Prelude to Adventure

Story by Jeff Davison// Photos by Jeff Davison
December 12 2023

The all-new Suzuki V-Strom 800DE heads west.

Is there a rider anywhere that did not sit up with interest at the announcement of a new V-Strom? Honestly, it is hardly hyperbole to say that since the first sport-touring model — the DL1000 — appeared in 2002, little has changed aside from fairings and farkles. Yes, the hugely popular DL650 made its debut two years later. But Suzuki had gotten it so right with the V-twin that R&D found their own achievement hard to beat. ABS appeared in 2007 and in 2008 the bike evolved into an adventure-tourer with colour-matching hard luggage.

Largely dictated by increasingly stringent emissions standards, two generations followed (in 2014 and 2017 for the DL1000, and in 2012 and 2017 for the Wee), each with alterations that reduced size and weight while increasing torque and suspension. And the (in)famous beak?

The First with the Beak

While many believe the BMW GS pioneered the design, it was in fact Suzuki in 1988 with the release of the DR750S (lovingly referred to as DR Big, and later upgraded as the DR800S). In 2014, the DL1000 revived the beak and added traction control, while it took another year for baby brother to grow a beak of its own along with tubeless spoked tires for the adventure crowd.

In 2020, the 1000 became the 1050, and in 20 years that’s about all there was to report. That and an adamantly loyal following: try convincing a Stromtrooper that a better bike exists in its class and be prepared for violence. Suzuki’s apparent R&D inertia, however, had led some recent observers to opine that the company was quietly preparing to exit the manufacture of motorcycles altogether.

It was therefore a welcome big deal to hear from Suzuki late last year that a new, completely redesigned steed was about to be unveiled: The V-Strom 800DE.

Route 66 with an All-New Engine

For me personally, it was an equally big deal when Motorcycle Mojo promptly arranged a long-term test ride. Route 66 was calling, and I could hardly wait to ride the new Strom west and up the Pacific Coast Highway. Let’s get this party started!

The 800DE truly is all-new. Even the “V” has been replaced with what many consider the new workhorse in the industry: a parallel twin. This has raised questions in some circles about the name, but let’s be honest, P-Strom just doesn’t sound as cool.

And to release a V-Strom without a V-twin isn’t new, actually. The original Suzuki V-Strom 250 had a parallel twin. And the newer V-Strom 250SX has but a single-cylinder. Make no mistake, however: the 776 cubic centimetres and 270-degree crank give the new power plant characteristics that will be quite familiar to lovers of the 90-degree V-twin. Offering 83 hp and 57.5 lb-ft of torque, the same engine is now driving the 2023 Suzuki GXS-8S…


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