- Name aside, there’s nothing shared with the ancient V-Strom 650
- New parallel-twin engine makes for a compact, competitive package
- High-spec suspension, brakes, and electronics
- DR Big-inspired styling is distinctive, if not universally loved
- Less power than Honda’s new Transalp or BMW’s F 850 GS
- Heavier than a Transalp or Ténéré 700
- Still not as performance-minded as some of the competitors
For twenty years Suzuki has been churning out soft adventure bikes bearing the V-Strom name, but the V-Strom 800DE looks to push Suzuki down a new path. On paper it’s the most convincing bike yet to wear the V-Strom badge.
Sitting between the V-Strom 1050DE and the V-Strom 650XT in Suzuki’s adventure range, the 800DE ditches the V-twin format and alloy chassis in favor of a steel frame and an on-trend parallel-twin. Using the first all-new engine we’ve seen from Suzuki in years— and one that aims to be as ubiquitous as the V-twins used in the other V-Strom models—it’s hard to overstate how important the 800DE is to Suzuki’s future.
Suzuki proudly claims that the 800DE is “the most dirt- and travel-worthy V-Strom ever.” There’s more ground clearance than any V-Strom to date thanks to long-travel, fully adjustable suspension, and there’s plenty of technology baked into the package. For those with travel plans, 800DE models come standard with aluminum panniers.
Updates for 2023
Everything about the V-Strom 800DE is new, from the fully adjustable Showa suspension to the wire wheels (tubed, hinting at the bike’s off-road intention) and, of course, the engine and frame. Styling has a nod to the DR Big but isn’t retro, borrowing modern Suzuki cues like the stacked, rectangular lights that debuted on the latest GSX-S1000.
Pricing And Variants
The key decision to make is between the base V-Strom 800DE ($11,349) and the better-equipped 800DE Adventure ($12,999). Base model comes in yellow/blue and gray/yellow color schemes, while the Adventure is available in black with blue trim.
More importantly, upgrading to the 800DE Adventure gets you quick-release 37-liter aluminum panniers, an aluminum skid plate, and an “accessory bar,” which Suzuki won’t refer to as an engine guard.
The parallel-twin layout, semi-serious off-road stance, and ability of the V-Strom 800DE mean it’s up against a host of tough rivals. BMW’s F 850 GS ($12,595), Yamaha’s Ténéré 700 ($10,499), KTM’s 890 Adventure ($13,949), and Aprilia’s Tuareg 660 ($12,299) are all potential competitors, each sharing a similar steel-framed, parallel-twin-powered design, and even Honda’s larger Africa Twin ($14,499) could be cross-shopped against the Suzuki.
Powertrain: Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The engine is the key to the V-Strom 800DE’s appeal. The parallel-twin layout isn’t just a case of following trends—it makes sense in terms of having a lower component count than a V-twin, it’s easier to package in a bike’s frame, and it’s inevitably lighter. A 270-degree crankshaft means the power delivery still promises a characterful throb like that of a 90-degree V-twin, and Suzuki uses a patented dual-balancer-shaft arrangement that promises to make it smoother than most engines using this layout.
Tuned for midrange thrust rather than outright power, the Suzuki peaks at a claimed 83 hp and 8,500 rpm, which is around 11 hp more than the claim power output for Yamaha’s Ténéré 700, but less than the 90 hp BMW F 850 GS, or 105 hp KTM 890 Adventure. It drives through a six-speed transmission equipped with an up-and-down quickshifter that’s part of the 800DE’s surprisingly generous standard equipment.
Some might see Suzuki’s use of a steel frame as a retrograde step, given the use of aluminum on earlier V-Stroms, but again it’s in line with current trends. Steel copes well with the tough conditions that adventure bikes are aimed at, flexing when necessary but without fracturing; all the 800DE’s main rivals use a similar solution. The bolt-on, trellis-style subframe is also steel, but the swingarm is an alloy design. Unlike Honda’s Transalp 750, which borrows its frame from the Hornet street bike, the 800DE’s chassis is quite different from the one used in the GSX-8S roadster that shares this engine.
The Suzuki also has higher-spec suspension than some rivals, with an inverted fork and a shock from Showa, both fully-adjustable for compression, rebound, and spring preload. Wheel travel is 8.7 in. at the front and rear.
Nissin provides the braking setup, with simple, axial-mounted 2-piston front calipers and a single-pot rear, using dual 310mm front discs and a 240mm one at the back. There’s two ABS modes, selectable along with the other rider aids, plus an option to turn off the rear antilock entirely when riding off-road.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The fuel tank is a large, 5.3 gallon design, and according to specs released for the European model (done using World Motorcycle Test Cycle conditions), fuel consumption is 53.4 mpg. That will equate to a range of around 280 miles if you can achieve the same efficiency in the real world.
Ergonomics: Comfort and Utility
The V-Strom 800DE’s more serious approach to off-road hasn’t led to a crazily high seat, which comes in at 33.7 inches—around the same as the Transalp and nearly an inch lower than a KTM 890 Adventure R or a Yamaha Ténéré 700. The tougher skid plate and side protection bars of the 800DE Adventure look like worthwhile additions for anyone venturing far from the beaten track, but even the base model has a plastic engine guard and hand protectors as standard. The quick-release black anodized alloy panniers of the Adventure have 37 liters (1.3 cu.-ft.) of space.
The V-Strom 800DE’s rider aids are in line with current expectations, but that means they’ll be a big leap forward for anyone swapping from a bike even just five years old. Three riding modes—A, B, or C—change the torque delivery from sharp to gentle, and four traction control settings match them, with an additional Gravel setting for dirt roads. Two ABS modes change the level of interference and the rear wheel ABS can be switched off, and it’s all accessed via a 5-inch TFT color dash that includes a programmable gearshift indicator and a built-in USB port. The quickshifter is standard and includes a blipper to automatically rev-match downshifts. Suzuki’s Low RPM assist helps prevent stalls, and all the lighting is LED.
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
There’s a 12-month, unlimited mileage, limited warranty with the option to extend to longer cover periods via Suzuki Extended Protection.
2023 Suzuki V-Strom 800DE Claimed Specs
|$11,349 / $12,999 (Adventure)
|DOHC, 776cc, liquid-cooled parallel twin, 4 valves/cyl.
|Bore x Stroke:
|84.0mm x 70.0mm
|Electronic fuel injection w/42mm throttle bodies
|Wet, multiple disc
|Ride by wire with multiple modes
|Steel tube frame with bolt-on trellis subframe
|Showa USD fork, fully adjustable, 8.7 in. travel
|Showa shock, fully adjustable; 8.7 in. travel
|2-piston calipers, dual 310mm discs w/ ABS (2 modes)
|1-piston caliper, 240mm disc w/ ABS (2 modes or disengaged)
|Wire-spoked wheels w/ aluminum rims, 21 in. front / 17 in. rear
|90/90-21 / 150/70-17