding), the transmission on the V-Strom 1000 ABS SE is perfectly calibrated to get the most out of the Suzuki V-twin. It’s been considerably improved, as evidenced by the smoother, sharper gear shifts. What’s more, there’s a new hydraulic clutch for easier operation.

In order to keep up with the fearsome BMW R1200GS and Moto Guzzi Stelvio NTX, the V-Strom 1000 ABS SE had to embrace modern electronics. Enter Suzuki’s first-ever standard traction control system. You can switch between the two modes via a button on the left handlebar. During sporty riding, the system works effectively and discreetly to ensure safe, confident manoeuvres, even if you’re an ordinary rider. There’s no unpleasant feeling and no awkward power interruption.

Traction control also does a nice job on gravel where it accurately manages slippage to minimize the risk of falling off the bike. Experienced trail riders may find the system a bit too intrusive, but everyone will appreciate the extra safety it provides.

Time to go a little crazy
When hitting twisty, mildly damaged roads, the Kayaba fork and Showa rear shock soak up imperfections while delivering good handling. The 2015 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 ABS SE enters corners with surprising ease and remains stable throughout. If you pick up speed, it’ll display progressive weight transfers, and ground clearance is the only thing that will curb the enthusiasm of this competent chassis.

Drifting enthusiasts might want to get familiar with the rear brake first, because the short-travel pedal makes it somewhat hard to modulate. On pavement, however, the sharp front brake can produce ultra-quick stops without the help of the rear brake.

Suzuki V-Strom 1000 ABS SE 2015
The new model follows the recent trend of muscular styling and, at first glance, it looks more handsome than direct competitors. (Photo: Sébastien D'Amour)

Bottom line
The new V-Strom 1000 ABS SE is supremely balanced. In typical Suzuki fashion, it offers a brilliant mix that will satisfy a specific type of rider at a very competitive price (even a loaded model undercuts the base trim of its top rivals).    

  • Lovely engine
  • Competent chassis and electronics
  • Comfortable ride
  • Good price
  • Rear brake is hard to modulate
  • Tiny saddlebags