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