Suzuki V-Strom 800DE first ride review | Setting new benchmarks?

The Suzuki V-Strom 800DE, promises to offer a more wholesome ADV over the model it replaces. One that’s just as adept off-road as it is on it
 The new Suzuki V-Strom 800DE is the latest addition to the middleweight ADV segment.
The new Suzuki V-Strom 800DE is the latest addition to the middleweight ADV segment.Shot by Avdhoot A Kolhe for evo India

Variety is the spice of life, and one segment in India that has been rapidly growing in the spice department is the ADV segment. You have new offerings in all different weight classes adding said variety. The new Suzuki V-Strom 800DE is the latest addition to the middleweight ADV segment, and with an all-new architecture over the V-Strom 650XT, this promises to better the riding experience in all regards, especially off the tarmac. Does this manage to do that, and can it take the fight to the very competent competition? Let’s find out.

The bike looks a lot sharper than the 650 and a lot more modern too.
The bike looks a lot sharper than the 650 and a lot more modern too.Shot by Avdhoot A Kolhe for evo India

Suzuki V-Strom 800DE design 

It appears to be a proper generational change over the 650 and, by all regards, it is. The bike looks a lot sharper than the 650 and a lot more modern too. Very stormtrooper-like, only if they had more colour in the Galactic Empire. What I really like about the 800DE is that the width, which makes it look big and imposing from the front, continues all the way to the rear. The seat is broad and comfortable for both the rider and pillion. The panels around the tank look just right without adding too much visual bulk to the entire motorcycle. Speaking of the body panels, I absolutely love the colour scheme on our test bike. Called ‘Glass Matt Metallic Grey’, it blends the iconic Suzuki yellow with a very industrial grey colour, making for a very nice combination.

V-Strom 800DE gets a 776cc, liquid-cooled, parallel-twin engine.
V-Strom 800DE gets a 776cc, liquid-cooled, parallel-twin engine.Shot by Avdhoot A Kolhe for evo India

Suzuki V-Strom 800DE performance and electronics

As aforementioned, the 800DE is underpinned by an all-new architecture, and that starts with the new engine. Suzuki has decided to ditch the ‘V-twin’ engine and go the parallel-twin route. Should it still be called a ‘V’ Strom then? I digress. Powering the bike is a new 776cc, liquid-cooled, parallel-twin engine. It also has a 270-degree crank that makes things really interesting. Headline figures for the engine are 82bhp and 78Nm of torque. While 232kg and 82bhp doesn’t necessarily sound like a lot, in the real world there’s plenty of performance to be enjoyed. And characterful performance, I must add. The 270-degree crank makes for a very interesting and engaging exhaust note, and the performance is quite enjoyable too. As you would expect of a parallel-twin, the power is spread well through the rev range, with the meat of the power focused in the midrange. You get one espresso shot of power at around 4500-5000rpm and another, say, half shot closer to the redline. That being said, it doesn’t feel lethargic in the low end and does feel quite tractable too. You can comfortably cruise at 120kmph all day, and at this point, you’re sitting at around 5500rpm. The whole experience is really refined at this point with no annoying vibes or rattles.

Suzuki is known to have really good electronic rider aids, and this bike is no exception. The ride-by-wire system enables different throttle maps and levels of traction control. There aren’t any riding modes to speak of, but what Suzuki has done is give three different throttle maps, each softer than the previous one. This, in my opinion, is great. You get the same power and torque outputs in all maps, but A is the most aggressive and C is the softest, with B striking a good middle ground. Traction control works well with minimal intrusion and when you really need it. You can switch it off as well.

V-Strom 800DE gets an adjustable USD forks for compression rebound and preload.
V-Strom 800DE gets an adjustable USD forks for compression rebound and preload.Shot by Avdhoot A Kolhe for evo India

Suzuki V-Strom 800DE ride and handling

The V-Strom 800DE also gets an all-new steel tube frame that hangs off Showa USDs at the front and a Showa monoshock at the rear. Both the front and rear get 220mm of travel, which also enables 220mm of ground clearance, meaning that you can go over most obstacles without worrying about bottoming out. The 21-inch front wheel also helps a lot in allowing the bike to go over bigger obstacles with ease. The USDs are adjustable for compression rebound and preload, while the monoshock is preload adjustable via a remote adjuster that’s easy to access. The inherent characteristic of the suspension is one that is plush and very compliant. It goes over most undulations without transferring any jolts to the rider, and you can always dial things in to a certain degree with the adjustability on offer.

The rider’s triangle is what you would expect from a well-engineered ADV. You’re sat up high, you reach a wide and tall handlebar, and your feet are placed comfortably under you. While the 855mm seat height might seem daunting, the way the entire bike is set up, including the soft compression on the suspension, I had no issues flat-footing the bike whatsoever. Yes, you do feel the 232kg kerb weight at crawling speeds, but as soon as you get going and add digits to the speedo, the weight just disappears. Despite its large demeanour, the bike actually enjoys being thrashed in the corners as well. It isn’t going to set any lap records, but the fact that it isn’t singularly focused helps in making it a very capable ‘one bike garage’ candidate. Braking is taken care of by a twin 310mm disc setup at the front with twin-piston Nissin callipers, and at the rear, you get a 260mm disc with a single-piston calliper. Braking performance is solid. On the road, a little more bite would be appreciated, but considering that this is a very capable off-roader and you don’t want sharp braking on loose surfaces, the setup is more than fine as it is.

Suzuki V-Strom 800DE gets a colour TFT. screen
Suzuki V-Strom 800DE gets a colour TFT. screenShot by Avdhoot A Kolhe for evo India

Suzuki V-Strom 800DE features

In terms of features, you get a colour TFT screen, all-LED lighting, all the electronics I spoke about earlier, and a quickshifter which I didn’t enjoy the most. It felt a little clunky, and I preferred sticking to the more traditional method of shifting. Given just how capable this bike is as a tourer, it would have benefited from a cruise control system, but considering the price and just how good the rest of the package is, I’m not complaining.

Suzuki V-Strom 800DE verdict

Speaking of the price, at ₹10.35 lakh ex-showroom, it undercuts most of its rivals but definitely doesn’t undercut in terms of the riding experience. Yes, 232kg, 82bhp, and the omission of a few features may tip the scales towards other bikes, but in the case of this bike, more so than ever, the spec sheet paints only half of the picture. The Suzuki V-Strom 800DE is everything you want from a dependable, engaging, and capable middleweight adventure bike. The best part is that it does all this without breaking the bank or making you feel like you’re compromising on anything. It is friendly enough for someone to graduate from a 400cc bike and engaging enough for a veteran rider to have as a touring/commuting tool. This was genuinely one of those test bikes I felt gutted to give back, where I lost track of objectivity a little. The only other time I felt that was on an Italian ADV that is nearly two and a half times the cost. Enough said, methinks.

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