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Friday, 14 August 2015

2015 Suzuki Wee Strom Test Ride

Suzuki introduced us to the VStrom DL650 in 2004. It quickly out sold it's bigger brother the 1000, and became a cult favourite among adventure riders, earning the nickname WeeStrom.  The bike basically remained unchanged until 2012 (2011 ABS was added) when it underwent a make over.

  • Body restyled
  • Fuel tank capacity reduced from 22L to 20L (5.8 U.S. gallons to 5.3 U.S. Gallons)
  • Seat height raised from 32.3 to 32.9 inches
  • Internal transmission changes to reduce noise and boost low to midrange torque
  • Power increase from 63.5 horsepower and 41.2 lb-ft of torque to 66.2 horsepower and 43.0 lb-ft of torque
  • Rear suspension travel increased .4" to 6.3 inches
  • Redesigned instrument panel with trip counters as well as average mileage and ambient temp displays.
  • Reduction in GVW by 18 lbs

For 2015 Suzuki has five different models of the 650 to choose from, yup you read it right, FIVE!
There's the 650X ABS EXP, which is what I rode for the review. It has wire rims, crash bars, all the hard luggage, a beek etc.

 The 650X ABS, a wire rimmed version with no luggage

A 650ABS which has cast rims, no beak.

 A 650 ABS EXP, it has the boxy ADV luggage.

 A 650 ABS SE which has luggage, but not the big ADV style metal boxes.

 Geez, something for everyone and budget.

Prices range from $8999 for the 650ABS to $11399 for the 650X ABS EXP. 

Yes I had to consult the Suzuki website to get all this straight.

Once again I headed to the local Suzuki dealer, MotoSport Plus in Saint John, owner and friend Tim Hovey said, hey take out the WeeStrom for a spin. OK. I was hoping to take the FZ-07 out, but it was sold. Damn it, I waited too long, procrastination got the better of me again. 

So Tim threw me the keys and said have a good ride. Ok, on a warm sunny day in August, that is something I can do.

First impressions on throwing a leg over the seat, it's a Vstrom, a little narrower and a little lighter than my 1000. It still seemed to be quite top heavy lifting it off the stand. I fired it up, put it in gear and off I went. 

Whoa, this is cramped. For a tall bike, the pegs are positioned up high, and it feels cramped from the waist down. I don't even have long legs, with a 32" inseam. If you're a big guy, stay away, or look at getting the pegs lowered. 

The bike is smooth, much smoother than my '06 Strom, which does suffer from the dreaded clutch chudder that has plagued almost all the classic 1000's.  Power is nice and linear, with it making it's best around the 3-4000 rpm mark. No clutch chudder on this beast, and the bike has the typical Suzuki smooth gearbox, with a nice light clutch pull. 

Around town and on backroads this bike is great, typical great Vstrom handling, the suspension is firmer than my 1000, which is more like a 1970's Lincoln, and tend to wallows around when pushed hard into corners.  The new Wee handles the corners very nice for an ADV bike. A sub $12K ADV bike at that. 

We all know that to handle good acceleration you need good brakes. The brakes on the Wee are good, coming from my limited riding experience on various bikes. I hammered on the brakes a couple of times and the Wee stops quick and smooth. ABS is awesome.

What's a test of an ADV bike unless you get it dirty. Not sure Tim was too happy that I brought it back dirty, but I did offer to clean it for him. 

The point at which I turned around, without knobbies, this mud hole looked a little too daunting. It was worst than the pics show.

Despite it being basically a road bike shod with 70/30 tires, the bike handles the gravel well, and is pretty well balanced motorcycle overall. Slow speed handling is very good, I could crawl along quite slowly considering the tall first gear. Throttle response near idle is a little jerky, but really the bike is not designed for this. Ergonomics standing up suffer because of the tall pegs. Lower the pegs and raise the bars and it would be a major improvement.

The bike handled the gravel roads with ease, and as long as you slow down for the rough stuff the Wee doesn't really complain. One nice thing I notice was the lack of rattling on the rough stuff, the dash and fairings are nice and tight. My ol' Strom feels like the poor fairing is about to shake off.

Some like the beak, me not so much, unless your a fan of Angry Birds

The only fly in the ointment is...... if you like to long rides at high speed on the interstate this bike will leave you wanting some more umph. Up to 120kph no issues, push it a little harder and it runs out of steam. Of course it is a 650. At 120kph indicated it was running 5500rpm and was buzzy. Not real annoying, but it was there. Compared to the 4000rpm on my 1000. Even the stock windscreen is decent, no helmet buffeting, and it did a good job of blocking the wind. 

Overall, I was impressed, other than highway performance and ergonomics for anyone with more than a 30" inseam, it is a great, do it all bike. 

Digital speedo, and info display, with an analogue tach. Nice.

If the Weestrom is something your jonsing for, now is the time to buy, Suzuki is offering some pretty good discounts right now.

The real question........would I buy one? No, not at least until they change the egos. I'm not quite sure why they would make a bike with a 32" seat height, with a short seat to peg length. So basically you need long legs to flat foot the bike, but then you'd be cramped up riding it. Go figure. Really that is the big downside to the new Wee.


  1. We have a '14 650 & love it. The Missus & I share it since we can only afford one bike at the moment. She is 5'8" & I am 6'1". Both of us find the ergos perfect. We have both done 6-8 hr. long days and had no issues with fatigue or vibrations. The bike does get smoother once it has some k's on it. We ride in the U.S. a lot and she will cruise all day at 130 kph. loaded with camping gear. A very under rated bike by lots of riders I have found.
    Cheers from the Left Coast (Victoria)

  2. Thanks for the comment Richard, always nice to hear from readers. Both the Stroms, 650 and 1000 are solid bikes, can't go wrong with either one in my opinion. A real budget do all bike. Why spend $20K on a KTM or a BMW, when you can go almost sub-$10K for a Strom.