Suzuki V-Strom 650 (DL650)
Words by, Neale Bayly - Photos by, Kinny Jones
Having done sterling duty in Suzukiís highly successful SV 650
since 1999, it seems logical for this engine to be reused in
another application. Just as with the air/oil cooled GSX-R1100
engine that was relaxed and slotted into Suzukiís long-selling
For the V-Strom 650, the SV engine remains basically the same: A 90-degree, water-cooled, V-twin, with an 81mm bore and a 62.6mm stroke. Each cylinder gets four valves, with both intake and exhaust being opened and closed by their own camshaft. Here the V-Strom engine differs from the SV, with more relaxed cam profiles. This helps boost the power approximately 5 percent right where you need it, between 4,000 and 6,500 rpm. To enhance this gain, subtle changes have taken place inside the airbox and exhaust.
There is one more change, and this is found in the bottom of the engine. The crankshaft inertia has been increased by 4 percent to smooth some of the V-twins pulses.
Keeping the air clean, and the neighbourhood quiet, the fuel-injected Suzuki gets rid of the burned fuel through a two-into-one exhaust system. (The bigger 1000 V-Strom uses a two-into-two) This comes with an oxygen sensor in the pipes, and a catalytic converter in the muffler to pass all emission laws. The pipe actually sounds pretty good when it goes by on full throttle, but there is little to be heard from the saddle.
The V-Strom 650 gets the SVís six-speed transmission and gear ratios. It doesnít keep the same final drive however, as the rear sprocket gains three teeth for a 47/15 combination, compared to the SVís 44/15. While this adds acceleration at the expense of top-end, most owners are going to appreciate the extra pickup away from the lights. Out on the road it makes for a very flexible top gear that is able to run down as low as 2500 rpm and still pull away. Donít expect stump-pulling torque at these lowly rpm. But if you are stuck in slow-moving traffic, you wonít be tap dancing on the gear lever to make progress.
Providing a home for this gutsy little V-twin, Suzuki has opted to use the existing V-Strom 1000 frame. Subtle changes see a revised swingarm and front fork setup. The spec charts list the 650ís weight nearly 20kg lighter than its big brother. I think a lot of this must come from the exhaust system, as the swingarm doesnít look too much lighter.
The rear shock is by Showa, and comes with a handy-dandy hydraulic preload adjuster. Just crank the large, black wheel located on the left-hand side of the bike in or out, depending on your preference. The rebound damping is also adjustable but the compression isnít.
Providing a home for the front wheel, the forks are also made by Showa, and are adjustable for preload only. Overall the suspension performs very well and will work just fine for new or inexperienced riders. As tested the preload was too soft, while the rebound was a tad stiff, but it was certainly not a problem.
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