Those of you who know me are in tune with just how much I love my Kawasaki Concours 1400, so I don't need to explain all that it does well. No, I need to talk about the other bike in my life, my 2012 Suzi Vstrom 1000 Adventure. I bought this bike to be my do-it-all machine. A bike I didn't have to obsess over, a bike I could let get dirty once in a while, leave parked outside without worrying about pieces getting sun faded and a bike I could take on the worst of California freeways with. And it does all that well.
Now let's not lie here--it is an ugly bike. Seriously. The designers added about 15 pounds of unnecessary fairing bulk and panels that hide the basis of why this bike is so good--the TL 1000 based v-twin. From any angle you look there is too much going on in the "styling" department. Soft curves, hard angles, insanely robust luggage brackets and an exhaust system that likely adds 30 pounds to the bike. And drags in hard right corners (blow the picture up here and you will see the scrapes on the exhaust shield).
But, ugly aside it is a damn good machine. I have commuted to work on it, ridden canyons, run errands, picked up groceries, buzzed down fire roads and generally used it for any type of riding I wanted to do. And it does it all with a healthy dose of power. The Strom is rumored to put 98hp and 74 Ft/lbs of torque to the back wheel--which makes keeping the front wheel on the ground a bit of a first and second gear challenge.
The upright, dual sport style riding position and wide bars make staying in the seat all day a pleasant experience and the sheer size of the bike makes toting a passenger a pleasure. And the fact that it is that comfortable allows your passenger to stay relaxed--which was good that day we were dragging the passenger pegs in corners!
I have some modifications I will need to do, eventually. So far all I have done is basic service and replace tires, because the bike is just fine. It could use better brakes--I will probably add some braided lines, better pads and maybe look at different calipers, but for now they stop the bike from any street speed I attain. The suspension is due for an overhaul, but the factory adjustments are not quite maxed out yet--close so I expect that to happen sooner. And then there is that exhaust. Its big. Its heavy. Its bulky. I am sure a new system would shave a bunch of weights and wake the bike up significantly, but then it would be a lot louder--and a full system has to be spend. So for now....
The Vstrom is just a good bike, not great, just good. It has no overwhelming characteristics of anything--except ugly, damn it really is just ugly--but it works. And it does anything I ask. And if you look at the number of units sold, the appeal of these bikes is undeniable.
A new model is on the market now, no better looking, but better equipped. If you are stuck on what one bike to own to do most everything, check in with these guys www.stromtrooper.com for all the vstrom information your brain can process.