In addition to the end of the Mayan calendar (and perhaps the end of the world?), 2012 marks the tenth anniversary of the Suzuki V-Strom 1000, a V-twin adventure tourer that was Rider‘s 2002 Motorcycle of the Year. Two years later, Suzuki released the V-Strom 650, essentially the same motorcycle with a smaller engine, the 645cc V-twin from the popular SV650. Affectionately nicknamed the Wee Strom, the V-Strom 650 made less power but felt better balanced and more nimble. Other than adding ABS (first as an option, later as standard equipment), dual-spark plugs and a slightly longer swingarm in 2007, the V-Strom hasn’t changed much. With the V-Strom 1000 cut from its 2011 lineup, Suzuki has put all its adventure-touring eggs in the V-Strom 650 basket, with a much needed makeover for 2012.
Development focused on giving the V-Strom 650 a more modern look and improving comfort, engine smoothness and fuel efficiency. It has more rugged black plastic and fewer painted surfaces, with a sleeker fairing said to provide more wind protection and pull more engine heat away from the rider. The angle of the adjustable windscreen was changed to reduce turbulence. The seat is 0.6-inch higher but has been reshaped to make it easier to reach the ground, and optional 0.8-inch higher or lower seats will be available. A more slender fuel tank has less capacity–5.3 gallons instead of 5.8 (down 9 percent)—but Suzuki says changes to the engine boost fuel efficiency by 10 percent. The rear rack is now made of resin instead of aluminum to save weight, and large resin passenger grab handles are integrated. A new instrument panel should be easier to read and is more feature-rich, including gear position, road-freeze warning and fuel consumption.
Bore x stroke (81.0 x 62.6mm) are unchanged, but the 645cc, liquid-cooled, DOHC, 90-degree V-twin gets new pistons, rings and SCEM-plated cylinders as well as a modified cam profile and redesigned crankshaft for better low to midrange torque. The clutch and transmission were revised to make gear changes quieter and easier. Operating efficiency has been improved by using lighter valve springs, iridium spark plugs, a new ECU with a 32-bit processor and oxygen sensors, revised fuel injection and ignition maps, and a new, patented Throttle-body Integrated Idle Speed Control (TI-ISC) system. Changing from an air-cooled to liquid-cooled oil cooler helps mitigate heat, and cooling efficiency is further enhanced by plates below the headlights that direct wind toward the radiator.
The V-Strom’s frame and swingarm are unchanged, and few changes have been made to the suspension, brakes and wheels. Travel for the rear shock has been increased from 5.9 to 6.3 inches, and the upper fork bracket has been redesigned. A new lightweight ABS system saves nearly two pounds, contributing to a claimed 472-pound curb weight that is 13 pounds less than the 2011 model.
The 2012 Suzuki V-Strom 650 ABS will be available in Metallic Fox Orange (shown) or Glass Sparkle Black, and is expected in dealerships by November. Price is TBD.
2012 American Suzuki Lineup Teaser
2011 Triumph Tiger 800 vs. Suzuki V-Strom 650 ABS Road Test Comparison
The 2012 650 V-Strom looks good for a single rider. Some detail on a passenger’s accomodations, or lack thereof, would be appreciated. Although 0.8 in. seat height might be helpful, unless the basic seat height is lower than is typical, we short legged riders will have to spend our money elsewhere.
I almost bought a 2008 650 V-Strom until the dealer started playing a shell game with the price. I was trading in my 2002 1100 Yamaha V Star Custom with a Mustang seat. He told me the Mustang seat detracted from the trade-in value and wanted the stock seat instead. He obviously had never spent any seat time on a V Star. I found a used 2005 BMW F650CS and fell in love. No off road capability, but what a sweet ride.
It’s nice to see Suzuki giving this bike some respect with a makeover but it’s going to take way more radical improvements to get me off my 2004 Wee. Save yourself a ton of money and find a pre-owned and pre-farkled 2004- 2011 model. Even moderately cared for they are bullet proof so don’t worry about mileage. There are plenty of riders still going strong with 70k+ miles on the ODO and zero problems. With the money you save, you can add a gear indicator, upgraded suspension, iridium plugs and skid plate (I see that the oil filter is still woefully exposed). Then enjoy your extra 25 miles of range with the bigger tank and RIDE!!!
As a V-Strom owner (2003 DL-1000)I like the new style but was hoping for an 800 and some more refinements. The Triumph Tiger 800 is really looking good.
I own a 2007 Wee-Strom. I too was hoping the new Strom would be an 800, especially with the demise of the 1000. A little more low-end and 13 pounds lighter are good, but sounds like they didn’t do much with those terrible brakes. Looking forward to your full test. I own four bikes. The Wee-Strom is my ideal commute bike (45 minutes of country roads). 31k and still lovin’ it.
As for us long-legged riders (38″ inseam), Suzukis I think are especially nice — especially after I pad the seat up and lower the pegs….