On paper then, the V-Strom 250 has all the elements to make it a resounding success. However there is one element that even on a spec sheet causes a small degree of concern - its motor. The V-Strom 250 has the same parallel twin engine as the GSX250R, which is effectively an Inazuma motor made Euro4-compliant. Why is this a potential problem? The V-Strom may be a lightweight at 188kg, but it makes a weedy 24hp, making it chunky considering its low power. And then you add in a rider. And possibly even a pillion...
Within a few miles of riding the V-Strom I was gutted. I really wanted to love this bike, everything about it is so right. The riding position is roomy and comfortable, the handling surprisingly adept and the ride quality actually very good, if a touch squishy. But the motor would struggle to pull the skin off a bowl of custard. Honestly, I rode the GSX-R125 before the V-Strom 250 and my first thought was that I had misread the press pack and the 250 was actually a 125.
I simply don't get it, why did Suzuki think that a SHOC parallel twin with just 24hp would be enough to power an adventure bike? Especially considering A2-laws mean you can go so much higher? To use the motor is perfectly acceptable, it doesn't vibrate, it pulls smoothly and the clutch is lovely and light - but it's just so slow. Getting the V-Strom over 70mph was a hell of a struggle one-up, with a pillion I'd be amazed if it can crack 65mph. And this fact totally ruins the whole bike.
Am I being too critical? Putting myself in the place of the customer I don't think so.
As a young rider wanting a bike to commute, and possibly do a bit of touring, on I'd be very interested in the V-Strom. But with performance that is so limited I reckon the shine would soon start to fade. Kawasaki obviously came to the same conclusion as they increased the capacity of the Ninja 250 to 300 years ago, and KTM's 200 only existed for one year before it was killed off. You don't have to make a stupidly powerful machine, but why didn't Suzuki make it 350cc and give it a mid-30hp figure in the update to Euro4? Especially considering that as a road-orientated adventurer and not an off-roader like the Versys-X, the V-Strom demands the extra grunt.
This is another of my frustrations, I reckon Suzuki has got its targeting bang on by making the V-Strom road-biased, adding even more to my annoyance that they missed the mark with its motor.
To me the GSX-R125, GSX-S125 and the V-Strom 250 show the two sides of Suzuki - old and new. The GSX-125 models have a brand new motor and chassis, resulting in two excellent machines and pitching Suzuki as a company that is looking to its future. The V-Strom 250 (and the SV650, and GSX-S750 to many degrees) reveals a company stuck in the past.
So come on Suzuki! Give it a refresh and a bit of capacity - the heart of any good bike is its motor. A funky looking SV7650 would be a great middleweight and by the same token if the V-Strom 250 were a V-Strom 350 I'd likely be singing its praises. As it is I'm left frustrated and annoyed, not only with the bike but also with its manufacturer.
2017 SUZUKI V-STROM 250
Engine: 248cc SOHC parallel twin, water-cooled, 8v
Power (hp): 24@8,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 17.3@6,500rpm
Top speed: 80mph (est)
Weight: 188kg (wet)
MPG: 88 (claimed)