Suzuki V-Strom SX review: A 250cc ADV for the road

Based on the proven Gixxer 250 platform, the V-Strom SX brings more comfort, practicality and mild off-road ability.

It’s  true that the Indian motorcycle buyer in today’s times is spoilt for choice. There’s a variety of motorcycles available across various price points and formats. And in this vast motorcycle oasis, Suzuki has taken its first step in the quarter-litre adventure touring segment by finally launching the V-Strom SX. 

They call it a ‘sport adventure tourer’ and the reason why we are so interested to ride this motorcycle is because it is based on the exciting and proven Gixxer 250 platform. The question that needs answering: is it worthy of a Suzuki V-Strom badge?

V-Strom SX, Gixxer 250: same but different

Let’s dive straight in and see what are the similarities and differences between the V-Strom SX and its street-naked sibling, the Gixxer 250. 

Firstly, what Suzuki has done is taken the Gixxer 250’s main frame and made a few modifications to the mounting points for accommodating the new bodywork. The subframe, however, is all-new. Along with no changes to the chassis, the fuel tank capacity also remains the same at 12 litres, which is a rather small size for an adventure touring motorcycle. Similarly, the headlight and indicators are identical to the Gixxer 250’s, while the tail light seems to be taken off the previous, 155cc Gixxer.

Moving on, the suspension, whether it is the front fork or the preload adjustable monoshock, is the same as the Gixxer, down the internals and amount of travel at both ends. The swingarm, however, is new and longer. You will also notice that the point where the front axle attaches to the bottom of the fork is off-set to make it easier to accommodate the 19-inch front wheel. These tweaks have added a 100mm to the wheelbase, taking it up to 1,440mm.

As is the case with most of the chassis, Suzuki hasn’t done anything to the 249cc, oil-cooled engine as well and it is in the same state of tune as the Gixxer 250. Even the internal gearing and the size of the final drive sprockets is exactly the same.

The big change is seen in the ergonomics; the seat height has gone up by 35mm to 835mm, which is tall but still not as much as the 855mm perch of the KTM 250 Adventure. Whereas, the handlebar is all-new and the footpegs have been moved slightly forward. 

And since this motorcycle is made for touring, you’ve got a decently sized aluminium top box rack as well as bungee hooks on the pillion footrest hanger to strap your luggage to the bike.

To sum up, this is exactly what cost-conscious platform sharing in the automotive space looks like. Suzuki, in fact, have done a commendable job in transforming a street naked bike into an adventure motorcycle, especially when you observe the design. 

V-Strom SX style: fresh look, feature packed

The V-Strom SX’s styling takes clear inspiration from the V-Strom 1050 sold in international markets and that’s a good place to begin with.The shape of the bodywork is mainly flat surfaces with a few creases, be it the beak under the headlight, the fuel tank or the plastic extensions attached below it. It is a similar story with the shape of the tail panels. 

There’s a non-adjustable windscreen that sits above the headlight and it does a decent job of deflecting head on wind up to the chest area. All of these design elements come together to give the V-Strom SX its own identity in the Indian adventure motorcycle market. 

USB charger is a nifty feature

The other aspect about the bike that strikes you is its size and road presence. Not to mention the bright yellow paint work on our test bike. As far as quality of materials and fit and finish is concerned, they are upto typical Suzuki standards, which is good. 

I also liked the layout of the LCD display and the way it has been positioned, making it easy to read even when the sun is overhead. The unit features Bluetooth connectivity with the expected facilities such as call and message alerts or turn-by-turn navigation. Another nifty feature is the USB charger that’s available as standard, but I would have liked to see a better cover for the port as the current one is a little flimsy to use.

V-Strom SX engine: smooth and sublime

The Gixxer 250’s engine is undoubtedly one of its strongest attributes and it is the same in the case of the V-Strom SX. What impressed me the most is its excellent refinement and tractability that allows you to ride the bike lazily in the city, without the need to change gears too often. However, you have to remember that this engine is in the same state of tune as the Gixxer 250 and that means you have to rev it to access all of its performance while riding on the highways at a quick pace. The good news is you’ll never tire of doing so because of how smooth and composed the engine feels at high speeds. This should appeal to people who are looking for a sporty streak in their quarter-litre adventure touring motorcycle.

Crucially, this engine is quite calm at 80kph with the gearbox slotted in sixth. There are next to no vibrations at those speeds and even a steady 100-120kph doesn’t seem to cause too much strain on the engine. However, go anything beyond that speed and you’ll feel the performance begin to taper off.

That being said, one has to consider that this engine has to move a motorcycle that’s 11kg heavier than the Gixxer 250. Also, it’ll be interesting to see how it performs when you’ve got a pillion on board and with panniers as well as a top box attached. That is a story for some other day. 

For now, and from what we experienced so far, this engine continues to lend itself quite nicely to the V-Strom SX’s sport adventure motorcycle application. And so do the ergonomics of this motorcycle.

V-Strom SX rideability: comfort class

Suzuki has managed to nail the rider’s triangle on this motorcycle, in keeping with the commuting and touring application. The seat, firstly, is flat, wide and quite spacious, even for a tall rider. The new handlebar is positioned at a comfortable reach from the seat and even the footpegs aren’t too rearset. The riding position is so relaxed that even after spending close to a day in the saddle, I felt no fatigue or backaches.  

As for the ergonomics, when you are standing on the pegs and riding offroad, you’ll notice that the handlebar is placed a little lower than ideal, especially if you are a tall rider. That forces you to bend further than what’s comfortable, to reach the handlebar.

That said, there are other bits like the 19-inch front wheel and MRF Mogrip Meteor tyres that give this bike the required ability and grip to ride down a light mud trail. In fact, with 205mm of ground clearance, achieved by installing the larger, 19-inch front wheel and moving the swingarm pivot point higher, you’d believe that the V-Strom SX should be able to tackle more of the rough stuff. However, the limiting factor is the suspension. It is set up for road use and with only a 120mm of travel at the front, you’d rather stay away from jumping this bike off mounds or climb over rocks and what have you. That aside you can still have a decent time riding over mild off-road trails. The bottomline is that the V-Strom is a good road-biased machine and the way it rides and handles is proof of that.

V-Strom SX chassis: stable and predictable

Suzuki usually gets the chassis set-up right on its motorcycles and that’s true in the case of the V-Strom SX as well. The bike feels reassuringly planted while riding on straights at high speeds as well as when it is leaned into a corner. The best part is that the feel from the front end isn’t as numb as you’d expect of a bike running a 19-inch front wheel. Also, while there’s ample amount of grip from the tyres as well, the increased road noise caused by the tyre pattern is what you’ll have to put up with.

As for the ride quality, it feels stiff at low speeds but improves as you carry more pace over bumpy roads. The brakes, again being taken off the Gixxer 250, leave almost nothing to complain about as bite and feedback is available in generous amounts. 

V-Strom SX verdict: eye of the Strom

The V-Strom SX carries all the strong virtues of the Gixxer 250 and bundles them with a more spacious, upright and comfortable riding position. As a road tourer, the V-Strom SX is, perhaps, one of the most accomplished options that you will find at this price point. But as far as off-road, ADV capability goes, the 19-inch front wheel and 205mm ground clearance is about all it gets. This is not an off-road ready motorcycle and it’s essentially a Gixxer 250 on stilts. That makes for a good commute as well as highway machine, albeit at a Rs 30,000 premium over the street naked machine. The higher price, however, is accounted for in the extra bodywork, bigger wheel, tyres, Bluetooth connectivity, etc.

In fact, at Rs 2.11 lakh, it undercuts the KTM 250 Adventure, its primary rival, by Rs 25,000, even though it definitely isn’t as capable off-road as the Austrian bike. So, to answer the question, is this deserving of the V-Strom badge? Well, not really.  What it is, is a nice tarmac-biased touring bike with all the quality and reliability that you’d associate with a Japanese motorcycle. 

 

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