The new Suzuki V-Strom 800DE casts aside the model’s V-twin engine heritage, replacing it with an all-new 776cc parallel-Twin. The new bike’s styling, however, emphasizes Suzuki’s adventure bike lineage by drawing from its late ’80s Paris-Dakar-inspired DR 750S Big. Hats off to Suzuki for nailing the aesthetics, but does the bike’s performance match its adventurous good looks?
Having spent two days riding the new V-Strom in both on- and off-road environments, it’s easy to shrug off the fact that the engine architecture strays from the model’s namesake because the new parallel-Twin is the business. It has a 270-degree crank, which gives it power characteristics similar to the 90-degree V-Twins in the V-Strom 650 and V-Strom 1050. Claimed output is 83 hp at 8,500 rpm and 57.5 lb-ft of torque at 6,800 rpm. (The same engine is also found in the new 2023 Suzuki GSX-8S.)
Related: 2023 Suzuki V-Strom 1050 and V-Strom 1050DE | First Look Review
When a twist of the throttle requests more power, the engine responds with a torquey forward rush, and the Suzuki Cross Balancer system does a great job of quelling any excessive engine vibration. Also helping keep engine vibes to a minimum is the fact that revving the engine to redline is unnecessary due to all the fun available in the midrange.
Engine snappiness is selected via the left handlebar-mounted switchgear with a choice of three throttle-response modes: “A” is most aggressive, “B” is less so, and “C” is the mildest (best for rainy conditions). In almost all on-road circumstances, I preferred the middle-ground B mode with its slightly smoother throttle application. In the dirt, it was a 50/50 toss-up between A and B modes. And this is where Suzuki’s traction control offerings get interesting.
There are three levels of on-road traction control intervention plus an off-road G (gravel) mode, or TC can be turned off. For an intermediate dirt rider such as myself, G mode made me feel more skilled than I am because it did the work of metering rear-wheel spin before things got out of control, providing a nice balance between hero-like drifting and forward thrust. With the most aggressive throttle setting (A) and TC in G mode, I could ride to my limit without fear of over-spinning the rear wheel. Or, to work on throttle control, I turned TC off, selected the milder B mode throttle setting, and practiced spinning the rear wheel without intervention.
Another rider aid outfitted to the V-Strom 800DE is a bi-directional quickshifter – always a welcome feature in my book. I tested the system on two different test bikes to make sure what I was experiencing wasn’t an adjustment issue, and both bikes responded similarly. In essence, upshifting was akin to some sportbikes I’ve tested, wherein the faster you are accelerating and the higher the engine speed, the smoother the quickshifter functions. Not to say it was bad at lesser speeds, just not quite as smooth.
Downshifts, no matter what the situation, were a bit clunky. When standing up during off-road riding, the weight of my body hovering over the shift lever made the operation a bit easier. The quickshifter can also be turned off.
Related: 2022 Motorcycle of the Year – Suzuki GSX-S1000GT+
The V-Strom’s claimed curb weight of 507 lb didn’t seem to correspond with how light the bike felt while riding it. The bike’s handling manners both on- and off-road were very nimble. Being the professional that I am, I threw myself into this test by falling over in a marbly, rutted downhill hairpin directly in front of the camera crew. Embarrassing, yes, but I learned that riding an adventure bike like the V-Strom 800DE in the outback is a little less scary knowing you can pick it up by yourself after a tip-over – something that can’t be said about many of the heavier open-class ADVs.
Helping the V-Strom navigate off-road obstacles is its 21-inch front wheel, an impressive 8.7 inches of front and rear suspension travel, and 8.75 inches of ground clearance. Spoked wheels are of the tubed variety, while the Dunlop Trailmax Mixtour 90/10 tires favor on-road handling over aggressive off-road riding. The Showa inverted fork and link-type shock are fully adjustable, allowing riders to fine tune the suspension to personal preference, and there’s a remote preload adjuster for the rear.
The seating position has a natural feel with plenty of legroom and a short reach to the bars. Seat foam density is spot-on with absolutely no complaints after two days of riding. At 33.7 inches, the seat height isn’t as daunting as some other adventure bikes, especially considering the V-Strom’s suspension travel and ground clearance. While seated, the height of the wide, tapered handlebar was just right, but since I’m taller than average (5-foot-11), I was a little hunched over when standing up on the pegs. I’d prefer the handlebar to be a bit more elevated, but I suspect it would be a good fit for riders of average height.
- Helmet: Arai XD-4
- Jacket: Alpinestars Monteira Drystar XF
- Gloves: Alpinestars Halo Leather
- Pants: Alpinestars Monteira Drystar XF
- Boots: Alpinestars Corozal Adventure Drystar
Braking performance of the dual 2-piston Nissin front calipers pinching 310mm discs was more than adequate in the dirt, though the street-biased Mixtour tires offered limited off-road grip. On the pavement, especially at higher speeds, there were times when more stopping power was needed but not available. At the lever, I could almost feel the rubber brake lines expanding when maximum pressure was applied. Steel braided brake lines and more aggressive pads would probably help, but 4-piston front calipers be even better. ABS is standard and offers two levels of intervention, and it can be turned off at the rear wheel.
The 5-inch color TFT instrument panel delivers information to the rider in an uncluttered, easy-to-read layout. From ABS, TC, and ride mode settings to speed, gear position, and fuel level, the information is intuitive and well-organized. The brightness of the display is adjustable, and the day/night mode background can be set to switch automatically or manually. On the left side of the display is a handy USB port for charging a phone or other electronic device.
Above the instrument panel resides an adjustable windscreen. There are three heights to choose from in 0.6-inch increments, for a total of 1.8 inches of adjustment. However, a hex key is required to remove four bolts to reposition the windscreen – a cost-saving design that cuts a little too deep for my taste. Other attempts to control costs include flimsy plastic handguards and a minimalist plastic bash plate under the engine.
Related: Suzuki Announces More Returning 2023 Models
The pace set by our lead rider on the morning of the first day was posted-speed-limit slow. Great for taking in the scenery of Sardinia, Italy, but as limiting as a conga-line demo ride when it comes to assessing the V-Strom 800DE’s capabilities. It was surprising that, when set free to ride at a spirited pace, I quickly found the limit of the bike’s cornering clearance when the footpeg feeler gouged its way through the pavement in the first corner of a photo pass. Rather than a criticism, however, this was a virtue. Right out of the gate, I felt comfortable pushing an unfamiliar motorcycle to its street-riding limits. And this was before making any adjustments to suspension settings. From there, I grew even more fond of the V-Strom 800DE during the next day and a half of testing.
Considering the V-Strom’s $11,349 MSRP, the technologies with which it is outfitted, and its performance in the dirt and on the pavement, Suzuki clearly did its homework and developed a great overall package for a reasonable price. The middleweight adventure segment is highly competitive, with a range of offerings from Aprilia, BMW, Husqvarna, KTM, Triumph, and Yamaha.
See all of Rider‘s Suzuki coverage here.
For those looking for a more well-endowed traveling companion, Suzuki also offers an Adventure version of the V-Strom 800DE for a $1,650 premium. The extra money gets you a pair of quick-release black-anodized 37-liter aluminum panniers, an accessory bar for mounting other accessories and protecting the side of the motorcycle (something I could have used), and an aluminum skid pan. Fuel capacity for either model remains the same 5.3 gallons.
The 2023 Suzuki V-Strom 800DE strikes a happy medium between the more diminutive V-Strom 650XT ($9,599) and the V-Strom 1050DE ($15,999). You get more of what you want – engine and chassis performance – compared to the 650 and less of what you don’t want – weight and cost – compared to the 1050. That’s a win/win.
2023 Suzuki V-Strom 800DE Specs
- Base Price: $11,349
- Website: SuzukiCycles.com
- Warranty: 1 yr., unltd. miles
- Engine Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse parallel-Twin, DOHC w/ 4 valves per cyl.
- Displacement: 776cc
- Bore x Stroke: 84.0 x 70mm
- Horsepower: 83 hp @ 8,500 rpm (factory claim)
- Torque: 57.5 lb-ft @ 6,800 rpm (factory claim)
- Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated slip/assist wet clutch
- Final Drive: Chain
- Wheelbase: 61.8 in.
- Rake/Trail: 28.0 degrees/4.5 in.
- Seat Height: 33.7 in.
- Wet Weight: 507 lb
- Fuel Capacity: 5.3 gal.
- Fuel Consumption: 53.4 mpg (factory claim)
It seems a bit on the heavy side.Seat height needs to come down for my 5’6, 67 yr. old body.No cruise, tube tires?I have had several 1000 Vstorm’s.But me thinks they are a couple of yrs. behind with this one and the 1050.I am looking to replace my 2014 1000.
The new 1050 is now fully up to date in both road and gravel editions; if you still need that big a bike. The road edition is still appreciably more compact that the 1200-class monsters, but it’s still a bike one only strictly “needs” for two-up at higher speeds.
At 5’6″ & 67, if you’re pragmatic uber alles: Look at the latest NC750.
If you’re more romantic, look at the Guzzi 850TT or a Beemer: Either the R1250R, or some permutation of the R9T. All those have lots of, although different, overlap with ‘Stroms; just without big-ADV bike height. Guzzi has a new, liquid cooled bike out, which looks interesting as well, these days.
Or, if you don’t have even a single strand of pragmatism in you at all, but want a ‘Strom’ish seating position: Look at a ZH2 with the e-suspension. It’s not practical in the slightest. But I dare you to not giggle several years off your age, on every single ride. It’s that ridiculously over the top, while still managing to remain a perfectly functional motorcycle.
It’s a 90/90-21 front tire. Even MotoGP front brakes aren’t going to give it more grip. My ’89 R100GS has a single 2-piston Brembo caliper, and the front wheel can fairly easily be locked up. What is needed is how much feel do the Nissin calipers give you? Can you brake to almost lock-up with two fingers and then easily modulate them? Very important for off-road.
Not sure I’d agree about Suzuki nailing the aesthetics on the 800 Strom.. I’m a long term owner of a Suzuki and have had many throughout the years, but the front beak on the V-stroms just doesn’t do it for me. I’m hoping to buy a mid weight ADV bike in the next year or 2, right now, I would spend an extra $600over the Suzook and get the Aprilia 660 Tuareg.. what can I say? I have a soft spot for quirky Eye-talian bikes. I still have a 2002 Aprilia RST1000 in the garage.
You forgot Honda for all those brand you mentioned. Transalp 750 in particular. I do hope you can review in the future when it’s released/launch…. Thank you
It hasn’t been released in the U.S., so until it does we won’t speculate.
A truly elegant crash!
What about ABS, it can be turned on and off?
It can be turned off at the rear wheel.
When are motorcycle companies going to wait up and realize that they are losing a huge segment of the population by making such TALL seat heights. We shorter people would also like to ride adventure bikes too,
I resemble that remark. Alas, I constantly find myself looking at certain new models and wondering how much work and cost there will be to make the seat height reasonable for my 30 inch inseam. Would it be such a challenge for OEM’s to offer a reasonable priced factory lowering kit that the dealer or owner could install? I did notice in the text of a review on another site that Suzuki offers a lower seat option for this bike. That said, just lowering the seat height by itself often does not cut it for my short stature. Surprisingly, I have a BMW R1250 GSA (factory low version) that with a modified rally seat that I street ride (mostly) comfortably with the exception being coming to a stop on uneven or badly pot-holed terrain.
Thats funny, I am 6’4″ and think all bikes are made for guys 5’8″ and shorter. Short cockpits with low seat heights really cramp tall riders and make it difficult to get front to rear balance because the bars are too close to your hips. Riders only need to put one foot on the ground at stops, check out Megs Braap.
At 6’3” I agree
They lose just as many the other way, with the tight legroom common to sportbikes……
If you want ground clearance for “off”-road, you’re pretty much stuck with a taller seat.
Correspondingly, if you want a 60 degree lean angle in a bike with a lowish COG, you’re pretty much stuck with a short seat to peg distance.
The only layout which, in principle, could solve both issues, is feet forward. I’m not holding my breath for Harley to outdo KTM offroad and GSX-Rs on track, though…..