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Aussie launch of the Suzuki V-Strom 650/1000 | BIKE TESTS

A ride into the wilds of Far North Queensland gave Steve Martin the chance to measure up Suzuki’s new V-Strom 650 and 1000 – and decide which one he likes best

How the hell was this bloke from Cape York Motorcycle Adventures, on his Suzuki DR-Z400 complete with a long-range tank and knobby tyres, meant to keep up with a bunch of mad journos on road tyre-shod V-Strom 1000s, through the delightfully twisty Daintree Forest?

We were in Cairns in Far North Queensland about to sample Suzuki’s latest 650cc and 1000cc adventure bikes and I was a bit confused. We’d been advised the planned route would consist of 60 per cent road riding with the other 40 per cent made up of simple dirt roads, so why did Roy Kunda opt for the DR? And when I asked if he’d be okay, why did he look up, smile and say ‘no problem’?

I soon learnt the so-called 60 per cent road actually meant closer to 10 per cent, and that our lovely posse of just run-in bikes was about to get quite a workout.

Day one and the weather was perfect with a balmy 33ºC forecast. The plan was to make our way north from Cairns to a campsite at Palmer River.

The last V-Strom I had ridden was the 2014 version of the 650 XT and it was a bike I had an instant attraction to. With the huge modifications made to the 2017 model, I wanted to jump on one straight away to see for myself if Suzuki could make a great bike even better.

The major differences of the new 650 compared to last year’s bike are easy to see. First, it’s had a complete makeover from head to toe. It’s now a lot closer in appearance to its aggressive-looking big brother, sporting the same style beak that was made famous by the DR Z 800 that competed in the Paris-Dakar with Gaston Rahier on board many years ago.

Suzuki says it has revamped the styling to make it easier for people to pick the 650 as a member of the V-Strom family; by doing so, it has made an even more desirable bike than last year’s. The XT also now comes standard with handguards and a plastic bashplate, which is a nice bonus because last year they were add-on extras.

Read the full story in the current issue of AMCN on sale now