While their rugged, round-the-world styling and expedition-ready features suggest otherwise, some adventure bikes work better on the road–much better–than they do off pavement. As word of this open secret spreads, they’re being bought more and more by riders who appreciate their overall utility, upright seating and solid aftermarket support.
Suzuki’s original DL1000 V-Strom is one of the standard bearers of the street-leaning ADV bike, striking a balance between RTW looks and performance and streetwise utility that makes it a champ in the bang-for-the-buck sweepstakes today.
Check out our comparison test: V-Strom 650 vs. V-Strom 1000.
Maybe seeing in advance where the market segment was going, Suzuki gave the DL1000 the 996cc L-twin from the TL1000S sportbike, modified for the midrange and low end it needed for low-speed riding and for hauling luggage. The 90-degree cylinder spread technically gives the engine perfect balance, but the rods are slightly offset side-to-side so a little vibration creeps in.
Even more is apparent in some 2002 and early ’03 models, which produced a low-rpm vibration far outside the norm. Called “chudder”–a combination of chatter and shudder–on online forums, it’s curable with an improved clutch basket. Even then, though, the big Strom dislikes being lugged.
One big compromise resulting from hanging the TL’s engine from the DL1000’s stout aluminum frame is a worrisome lack of ground clearance. The oil filter, oil cooler and the front cylinder’s header pipe all sit dangerously low and forward enough that a sturdy bash plate isn’t just a fashion accessory, but a necessity for off-roading. On pavement and smooth fire roads the suspension works adequately, but serious trails should be avoided.
It’s much more suited to the street, where small upgrades–a replacement shock and a fork kit–bring big rewards in handling. The brakes are just average, requiring stainless lines and high-performance pads to bring out their best. The 33-inch seat height is a problem for some, making lowering links a hot seller in the aftermarket.
Another aftermarket staple for DL1000 owners is an improved windscreen, because just about anything is an improvement over the stock one, which though stylish is ineffective at reducing buffeting at the helmet level. The fairing, too, deflects some wind but not as much as its appearance suggests.
It’s also an enormous parts bill waiting to happen in case of a fall–every fairing panel’s part number should end with “-$$$.” Fueling issues on some bikes can be cured with a tuning module, while other bikes run cleanly stock. Rough running has also been traced to dirty fuel filters, which many riders simply bypass.
Problems to watch for on used DL1000s include flaking engine paint, rusty or warped brake rotors and corroded hardware. Check the fins on the radiator and especially the oil cooler for damage, and make sure the brake pads don’t stick in the calipers and drag on the rotors.
If there are scratches on the plastic bodywork indicting a fall in the past, check for broken mounting tabs or missing grommets. An often-neglected check is to crawl under the bike and inspect the bottom rear shock linkage for play; the bearings inside are vulnerable to repeated spray from rain and can dry out, causing slop in the suspension.
Prices range from about $3,600 for a first-year DL to around $8,000 for a 2012; factor in accessories and condition accordingly.
2002-2012 Suzuki DL1000 V-Strom 1000
Big torquey engine, do-it-all versatility, above average reliability.
Nosebleed seat height, rust and corrosion prone, vulnerable and expensive plastic parts.
Final drive: Chain
Wet Weight: 517 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 5.8 gals.
Seat Height: 33 in.
Had a 2010 that I bought used, that had the “chudder” — its not limited to early models. Stock seat was terrible. I replaced the windshield with a madstad setup; much better. Stock mirror pivots are known for cracking, but aftermarket replacements are cheap.
Overall, the 650 version is a nicer bike, smoother, better around town but still has enough poke. I sold the 2010 after about four months use.
Mike, you are such a loser. Go take your tiddler 650 and bite me.
Steve N. …..you call Mike a loser but your the one replying to his post from 2 years earlier. We get it, the 650 is too big for you.
I’ve owned both the 1000 and the 650 and am currently on my 3rd 650. To each their own but the 1000 is better suited for Touring in my opinion simply because of the power difference. The 650 can Tour all day long but the 1000 just does it more relaxed. If you’re predominantly riding on 2 lane twisties, the 650 is made for that. Both Awesome bikes but I do like the ABS on my 2011 650 and it does everything I need it to do along with the 57 mpg….No complaints.
About 4 years ago I purchased a neglected ’02 DL1000 with nice Givi luggage for next to nothing I did the clutch basket and full maintenance on it and it has been paying me back in spades ever since . Its a real back road beast and also settles down for 2 up rides with lots of grunt and payload capacity. That is the reason to get the 1000; it gives you those two different roles; near sport bike solo performance and effortless 2 up touring.
Pthe clutch shudder is the springs behind the actual clutch basket that aren’t strong enough for the big powerful v configuration 1000cc engine
I found a very clean 04 DL1000 last fall. Did the WHOLE update thing: clutch basket mod (mandatory), weight-correct front springs & fork brace (much more stable), EBC pads all ’round (significant improvement), shorter Moose Racing windshield and smaller mirrors (no more incredibly bad buffeting), rear axle spacer to keep the F&R drive gears exactly in line (reducing wear), new Vortex 525 steel drive sprockets and chain (stock gearing), new plugs, new air filter (which many ignore!), intake balance, Commander FC, Suzuki gel seat (better but higher), Kaoke throttle lock. Came with Leo Vince cans, which I had pulled in about 4 inches (looks WAY better), and a Givi trunk. Had to replace the stator and regulator (magnets fell off!!!). So, after all that… how’s it ride?
Plenty of power, much smoother, more comfortable, and – if I stay out of the throttle – more economical. Great, roomy two-up ride, and with the trunk and a backpack, was able to do a 1400-mile ride in three days with no major drama at a average of 48mpg (except 60mph cross winds and very heavy, very cold fog!). The only issue is what seems to be typical twin vibration when you’re on it above 4500. It’s not bad at all, but it seems like it might be able to be dialed out somehow. All the stuff I did to it, above, took a lot of vibration away, so I’m optimistic.
It’s got ~33K miles on it now, and it’s probably got another 150K left in it. I will get new tires (Michelin Road 5 Trail) and futz with the Commander to find that balance between power and economy. I plan to ride the wheels off if it for the next two years. Then, I’ll see what’s else is out there and decide what to do next.
a good & usefu post, as I’m DL shopping…
Still shopping? Have one for sale if so 😀
Your input on VStrom is one of the best. I have 2004 DL1000 with 65K miles I bought last spring from 2nd owner that replaced with VStrom 1050. After riding 3K miles he’s sold me 2004 and traded 1050 VStrom for a BMW 800 Adventure. His opinion was @ 6.3 the 2004 a better tourer than 1050! I’m 62 w 81 Goldwing & a 2009 Victory Vision Arlen Ness wanting a day tripper & commuter! I’m adjusting valves, plugs, & air filter. Everything superior w $5k parts came w bike- Alaskan Givi Bags, Givi Top Case, Tank Bag. Full New Suspension in Box, 2 Denali wiring boxes, gel seat,heated grips all led. lights upgraded , all new hoses, parts & everything previous owner thought could be a problem riding out of state that could fail on a Sunday/ Monday ride when Suzuki shops closed! Is bike perfect? No! But Helleva lot of fun- fast & great mileage for the smiles. Post again if you made more changes or if you’ve replaced it. I can’t see buying the new Suzuki 800 & starting over w all the goodies on my bike plus stuff in boxes to play with.
Have had a 2007 dl1k for several years. great bike (sold my bmw for this)