Gravel or black top, yes pleace

Suzuki DL-650 V-strom is a dual purpose bike set up for pavd roads, but it will not say no to a trip down gravel road.

Text and photo: Frode Johansen

In Norway we see a lot of these type of bikes on foreign plates when they visit this great country to ride a motorcycle in.


First look

    Looking at the bike it looks a bit top heavy, with a design that is not the most successful I have seen. The hugh silencer on the right side does not make matter better. But when you see the bike with a person on it, it looks a little tougher, and the flat black paintjob helps a little too.   


The power plant

    With a two cylinder v-twin engine on 39 cubic inches the motorcycle doesn't feel underpowered, but a little more torque at low rpm's would be nice. But the hugh silencer take away a lot of the feel good sound that a v-twin should have, and that takes away a little of the overall total when you drive the bike.

    Some good vibrations enteres my body when the engine is given the full ahead command, and the gear box and clutch is easy to operate.


On and off road

    With my short legs this bike get's close to the limit on seat hight, 32,3 inches, where I still can touch the ground with my feet.

    At first it feels a little heavy, but after a few miles I get used to sitting so high up. Through corners the bike is easy to drive, and the suspesion is good enough for me to be able to keep a good speed through them without the bike feeling unstable. The driving position is very good with wide handel bars in front of me, and mirrors that show me who is on my tail. Driving at highway speed there is some turbulence noice in my helmet from the wind screen, but it is adjustable and after I adjusted it the noise was almost gone. When the need for breaking comes along you should not wait untill the last second to do so, because the breaks could have been better.

    To my surprise, or not, I see that a gravel road comes up ahead, so I get of the black top and on to the looser surface. But the bike feels heavy, espesialy when I compare it to the KTM 640 enduro bike I had taken for a short ride last year. With limited experience on gravel I keep the speed down, and the back wheel usually in line with the front wheel. But from time to time I let it rip and spin out the back wheel and the bike feels safe doing that. Going through some bad sections of the road, keeping the speed up, but the suspension handles it well.



    A good dualsport bike that does black top best, but gives the rider the opportunity to do some touring on gravel roads. The riding postion is good, but demands that the riders legs are not to short. And as a touring companion it will work very good, as long as you drive alone due to the engine, Putting 800 miles behind you in a day should be possible without to much pain.




The facts:

Engine: 39 cubic inches / 645 ccm

Engine type: Water cooled v-twin with fuel injection

Horsepower: 67 hp at 8.000 rpm

Torque: 60 nm at 6.400 rpm

Fuel tank: 5,8 gallons / 22 Liters

Front tyre: 110/80R-19

Rear tyre: 150/70R-17

Dry weight: 427 Ibs

MSRP: $6.699