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rb2399 14th March 2019 15:25

My Suzuki V-Strom 650. EDIT: 35,000 km up
 
20 Attachment(s)
This is the story (so far) of my Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT (DL650XA).Past three odd years have been 'happening' of sorts as far as my bikes are concerned.
It all started with the ER-6n (detailed ownership review can be read here:https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/super...aki-er-6n.html.

I then moved on to the Kawasaki Z800 (lure of I-4, nothing else) and had loads of fun with it. Even rode to Sikkim with the venerable Bawa (ebonho) on the Z (This ride was one of the most happening rides for me). The Z was just not the bike for mountains is what I learnt the hard way during this epic 6000 kms ride!

Attachment 1859127


My eternal quest for the perfect touring bike continued and that's when the new Duke 390 was launched. Although the naked Duke is no touring machine by any stretch of imagination, I had seen Ebonho exploiting the Duke to its fullest potential. My skill levels are no way closer to Ebonho's. But the way he flew through the winding Himalayan roads as well as on the plains I thought maybe she's the one for me too stupid: and I bought one (she's still with me having clocked close to 45,000 kms in ~ 2 years of ownership and has been to places from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and to Gurudongmar in North Sikkim as well).Here are few snaps:

Attachment 1859128

Attachment 1859129

Although I could cover close to 800 kms in a day on the Duke, somehow it was amply clear that the naked Duke 390 was just not the bike for touring across the country for me (no offence meant).It's a fun bike no doubt but she always needs to be kept on the boil if you know what I mean!. Come November 2018 and the V-Strom 650 was launched in the Indian market. I had seen the V-Strom 1000 earlier but that was out of my reach. The launch of the 650 at a 'reasonable' price made me take a test ride and was immediately able to connect with the bike and thus decided to take the plunge :).

Now onto the details:

Alternatives considered

After owning two Kawasakis in a row, I wanted to switch brands and hence did not look at the Versys at all. Then there's the Himalayan.I kind of felt it to be anemic at best and hence did not consider it. So the only option left in "mid-range" category was the V-strom.


The booking and delivery experience

The only dealer for Suzuki big bikes in Pune is Dream bikes. Nothing much to really write about when it comes to dealing with Dream Bikes.I mean I went in, I got the quotation, I did the NEFT and got the bike delivered after 3 days flat. Obviously I was there when the bike got assembled at the workshop (being a CKD, it is part assembled at SMC Gurgaon and rest of it gets done at the dealer's workshop prior to the delivery).

Here's the bike under wraps

Attachment 1859169


Getting assembled

Attachment 1859167


And she gets ready :-)

Attachment 1859189



The story so far

It's been 5 months since I bought the V and she's nearing the 18,000 kms mark. That should give you an idea about my liking for the V. Like a typical Japanese bike, she’s rock solid. No squeaks, no rattles, nothing! Somehow the Hero Honda ad tag line "Fill it, Shut it, Forget it" comes to my mind whenever I am in the saddle.

Motorcycle Accessories

These are the accessories that I have fitted till date.

* The Crash Bar from SW Motech

Attachment 1859166

* Sump guard from SW Motech

Attachment 1859161

* Radiator Guard from R & G A must have lest you want a flying object to hit and damage your radiator.

Attachment 1871901

* Aluminum Chain Guard from Suzuki (as a part of Suzuki Genuine Accessories) This is something that is sold by SMC and I really don't know if it's worth 8,000 Rs !

Attachment 1871902


* Center Stand from SW Motech This is sold by SMC. It's originally made by SW Motech or so I am told. It's a must to have a center stand for bike of this size and weight !

Attachment 1871900


* Tank ring Got this from SW Motech. I don't use a tank bag and the reason I installed this is: being a big bike, the fuel dispenser nozzle always tends to foul the metal ring around the cap.So I got this tank ring installed to protect the silver ring from rubbing against the dispenser nozzle.

Attachment 1871903

* Grip puppies I've used these on all of my bikes and found them to be pretty useful. They are widely available online.


The positives

* A great bike to munch miles. I've routinely covered more than 800 kms in a day during outstation rides without any fatigue or sore bottom.

* Upright seating position. Great for riding for hours without a break.

* Incredibly frugal engine. I get 28+ kmpl during my long rides. With a tank capacity of 20 litres, this translates to a range of 500+ kms. A big plus in my opinion.

* She runs on Normal RON 91 petrol that we get in India. That was one of the decision making factors for me. I don't have to carry Octane boosters with me during long rides and no fear of pinging/knocking too!

* Very relaxed and stress free engine. The L-twin is a gem of an engine. At highway cruising speeds of 90-110 kmph, the RPM hovers between 4000-5500 rpm with little or no noise.

* Amazing low/mid-range torque. Reminds me of my TBTS 500. You can pull from say 4th gear and 40 kmph combination without any problem.

* The 2 mode traction control is something that proved to be pretty useful during my GQ ride when I encountered rains. This cannot be set on the fly though.

* The low RPM assist is another cool feature that helps one in not stalling the engine at low speeds.

* For a engine of this size, very negligible heat is felt in stop and go traffic which is very commendable. KTM guys need to learn a thing or two from Suzuki engineers for sure.

* Centre stand although available as an accessory is a big positive. I can comfortably lube the chain and don't have to carry any special tool to get the job done thanks to the centre stand. Same goes for fixing a puncture!

* Decent suspension setup. The conventional suspension (non USD) does its job adequately. The rear is adjustable and the factory default setting of 2 has served the purpose till date.

* The brakes are fantastic with progressive braking and enough bite. The ABS too does its job wonderfully well ! Only downside is the ABS cannot be switched off.

*The gearbox is bang on ! The gear shifts are smooth and precise with very little effort. And the shifting has become slicker over time !

* Good headlight. Both the high and low beam provide best possible illumination. The only gotcha in this setup is the high beam headlight bulb. It's a 65W/H11 that's hard to find. The only other bike that uses the H11 is the Duke RC 390.


The Negatives


* After fitting the Engine crash bars, I have started experiencing a buzz at around 4500 rpm. Many users from across the globe have reported the same so I guess I am not the only one.

* The seat height of 840 mm. I am nearly 5' 9'' tall and still find it difficult at times to flat foot. Shorter riders need to keep this in mind. There's an accessory sold by Suzuki that lowers the seat height by 10 mm or so. I think it will prove useful to shorter riders.

* The weight! This one is a given since it's a big bike. She weighs close to 210 kgs and it kind of really hits you if you come from say a very light Duke 390. Since I'd owned the Z before this, I was kind of okay with it.

* Spares availability. I've been told a period of 30-40 days for delivery of uncommon parts. God forbid if you are involved in any kind of accident that requires changing say the fairing, you are looking at ~ 2 months downtime which is pretty bad in my opinion. Even for running parts like spark plugs, there's an availability issue. The V uses NGK MR8E-9 spark plugs which is a rare species. So even when Suzuki has mandated spark plugs change at 12,000 kms , I could not get the plugs changed as they're unavailable. Although I've been told that these do last for more than 12,000 kms, I think there's to be a reason why Suzuki engineers have mandated a change at 12,000 kms.

* Although the overall build quality is top notch, the amount of plastic around the famous Suzuki "beak" is something that I am concerned about. I've fitted the engine guard but I don't know what's going to happen to all the plastic parts supporting this "beak" in the event of a fall. I am also worried about the rattles emanating from these plastic parts as she puts on miles.

* The fuel gauge is kind of funky. The bars don't really tell you the true story.It's better to rely on the 'range before empty' function instead of referring to the bars.

* The last one is a bit contentious and highly subjective. I have real doubts about the capabilities of an average Indian mechanic working on these bikes. This opinion has been formed based on my ownership of 3 such bikes viz. the ER-6n, Z-800 and the V Strom. I have ridden these three for ~ 70,000 kms in total and I have to say that even after living in a big city like Pune, the ASCs have failed to inspire confidence. The basic response to anything that you ask is: This is a Japanese bike, nothing will happen ! They don't know what a torque wrench is, they feel that after draining the engine oil they need to crank the engine to get the last possible engine oil drop (I nearly screamed at this and made a point to take out the keys whenever I went for a service thereafter). Fortunately there are saviours like slipstream performance (http://slipstreamperformance.in/) who are thorough professionals and they know what they do. Trouble with getting work done there is the hallowed "Warranty". Then getting over the counter spares from either Kawasaki/Suzuki has proved to be a bit difficult. The ASCs want you to pay for labour even when you just need the spare and want to get the job done outside. A sorry state indeed.

The verdict

This is the bike if you want to go out touring across the country and that too in a relaxed way. If you are in a hurry, please look somewhere else. The negatives that I mentioned above especially related to after sales service is something that's common across foreign brands with no exception in my opinion. So if you are ready to live with it, go ahead and get yourself the V !

Few additional points

* The bike runs best with petrol from HP. I've tried Shell,Reliance,BP,IOC & HP during my long rides. She runs noticeably smoother on HP fuel as compared to others (even Shell!)

* The factory filled lube is Ecstar and during the first 1000 kms I never faced any problems with gear shifting (false neutrals included). The ASC uses Motul 300V 15W-50 and somehow gear shifts became notchy post the first service. I thought maybe it's the initial period causing this. But it continued even after 10,000 kms and that got me worried.Then during my GQ ride I got her serviced at Vijaywada Suzuki. Those guys use Ecstar R9000 10W-40 (fully synthetic) and guess what ! The shifts were back to normal. So it's a good idea to stay from Motul 300V for this bike.

Now it's time for some pictures

The Yamuna E-way during the GQ ride

Attachment 1859140


Somewhere near Varanasi during the GQ ride

Attachment 1859141


Near Chennai during the GQ ride

Attachment 1859142

On the NH-17 during the ride back from Kanyakumari

Attachment 1859165

Near Hubli

Attachment 1859163

Near Ratnagiri during a Kokan ride

Attachment 1859164


Meghamalai in Tamilnadu

Attachment 1871898

Vagamon in Kerala

Attachment 1871899

P.S. Few of these snaps have already been shared on the forum by a dear friend and bhpian Sheel :)

GTO 29th April 2019 08:38

re: My Suzuki V-Strom 650. EDIT: 35,000 km up
 
Thread moved from the Assembly Line to the Big Bikes Section. Thanks for sharing!

Red Liner 29th April 2019 10:52

re: My Suzuki V-Strom 650. EDIT: 35,000 km up
 
Congrats on the bike. You seriously munch some insane miles. I have a versys and do my own maintenance , so here are my thoughts:

1. Spark plugs can run for 40k easily. So do not worry. Change them out every 30k for preventive maintenance. Fill only good fuel as far as possible.

2. Use rubber washers where the engine guard connects to the frame. It is resonance transferring to the frame. Do not over tighten the guard... Tighten it just enough and then revv the bike @4500 rpm to check resonance at different tightening points. This issue is common to the versys as well.

3. Never use 300v. Its a short life oil meant for racing ONLY. Go with amsoil for longer service intervals (10k) after warranty.

4. Buy your spark plugs from amazon US.

Enjoy your ride!

rb2399 29th April 2019 12:09

re: My Suzuki V-Strom 650. EDIT: 35,000 km up
 
1 Attachment(s)
Congrats on the bike. You seriously munch some insane miles. I have a versys and do my own maintenance , so here are my thoughts:

Quote:

Originally Posted by Red Liner (Post 4581535)
1. Spark plugs can run for 40k easily. So do not worry. Change them out every 30k for preventive maintenance. Fill only good fuel as far as possible.

Got the plugs changed last week as I am kind of paranoid about preventive maintenance !
Here's the condition of original plugs (after ~ 18000 kms just for your reference)

Attachment 1872302

Quote:

Originally Posted by Red Liner (Post 4581535)
2. Use rubber washers where the engine guard connects to the frame. It is resonance transferring to the frame. Do not over tighten the guard... Tighten it just enough and then revv the bike @4500 rpm to check resonance at different tightening points. This issue is common to the versys as well.

Will definitely try it out :thumbs up


Quote:

Originally Posted by Red Liner (Post 4581535)
3. Never use 300v. Its a short life oil meant for racing ONLY. Go with amsoil for longer service intervals (10k) after warranty.

Have switched to Motul 7100 10W-40 during last service. My prior experience with Motul (barring the 300V) has been quite good. I am open to Amsoil though !

Quote:

Originally Posted by Red Liner (Post 4581535)
4. Buy your spark plugs from amazon US.

I got them from https://www.webike.in/


Enjoy your ride!

aabhimanyu04 29th April 2019 12:20

re: My Suzuki V-Strom 650. EDIT: 35,000 km up
 
Wonderful review! I have been eying to buy this bike since its launch; your review has reinforced my plans.
Unlike the 310BMWs, I hope this one is pocket friendly to maintain. I know this comparison is funny, but I am deeply disappointed by the way BMW Motorrad are offering service in India. 310R would have been a nice tourer if you can live with that single cylinder motor.

Red Liner 29th April 2019 12:20

re: My Suzuki V-Strom 650. EDIT: 35,000 km up
 
Motul 7100 oil quality has degraded a lot after they shifted production to Indonesia or something. I recommend only Amsoil. Very highly rated and i use it for 10k service intervals. If you have the money, give it a shot,available on Amazon india.

Why do you have 4 plugs? You just need two right?

The MR8E-9 are pre gapped for 0.9mm. Hence they will stay gapped and do not need to be gapped every 12000 kms and nor do they need replacement. If you have the MR8E (which is what is suggested use in the service workshop manual) without the - 9, these are not pregapped, and need gapping every 12k or replacement. Either that or your manual is not updated (highly likely).

Your plugs look messy because you have probably either not cleaned your reusable air filter, or you have not changed them at the right interval considering our dusty conditions.

My original 12k service plugs look like brand new and my second set of plugs ran 32k kms without a hiccup. But if the plugs are cheap, what the hell :)

rb2399 29th April 2019 13:11

re: My Suzuki V-Strom 650. EDIT: 35,000 km up
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Red Liner (Post 4581584)
Motul 7100 oil quality has degraded a lot after they shifted production to Indonesia or something. I recommend only Amsoil. Very highly rated and i use it for 10k service intervals. If you have the money, give it a shot,available on Amazon india.

I'll definitely give Amsoil a try next time :).

Quote:

Originally Posted by Red Liner (Post 4581535)
Why do you have 4 plugs? You just need two right?

The V has 4 plugs (2 for each cylinder).

The MR8E-9 are pre gapped for 0.9mm. Hence they will stay gapped and do not need to be gapped every 12000 kms and nor do they need replacement. If you have the MR8E (which is what is suggested use in the service workshop manual) without the - 9, these are not pregapped, and need gapping every 12k or replacement. Either that or your manual is not updated (highly likely).

Quote:

Originally Posted by Red Liner (Post 4581535)
Your plugs look messy because you have probably either not cleaned your reusable air filter, or you have not changed them at the right interval considering our dusty conditions.

My original 12k service plugs look like brand new and my second set of plugs ran 32k kms without a hiccup. But if the plugs are cheap, what the hell :)

We can discount the air filter causing so much of carbon since I got it changed at ~ 8000 kms (The service manual says replacement is to be done every 18000 kms). I think it's the fantastic fuel quality that's caused such a carbon build up.

Red Liner 29th April 2019 13:14

re: My Suzuki V-Strom 650. EDIT: 35,000 km up
 
Weird! Versys just needs two spark plugs. Thats one win for the versys! �� Party! Lol.

Yes, fuel quality must be it. Try and stick to reliance or coco fuel bunks, though i think you already know the drill having owned an i4 and riding in sikkim.

MaheshY1 29th April 2019 14:05

re: My Suzuki V-Strom 650. EDIT: 35,000 km up
 
WOW! That's an insane amount of riding. For a big bike, that's a lifetime of riding compared to most big bikes in our country. That SV650's engine is a gem and incredibly easy to ride. If not for the weight, this motorcycle would've been on my list.

About your oil, I think it was the wrong weight of oil that must have made it clunky, not the brand. The heavier oil also affects fuel efficiency and performance. But, given the amount of bottom end torque, you must not have felt the drop in performance.

I haven't had a problem with over the counter sales of spares. For my Gixxer SF, I just walked into a service center near Kirti Nagar, in Delhi, and they happily handed me the indicator and brake pads. No problems, whatsoever.

Inform their workshop manager over an email that this is not legal and then insist on getting an invoice for the spares along with the labor charges. Then, go ahead and file a complaint in the consumer forum.

This is certainly a tedious task, but know that you'll only have to do this once. In future, you could just show a copy of the forum's ruling in your favor to any dealership and they'll fall in line in no time.

How are the tires holding up? How many miles do you think a set will last and how much do they cost? How expensive is the routine service? Do they also charge an hourly rate for labor?

rb2399 29th April 2019 15:08

re: My Suzuki V-Strom 650. EDIT: 35,000 km up
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by MaheshY1 (Post 4581637)
How are the tires holding up? How many miles do you think a set will last and how much do they cost?

I think they will do another 10000 kms or so (based on the wear). Looks like these Bridgestones do last for a while. A pair will set you back by ~ 20000 Rs. or so in my opinion.

Quote:

Originally Posted by MaheshY1 (Post 4581637)
How expensive is the routine service? Do they also charge an hourly rate for labor?

A regular service costs ~ 7000 Rs. They have a flat charge of 3000 Rs as labor.

highlander 29th April 2019 21:10

re: My Suzuki V-Strom 650. EDIT: 35,000 km up
 
That is some good riding!

I am hoping to follow your footsteps some day. Currently my ER-6n odo is at 25K and hoping to pick between 390adv and VStrom-650.

Since you have detailed experience of two of these bikes and all three engines - can you please compare them against each other on typical factors.

dkaile 30th April 2019 06:05

re: My Suzuki V-Strom 650. EDIT: 35,000 km up
 
Many Congratulations on a great ride mate. Wishing you even more miles of happy riding...

Cheers.

rb2399 30th April 2019 08:36

re: My Suzuki V-Strom 650. EDIT: 35,000 km up
 
That is some good riding!

I am hoping to follow your footsteps some day. Currently my ER-6n odo is at 25K and hoping to pick between 390adv and VStrom-650.

Quote:

Originally Posted by highlander (Post 4581833)
Since you have detailed experience of two of these bikes and all three engines - can you please compare them against each other on typical factors.

I think this is not a valid comparison as these three bikes are totally different in every sense. Having said that, if the KTM guys can still keep alive the fun factor in the 390 ADV , it will be some bike for sure !

Sheel 30th April 2019 08:55

re: My Suzuki V-Strom 650. EDIT: 35,000 km up
 
Very few people I know ride a bike the way it is meant to be ridden, you are one of them. The bike is perfect for someone who does super crazy kilometers. I just wish the manufacturers supported the riders a wee bit more and of course their margin would increase once this catches upon and they get volumes to play with.

Japanese manufacturers, BMW's, Triumphs are big enough to sustain some costs and not go greedy for a developing country like ours.

All the very best for your future rides, keep riding and sharing your logs :).

Swap_Abarth 30th April 2019 10:03

re: My Suzuki V-Strom 650. EDIT: 35,000 km up
 
Congratulation for your sweet new ride. You have achieved astounding number of miles in short while. Very crisp and to the point report on VStrom. V Strom is a complete package for cross country rides.
What are service intervals and average service costs? I own D390. Which one you pick for city rides, Duke or V Strom?
Wish you happy and safe riding...


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