Suzuki makes some fine motorcycles—the Hayabusa and the GSX-R series need little introduction—but it hasn’t been able to make the ‘right’ bike for the Indian mass-market till now.
The company, however, is making its presence felt in the entry-midsize segment (150-250cc), first with the Gixxer and now with what can be called its best attempt at motorcycling in India, the V-Strom SX 250.
We recently rode this ‘adventure bike’ on the coastal roads of Odisha.
What is the V-Strom SX 250?
Powered by a 249cc engine, you can call it a miniature version of the globally-acclaimed V-Strom 650XT (645cc). But miniature it is in engine capacity, not in size. Parked side-by-side to any adventure bike, the V-Strom SX looks big and has a good road presence. It’s available in three colours: yellow, red and black.
The ‘information display’ displays a lot of information. You can sync your mobile phone with the bike and get turn-by-turn navigation, incoming calls, SMS alert and WhatsApp alert display etc, as well as bike-related info such as fuel efficiency and tripmeter etc.
Is it really an adventure bike?
While Suzuki India is branding it as ‘the master of adventure’, the V-Strom SX is more of a sports tourer, i.e. a motorcycle comfortable enough for day-long rides on highways and occasional off-the-road manoeuvres.
How does it ride?
At just 167 kg, the V-Strom SX possibly is the lightest sports tourer available in India (about 20 kg lighter than Royal Enfield Scram 411). This has two advantages:
—Riding in urban stop-and-go traffic—when you have to constantly put your feet on the road—won’t tire you.
—Lower weight leads to good fuel efficiency; my test bike returned 37 km/litre in urban traffic and 43 km/litre on the highway.
There is one disadvantage also:
—While riding at speeds above 80 km/h on bumpy roads, the rear section of the bike tends to jump too often.
Attention to detail is visible:
Footrest rubber: The aluminium footrests are covered with vibration-absorbing rubber, which reduces the amount of vibration transmitted to the feet.
Rear carrier: The aluminium rear carrier has a six kg carrying capacity and four hooks to secure luggage via bungee ropes (elastic ropes). So, there is no need to carry bags on your shoulder.
Is it an off-roader?
While the V-Strom SX has a tall ground clearance of 205 mm and you can take it off the road, it doesn’t have tyres that can easily navigate slush, desert sand, big rocks or thick snow. But it can easily be taken on soft-road tracks, rural roads and guided off-road experiences.
Is it comfortable on long rides?
Engine vibrations—via handlebars, foot pegs and the seat—are fairly controlled, and you can ride for a long distance, at a speed of 80-100 km/h, without getting tired. The riding position is relaxed for a person whose height varies from five-and-a-half to six feet, with knees and hips forming almost 90-degree angle. The windscreen is functional and reduces a lot of wind resistance that otherwise would have been taken by the rider’s helmet and chest.
Areas of improvement
Rear-view mirrors are small and don’t give you a wide enough view of what’s coming from behind. Suzuki must increase the surface area of mirrors.
The footrests, if set an inch or two forward, can make the seating position more comfortable. On adventure bikes you can stand on the footrests and ride, especially while manoeuvring bad roads, but that isn’t easy on the V-Strom SX (possible because the current footrest position doesn’t easily allow you to do so).
Is this the best Suzuki in India?
All things put together, it is Suzuki’s best attempt at motorcycling in India. The segment is right (it’s a growing segment), the price is right (it’s far more affordable than KTM 250 Adventure and in the range of Scram 411), and the V-Strom SX rides better than a couple of its rivals.