This has been a big month for auto and motorcycle news. The most recent announcement arrived this week with a few details surrounding the 2017 Suzuki V-Strom 650. Last year I spent several thousands of miles on both the 650 and 1000 Stroms and was impressed, particularly with the price-minded 650 model in its adventure trim. For the coming year, Suzuki has raised the bar with the 650’s value proposition by adding features and refinements I felt the current model needed to be competitive in a category with an increasing number of options.
The biggest update is with the 645cc V-twin motor. This is the same power plant as used in the new SV650 sport bike. I have owned previous iterations of this engine and loved it for its excellent torque, power band and reliability. The 2017 version has 60 new components including resin-coated piston and exhaust cams. With 70 hp and 46 ft/lbs of torque it will scoot down the road quite nicely. Other updates include a new fuel injection system, refined exhaust, and a couple fresh rider aids.
For the first time, the 650 will be made available with Suzuki’s traction control as offered on their current 1000cc bike. I wasn’t wildly impressed with that system on the dirt, but for those prone to spend the bulk of their time on the tarmac, it is a very nice addition. The new bike also gets a better one-push starter system, and a low-rpm start assist feature to help riders reduce the potential to stall the bike. That may pay dividends in the dirt as the first gear on the current bike feels rather tall.
One of my complaints with the current model was the rather unimpressive instrument cluster, which thankfully gets addressed for 2017. The styling also now resembles the 1000cc bike right down to the stacked lights and prerequisite beak that all adventure bikes seem to need. Lastly, the tail section accommodates bags a bit easier than before with a standard tail rack. The XT model gets mild adventure accessories, although none of them are terribly stout. The plastic hand guards and engine protector won’t survive much more than a mild thump, but it’s a nice gesture.
Hopefully we’ll be able to get our hands on one of these new bikes for 2017. If it’s as good as it appears to be on paper, I’m sure I’ll be pleased.