Suzuki DL250 V-Strom 6 Month Review
Review Received 13 April 2020
There are loads of online reviews of the Suzuki DL 250 V-Strom both written and vlogged which is probably how I came to purchase one just over 6 months ago, helped by the gentle "nagging" of a friend of mine who extols the virtues of smaller bikes (he owns an Inazuma among other 250cc tiddlers). The tank to knee interface on the Inazuma doesn't suit my 6'4" height 33" inside leg that well, so when a V-Strom came up for sale locally I went down for a test ride and it was fine in that area.
Tank knee interface
I'm posting this as a means of providing more detail to the short test that most online reviews provide.
Mine was one year old (first registered in 2018) when I purchased it from the local mainly second hand sales multi dealer with approximately 1500 miles recorded. It was "imported" from Northern Ireland, I'm based in the South (Dublin). It has the optional touring pack fitted - 3 box luggage set, centre stand and hand guards. I can live without hard luggage but find top boxes useful, centre stands are a necessity and hand guards handy... The whole lot apparently costs about £1000 new, I reckon it might make for an easier sale if / when I trade it.
Compared to the usual inexpensive aftermarket top boxes I use on my other bikes, the OE one is quite plush and fully waterproof. The centre stand pivot seems to be well placed and the bike's 180+ kilos roll onto it quite easily .
I find the short bland looking OE screen provides good protection with minimal noise and little buffeting, obviously helmet type can vary this. I currently use an AGV K5S and a Shoei Qwest. I can only assume that shorter riders will have similar results to me?
The digital dash is a first for me on a bike I've owned and while I probably prefer analogue dials it is actually one of the better ones out there of those that I've test ridden. It has the usual Suzuki twin trips which I find very useful, a quite accurate petrol gauge and fuel consumption indicator and is switchable between metric and imperial (speed, odometer and petrol consumption) which for me living in Euroland is very useful. There is also a 12v power socket provided which is something I've been wishing for over the years but haven't actually used yet… An external air temperature indicator is the only thing it's really missing.
Power socket on left.(12v 36W)
The gear change is the usual slick Suzuki affair (although the only other Suzuki I've owned was a MK2 600 Bandit) and I personally enjoy flicking up and down the gears to keep the revvy low powered engine on the boil. It redlines at 10500 rpm. I've set the adjustable "redline" (actually a white light) to 9000 rpm but realistically while the bike will do 80 odd mph I tend to limit revs over long distances to between 6 and 7.5 k, which means 60 odd mph /100kph (I fitted a one tooth less rear sprocket soon after purchase and my Inazuma riding friend reckons it's perfect).
If you're downsizing from a larger capacity bike it feels quite slow especially in terms of kick in the pants acceleration. Yet surprisingly I've ended up using this bike for long haul rather than short commutes. Why you might ask...? I guess I just find the bike comfortable ergonomically, but also I think the lower speeds are psychologically and physiologically less draining over a long day and I guess that makes up for not being able to blast past slower moving traffic.
In terms of distance I've covered 400 to 500 miles in longish days on this bike around Ireland (and why not? I used to do similar miles on my old Supa 5 Em Zed 250 back in the early 80's, the only vehicle I ever got done for speeding on!) while generally keeping off motorways. Signposted speed limits on these roads are usually either 50mph or 60mph and I tend to stick to these limits when safe to do so but generally don't exceed them. The speedo is the usual 10% optimistic, calibrated against a sat nav so I take this into consideration too.
The smiles with this bike in general for me come at the petrol station. A range of up to 300 miles on a bike with a 17 odd litre tank capacity is not to be sniffed at, or filling up at the start of a day with 200 miles on the trip and only requiring just over 10 litres. Petrol consumption when I first got the bike was averaging between 88 and 92 mpg without doing economy runs. More recently I found it dropping at times to nearer 70mpg. A little concerned I analysed my riding habits and found that riding in spring gales/storms into headwinds appeared to be the culprit. Keeping below 60mph in those conditions helped that.
Currently the bike has approx 7 k miles recorded. Oil consumption is nil between changes, I've adjusted the chain once and the OE rear tyre still has over 3mm tread depth. I haven't actually checked the valve clearances yet (I guess they'll be the same as the Inazuma?) and the plugs are due for change so I'll do that shortly. I did actually purchase a genuine Suzuki service CD from a local dealer but neither of us have been able to get it to unlock its innermost secrets fully. The side panels remove easily with a combination of rubber grommets and one screw. I'm not sure yet how much more stuff I'll have to remove to lift the valve cover which AFAIK has screw adjustment valve clearances.
Handling at the front is a little undersprung and under damped in my opinion. So much so that when braking hard on bumpy / washboard effect roads as the bike slows to a stop the ABS can trigger momentarily. This allows the bike to roll forward unexpectedly as you approach for example a stop line at a junction. These same junctions are no problem to any of my non ABS bikes...
Reading the owner's manual there is a comment about ABS not shortening stopping distances. Unfortunately it's not switchable and I'm reluctant to pull the fuse. Obviously I've had to adjust my riding style to suit the ABS which is kind of silly to say the least. In general though the brakes are adequate and work well. The rear has plenty of feedback for use during low speed manoeuvres.
The OE "Road Winner" made in Thailand tyres are OK I guess. They remind me in looks of Continental ContiForce tyres of which I was not a fan of. Everything is fine in dry conditions, on wet or loose surfaces (although I've never taken the bike "off road") the front feels a little remote and likely to tuck although it never has. Whether this is the tyres or weight bias of the bike I'm not sure but I have a set of Metzeler Roadtec 01 tyres ready to fit when needed. It'll be interesting to compare.
For a 250 this bike is probably one of the physically largest available, reinforced by the fact that I get loads of acknowledgement in the form of waves and leg shakes from Charlie and Ewan types. They obviously aren't aware that I'm on a mere 250cc bike! Coupled with what I consider way oversize tyres for the power output (rear is a 140 and my Y2k Honda CB500 only had a 130 for its nearly 60bhp output) the bike at least has much better road presence than say my skinny tyred CB125F and following vehicles never seem to crowd me too much. Whereas they ignore me on the little Honda when riding at the indicated speed limit.
The only question I have is would a "sensibly ridden" 500cc middleweight CB500X say, be any more expensive to run while having more get me out of danger power output if required? And would I have the self discipline not to use the extra power? The reason I ask this is I do have a larger capacity bike in my garage (no, I'm not talking about my Enfield Bullet 500cc) and recently on a rare spin I rode down a slip road onto a local motorway, glanced at the speedo thinking that's fine and then realised this is the only bike I have with an MPH speedo and I was riding in KPH mode...
Good points on the Suzuki are low day to day running costs, great tank range, good lights (LED rear brake and tail light, I'm not sure how you carry spares for that?) and dashboard, general big bike feel (assuming that's what you want) and build quality generally seems good. I haven't carried a pillion but the seat is spacious and an underseat tool kit is supplied.
Bad points are some corrosion appearing on the exhaust downpipes, paint seems quite thin on the wheels although not a problem at the moment and constantly being asked by other bikers when stopped- "What engine is in that?"
Corroded down pipes with an oily rag look for compulsory hibernation (that'll be fun when I fire it up again...). Sump guard removed.
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Upt'North said :-
It looks a nice bike. It certainly has plenty of presence with the luggage on.
20/04/2020 06:07:33 UTC
ROD said :-
Very balanced review Nigel.
I (as a few others on here) owned an Inazuma which shares the 250 engine with the DL.
I was happy with my 250 for the first 9 months, but I then felt that the lack of power and the high revving engine were restricting my riding too much.
If I had the space for two bikes I would have hung on the the 250, but it had to make way for a bike with a bit more power.
The valves will need regular maintenance, but are easy to check and adjust.
Your point about using more power on a lager capacity bike is a good one. I never had a problem towing my trailer with the Inazuma. At 45 - 50 mph it was very happy and it seemed fast enough, but on my current bike I am finding it very difficult to stick to the 50 mph speed limit for trailers.
20/04/2020 06:41:58 UTC
nab301 said :-
@ Rod , the high revving low powered engine can feel restrictive but it's really just a mindset , a bit like an Enfield and actually with similar outright power although the Enfield spends most of it's time in the 3 to 4k rpm zone. Motorways are possible on both but not what they're about . Whether like you I'll lose interest is largely academic at the moment and even if I do I'll probably be glad under the present circumstances to have an economical reliable bike to ride . I do ride a 125 too so the 250 isn't a huge culture shock.
I must have missed one paragraph in the review , so will mention here that the front brake lever is span adjustable and the all important L/h switchgear is conventional in that the horn button (thankfully) is below the indicator switch unlike modern Hondas, parp! parp!
21/04/2020 09:56:44 UTC
Ross said :-
Thanks for that, Nigel, I'm another former Inazuma owner and was tempted by the small Strom but was worried it was 'too' similar to what I had...not that I regret having the Inazuma, I had 5 thoroughly enjoyable years with it, but in an effort to model myself on my hero Ren, went for a Honda CB500X...if only I could ride it at the moment! If the gearing is the same on your DL I can recommend going up one tooth on the front sprocket, that was the best mod' I did!
21/04/2020 12:02:29 UTC
Bogger said :-
I like proper reviews like this. The bike magazines have their own agendas and some, not all, of the fools on YouTube either bore me or wind me up, or both. Keep up the good work.
21/04/2020 10:44:05 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
I agree nab301, most of dealing with "a lack of power" is the mindset. I have the 11bhp (probably about 9 now) 125 and the 47bhp 500. It is scientifically demonstrable that the 500 is faster but because I've been back on 125s for over 10 years now I have adjusted just fine. I've learned not to worry about overtaking unless it's a tractor or cyclist, I've learned to drop a gear and give it large uphill and I've no issue at all about other road users overtaking (safely).
This leads to your point in the review. When you adjust to the notion that your vehicle is not the "...est" and adjust your riding the ride can be much calmer and therefore relaxing. This makes long journeys a pleasant, calming and chilled affair - usually.
This has lead me to apply the same principle to the 500. It's rare I "give it large" on that too and as such I enjoy riding both of them. Of course I do like to play from time to time when appropriate, but then there's nothing like riding a 125 flat out screaming up to a corner, hooning it round and winding it up again. Then you crest a hill, head down on the tank, maxed out in 4th and you see PC Plod with his speed gun pointing at you - you panic. Ahh! Fear not because flat out in 4th on a 125 is only 55mph.
22/04/2020 07:17:58 UTC
Bob said :-
A very well balanced view on the bike - thanks.
I'm 6'2" but with a 34" inseam so seat/peg/tank ergos are vital for me.
I've got five KLX250s, I got into KLXs a couple of years ago and at first I spent some months talking myself out them "they're not fast enough" "they're not big enough" etc.. and I spent time finding things for the bike to fail at (steep hills for example), so that I could give myself an excuse to sell it again - but it didn't fail.
I'm now averaging 11K-12K a year, entirely on KLX250's - I've had 1200s in the past an I've never ridden so many miles in a year as I'm doing now.
I agree with you about the strange zen-like relaxed state that riding long distance on a 250 gives - I absolutely love bogging along the motorway on my KLX at 65-70MPH to get to Wales, the lakes or Scotland. Big bikes tire me out.
I really like the look of the VStrom and desperately want one, but I won't allow myself to spend the money and I must have genuine off road ability in my bikes.
22/04/2020 10:25:36 UTC
nab301 said :-
@ Ren , yes, chin on the tank stuff, I have tried it on my CB125F but strangely it didn't make any difference , I have since added a screen and and on a still day the top speed is reached more quickly ... in egg timer terms anyway
Chin on tank back in the early 80's , EM Zed 250 flat out , no mirrors , an unmarked 2.8 Granada eased along side me I'd been nabbed! 76mph in a world of Petrol shortages and an eco friendly blanket speed limit of 55mph ( Iran Iraq war ?)
@ Bob , luckily KLx's don't appear to be popular in my part of the world but you did send me off searching! ( they appear to have more power and less weight than the V strom too) , I have tried a 300x for size though and it's good, seems to have nearly 40 hp on paper and redlines at 11k rpm but like the KLX it has tubed tyres and i'm not too fussy about offroad ability although 11k rpm and off road don't seem to be compatible in my mind.
22/04/2020 08:24:23 UTC
Bob said :-
The KLX redlines at just under 11K, but unlike the X300 the KLX makes good torque from 5K to 9K so you don't need to go any higher. Indeed I have only been up to redline once to see what it was like and there's nothing there, it falls off a cliff at 9.5K
On the X300 you just have to wring the snot out of it the whole time. 60MPH is 7K revs, I can't cope with that.
22/04/2020 10:45:12 UTC
nab301 said :-
Based on a CBF 250 I had recently I think small capacity singles generally have more "grunt". 60mph at 7k rpm is more or less V Strom territory on standard gearing but the 300 X has on paper a lot more top end. What's fuel economy like on the KLX ?
22/04/2020 11:28:29 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
I think Kwak missed a trick with the X300. They should have used the 250 single motor with grunt rather than the 300 motor that really really does need working hard to get it going. With the 250 motor it could have been a little lighter too. The 400 twin motor in the Z400/Ninja 400 is much better but of course a bit heavier.
23/04/2020 08:30:53 UTC
Bob said :-
The KLX routinely does 80 MPG on a mix of motorways and trail riding.
I don't baby it, on the motorway we're 65 to 70 and on the A roads I maintain 60 where road conditions allow.
I was really excited when I saw the X300 was coming out, then I saw the weight figure, then the poor 6" suspension travel, then I had a ride on one.
As an aside I also test rode a BWM G310GS and found it to be a truly dreadful and miserable device. I would rather walk.
23/04/2020 09:12:51 UTC
Bob said :-
To be fair to the X300, for some reason Kawasaki fitted a rear sprocket 3 teeth bigger than on the ninja 300, I think that was a mistake. People have changed the gearing but then the ECU complains because the ABS ring speed doesn't match to the gear and the O/P sprocket speed (the bike has a gear indicator).
To be fair to the G310GS, no hang on that was fair - it feels like what it is. A consumer product in the style of a motorcycle, designed and built by people who have apparently never ridden a motorcycle.
23/04/2020 09:22:27 UTC
Pocketpete said :-
I still think fondly of my inazuma. It was very fast but was still the most comfortable ride I have ever had. The Seat was so comfy I could for hours before sore bum syndrome set in.
I they had done this model when I was looking. That's why I opted for the cb500. This would have been ideal for me.
Nice review I enjoyed it. Dova video of the tappets being done that's always interesting.
24/04/2020 08:31:33 UTC
ROD said :-
OK.. I can see the attraction of smaller lighter bikes!
24/04/2020 05:37:44 UTC
Upt'North said :-
I hope it was his shed?!?
24/04/2020 06:00:12 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
I'm not sure the shed was designed to hold a person let along a person and bike at speed. I wouldn't like to try it on a push iron let alone a lightweight motorcycle. Mind you I probably wouldn't make it over the lawnmower... on foot.
24/04/2020 06:09:20 UTC
Upt'North said :-
Motorcycles, Hallucinogenic Drugs and Alcohol are not a good combination. Usually.
24/04/2020 06:34:54 UTC
nab301 said :-
Pretty amazing what he does with that bike I thought, given that it does weigh 100 odd kgs , he's doing trials bike antics on it and trials bikes weigh in at under 70kg!
26/04/2020 02:58:48 UTC
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