The latest and smallest addition to the popular V-Strom family might appear to be an outsider because of its low capacity and 25bhp engine, but we’ve ridden it – and it’s a highly credible new addition to adventure touring.
We rode it at the bike’s European launch in the British county of Northamptonshire, where it handled a mixture of rural roads, dual-carriageways and even some light off-roading with ease and comfort.
‘It’s a relaxed yet rewarding ride’
The new machine is derived from Suzuki’s now-defunct Inazuma 250, but don’t let that put you off for a second. Where the small commuter took humble and made it humdrum, the V-Strom 250 actually works well.
It’s still made in Suzuki’s China factory, which keeps costs down to a £4599 launch price, but the build quality thankfully is on an entirely different level to the foil-thin finish of the cheapest Chinese bikes.
The new bike’s launch followed immediately after the introduction of Suzuki’s latest liquid-cooled 125s, the GSX-R125 and GSX-S125. In comparison the V-Strom demanded very little effort from the rider.
Suzuki say it’s been designed to produce low and mid-range torque, with a cam profile shaped to deliver maximum acceleration between 12.4mph and 55.9mph. This makes it easy to use on the road without the effort needed to get some revvy lightweights up into the top-end of their rev range.
The baby Strom’s parallel twin motor hits peak torque (17.26lb-ft) at 6500rpm and power peaks at 24.67bhp when the rev counter on its crisp LCD dial reaches 8000rpm. This leaves another 2500rpm of over-rev if it’s needed, but the Suzuki gives a relaxing yet rewarding ride if it’s kept in that zone.
‘See a little of the world on your way round’
Within seconds of leaving base camp for the launch we’re mixing with traffic on rural roads and easily fitting in with the flow. Transfer to nearby dual-carriageway roads and the Strom can definitely cut it.
Our group of V-Stroms gets up to an indicated 80mph to cruise past traffic in the inside lane before cutting back off in search of more rural roads.
It’s probably for the best that we didn’t have chance to chase a top-speed figure, for two reasons… 1) Points, when we’re talking licences, don’t make prizes. 2) No-one cares anyway. Or at least they shouldn’t care.
Anyone who is short on time but hungry for adventure should be looking at the 650cc or 1000cc V-Stroms instead. But for those who are happier at road-legal speeds and want to see a little of the world on their way around it might be better to have the smallest of Stroms.
For a start, the 250 is almost three grand less than a 650cc, or five big ones less than the thou. That saving alone pays for a hell of a lot more time on the road.
Then there’s the extra economy that comes from running the thing. If you’re a good boy or girl on a V-Strom 650 you’ll get 60 miles to a gallon of go-juice or 50 miles from the thousand. You don’t even have to behave well to extract 80mpg from the baby Strom. That’s at least 33% more miles from your fuel budget, depending on your riding style.
Handily, the V-Strom also has a roomy 17.3-litre tank so a 300-mile range is within reach – and that’s the kind of stat that can make or break a decent travel bike.
‘It’s more roadie tourer than a dirty one’
Suzuki are up front about the V-Strom’s focus, describing it more as a roadie tourer than a dirty one. Both wheels are 17-inchers, where the classic adventure bike set-up has a 19in or 21in at the front.
They say it will cope with gentle off-roading and Suzuki included a short stretch of unpaved road on the launch ride. The bike was OK on this surface, but it’s not the sort of bike that’s ideally suited to hacking across the savannah. It’s a road bike that can cope with a bit of rough(ish) stuff.
Where the V-Strom will be strongest is as an everyday bike or touring machine for those on A2 licences and/or a relatively tight budget.
It’s a classy machine with a fun engine, strong handling and all-round performance that belies its small capacity.
The 800mm seat height gives reasonable leg room without making it too much of a stretch for shorter riders, again widening the appeal of the smaller V-Strom. There are nowhere near enough small-capacity touring bikes on the market, and this is a welcome addition.
‘It inspires thoughts of faraway places’
Features are strong, with an impressive LCD speedo continuing Suzuki’s fine recent tradition on this score and decent wind protection from the single-position screen. A rear rack is standard, with hooks for strapping on soft luggage or mounting points for a top box, with mounts on the sides for official panniers as well.
The Bosch ABS works well and even the tyres on our test machine didn’t faze, although my previous experience of IRC Roadwinners has always been bad. The 110/80 x 17 front and 140/70 x 17 rear sizes aren’t the most common match-up, but decent options like Bridgestone’s venerable BT45 are available and they can only improve the performance at tyre change time.
Overall, the new V-Strom 250 is a big surprise. I’d expected a worthy, slightly bland machine that would suit big folks with a small licence. Instead I got to ride a machine that inspired me to start thinking about reaching faraway places without ransacking my bank account.
SUZUKI V-STROM 250
£4599 (price correct August 2017)
Engine 248cc parallel twin four-stroke, liquid-cooled SOHC
Bore x stroke 53.5mm x 55.2mm
Compression ratio 11.5:1
Power (claimed) 24.67bhp @ 8000rpm
Torque 17.26 lb-ft at 6500rpm
Fuel system Fuel injection
Front suspension Telescopic, coil spring, oil damped
Rear suspension Coil spring, oil damped
Tyres 110/80-17 (front), 140/70-17 (rear)
Seat height 800mm
Kerb weight 188kg
Fuel capacity 17.3 litres
Fuel economy 81mpg (tested)
Further info https://bikes.suzuki.co.uk/bikes/
Top case (23-litre capacity) £310
Top case adapter plate £40
Side cases (20-litre capacity per case) £595
Side case carrier £30
Top and side case locks (set of 3 locks including keys). £20
Heated grips £175
Hand guards £140
Fuel cap trim £15
Mirror extenders (51mm higher and 40mm outward) £60
Small tank bag (5-9-litre capacity, used with tank fixation ring) £95
Tank bag fixation ring (for small tank bag) £32