2020 Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT | First Ride Review

2020 Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT
The 2020 Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT offers more power, more sophisticated electronics, more touring features and cool retro styling. (Photography courtesy Suzuki)

The Suzuki V-Strom 1000 is an old lion of the adventure-touring
world. When it debuted for 2002, there weren’t many liter-class adventure bikes
to choose from, and the few you could buy were European. There was the standard-bearer
BMW R 1150 GS plus a handful of others like the Aprilia ETV1000 CapoNord, Cagiva
Gran Canyon, Moto Guzzi Quota and Triumph Tiger 955i. Back then adventure
touring was still a niche segment, and most of these models faded away after a
few years.

2020 Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT
The 2020 V-Strom 1050XT is equipped with the Suzuki Intelligent Ride System, which includes cruise control, cornering/combined ABS, traction control, hill hold control, slope dependent control and load dependent control and uses a six-axis Interial Measurement Unit (IMU).

When it launched the DL1000 V-Strom, Suzuki became the first
Japanese manufacturer to offer a big adventure bike in the U.S., and its domestic
competitors stayed on the sidelines until Yamaha introduced the Super Ténéré
for 2012. The V-Strom had a 996cc liquid-cooled, 90-degree V-twin derived from
the TL1000S/R sportbikes and a twin-spar aluminum frame, and it delivered
impressive horsepower, torque and handling. Although it had a 19-inch front
wheel and tallish suspension, the DL1000 was best suited to the paved roads where
most adventure bike owners spend most of their time.

2020 Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT
The 2020 Suzuki V-Strom 1050, V-Strom 1050XT and V-Strom 1050XT Adventure have a new LCD display that provides a wealth of info and makes it easy to navigate between throttle response (SDMS), ABS and TC modes.

The DL1000 underwent few changes until 2014, when it got a
larger, more powerful engine, Suzuki’s first-ever traction control system and
updates to its chassis, styling and ergonomics. Four years later, Suzuki gave
the V-Strom 1000 another refresh, bringing its appearance in line with the
V-Strom 650 and adding IMU-based cornering ABS, which Suzuki calls the Motion
Track Anti-lock and Combined Brake System. Here we are just two years later
with yet another update, and the big V-Strom looks and performs better than

2020 Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT
Based on the 90-degree V-twin from the ’90s-era TL1000S/R sportbikes, the V-Strom 1050’s 1,037cc V-twin has been improved and refined over time. It is now Euro 5 compliant and makes more power and torque at higher revs.

Although engine displacement remains the same at 1,037cc, for
2020 Suzuki decided to change the name to V-Strom 1050 and offer three versions—a
standard model, the V-Strom 1050XT and the V-Strom 1050XT Adventure. All have a
revised engine that’s Euro 5 compliant and produces more horsepower and torque
at higher revs thanks to larger throttle bodies, new fuel mapping and cam
timing, higher-compression pistons and a revised exhaust. Claimed output has
increased from 99 horsepower at 8,000 rpm to 106 at 8,500 rpm, whereas peak
torque is down a bit, from 75 lb-ft at 4,000 rpm to 74 lb-ft at 6,000 rpm, though
there’s more grunt at high rpm. New throttle-by-wire has enabled the Suzuki
Drive Mode Selector, which offers three throttle response modes (A, B and C). Other
changes include an updated traction control system with three levels of
intervention, new instrumentation and LED lighting, a lighter, reshaped tapered
aluminum handlebar, wider footpegs and new Bridgestone Battlax Adventure A41

2020 Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT
The 2020 Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT in Pearl Brilliant White/Glass Blaze Orange. New styling is courtesy of Ichiro Miyata, who designed the ’80s-era DR-Big dual-sport below.
Suzuki DR-Big
The Suzuki DR-Big was a 797cc single-cylinder dual-sport that was introduced in 1988 but never came to the U.S. Its styling and color scheme provided inspiration for the new V-Strom 1050XT.

Ichiro Miyata, who designed Suzuki’s DR-Z Paris-Dakar racer
and DR-Big dual-sport in the 1980s, also designed the V-Strom 1050, and its
sharp beak and geometric lines are very similar to those found on the old DRs.
The cool retro styling, unfortunately, gets lost on the standard V-Strom 1050 ($13,399)
because it’s only available in Glass Sparkle Black/Solid Iron Gray. The V-Strom
1050XT ($14,799), on the other hand, looks fantastic in either throwback color
combos—Champion Yellow No. 2 with a blue seat and blue accents or Pearl
Brilliant White/Glass Blaze Orange. Spending the extra $1,400 for the XT replaces
the base model’s cast wheels with tubeless spoked wheels and adds the Suzuki
Intelligent Ride System, a different windscreen with toolless height adjustment,
more stylish hand guards and mirrors, a height-adjustable seat, a centerstand,
engine guards and a lower engine cowl. The V-Strom 1050XT Adventure ($16,999)
adds quick-release aluminum panniers and heated grips, but it’s only available
in Glass Sparkle Black; for my money, I’d buy a colorful XT and buy the
panniers and heated grips separately (there are nearly 60 items on the
accessory list).

2020 Suzuki V-Strom 1050 Glass Sparkle Black/Solid Iron Gray
The 2020 Suzuki V-Strom 1050 is only available in Glass Sparkle Black/Solid Iron Gray, a color scheme that does little to show off the cool retro styling.
2020 Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT Adventure Glass Sparkle Black
Likewise, the 2020 Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT Adventure, which adds aluminum panniers and heated grips, only comes in Glass Sparkle Black.

The big upgrade for 2020 is the Suzuki Intelligent Ride
System, a comprehensive electronics package that uses a new six-axis (up from
five) IMU and includes cruise control, cornering/combined ABS, hill hold
control, slope dependent control (which mitigates rear wheel lift when braking
downhill) and load dependent control (which adjusts brake pressure based on rider/passenger/luggage
weight). Connecting all of the control units and sensors is a new Controller
Area Network (CAN), which simplifies the wiring harness and offers faster data

2020 Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT
Although it has a 19-inch front wheel, 90/10 adventure tires and 6.3 inches of suspension travel, like all V-Stroms the new 1050XT is best suited to pavement. It has plenty of low to midrange grunt and handles well.

Greg’s Gear
Helmet: Arai XD4
Jacket & Pants: Aether Divide
Boots: Sidi Gavia Gore-Tex

What has made the V-Strom 1000 a perennial favorite over the
years is its user-friendliness. It has always been an approachable, versatile,
dependable motorcycle that’s blessedly free of quirks. With its new
electronics, the V-Strom 1050XT is the most technologically advanced V-Strom to
date but it retains its welcoming disposition. During the press launch we rode
the XT on some of southern Spain’s best paved roads, with a few miles of dirt
thrown in for good measure. From seating comfort and wind protection to
throttle response, engine performance and handling, the V-Strom 1050XT felt well
rounded and satisfying to ride. About the only thing missing on that cool
January day were the accessory heated grips.

2020 Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT Champion Yellow No. 2
The 2020 Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT in Champion Yellow No. 2 with a blue seat and blue accents, a color scheme inspired by Suzuki’s DR-Z rally racer below.
Suzuki DR-Z Type 2 Paris-Dakar
The 1991 Suzuki DR-Z Type 2 was raced in the Paris-Tripoli Dakar Rally. Like the new V-Strom 1050, it was designed by Ichiro Miyata.

As we left the coastal town of Marbella on our test ride and
ascended into the Sierra Nevada range on the fast, winding and damp A-366, I
started out in mode A, which offers direct throttle response and was just on
the cusp of being too abrupt for my taste. The mode button and large rocker
switch next to the left grip make it easy to navigate through the various modes
for throttle response, traction control and ABS, as well as operate cruise
control (which only works in gears 4-6 from 31-99 mph). Mode B felt just right,
and the fueling was consistent and never stumbled in on/off transitions. The
V-Strom still pulls strongly in the low- to midrange, while the revised engine’s
newfound liveliness at high revs rewards exuberant grip twisting. And thanks to
the assist-and-slipper hydraulic clutch, even aggressive shifting of the
6-speed transmission was drama-free.

2020 Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT
Standard equipment on the 2020 Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT includes an accessory/engine protection bar and lower engine cowl. The cylinder head, clutch covers, magneto cover and water pump case have a bronze finish to provide contrast with the black engine.

The new V-Strom uses the same fully adjustable 43mm upside-down
fork and rebound- and (remote) preload-adjustable link-type rear shock, both with
6.3 inches of travel, as before, though damping is softer in the front and
stiffer in the rear. Those changes weren’t readily apparent from the saddle,
and the 1050XT was pleasantly compliant on fast, smooth pavement and bumpy,
rocky dirt. Also unchanged are the Tokico monoblock 4-piston front calipers and
Nissin 2-piston rear caliper, which exhibited good initial bite but felt rather
vague otherwise even though there was plenty of stopping power. The
cornering/combined ABS now has two modes, offering more or less intervention,
but it cannot be turned off.

2020 Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT
The V-Strom 1050XT’s new windscreen can be adjusted through 11 positions over a 2-inch range, but the quick-release lever is not accessible on the fly. It’s the silver part just above the new LED headlight, which looks a lot like the squarish one on the new Suzuki Katana.

The XT’s new windscreen deflects air well and is height
adjustable over a two-inch range, but because the quick-release lever is on the
lower front of the windscreen, just above the headlight, adjustments must be
made while the bike is parked. Behind the windscreen is an accessory bar that’s
ideal for mounting a smartphone or GPS, and there’s a new USB outlet on the
left side of the dash (there’s also an SAE 12V socket under the seat). The new
seat is comfortable and height adjustable (33.5/34.3 inches), but the
adjustment process requires swapping out bolts under the seat using the wrench
in the toolkit. The brake lever, clutch lever, shifter and rear brake pedal are
all adjustable, so riders should have little difficulty dialing in the V-Strom
to suit their preferences.

2020 Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT
Like its predecessors, the 2020 Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT is suitable for light off-roading. The oil filter and undercarriage are vulnerable, so installing the accessory skid plate is recommended before you go boony bashing.

With three major updates in the past six years, the V-Strom
1000/1050 has evolved quickly. What was once a fun and competent but rather
basic adventure touring motorcycle has become sophisticated and refined. The
V-Strom 1050XT offers a higher margin of safety, more versatility and more
touring features while retaining the fun, go-anywhere spirit of the original.

Check out Rider‘s 2020 Guide to New/Updated Street Motorcycles

2020 Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT Specs

Base Price: $14,799
Website: suzukicycles.com
Engine Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse 90-degree V-twin, DOHC w/ 4 valves per cyl.
Displacement: 1,037cc
Bore x Stroke: 100.0 x 66.0mm
Transmission: 6-speed, hydraulically-actuated wet assist-and-slipper clutch
Final Drive: O-ring chain
Wheelbase: 61.2 in.
Rake/Trail: 25.3 degrees/4.3 in.
Seat Height: 33.5/34.3 in.
Claimed Wet Weight: 545 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 5.3 gals.

2020 Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT
This is what the 2020 Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT looks like disassembled. We don’t recommend doing this with yours.

Source: RiderMagazine.com

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