No Accident: 2012 Suzuki V-Strom 650 Fails to Deliver

COMMENTARY | Ask any motorcyclist who has twisted the throttle grip of a Suzuki motorcycle over the past 25 years, and the answer is nearly the same. Ask them, “What did you like most?” and they almost always say, “It’s all about the horsepower.”

However, when Suzuki Europe mistakenly published online information about the 2012 V-Strom 650 online earlier this week, according to Cycle Canada, motorcycle riders were disappointed. The official press introduction occurs in the first week of July.

Horsepower is what motorcyclists want to know about when they talk about the world-conquering Suzuki GSXR-1000 that delivers more than 160 horsepower, seemingly enough to launch astronauts, according to Motorcycle USA. It’s what they wonder about when they talk about the Suzuki GSXR-750 which began the sportbike craze back in the middle-1980s.

But then there’s the V-Strom 650, a bike that leaves motorcyclists asking, “What gives?”

V-Strom History

The V-Strom was introduced in 2004 as a middle-class bike that was part sportbike, part touring motorcycle and part adventure bike. It was sporty enough to handle twisty corners reasonably well. The motorcycle was comfortable enough to be able to take on day-long rides without getting all beat up. And the V-Strom was powerful enough…well that was the problem.

According to Web Motorcycle News, the leftover 2011 Suzuki V-Strom 650 delivered 67 horsepower on a bike that weighs 470 pounds. Those are the types of performance figures usually saved for Harley-Davidson’s classic, but extremely heavy, V-twin design with a full frame. Suzuki’s motorcycle fans prayed the Japanese motorcycle manufacturer would grow the V-Storm’s engine to as large as perhaps 800cc. That would be enough to put the 2012 V-Strom 650 in the same class as BMW’s F800 GS and Triumph’s Tiger 800s, according to Cycle Canada. And Suzuki’s price, no doubt, would be better.

No Increase in Horsepower

But it was not to be. Kick down the kickstand, faithful Suzuki riders because the 2012 V-Strom actually became less. Though engine displacement remains at 645cc, the compression ratio drops from 11.5-to-1 to 11.25-to-1, Cycle Canada said. Usually, a quarter-point drop in the compression ratio is good for a loss of 1-to-2 horsepower. Suzuki does not release official horsepower figures on its motorcycles.

Smaller Fuel Tank

The fuel tank drops in size from 22 to 20 liters or 5.3 gallons. The half-gallon difference usually amounts to 25 miles on the highway and that’s important to long-distance touring motorcyclists. The fuel tank still has an approximate range of 270 miles to dead empty, according to Suzuki’s 51-MPG estimates. However, no one wants to miss that 25 miles when they are riding the great Midwest looking for a gas station at the next exit which is 30 miles away.

Suzuki’s stat sheet also reveals that the 2012 V-Strom is slightly longer and taller than the 2011 model. The seat height has been increased by about half an inch to 32.9 inches. The wheelbase is about one-quarter inch longer so I guess you enjoy better stability on the highway.

V-Strom Options

For those who need more horsepower, Suzuki makes a 996-cc V-Strom version which is more powerful. However, the price of admission goes up with the increase in size, according to Suzuki Motorcycles. The price for a 2011 996-cc V-Strom lists at $9,700 compared to the 2011 V-Strom 650 which listed for $8,099.


Official pricing on the 2012 Suzuki V-Strom will come with the official model introduction, according to Cycle Canada.