A Short Review: Suzuki V-Strom 650 vs. 1000

This is probably the most asked question by anyone looking at the Suzuki V-Stroms. “Should I get the 650 or the 1000?”

For starters, you will not be disappointed by either one in their current configurations. Let me start at the beginning of my search.

There are plenty of scenic pullouts on the Great River Road in Illinois--right next to the river.

In 2007, I had been writing for a motorcycle travel magazine as a freelancer, and every time I went out on their suggested route, I would end up on a gravel road. That’s not an issue … unless you’re riding a cruiser. I decided what I needed was an adventure bike or a dual sport. To keep this short, you can read two reviews I wrote about the V-Strom 650. The First 1,000 Miles is about how I and why I chose the 650, and The Next 5,000 Miles is about how I used the bike in all scenarios.

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So, I bought a 2008 Suzuki V-Strom 650 and put 67,000 miles on it before trading it on a 2015 V-Strom 650. I put about 12,500 miles on the 2015 after I finished riding all 48 states, and before trading it on the 2017 650. Then, in June of this year, I stumbled upon a fantastic deal for a used 2014 V-Strom 1000, and snapped it up. For the past four months, I have been riding both the 2017 650 and the 2014 1000. In all, I am probably approaching 100,000 miles on V-Stroms.

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Are you still with me? Actually, I love both the 650 and 1000, and if I had to choose just one, it would be a tough choice, but there are some differences. As my motorcycling trends change, so may my choice.

The changes Suzuki made to the 1000 beginning in 2014 were significant, and in 2018, more improvements. Here are my assessments based upon what I own.

The 2017 Suzuki V-Strom DL650

Cycle World called this the most capable bike, and the best bang for the buck. I couldn’t agree more. It will do solo or two-up rides around the country. I have ridden to all 48 states on a combination of my 2008 and 2015 650s. It will go down the Interstate at 75 mph all day long and not give one hiccup. It is lighter than the 1000 and smooth. Very economical to operate. The newer 2017 has a more powerful engine, and gets about 60 mpg. I was getting 60+ in the 2008 and 65+ on the 2015. Put gas in it and go. Change the oil and filter, tires, chain and sprockets when maintenance is due. It is a fantastic commuter bike, or one to explore on.

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In a nutshell, it is a great bike to commute or explore on. The 650 will do it all, including a ride across the Continental Divide in Wyoming at South Pass City.

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The 2014 Suzuki V-Strom DL1000

Suzuki made some great advances with the 2014. It has plenty of power, and ridden with a reasonable throttle twist, I am getting 54 mpg on average. It has a stock touring windscreen and provides better wind protection than the 650, but windscreens are one of those personal things that can be changed easily. It is about 30-pounds heavier than the 650, but very maneuverable. Suzuki says it requires premium fuel, but it will run on 87 octane, should you have no choice of fuel when needed. It seems to run better on the premium. It will go down those gravel roads, too. Where it shines is on the highway. Maintenance is just like the 650, do it regularly, and this bike will last a long time.

In a nutshell, it is a great touring bike, but it will also do it all from commuting to grocery shopping, camping, fly fishing adventures, and some gravel roads.

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DL650 or DL1000? What are you primarily going to do with the bike? Go with that one. Explore or commute: 650. Tour: 1000. Either way, you will not be disappointed, whether you are riding solo or two-up. Either one will do it all.

Now … just what does Suzuki have in mind for the 2020 DL1000?

See you on the highway.

Brent

3 Replies to “A Short Review: Suzuki V-Strom 650 vs. 1000”

  1. Hi Brent
    I live in India and tour on either a 2016 Versys650 or 2016 Vstrom1000.
    If I’m alone I take the Versys and but with company definitely the Vee.
    The choice is solely on the fact that I can pick up the Versys but struggle with the Vee.
    The Versys is a softer ride and I would hesitate to take it too far off road or too deep in water.
    Whereas with the big Vee I can go anywhere without too much consideration for the elements.
    Also most of our roads are full of pot holes and with the Vee I can just power through most of it.

  2. Dan, your comments are true for the first generation 1000, but not so for the newer second generation 1000s which began in 2014. The clutch chudder is gone. It has a smoother engine, and my experience has been much better than 42 mpg. Of course, the wrist factor will be different for every rider.

  3. Good article.

    The 650 is a better motor and never developed the clutch chudder that still affects the 1k. The 650 is also easier on tires etc. so just cheaper to own.
    And 42 vs 55 mpg so much better range on the 650.
    Much better suspension on the 1k

    That’s the tradeoff:
    Reliability 650
    Performance 1k

    Both are good bikes.

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