Suzuki's 1,000cc adventure sports bike is based around one of the firm's most character-laden engines. The 996cc, eight-valve V-twin design was first used in the firm's TL1000S sportsbike in 1997, and was an instant hit. Designed to take on Ducati's 916 V-twin superbike, the TL-S had a rather wayward chassis, but an excellent engine, with strong, torquey power delivery, and loads of character.
This ballsy motor was the perfect choice for Suzuki to fit to its adventure sports machine when it was launched in 2002. The narrow, compact lump slotted easily into a bespoke aluminium frame, and with some re-tuning of the inlet and exhaust systems, it gave the V-Strom a powerful, soulful heart. Dual front brake discs, conventional front forks, and a monoshock rear suspension setup aren't the most sophisticated chassis components around though, and the damping can be a little soft for more committed riding. The V-Strom is also less capable off-road than bikes like the BMW R1200GS or KTM Adventure, which is mostly down to its road-biased tyres and cast wheels.
From the rider's (very comfy) point of view, there's a comprehensive dashboard, nestled in a neat half-fairing. This, together with a large-capacity 22 litre fuel tank, made the V-Strom a sound choice for relaxed touring. Add a set of hard luggage cases and some Suzuki touring accessories – GPS sat-nav, electrically-heated grips – and you're ready to head out on your own moto-adventure.