2012 Suzuki V-Strom 650 ABS First Look

June 26, 2011
Bart Madson
By Bart Madson
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Bashing away at the MotoUSA keyboard for nine years now, Madson lends his scribbling and editorial input on everything from bike reviews to industry analysis and motorcycle racing reports.

2012 V-Strom 650 ABS
The 2012 Suzuki V-Strom gets revised intake valves and cam profiles, but its 645cc engine remains mostly unchanged.

The orchestrated teases and leaks are over… at least for Suzuki’s “New Middle-Class” adventure-touring rig. Surprise, surprise, it’s the new 2012 V-Strom 650 ABS. Following the accidental leak of its specs and photos, Suzuki at last delivers the full details of its latest Wee-Strom – featuring a styling update, retuned engine and 13-pound weight reduction.


The unchanged 645cc displacement (81mm bore x 62.6mm stroke) may deflate expectations of riders hoping the much-hyped mystery ride would be a new head-to-head challenger with the F800GS and new Triumph Tiger 800 XC. But the unchanged displacement doesn’t mean Suzuki has been idle, with the liquid-cooled V-Twin getting interior upgrades.

Valves are larger, with 31mm intake and 25.5mm exhaust, and actuated by revised cam profiles. The crankshaft is new too, as are the iridium plugs. Cylinders get the Suzuki Composite Electrochemical Material-plated (SCEM) treatment, PR speak that promises reduced friction and improved abrasion resistance. All the revisions claim an improvement in low to mid-range torque production. Suzuki’s dyno comparison with the preceding model also reveal a more robust top end.


2012 V-Strom 650 ABS
One of the biggest change is to its appearance as it features reshaped front headlamps and fuel tank.

The most recognizable change to the V-Strom is the styling refresh. Finned black resin side cowlings anchor the front end look and also serve a practical purpose – improving cooling airflow for the radiator and redirecting heat away from the rider legs. The front headlamps are also reshaped, as is the fuel tank. The slightly repositioned muffler gives a nominal refresh of the rear end.


Suzuki claims improvement to wind protection via three-way adjustable windscreen. Compared to the current model the screen is moved back 1.2 inches, with three fixed adjustment settings. The slimmer profile of the fuel tank also looks to improve rider comfort, though at the expense of some extra gas – the fuel capacity a half-gallon lower at 5.3 gallons. The seat is 0.6 inches taller now, at 32.9 inches, though Suzuki promises the perch’s shape makes it easier to reach the ground. There are also low and high seat options, which raise and lower the height by 20mm (0.8 inches) in either direction.


The lower fuel load contributes to the lower claimed curb weight, a full 13 pounds lighter than the previous model. Also lightening the load is the new rear carrier of the exhaust, now black resin instead of aluminum. The ABS system is also lighter (1.5 pounds) than the previous unit (3.3 pounds).

2012 V-Strom 650 ABS
Scheduled to hit showrooms mid-November, the 2012 V-Strom’s MSRP is still to be determined.


A new instrument cluster utilizes a left-side analog tach with right side LCD display. The LCD includes digital speedo, gear position indicator and fuel gauge. Riders can also shuffle through info via convenient switchgear button at the right handlebar.


Suzuki says the new Stroms should hit dealer floors by mid-November. MSRP is still to be determined, as is pricing and availability of accessory options. The 2012 V-Strom 650 ABS will be available in the orange and black colorways. The white colorway originally leaked on the global Suzuki site will not be imported to the American market for 2012.

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