Meet the V-Strom 800DE: Suzuki's Most Dirt-Focused Ride
It’s not often Suzuki steals the headlines these days with new model releases because, in the past few years, “new” Suzuki models have usually just been window-dressing over an existing motorcycle model.
But this time, the hype is warranted because Suzuki’s finally introducing a truly new model for 2023—the V-Strom 800DE and V-Strom 800DE Adventure, a direct competitor to other mid-weight ADV bikes.
Technically, Suzuki’s introducing two new models. There’s also the GSX-8S naked bike that shares much of the same platform as the new V-Strom, but that’s a street bike and won’t get much attention here.
The V-Strom 800DE is a big deal because it’s an all-new platform from Suzuki that also includes an all-new engine. V-Strom fans have a cult-like devotion to the bike, and this new one seems to have all the traits that made the previous versions so lovable. From a styling standpoint, there’s no mistaking that this is a V-Strom.
From its stubby beak to its sculpted bodywork, exiting out the back, it’s hard to mistake this bike for anything else. Only this one doesn’t have a V-Twin sitting in the middle. Suzuki says that V stands for "versatility" now.
V-Strom 800 New Engine
Suzuki’s new engine is a 776cc DOHC parallel twin. P-twins are all the rage these days because their compact size makes them easy to package into multiple platforms, and the modest displacement is also a popular engine size these days as more riders come to appreciate the fact that giant, big-bore adventure bikes are not for the faint of heart. These mid-size bikes are much more forgiving and just as much fun. And they’re cheaper, too.
This parallel twin gets a 270-degree firing order, giving it a distinct sound but also the power characteristics of a V-twin—something we’re guessing V-Strom fans will really appreciate. Power is rated at 84.3 horses and 54.5 lb-ft of torque.
As we know in motorcycle design, it’s rare to have your cake and eat it, too. There are always compromises. Such is the case with the engine. While the parallel twin is small and compact, it’s inherently prone to vibrations, which no rider wants.
Suzuki’s solution was its own proprietary system called the Cross Balancer System, which places two counterbalancers, each at 90 degrees to the crankshaft, thus damping out the vibrations and allowing for a simpler engine mount, since less hardware is needed to deal with the vibes. Suzuki’s really excited about this system.
All that’s left to do now is ride it and see if it actually works. The rest of the engine internals are fairly standard stuff: the cylinders are aluminum die-cast and plated with Suzuki’s Composite Electromechanical Material process. The pistons are 83mm, the dual throttle bodies are 42mm, and the under-seat airbox is a healthy 6.0 liters to suck in as much air as possible.
Putting the power to the ground is a six-speed transmission with slip/assist for a light lever pull and smoother downshifts. Suzuki’s bi-directional quickshifter, first seen on the GSX-S1000GT touring bike, is now used on the new ‘Strom.
V-Strom 800 Chassis, Suspension, Brakes, Electronics
The new engine sits in an all-new steel frame with a bolt-on subframe that is removable should it need repairs or replacement. Showa provides suspension with its fully adjustable fork and shock. Both offer 8.7 inches of travel, while the fork is inverted, too.
The Showa shock also features a remote preload adjuster you can turn by hand for added convenience. This new ‘Strom, with its 8.7 inches of ground clearance, also has the distinction of having the most distance between the ground and the chassis than any previous V-Strom. Despite this, seat height isn’t too bad: 33.7 inches.
Helping to ease fears for those adventure riders with short legs is the 5.3-gallon fuel tank tapers towards the seat to become as narrow as possible to help get your feet to the ground.
Tire options should be far-ranging, too, as the 21-inch front is paired with a 17-inch rear, but you do need to use tubes. Aluminum rims are mated to stainless steel spokes, giving a nice mix of strength with light weight. Handguards are a nice touch, as are the adjustable levers. You can adjust the windscreen, too, but you’ll need tools to do it.
Stopping power is courtesy of Nissin, with 310mm semi-floating discs mated to axial-mount two-piston calipers. There’s a 260mm disc in the back with a single-piston Nissin caliper. ABS comes in two levels, and there’s also the option to disable rear ABS for when it’s time to play in the dirt.
On the topic of electronics, the V-Strom has plenty. The Suzuki Drive Mode Selector is back, allowing you to choose between three different Ride Modes (Active, Basic, and Comfort). There’s also five levels of traction control: three road modes of increasing sensitivity, a Gravel mode that allows some slip in the loose stuff, and then you have the option to disable TC completely.
Also back is the Suzuki Easy Start System that lets you start the bike with a tap of the starter button (instead of holding it down), and the Low RPM Assist System that raises the engine rpm a little as you ease off the clutch at starts. It’s especially helpful when riding in traffic or on an incline as it reduces the chances of stalling the bike.
All of the ‘Strom’s information is provided to the rider via a five-inch TFT display with a scratch-resistant surface, an anti-reflective coating to help shield your eyes on a sunny day, and is even adjustable for brightness.
The V-Strom 800DE will be available in Champion Yellow No. 2 or Glass Matte Mechanical Gray. The V-Strom 800DE Adventure will come in Glass Sparkle Black.
Suzuki’s new V-Strom looks like it will capture the hearts of the V-Strom faithful, even if it doesn’t have a V-Twin like its older sibling, the 1050DE. New engines are always exciting, and as we look at the specs of the bike, it appears as though the ‘Strom will be able to compete with its Japanese rivals in the category.
Whether or not it has what it takes to actually surpass them is another story. For now, let’s celebrate the fact that Suzuki is finally releasing a new bike and a new engine. It will be interesting to see how this platform develops over time.