2018 Honda Africa Twin: First Ride Review
- Aug 24, 2018
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In India, touring on bikes is picking pace. While many prefer cult motorcycles like Royal Enfield, others use whatever else they own, as long as they can ride to the remotest part of our vibrant country. Taking cue, the global two-wheeler giants have introduced their world class adventure and touring bike models in our market like the Triumph Tiger 800XC we rode recently, and the one we review here – the Suzuki V-Strom 1000 ABS.
Internationally the world of adventuring biking is split in two sections – the smaller capacity 650-800cc machines, and the full-sized 1200cc beasts on the other. And Suzuki has created a niche for itself in between with its 1037cc V-Strom, aiming at those adventure seeking riders who are neither seeking too big a bike, nor too puny.
The Suzuki V-Strom does tick all the boxes needed in an adventure bike --- like having a tall stance, raised front mudguard, large wheels, wide seats, front wind screen, good ground clearance, sturdy carrier at the back and plenty of provisions to strap luggage on.
I don’t like the execution or styling of the exhaust pipes, as it looks like an aftermarket part and seems bare without the optional underbelly bash plate. Its beak styling and 19-inch front wheel suggest its intentions to take on adventure, but the styling isn’t the V-Strom’s strength. The Suzuki’s stance and proportions can be intimidating, but you won’t fall in love with it.
Features and Equipment
There’s a neat looking and large instrument panel with a large analog tacho and digital speedo at a nicely raised position for easy visibility. Standard equipment also includes ABS and a useful charging socket on the instrument cluster.
It also gets Suzuki’s first Traction Control system which can be played around with using a set of buttons on the left switch gear. Turn off the traction net and the motor feels fairly peppy and sharp. True adventure seekers can pop wheelies and burn-out without much fuss.
In the wet and slushy monsoon roads, I preferred to use Traction Control in Mode 2, which is the most intrusive. Using various sensors, the Suzuki’s on-board computer takes charge and reduces the power elegantly when it senses a possibility of traction loss. The power delivery also feels more mellowed down, which was ideal for the rains.
For a little more thrill, I switched to the Mode 1 where the system becomes less intrusive and the traction control light comes on a lot less. When I twist open the throttle on slippery roads, it comes into action and avoids skidding, but the system is not meant for off road use – making the Suzuki V-Strom a street focused bike.
These features give the Suzuki V-Strom a very flexible nature which can be tuned to your needs and fancy.
Ergonomics and ease of use
This adventure tourer has a flat handlebar, a well carved out fuel tank and slightly rearwards foot rest which create a nice upright and roomy riding position that is naturally comfortable for the rider. The seat is good for long runs and has smart use of materials to offer excellent grip in all weather conditions.
At 850mm the seat is quite tall for most Indians, but thankfully the saddle is narrow in front which helps in low speed manoeuvring. Unlike other bikes in its segment, the Suzuki V-Strom doesn’t have the option of adjust the ride height.
But what you can adjust is the front screen. It is large enough to block most of the wind blasts, and can be adjusted in three positions by hand with its clever ratchet system; though you’ll need tools to alter the windscreen’s height. The overall quality and detailing on the bike is pretty good.
Engines & performance
From the moment you crank up the bike, it has the familiar Suzuki smoothness and fluidic nature. On paper the 1,037cc liquid cooled 8-valve V-twin of the V-Strom doles out a modest 99PS of maximum power, compared to its sporty sibling Suzuki GSX-R 1000 which produces almost twice as much. However, for an adventure tourer it seems adequate as the V-Strom is never short on power.
This is because it has great low rev torque as the entire 103Nm of peak torque gushes in at just 4,000rpm. Moreover, what makes this motor likeable is the highly flexible power delivery and throttle response from almost idle, which is reasonably strong till the 9,250rpm redline.
The V-Strom has enough power to comfortably cruise at 100kmph and at a twist of the wrist goes beyond 150kmph. Perhaps the only disappointing bit is the flat feel at higher revs. There is no doubt that the Suzuki V-Strom is good to ride, provided you don’t expect too many thrills out of this tourer.
Handling & braking
The bike’s based on a twin-spar aluminium frame and an aluminium swing arm, giving it a wheelbase of 1,555mm. It has robust upside down forks which not just look great but are multi adjustable too. The bike has a soft and plush ride without wallowing in corners or over poorly maintained city roads.
Once on the highway I could firm up the rear mono-shock simply by a few turns of the pre-load adjuster knob, immediately making the V-Strom more responsive and manageable at higher speeds. As mentioned before it’s a tall bike which weighs 208kg making it far-fetched from a track tool. Keeping to its street bike cum tourer theme, the Suzuki V-Strom has been tuned to favour stability over agility.
Our off-road testing was limited, thanks to the heavy down pour on the day of the shoot. The Suzuki V-Strom can handle some amount of off-roading on hard patches but the street-focused tyres give-up on slush and other slippery surface. Stick to tarmac and broken roads and you’ll have little to complain about.
There is plenty of braking power with the 4-piston callipers and twin disc up front and a useable rear disc at the back, coupled with a very handy ABS.
Price and Fuel efficiency
With a tank of 20-litres and an average fuel economy of about 15kmpl, the Suzuki V-Strom has a respectable range of roughly 300km, which should suffice the needs of most adventurers. But the biggest spoiler for the V-Strom is its price of over Rs 17 lakh (OTR Mumbai), making it over Rs 3 lakh more expensive than the Triumph Tiger 800XC.
The Suzuki V-Strom is more like an adventure styled street bike. The reason I say this is because despite being fairly quick and versatile, it is not overtly exciting to ride and lacks off-roading ability. Highway touring should be fun, thanks to Suzuki’s pleasant V-twin character, supple ride quality, backed by wide and well padded seat. And then it’s priced on the higher side, due to the high import duties on CBUs giving its competition an edge.
Overall rating 3.5/5
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