After a somewhat questionable teaser ad campaign that was inadvertently self-sabotaged when Suzuki Europe accidentally published photos on its website last week, Suzuki has officially pulled the wraps off its new 2012 V-Strom 650 ABS featuring numerous upgrades centered around more comfort and better low-end and midrange performance. The V-Strom 650 has been in American Suzuki’s lineup since 2004, and despite little exposure or fanfare has done reasonably well, even outlasting its liter-size stablemate V-Strom 1000. But with only minor updates since its introduction, Suzuki decided to freshen up the “Wee Strom” to better appeal to its core audience.
And that audience isn’t what the disappointed that were expecting some sort of competitor to the recently introduced Triumph Tiger 800 or BMW F800GS consists of. While it might have given Suzuki some street cred to come out with a full-on adventure-tour off-road-capable competitor to those aforementioned models, the V-Strom 650 has survived this long on being an extremely economical and versatile commuter-cum-touring motorcycle at an equally inexpensive price. So Suzuki spent some RD; time bolstering the V-Strom 650’s attributes.
The V-Strom 650’s 649cc V-twin engine has always been loved for its user-friendly characteristics, and Suzuki went about adding to that personality by improving its low-end and midrange power. The basic engine architecture stays the same, but various detail improvements boost lower-rpm breathing and reduce internal friction.
Intake camshaft timing has been made less aggressive, with new pistons and rings reducing compression ratio slightly from 11.5:1 to 11.2:1, and single valve springs replacing the previous dual springs helping to reduce mechanical friction losses. A heavier crankshaft smoothes out power and helps get it to the ground, while finer 10-hole injectors improve combustion.
There were no claimed power figures, but dyno graphs show a claimed increase in torque across the powerband, including a significant bump in power up top. Suzuki is also claiming a 10 percent increase in fuel efficiency, allowing it to redesign and shrink the V-Strom’s fuel tank from 5.8 gallons to 5.3 gallons while maintaining the same fuel range.
Long-range comfort was the V-Strom’s other strong point, and Suzuki made sure to keep that aspect intact with numerous refinements. The windscreen has been redesigned through wind tunnel testing, with the upper edge pulled back 30mm, and is now adjustable through three positions. The seat has been subtly reshaped, with a narrower midsection accomplished by reshaping the fuel tank to allow easier reach to the ground, with a 15mm taller position for slightly more legroom (20mm taller and 20mm lower accessory seats are also available).
Other refinements include subtle styling changes, a new ABS as standard equipment that is more than 50 percent lighter than the previous version (now 1.5 pounds), liquid-cooled oil cooler, preload adjustability on the front fork and remote preload adjustability on the rear shock. Claimed wet weight (full tank, ready to ride) is 472 pounds, an 18-pound decrease from the previous generation. MSRP has not been set yet, and the bike will be delivered to dealers in mid-November.
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