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2015 Suzuki V-Strom 650X ABS EXP Review


by Pascal Bastien ,

The pioneer of the crossover segment gets a lifting and a few equipment upgrades for 2015. It proves more luxurious and more mature, perfectly integrating the beak-like front fairing that characterizes most adventure bikes.

The 2015 V-Strom 650X ABS EXP uses the brand's famous liquid-cooled 645cc V-twin, which had its last major revision when Suzuki launched the 2009 Gladius. It still keeps up with the times, and combines fun, easy operation with exemplary versatility. This low-maintenance engine has service intervals of 12,000km.

There’s not much change to report where the chassis is concerned. The front fork remains telescopic, while the rear shock comes with a rebound damping adjuster and spring preload adjuster. The biggest news this year is a set of DID wire-spoke alloy wheels with tubeless tires -- an excellent choice that positively enhances the adventurous looks of this crossover.

The EXP package also features black aluminum side cases and top case, a vario (adjustable) windshield, an engine guard, side and underbody cowling, hand guards, and standard ABS. Options include a centre stand, a GPS mount, and heated grips.

More road than trail
The 2015 Suzuki V-Strom 650X ABS EXP offers an upright riding position as if you were sitting in a chair. The distance between the seat and footrests is limited, though, so riders 5’6” and taller will feel more at ease on the optional high seat (+20mm). The handlebars remain where they were, meaning a bit too far to effectively shift your weight forward during off-road riding. On the other hand, you won’t feel any strain in your arms. The standard seat is nicely sculpted and padded, providing sufficient comfort over hundreds of kilometres. The occasional passenger will enjoy decent legroom and solid grab bars.

The firmly tuned suspension delivers good handling regardless of your riding style, yet it proves compliant enough to filter most road imperfections. ABS works great in general and isn’t too intrusive on pavement, but it cannot be deactivated when venturing off road, unfortunately. The unsightly mirrors, which have been part of the game since the launch of the original V-Strom, continue to offer superb visibility.

Versatile and rider-friendly

On the road, the V-Strom 650X ABS EXP allows you to cover lots of ground without exhausting yourself. You can take in the scenery while being protected against the elements by a large windshield that creates almost no turbulence around the head. The engine may not be super-powerful, but the level of flexibility at medium revs is exactly what you want with this type of machine. City riding is fabulous thanks to its agility, while stability on the highway is appreciated when facing a strong wind.

It may not have all the panache of a true adventure bike, but the V-Strom 650X ABS EXP makes a great partner to discover and explore secret roads no matter what their surface looks like. That being said, the standard tires are more road-oriented and have their limitations in the mud and on sandy terrain filled with big, round stones.

When it comes to tackling a typical gravel road, this bike impresses. Easy throttle modulation, a very compliant fork and shock, and the ability to ride while standing up with your back nearly upright combine to instill confidence and help you push your limits. I also liked the rear brake pedal, which is ergonomic and very easy to modulate when you want to enter a corner with a bit of drifting. On the flip side, limited ground clearance, suspension adjustability and drivetrain protection means you can’t venture too far off the beaten path.

Suzuki V-Strom 650X ABS 2015
The pioneer of the crossover segment gets a lifting and a few equipment upgrades for 2015. (Photo: France Ouellet)

Bottom line
The 2015 Suzuki V-Strom 650X ABS EXP won’t revolutionize the segment, but it returns to the field with renewed energy and character, more equipment, and the same rider-friendliness we’ve come to like. This do-it-all crossover ensures fun times at a low cost on any surface.

  • Enhanced looks
  • Fun and easygoing
  • Versatile
  • New wire-spoke wheels
  • Excellent protection against the elements
  • Standard tires limit off-road performance
  • ABS cannot be deactivated for off-road riding