2018 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 and 1000XT Review | Adventure Ride

After skipping 2017, Suzuki brings back the V-Strom 1000 and 1000XT (the XT replaces the similar Adventure) with important updates that bring them up to modern spec. At the same time, Suzuki keeps the price competitive and did not forget what has made the previous V-Strom 1000 adventure motorcycles appealing.

1. Electronics lead the way for the 2018 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 changes. The big news is the three-axis Bosch Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) that ties in with a new braking system. There’s ABS, of course, but now it has access to the V-Strom’s yaw (left and right), roll (left and right), and pitch (down only). To add functionality, there’s a new combined braking system that works differently than you expect.

2018 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 Review
2018 Suzuki V-Strom 1000

2. The impressive braking system is almost invisible in action. When riding you still have independent control of the front and the rear brakes. However, if the Combined Braking System senses over-enthusiastic use of either the front or the rear discs, it will reduce the pressure of the offending brake, while adding braking at the opposite end. This works in both straight-line riding, as well as while cornering. ABS is almost completely transparent, and I was never able to do anything in a corner that made me aware that the combined braking was triggered. In many ways, you have to work on faith as it all happens so smoothly.

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3. The 1037cc motor is cleaner than before, but has virtually the same power. The exhaust was reworked to be lighter with dual catalyzers, along with other small changes, and the result is a motor with the same peak horsepower and a loss of about 1.4 ft/lbs of torque. In the real world of riding, the 90-degree V-twin feels completely unchanged, but now the Euro4 tailpipe sniffers are satisfied. As before, the excellent Suzuki EFI system is an important part of why the smooth Suzuki V-Strom 1000 motor is a winner.

4. The 2018 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 and 1000XT are quite close. The big difference is that the 1000XT gets wire-spoked dual-ridge tubeless rims, with the 1000 getting the typical cast aluminum wheels (which are actually a bit lighter). The 1000XT also get tapered aluminum bars, compared to the consistent 7/8-inch bars on the standard 1000. The increase in price isn’t much—$300. I’d go for the 1000XT just to get the version in Champion Yellow No. 2.

2018 Suzuki V-Strom 1000XT Test
2018 Suzuki V-Strom 1000XT

5. Both V-Strom 1000s get a bit more aggressive adventure-ready rubber. Having said that, riding a V-Strom 1000 in the dirt is still a challenge, even with the Bridgestone Battle Wing tires. The bike is fine on a hard dirt road, but the handling and suspension aren’t ready for hard pounding or sandy conditions. The 17-/19-inch wheel combination allows you to choose tires that suit your needs, though dirt-road riders will want the 1000XT due to its wire-spoked wheels and tapered bars. Both the standard V-Strom 1000 and the 1000XT get a lower cowl, making them more suitable for gravel roads where you want to protect the engine’s soft underbelly.

6. Consider the 2018 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 bikes to be sport-tourers with benefits. You can tour the world, and you aren’t restricted to paved roads. You’ll want to stick to pavement for most of your riding, but it’s always nice to have options.

7. A new fairing and windscreen are solid improvements in air management. New this year is a taller windscreen that allows you to easily adjust it to any of three angles. I liked the swept back position for most riding, though higher speed or rain may make the forward position tempting. There’s also height adjustment that requires an Allen wrench. Really, picking the right position is about your height and wind-protection preferences. The fairing is also new, and it keeps things quieter and more stable. There is definitely less buffeting and more protection than before—a nice improvement that means you can ride longer with reduced fatigue.

2018 Suzuki V-Strom 1000XT Review
2018 Suzuki V-Strom 1000XT

8. Traction control returns, but there’s still no cruise control. I am a big fan of Suzuki’s easily adjusted three-position (high, low, and off) traction control. It’s not an intrusive system, though you can turn it off if you want to do wheelies. Low intervention is a good default position, with high ready for rain. Off-roaders can go with no traction control, though I liked the high-sensitivity option on the hard-pack dirt roads and the street-friendly Bridgestones—it’s definitely a taste thing.

9. Touring riders will love the new mounting system for luggage. Putting bags on V-Stroms was a hassle in the past. Now, Suzuki has a saddlebag mounting system that is common to all 1000 and 650 flavors. This makes life easier for the consumer, dealer, and aftermarket purveyor of accessories. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to see how the mounting system works, as the bags aren’t yet available.

2018 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 Review
2018 Suzuki V-Strom 1000

10. The chassis and suspension are unchanged. The V-Strom 1000 had already established itself as having predictably neutral handling and suspension that was highly capable on paved routes of all types, while being acceptable on well-groomed dirt roads. The ergonomics remain fantastic, and it is no problem to go through the 5.3-gallon fuel tank.

11. It’s a better Suzuki V-Strom 1000 and 1000XT for 2018. Although most of the improvements are difficult for the rider to feel, the increased safety of expanded electronic riding aids are always an enhancement. The new tires and the XT’s wire-spoked wheels are an upgrade, as is the updated plastic. Rather than reinventing the V-Strom 1000s for 2018, Suzuki wisely settled for refining the adventure-touring liter-bikes.

Photography by Enrico Pavia

Riding Style

2018 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 and 1000XT Specs:

ENGINE

  • Type: 90-degree V-twin
  • Displacement: 1037cc
  • Bore x stroke: 100 x 66mm
  • Compression ratio: 11.3:1
  • Fuel delivery: EFI
  • Valve train: DOHC, 4vpc
  • Transmission: 6-speed
  • Clutch: Wet multiplate
  • Final Drive: RK 525 chain

CHASSIS

  • Front suspension: Fully adjustable fork; 6.3 inches of travel
  • Rear suspension: Linkage-assisted, spring-preload and rebound-damping adjustable shock; 6.3 inches of travel
  • Front tire: 110/80 x 19; Bridgestone Battle Wing
  • Rear tire: 150/70 x 17; Bridgestone Battle Wing
  • Front brakes: Twin discs w/ radial mounted calipers
  • Rear brake: Disc
  • ABS: Standard (non-defeatable)

DIMENSIONS and CAPACITIES

  • Wheelbase: 61.2 inches
  • Rake: 25.3 degrees
  • Trail: 4.3 inches
  • Ground clearance: 6.5 inches
  • Seat height: 33.5 inches
  • Curb weight: 514 pounds
  • Fuel tank capacity: 5.3 gallons

2018 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 Colors:

  • Pearl Glacier White (1000 only)
  • Pearl Marble Black (1000XT only);
  • Champion Yellow No. 2 (1000XT Only)

2018 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 prices:

  • $12,999 (1000) MSRP
  • $13,299 (1000XT) MSRP

2018 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 and 1000XT Review | Photo Gallery