2023 Suzuki V-Strom 800DE Adventure Bike Break Cover

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The mid-size bike is Suzuki’s first all-new effort in a very long time, and possibly the most important bike of the year

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It’s no secret that Suzuki has been in the doldrums lately. More than a few people – including Yours Truly – have delisted the company. It has been killing models – the venerable GSX-R family and most of its cruisers – and overhauling existing engines for much of the past decade, with barely a brand new engine or chassis in sight.

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It all ends with the new V-Strom 800DE, the replacement for the company’s iconic – as the company has moved more than 440,000 over the past two decades or so – DL650. It’s a major step, breathing new life into a model that even loyalists had abandoned as forgotten. And it’s really brand new. Gone, for example, is the previous 645cc 90-degree V-twin, and in its place comes a 776cc parallel-twin. The chassis is more geared towards pure adventure driving and, will never cease to wonder, the 800DE features a colorful LCD information unit.

The intention of the new Strom, however, is clearly modernity on a budget. The advantage, for example, of a parallel-twin is that it’s more compact and cheaper to produce than a V-twin, although I suspect cheapness has more to do with trend than compactness. What they offered in economy, however, the old-school parallel twins lost in character, the exhaust note sounding like a chore and the power delivery unattractive.

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Like many of its competitors – BMW, KTM, etc. – the 800DE gets around this problem by using a new 270 degree offset crankshaft. This, by Suzuki’s own calculations, gives its new parallel-twin the same firing order as the DL1050’s big-bore V-twin, along with a characteristic engine sound and pull-seeking torque production. .

Of course, such twisting of the crank creates all sorts of balance issues inside the engine. To dampen the resulting vibrations, Suzuki designed motorcycling’s first biaxial balancer. And by positioning each of the counterweights exactly 90 degrees offset from each crank, Suzuki says it negated all of the new engine’s primary imbalances. In other words, the new parallel-twin should be as smooth as the outgoing V-twin.

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Also new is the electrically operated fuel injection system controlling the two 42mm throttle bodies. Ditto the 10-hole – 50 psi – high-pressure fuel injection system that helps the new engine meet global emissions standards. That said, despite the inclusion of drive-by-wire, there’s no mention of a cruise control system, radar-controlled or otherwise. Of course, that could come as a new trim introduction later in the production run.

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More noticeable—to the rider, at least—is an assist-slipper clutch. Cams integrated into the clutch basket and pressure boss lock more firmly to the clutch plates, which means softer springs can be used, reducing the effort on the clutch lever. We motorcyclists are aging and becoming more and more disabled. It’s good that someone helps us old people.

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Suzuki didn’t stop there. The DE—Suzuki’s new designation for more off-road-worthy adventure bikes—gets an all-new chassis that’s very berm-heavy. For one thing, the new 800 sports a 21-inch dirt bike-like front wheel wrapped in the strictly 90/90-21 tubeless Dunlop Trailmax Mixtour. On the other hand, there is a whopping 220 millimeters of travel front and rear, a new record for any Suzuki adventure rider.

Likewise, the DE’s 220mm ground clearance is the highest ever offered by a Suzuki in this segment. Pair that with wide, tapered handlebars and a new “Gravel” mode in the traction control electronics, and Suzuki has obviously been focused on competing with off-road offerings from KTM, BMW, and more. That said, the skid plate on the new V-Strom is still plastic, although there is an aluminum replacement in the accessory catalog.

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What hasn’t changed is the new Suzuki’s performance envelope. The new twin, for all its high-tech, only puts out 81 horsepower (at 8,500 rpm) and 57.5 pound-feet of torque (at 6,500 rpm). In comparison, KTM claimed its 790 Adventure produced 95 hp, and bike world dyno tested on 83 rear wheel ponies. That said, if the DL650 is to be believed, the DE is going to be one of the most reliable motorcycles on the planet.

The 776cc twin will also need to motivate 230 kilograms (507 pounds), which is 14 kilos (31 pounds) more than the outgoing DL650. No doubt it will be more powerful and less frantic than the previous model, but the appeal here won’t be the supercharged performance.

That said, could we – now that Suzuki has (finally) shown it’s up to designing new powertrains – see a more powerful version of the new parallel twin? After all, it’s been almost a decade since Suzuki showed us a Recursion show bike with a turbocharged parallel engine. Oh, the concept only displaced 588cc, but otherwise the engine was the spitting image of the Strom’s new parallel twin. Could Suzuki be about to launch the turbocharged version of this engine that would (finally finally) replace the aging 1037cc V-twin that powers the top-end DL1050?

If so, sign me up! I’m looking for a new bike, and my last two rides have been V-Stroms.

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