2023 Suzuki V-Strom 800DE adventure bike breaks cover | Driving

2022-11-10 00:40:41 By : Ye Ming

The mid-size motorcycle is Suzuki's first all-new effort in a very long while, and perhaps the most important bike of the year

It’s no secret Suzuki has been in the doldrums as of late. More than a few people — including Yours Truly — have written the company off. It’s been killing off models — the venerable GSX-R family and most of its cruisers — and revising existing engines for much of the last decade, with nary an all-new engine or chassis in sight. Clutch Assembly Kit

2023 Suzuki V-Strom 800DE adventure bike breaks cover | Driving

That all ends with the new V-Strom 800DE, the replacement for the company’s iconic — as in the company has moved over 440,000 of ‘em in the last two decades or so — DL650. It’s a major step, breathing new life into a model even loyalists had given up as forgotten. And it truly is all-new. Gone, for instance, is the previous 645-cc 90-degree V-twin, and in its stead comes a 776-cc parallel twin. The chassis is more focused on pure adventure riding and, will wonder never cease, the 800DE features a colourful LCD information unit.

The new Strom’s intent, however, is plainly modernity on a budget. The advantage, for instance, of a parallel twin is that it is more compact and cheaper to produce than a V-twin, though I suspect the cheapness has more to do with the trend than the compactness. What they offered in cost savings, however, old-school parallel twins lost in character, the exhaust note drudge-like and the power delivery unappealing.

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Like many of its competitors — BMW, KTM, and more — the 800DE gets around this by using a novel 270-degree offset crankshaft. That, by Suzuki’s own reckoning, gives its new parallel twin the same firing order as the DL1050’s big-bore V-twin, along with characterful engine sound and traction-seeking torque production.

Of course, such twisting of crank creates all sort of balances issues inside the motor. To quell the resultant vibration, Suzuki has engineered the first biaxial balancer in motorcycling. And by positioning each of the counterweights exactly 90 degrees offset to each crank throw, Suzuki says it’s cancelled all the new engine’s primary imbalances. In other words, the new parallel twin should be as smooth as the outgoing V-twin.

New also is the drive-by-wire fuel injection system controlling the twin 42-mm throttle bodies. Ditto the 10-hole high-pressure — 50 psi — fuel-injection system that helps the new engine meet worldwide emissions standards. That said, despite the inclusion of drive-by-wire, there’s no mention of a cruise control system, radar-controlled or otherwise. Of course, it could be coming as a new trim introduction later in the production cycle.

More noticeable — to the rider, at least — is an assisted slipper clutch. Cams built into the clutch basket and pressure boss lock more firmly onto the clutch plates, which means softer springs can be used, reducing the effort at the clutch lever. We motorcyclists are getting older and more infirm. It’s good that someone is helping us oldsters out.

Suzuki didn’t stop there. The DE — Suzuki’s new designation for more off-road-worthy adventure bikes — gets an all-new chassis very much focused on berm-busting. For one thing, the new 800 sports a dirt-bike-like 21-inch front wheel wrapped in the de rigueur 90/90-21 tubeless Dunlop Trailmax Mixtour. For another, there’s a whopping 220 millimetres of travel both front and rear, a new record for any Suzuki adventure tourer.

Likewise, the DE’s 220-mm of ground clearance is the most ever offered by a Suzuki in this segment. Marry that to a wide, tapered handlebar and a new “Gravel” mode in the traction control electronics, and Suzuki has obviously placed an emphasis on competing with the off-road-focused offerings from KTM, BMW, and more. That said, the new V-Strom’s skid plate is still made of plastic, although there’s an aluminum replacement in the accessories catalogue.

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What hasn’t changed is the new Suzuki’s performance envelope. The new twin, despite all its high-tech-ery, makes but 81 horsepower (at 8,500 rpm) and 57.5 pound-feet of torque (at 6,500 rpm). By comparison, KTM claimed its 790 Adventure made 95 hp, and Cycle World dyno-tested it at 83 rear-wheel ponies. That said, if the DL650 is anything to go by, the DE will be one of the most reliable motorcycles on the planet.

The 776-cc twin will also have to motivate 230 kilograms (507 pounds), up 14 kilos (31 pounds) from the outgoing DL650. No doubt it will be more powerful and less frenetic than the previous model, but the attraction here will not be supercharged performance.

That said, could we — now that Suzuki has (finally) shown it’s up to engineering new powertrains — see a more powerful version of the new parallel twin? After all, it’s been almost a decade since Suzuki showed us a Recursion show bike that sported a turbocharged parallel engine. Oh, the concept only displaced 588 cc, but otherwise the engine was the spitting image of the Strom’s new parallel twin. Could Suzuki be on the cusp of launching the much-rumoured turbocharged version of this engine that would (also finally) replace the aging 1,037-cc V-twin that powers the top-of-the-line DL1050?

If it does, sign me up! I’m looking for a new bike, and my last two rides have been V-Stroms.

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2023 Suzuki V-Strom 800DE adventure bike breaks cover | Driving

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