(Sardinia, Italy) The rise in popularity of the adventure class has caused several European manufacturers to offer entire families of these motorcycles. Japanese brands, by contrast, offer relatively few. The arrival of the Suzuki V-Strom 800DE in 2023 therefore represents important news for the category and its enthusiasts. But what exactly is she capable of? A dizzying amount of mountain roads and a sweltering dose of Italian dust later, the verdict is clear.
Suzuki is often criticized for recycling its old engines rather than designing new ones and stretching the life of its models a little too much. This dissatisfaction in no way applies to the V-Strom 800DE which is built on an all new platform – from which a series of other models will be derived. Unlike the aluminum frame of other V-Stroms, that of the new 800DE is made of steel. A bit heavier, but more compact and stronger for off-road use, claims Suzuki. The biggest change, however, is the arrival of an all-new parallel-twin instead of the traditional V-twin.
Since a charismatic V-twin is generally much more desirable than a buzzing parallel-twin, Suzuki’s choice seems like a step backwards. But only until you get on the new 800DE and discover the characteristics of the new engine. Pleasantly supple at the bottom, generous in the middle, fun at the top, remarkably smooth, but still pleasingly pulsing, with an exquisitely smooth transmission (with assisted gear changes) and exuding a great feeling of refinement, it is indisputably the one of the most successful parallel twins on the market. Moreover, if its power of nearly 85 hp is not immense, its beautiful ways make it forget.
An adventurer may favor road or mud to varying degrees. Suzuki built the V-Strom 800DE almost in the middle, but ultimately leaned a bit towards the road. For example, the 21″ front wheel, ideal for the trail, is paired with a 17″ rear wheel, the perfect size for the road. Also, while the suspensions have the long travel required for off-road riding, their supple adjustment promotes comfort on the road. Finally, the tires are basically road compounds, but which Dunlop modified at Suzuki’s request to offer better performance on the trail.
This orientation, say 40% off-road and 60% on-road, is immediately felt in the saddle. On the road, we discover in the V-Strom 800DE an absolutely charming frame that is just as comfortable and relaxed in an urban environment as it is swallowing up miles in travel mode. The aspect of the new Suzuki that surprises the most, however, is its skill in sport riding, since the endless curves of a mountain road can be threaded at an astonishing pace and the sensations felt in these circumstances make you swear that the rich The brand’s sporting heritage has somehow been absorbed by the V-Strom 800DE.
To questions about the off-road capabilities of Suzuki’s novelty, the first answer is that they are clearly there. That said, it is equally clear that we are not dealing with a trail machine capable of taking any rhythm. And “pace” is the key word here, since at moderate, even fun speeds, the V-Strom 800DE doesn’t grumble at all on rough trails where it happily clears more serious obstacles like a boulder section. But the reality is that the model turns out to be slightly too heavy, its tires are not aggressive enough and its suspensions are too soft to support an extreme pace.
When you ask Suzuki if the V-Strom 800DE will be joined by a version designed for more aggressive trail riding, you get a smile in response. For now, the novelty still has the potential to satisfy a wide variety of motorcyclists. The many owners of V-Strom 650 and 1000/1050 are natural customers for the 800DE, and all should logically appreciate it. But thanks to its reasonable price, excellent comfort, legitimate dual-purpose nature, and great versatility, the model also has the features to satisfy the growing amount of riders simply intrigued by the adventure category.
Whether out of pride or necessity, many motorcyclists dream of adventurers who can cross the Sahara and jump the Chinese wall. The new V-Strom 800DE is not one of them and is not aimed at them. The letters DE, for Dual Explorer, rather indicate a mount with two missions and that’s exactly what you discover at the controls of the novelty: a tourer with remarkably inviting manners on the one hand, and a mount truly capable of confronting any type of terrain on the other – at least, at a moderate pace. More than an adventurer, it is above all an excellent motorcycle. Maybe even one of the best in the whole market, certainly at this price.
Make: SuzukiModel: V-Strom 800DEPrice: $13,299Warranty: 1 year/unlimited mileageEngine: 776cc parallel-twin, liquid-cooledTransmission: 6-speed, chain final driveWeight fully fuelled: 230kgFront brake: 2-disc with calipers 2 pistons and ABS Rear brake: 1 disc with 1 piston caliper and ABS Front tyre: 90/90-21 Rear tyre: 150/70-17