Suzuki recently announced its Indian-made 2023 V-Strom 250SX and, if the origin concerns you, I’m here to put your mind at ease
On one hand I’m cranky at Suzuki but on the other I’m not. I’m cranky because it pulled out of MotoGP, but on the other hand that means the Hamamatsu factory is going to focus on bringing new and interesting bikes to the market.
I nicked up to Newcastle on the New South Wales Central Coast for a sneaky quick spin on Suzuki’s new V-Strom 250SX. The V-Strom 250 name might be familiar, but the old model shares bugger all with the new SX model, which is lighter, smaller, more powerful and less expensive.
To achieve it, Suzuki has lopped off a cylinder making the SX lighter, and manufacturing is completed in Suzuki’s Indian plant which has lowered the price while still maintaining the high quality control standards we expect of Suzuki.
The first quarter-litre V-Strom appeared in 2017 and while it had its place in the market and received generally good reviews from the press, there was no doubt that the little ’Strom was a heavy sucker with a claimed wet weight of 188kg. Suzuki has now managed to shave an impressive 21kg of weight off, with the SX now weighing in at a claimed 167kg (wet).
The 2017 version ran a 248cc parallel-twin engine which was good for a claimed 18.4kW (24.7hp) of power and 23.4Nm of torque. These are hardly impressive figures for a learner-legal adventure machine which tips the scales at just shy of 190kg.
The SX is propelled by 249cc single-cylinder donk punching out a claimed 19.5kW (26.1hp) of power at 9300rpm and 22.2Nm of torque at 7300rpm in a package that’s more than 10 percent lighter than the old model.
Suzuki has focused on increasing efficiency with the new oil-cooled single paying special attention to reducing friction and improving the combustion process. Suzuki is even claiming MotoGP technology has found its way into the SX by way of fancy new valves and shim-type roller rocker arms, as well as retainers which are both slipperier and lighter.
The new powerplant is nestled in a steel-cradle frame, with a 45mm non-adjustable fork up front and a preload-adjustable monoshock out back. Gone is the 17-inch front wheel from the outgoing model, an off-road-focused 19-inch rim taking its place, while the 17-inch rear remains the same.
These chassis changes have resulted in an increased ground clearance to 205mm, and seat height also grows from 800mm to 835mm with a low-seat option available for more compact people.
And while the seat height may have grown, the price has gone in the opposite direction with the 2023 V-Strom 250SX carrying a price tag of $6490 (ride away), compared to the $7,190 (ride away) asking price for the old model.
And the build quality is really good, in fact, it’s better than I expected. Everything from the quality and depth of the paint down to the purr of the engine makes the V-Strom feel much more expensive than it is.
The SX carries itself with a big-bike look, but once you saddle up the SX is quite slim through the seat and tank junction – it feels light, small and ready for action. The ’bar has a very high bend but sits in a good position while you’re seated, but it’s still just a bit too low for my six-foot-plus frame. The height of the ’bar means that if you want to swap out to an alloy handlebar you’re going to need a ’bar riser. And if you’re a taller rider, a substantial one.
The SX now comes with the Suzuki Easy Start System which you’ll find in a lot of the company’s range. It essentially means you can push the start button once and the starter will keep cranking the engine until it fires rather than having to hold the button down. I’m assuming there must be a long history of thumb strain because Suzuki’s press gaff makes a big deal of this feature.
There’s a new LCD instrument staring up at you from below the non-adjustable screen, displaying the speedo, odometer, a couple of trip meters, fuel information, the time and volt meter. There’s an array of idiot lights flanking the screen, too, including a neutral light, indicators and ABS indicator light among others, and there’s a USB charging port to the left of the cluster.
There’s no need to fart around with adjusting modes or rider aids because there aren’t any – just thumb the starter, adjust your mirrors and off you go. The single gets along nicely and there’s more than enough on tap get around town at a brisk pace. I didn’t have the opportunity to jump on a highway, but I reckon the SX might run out of puff if you need to overtake at highway speeds, but nothing a bit of planning ahead wouldn’t sort.
The engine is silky smooth as is the six-speed gearbox. There are no discernible vibes at city speeds, and the engine is so smooth I’d be surprised if it had any vibration issues at higher speeds, either.
The whole setup is a really smooth and quiet affair, the engine purrs and the exhaust makes adorable raspberry fart noises. I lie, they aren’t adorable, it sounds a bit feeble and would-be owners should remove the exhaust immediately and throw it in their neighbour’s bin.
Suspension performance seems pretty good on the road, and having adjustable preload on the rear is handy if you plan on lashing gear to the pillion seat or rear rack. Off-road, the front deflects off rocks more than is probably ideal, but I reckon if you take your time there’s not many places you couldn’t get to on the SX.
It comes fitted with MRF Mogrip Meteor trail tyres which worked okay on the road and off it, although I didn’t have the opportunity to push hard on either surface. But with this style of tyre from any manufacturer, if you’re planning dirty fun times swap them out for something a bit more aggressive and with a 19-inch front and 17-inch rear you should have plenty of options.
A single 310mm disc is gripped by a ByBre twin-piston caliper at the front, and 240mm rear caliper is matched to a single-piston caliper from the same mob. Power at both ends is adequate rather than brilliant, but there’s plenty of feel on- and off-road, and the ABS works well – it’s not one of those systems that takes all braking force away when it senses slippage.
The only gripes I have with the SX are in relation to riding off-road. Firstly, and unfortunately, ABS can’t be deactivated at all. I believe that being able to turn off the rear ABS should always be an option on any bike with
any off-road aspirations.
The second is the stubby dual-outlet exhaust which pokes out from under the engine just behind the right-hand footpeg. Apart from the fact that it’s very quiet, the muffler is in the way if you’re standing on the ’pegs and I was forced to do ankle acrobatics to use the rear brake when standing. To be fair, and look at the pictures for goodness sake, a bloke my size is not the SX’s target market. I have a size-15 hoof, but a couple of the other riders with size 12 and 13 shoes also had the same problem, but a chap with size 10s didn’t have an issue at all.
Suzuki lists the new V-Strom 250SX as a ‘sports adventure tourer’. Could you tour on it? Absolutely – the upright ergonomics, screen and rack make it very capable. Is it the best tourer in its class? Probably not. Could you rattle off huge dirt distances on it? Yep, but again there are small bikes that are better suited to that. But at $6480 (ride away), it’s significantly more affordable than any of its competitors and the money you save can buy you an exhaust, suspension upgrade or a grovel gift for your better half when you come home with a shiny new Suzuki in your possession.
There will be people who’ll want to bash the V-Strom 250SX because it’s made in India but it’s manufactured in that country’s Suzuki factory, by Suzuki employees – it hasn’t been outsourced to a huge Indian manufacturer churning out millions of the bikes with different badges on them. I was genuinely surprised by the quality of the SX, especially considering its price. The SX is perfect for riders that are new to the off-road scene but who also use their bike to commute on and do some light touring as well. I reckon even experienced riders will consider it as a cheap, reliable and super versatile option to get around on and keep everyday kays off their pride and joy.
When stock of the SX arrives, we’ll do a more thorough test, but my initial thoughts are that the SX represents fantastic value, is built very well, and does everything Suzuki claims it’ll do on the tin.
Head over to the Suzuki website for more info on the V-Strom 250SX
Test Pete Vorst + Photography Suzuki