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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


10 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.

  4. When was this article written? Oct 2019? Ok, so not too long ago…

    Hello Brent – nice text on Stroms.

    Driving rookie here, greets from Europe. Just a quick one if you don’t mind:

    I’m 6.1 tall, around 165 lbs.

    Looking for a medium-distance touring bike for me and my partner. Targeted driving range – 500/600 km trips… for city commuting I have a 400 cc scooter which performs marvelously, and I have no intention of hitting the clutch every 300 meters when I hit the red traffic light… too annoying.

    Now, given my lack of experience with bigger machines, I’m kinda “afraid” of 1000 model? In a sense that, considering my physique, it would be overkill for me, when it comes to handling? Especially with another passenger? The latest version still doesn’t ship with ABS, right? Or perhaps in Europe, due to regulation, it does…

    I’m not about speed, just nice, easy, comfortable country riding, 80 – 130 km/h, with time to time forest dirt road or such.

    Your thoughts?

    Thanks in advance,

  5. Hi, Marko. Both bikes, the 650 and 1000, are great bikes, but different. As I said in the post, the 1000 is best at touring. It is powerful and goes down the highway easily. The 650 also tours very well, but is lighter and easier to maneuver, which makes it better at exploring. You can really tell the difference when moving the two around in the garage. I have friends who have traveled two-up on the 650 and it does just fine. with your height, you may want to buy a tall seat for the 650. Other than that, you would love the 650. I do. In fact, I recently sold the 1000. The 650 is the better bike. I hope this helps. –Brent

  6. Hi Brent

    Just read your article, very interesting to be honest. I’m on the look out for an adventure bike to do some touring on. How do you feel the 650 would cope with the panniers full etc. Also which I don’t think I’ll be riding two up but would the 650 still cope two up with panniers?



  7. Lee, First let me say that I think the 650 is the better bike. It is lighter and more nimble. The 1000 is great going down the highway. I have toured all over the United States on the 650s with full panniers and top case, and a duffle bag behind me. It never struggled to get me anywhere. I knew a couple that toured two-up all over the Western States, and they never had an issue. Of course, the one factor might be weight. Your weight and the weight of a potential pillion rider. I weigh just over 200 pounds, and the V-Stroms had plenty of power to take my butt down the highway, over hill and dale. I no longer have the V-Stroms. I am currently riding Moto Guzzis. –Brent

  8. Hi Brent really appreciate your reply and information. I weigh around 160-165 pounds so reading your info it should do the job then. I live in the UK and looking to do European trips. Think I may need to test ride one to be honest and now with your advice I will look into the 650 more plus may save me a bit of money.-Lee

  9. Lee, you will not be disappointed. I owned three 650s–a 2008, 2015 and 2017. The 2015, a 2nd gen, was the most economical, but the 2017, a gen 3, was the best one of the three. It had more power and still got about 60 mpg. –Brent

  10. Thanks Brent, I will be on the lookout for a post 2017 then I think and perfect 60mpg will certainly do me. – Lee

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