Suzuki V-Strom 800DE Review – ADV Pulse


Suzuki V-Strom 800DE Review

Suzuki has shifted gears in the evolution of their long-running V-Strom adventure motorcycle range with the release of the V-Strom 800DE. Traditionally known for their versatility that blends on-road comfort with mild off-road capability, the all-new middleweight ADV entry offers significantly more off-road performance than any previous V-Strom, regardless of size.

Suzuki V-Strom 800DE Review

Another departure from the V-Strom line is the all-new 776cc DOHC parallel-twin engine with a 270° firing order, as opposed to the traditional V-twin configuration. The engine delivers 84.3 horsepower and 54.5 ft-lbs of torque that’s tuned to be both rider-friendly and responsive. The compact engine is also positioned in the frame for optimized weight distribution and handling characteristics to make it more adept in varied terrain.

Suzuki V-Strom 800DE Review
At the heart of the new V-Strom 800DE is a fully-new 776cc DOHC parallel-twin engine pumping out 84.3 horsepower and 54.5 ft-lbs of toque. 

The bike’s off-road credentials are further bolstered by its chassis and suspension design. Bump absorption is carried out by a fully-adjustable SHOWA suspension with an inverted 43mm fork up front and link-type shock in the rear, providing a respectable 8.7 inches (220mm) of wheel travel at both ends. This configuration makes the V-Strom 800DE better-equipped to absorb bigger hits while still delivering a comfortable ride. With ample ground clearance of 8.7 inches, coupled with a 21-inch front and 17-inch rear wheel combination, riders can navigate rougher terrain with greater confidence as well. 

Suzuki V-Strom 800DE Review

As for rider aids, Suzuki has integrated a suite of modern electronics into the V-Strom 800DE to enhance both its off-road and on-road capabilities. A range of technologies include configurable Power Maps, Traction Control, Slipper Clutch, and a bi-directional QuickShifter. Stopping is performed through NISSIN brakes with dual-piston front calipers grasping 310mm floating discs, combined with a single-piston caliper in the rear on a 260mm disc, all modulated through an ABS system with an off-road-friendly rear-wheel off mode. 

Suzuki V-Strom 800DE Review


Trail equipment consists of a tapered 1-⅛” handlebar along with full wrap around handguards and a reinforced plastic skidplate that offer decent protection, while rubber footpeg covers can be removed to reveal a set of rugged serrated teeth for improved stability standing off-road. In addition to its off-road enhancements, the V-Strom 800DE features many touring amenities that cater to the needs of longer journeys. Standard equipment includes an adjustable-height windscreen, powerful LED lighting all around, on-dash USB charging port, GPS mounting bar, an ergonomic one-piece seat, and rear luggage rack. 

Suzuki V-Strom 800DE Review

With the release of the new 800DE, Suzuki seeks to blend the reliability and comfort the V-Strom line is known for with a newfound off-road prowess. While this may represent a major shift for the historically conservative brand, is it enough to stand out in the highly-competitive middleweight adventure bike class? Let’s take a look!

First Impressions

With its dual stacked LED headlights, bright yellow and gray color scheme, 21” front wheel and taller stance, the new 800DE has a more aggressive look than other V-Stroms that have come before it. Sitting on the bike or just pushing it around, it feels a lot smaller and lighter than its claimed 507-pound curb weight figure might suggest as well. And with a 33.7-inch seat height, it’s still easy to throw a leg over. It feels bigger and broader than a T7 or Tuareg 660 for sure, but Suzuki seems to be doing something right with the weight distribution to hide its true size which measured in at 510 pounds with a full tank of gas on our scales.

Suzuki V-Strom 800DE Review

Thumbing the starter evokes a pleasing exhaust note from the parallel-twin that, thanks to its 270° crank, does a good imitation of a V-Twin powerplant. Power is quite peppy too. Zipping around town on the 800DE directly after dropping off a V-Strom 1050DE test unit, I was surprised how there wasn’t much loss in power, as well as how comparatively nimble it felt. Compared to its big brother, the 800DE feels much lighter and shorter. Everything is a little sharper edged and finely tuned — like a proper adventure bike should be.

On-Road Performance

Suzuki V-Strom 800DE Review

Cruising from stop light to stop light, I was impressed with the ease of maneuverability of the bike and also the smooth clutch and a torque-rich motor that makes this easy to live with on your daily commute. I never felt any excessive heat coming off the motor when riding around town either. On the highway, the ergos are roomy and comfortable as you’d expect from a V-Strom with plenty of passing power. The one-piece seat feels fairly plush and supportive for longer journeys but I did start to get a little fidgety in the saddle sooner than expected. 

Suzuki V-Strom 800DE Review

The wind protection is on the light side but after moving the screen up to the high position, it did a better job of blocking wind for me. There are a total of three height positions you can set the windscreen to, and it requires basic tools to do so. However, making the adjustment is something that just takes a few seconds. The reach to the bars felt comfortable for my 6’2” tall frame and the knee bend is just a little cramped for my 34” inseam. A taller, flatter seat would be preferable for us longer legged folks.

Suzuki V-Strom 800DE Review

The one thing that did surprise me though was a significant amount of buzz coming from the engine. At around 65-75 mph I noticed some pretty serious vibes being emitted from the tank, bars and especially the pegs — even with rubber covers installed. This was more vibration than I can remember experiencing on any twin-cylinder engine and was on par with some smoother singles I’ve ridden. Suzuki states they are using a proprietary Cross Balancer system, which positions two balancers at 90° to the crankshaft to help suppress engine vibration, but it doesn’t seem to do enough. I did notice the vibes dissipate as you increase speed and it gets quite smooth after 83 mph. 

Suzuki V-Strom 800DE Review

Overall, the highway comfort is adequate for your occasional long-range journey but could be improved with aftermarket parts (and perhaps a drop in gearing) if you’re looking to do some serious miles. And of course cruise control  would be nice to have.

Out on the twisties there was plenty of grip from the stock Dunlop Trailmax Mixtour Tires, as well as the Trailmax Raid 60% dirt / 40% street Adventure Tires we swapped for during testing. The NISSIN dual-piston caliper brakes also do a great job at slowing down the bike. While they aren’t the most powerful, there’s plenty of feel and bite on the 310mm discs for either finesse-type or emergency braking maneuvers, and ABS intervention is imperceptible. However, it’s worth noting you get 4-piston radial-mounted front calipers with lean-angle sensing ABS on the V-Strom 1050DE.

Suzuki V-Strom 800DE Review
Suzuki V-Strom 800DE Review

As for the suspension, dive and squat are minimal during aggressive cornering. Everything remains composed under heavy braking and accelerating out of turns. That same agile feeling that I noticed around town carries over in sport riding. There’s a lot of forgiveness if you want to change your line or add braking mid turn as well. While you can ride it fast, it doesn’t have an aggressive personality and prefers a more laid back pace. I also noticed that I was scraping pegs a bit earlier than I liked. 

Suzuki V-Strom 800DE Review

Winding out the motor on the straights the DE makes a good sound though, especially when kicking through the gears with the Quick Shifter. The powerband is fat and responsive in the most aggressive powermap ‘A’ with Traction Control at level ‘1’ (light intervention). And like its 650cc sibling, the 800DE punches above its weight class. Even so, the motor is very tractable and you can ride around without much threat of a spin out on asphalt with traction control disabled. 

Suzuki V-Strom 800DE Review

We did get a little rain during our testing. Changing the power map to ‘C,’ Traction Control to level ‘2’ and ABS at level ‘2’ puts the bike in something of a safe mode with maximum intervention to ensure your inputs at the controls are tamped down to match the limited traction conditions. This offered an excellent level of confidence to ride more aggressively than I would normally in the wet, with a bit of a safety net to reel in my mistakes.

Suzuki V-Strom 800DE Review

Changing the various rider aid settings with the thumb controller was sometimes frustrating though because the levels don’t have any intuitive connection to words (e.g. sport, touring, rain…). Just A-B-C, 1-2-3, etcetera, so be ready to pull out your user manual to get clarification on the various mode settings for your first few rides. Once you’ve become familiar with how to adjust power maps, traction control and ABS, there is a good amount of customization you can dial in. Although, I did find it annoying at times when I’d try to change a setting and it would just blink at me. There were probably some ‘safety’ reasons for its refusal to do what I wanted it to do. The least it could do is tell me what I’m doing wrong.

Off-Road Performance

My expectations for off-road tests with V-Stroms are typically tempered, but there’s always hope for a pleasant surprise. With the right knobby tires, V-Stroms have always been capable of navigating rough terrain at a mild pace. However, this specific model held the promise of doing more than just making it through. So, hopes were high as I headed out for the first test in the forest.

Suzuki V-Strom 800DE Review

A first look over the new V-Strom revealed some goodies for the trail like a reinforced plastic skid plate that isn’t going to win any awards for protection or coverage but offers enough to get you out on the some mildly-rocky trails. The oil filter is tucked in more than on previous V-Stroms, rather than dangling there waiting to be crushed. There’s also a nice tapered aluminum bar that won’t bend easily but the hand guards don’t guard against much more than the wind. Perhaps they’d be strong enough to save a lever on a light tip over. The turn signals and mirrors however, are not made to handle any off-road abuse. The turn signals use non-flexible stalks that will break on impact, while the mirrors look like they were pulled directly from the street bike bin.

Suzuki V-Strom 800DE Review

The wheels are spoked tube-type, which is good news for the off-road crowd. However, the spokes are on the thin side for an adventure bike of this weight class. Throughout our testing, they seemed to hold up well though. On the plus side, there is a crossbar on the dash to mount a GPS, as well as a USB port to conveniently charge accessories, and a decent-sized rear rack to strap on some luggage or carry your tools.

Suzuki V-Strom 800DE Review

Starting out on some casual dirt roads that included a few rough sections, I quickly realized the smooth 90% street Dunlop Mixtour tires that come stock on the V-Strom 800DE were going to be a limiting factor for our test. With just a few inches of sand, it was already feeling sketchy with tire spin coming from the rear and the front end threatening to wash out. While those tires might be a good choice for the cast-wheeled standard V-Strom 800, I think Suzuki missed the mark putting them on the DE.

For the next dirt outing, we spooned on a set of the new Dunlop Trailmax Raids with a 60% dirt / 40% street rating. A proper set of knobs would allow us to evaluate the full potential of the 800DE in the dirt, to see if this really is a different breed of V-Strom.

Suzuki V-Strom 800DE Review
The street-focused Dunlop Trailmax Mixtour Tires that come standard on the 800DE limit its off-road potential, so we swapped them for the more aggressive Dunlop Trailmax Raid Adventure Tires.

As I encountered the first bit of fire road, the ergos felt dialed in for long-range standing off-road, even for a taller rider like myself at 6-foot, 2 inches. The reach to the bars was not excessive and the height felt ideally positioned for good front end feedback and rider comfort. The tank is also in a position that allows you to rest some of your weight on it when cruising for long periods. Plus the windscreen is small enough and out of the way, allowing you to get forward over the tank for a more aggressive posture, without smacking your face shield.

Suzuki V-Strom 800DE Review

When seated off-road, the reach to the bars is far and you can’t really get your weight forward over the front of the tank. I also felt like the peg position was oriented slightly forward and a little high for my tastes. While the seat is a one-piece design, that allows for some movement, it’s still scooped out, putting you down lower in the bike rather than on top of it. 

With a rearward seated position, there’s not a lot of feel for what the front tire is doing from the saddle. After weighing the bike, we also could see the DE has a slight rear weight bias (51.4% rear / 48.5% front) that contributes to a lack of front end feel. If you are looking to cruise dirt roads while seated, the saddle offers a comfortable perch. But if you’re the type that likes high-speed drifting and banging off berms, the seated position leaves something to be desired. And with the dialed-in factory stand-up ergos, you can get your weight over the front for more control and you don’t feel the need to drop down to the saddle regularly to rest. 

Suzuki V-Strom 800DE Review

The 800DE feels nimble and maneuverable picking lines on rock-strewn trails at a moderate pace and you can get it whipped around 180 degrees without needing to put a foot down on a typical two-lane trail. There’s no top heavy feel and it’s a fairly compact bike for an 800cc machine with a manageable weight that wouldn’t be too intimidating for solo rides if you find yourself needing to upright the bike on your own. While it is a step up in size from a Yamaha Tenere 700 or Aprilia Tuareg 660, it’s less bike to manage than a Husqvarna Norden 901 or BMW F850GS.

Suzuki V-Strom 800DE Review

The engine feels peppy off-road with enough power to lighten the wheel when needed in second gear. TC level 1 and 2 are really street modes, with the ‘G’ (gravel) mode being a good option off-road for those learning the ropes. In this mode, you get a small amount of slip before TC kicks in, allowing you to powerslide safely. Wheelspin isn’t much of a concern though with the tractable power the 800DE puts out, and I preferred riding with traction control off most of the time. 

Suzuki V-Strom 800DE Review
Suzuki V-Strom 800DE Review

As far as power maps, setting A gives a sharp throttle response with instant power which is good for aggressive riding on more open terrain. Setting B tames the throttle jerkiness and is a good mode for learning off-road. Setting C is even more subdued but I found it useful in loose rocks where a smooth throttle hand helps keep tire spin to a minimum with TC off. On steep, loose descents I felt like the bike had a tendency to lock up and stall more easily in level A. Putting it in setting C seemed to reduce the chance of an inadvertent stall. The bi-directional Quick Shifter also helps a lot in technical situations, allowing you to both upshift and downshift on sketchy climbs or while rock crawling, without having to use the clutch.

Suzuki V-Strom 800DE Review

The dual-piston NISSIN twin front caliper brakes did not disappoint in the dirt with good feel and control. The off-road ABS mode retains the intervention on the front wheel and turns it off completely on the rear. There were definitely a few situations where I felt the off-road ABS system chattering, struggling to find grip in a slippery situation, but I never felt like I was just along for the ride for more than a quick moment. And like most ABS systems, it will lose the off-road setting if you turn off the key and default back to street mode.

Suzuki V-Strom 800DE Review

Overall, there’s a good amount of customization you can dial in if you like rider aids on your adventure bike. But again, the generic labels for the settings (e.g. ABC, 123) make it hard to remember how to configure the bike for different terrain you may encounter. If you are an experienced off-road rider, the power is mild enough that you can just run map A and turn TC off though.

Suzuki V-Strom 800DE Review

Getting into trails with small to medium sized rocks, I was impressed with the stock suspension’s ability to soak up bumps as if they weren’t even there. It feels like it has quality components, with good damping and a plush ride that is on the soft side. The ride is perfectly tuned for slow to medium speeds in choppy terrain, with the ability to blast through the small stuff without transferring much in the way of vibration or jolts to the body. That big 21″ front helps keep it stable in the rocks or hold a clean line in sand too. It’s an excellent mount for getting out and exploring new trails and should be confidence inspiring for newer off-road riders. But as you start to push the pace and ride more advanced level terrain, you do start to see limitations in the 800DE’s dirt prowess. I weigh about 215 pounds without gear, so lighter riders may have less of an issue with this.

Suzuki V-Strom 800DE Review

On a sandy single track, the 800DE felt controlled and in charge. The suspension felt lively and it was easy to maintain control of the big girl. Its reasonable weight and bulk also made flowing technical terrain fun, without being too taxing. However, as the tires started to leave the ground and larger rocks were encountered, things turned sour.

Sharp edge ruts or rocks will make the fork bottom with a loud ‘thunk.’ Drop offs or flat jump landings bottom the rear easily. It goes through the compression too fast, without a progressive feel for the larger hits. The bottoming was not super harsh though and by adding an extra turn of compression damping on the fork, as well as maxing out preload and compression damping on the rear, the occurrences were significantly reduced, especially for the fork. And luckily the adjustments didn’t affect the plushness much.

Suzuki V-Strom 800DE Review

The DE is capable of faster speeds and aggressive terrain, but it will quickly start throwing out warning signs that it’s not that keen on it. The suspension travel numbers may look promising but there’s not a lot of ground clearance, the spring rates are pretty soft and the compression damping needs more hold up on the bigger hits.

There are other adventure bikes in this class that have the chops for aggressive off-road riding in challenging terrain, the V-Strom 800DE is just not one of them. And that’s ok. It’s tuned perfectly for slow-to-mid speeds in the moderately-challenging terrain that a large portion of the adventure rider population spend much of their time doing. If that’s the type of riding you do, you’ll enjoy riding this bike a lot more than something like a KTM 890 Adventure R. Keeping it within that range, it’s pleasant, fun, comfortable, confidence inspiring, and easy to control. 

Suzuki V-Strom 800DE Review

The Bottom Line

No doubt, the new 800DE is the best performing V-Strom to have ever been born. Welcome to the party Suzuki, but your competitors have long been focusing on improving the off-road aspects of their adventure machines in this stacked middleweight category. With so many options in this highly-competitive segment, rider’s are spoiled for choice.

Suzuki V-Strom 800DE Review

Let’s take a quick look at how the $11,599 800DE matches up with some of the other ADV bikes in the $10k to $12k range. Starting with the T7, you’re getting more equipment, power and electronics with the DE but not as much off-road capability, and I’d argue the Tenere is better on the street as well. With the KTM 790 Adventure and Aprilia Tuareg 660, the V-Strom gets outclassed in both electronics and off-road prowess. The budget-friendly Honda Transalp doesn’t have as much motor and isn’t any better on the trail, but it does have an excellent electronics package and costs $1,600 less. Then there’s the Moto Guzzi V85 TT that’s a similar size and weight, not as capable off-road, but it has better electronics and out does the 800DE in quirky Italian style.

Suzuki V-Strom 800DE Review

One thing the V-Strom 800DE does better than all of those bikes though is go down a semi-rough trail, at medium speeds, comfortably and in control. It has nimble handling, a tractable motor that won’t do anything to surprise you and the suspension is tuned for all-day comfort. Sure it has some limitations on the ground clearance and the suspension stability starts to show cracks at higher speeds. Clearly, it’s not for the hardcore off-road rider but there’s plenty of capability to keep an experienced pilot grinning. 

Suzuki V-Strom 800DE Review

The only drawback that stood out to me though was the engine vibration on the highway at certain speeds. This is a major thing in my book for a bike that is synonymous with doing long-range travel. While it’s not a paint shaker like a KTM 640 Adventure, nor is it as buzzy as a KLR650, it was noticeable enough that I would adjust my highway speed to avoid it. However, I have talked to a few other journalists that rode the bike and didn’t have a problem with it. I recommend getting a test ride before you buy to see if it’s something you notice.

Overall, the 800DE is a great option for those who want the capability to explore new dirt roads and trails stress free, knowing they can get into tight places and get out. If you’re more interested in seeing what’s around the next bend than pushing your physical limits, the V-Strom 800DE may be a great match. Newer off-road riders will be able to use the full range of the bike and it should be a while before they feel a need to upgrade to something more capable.

Suzuki V-Strom 800DE Review

For those V-Strom owners loyal to the line, this is something to get excited about. The 800DE is a great machine worthy of upgrading to. It still offers the reliability, quality and comfort you’re used to from Suzuki and you’ll be happy with the notable improvements in off-road performance.

2023 Suzuki V-STROM 800DE Specs

ENGINE: Engine 776cc, 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC parallel-twin
BORE X STROKE: 84.0 mm x 70 mm (3.3 in. x 2.8 in.)
COMPRESSION RATIO: 12.8:1
MAX POWER OUTPUT: 84.3 horsepower
MAX TORQUE: 57.5 ft-lbs
FUEL SYSTEM: Fuel injection
STARTER ELECTRIC: Lubrication Force-fed circulation, wet sump
CLUTCH: Wet, multi-plate type
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed constant mesh
FINAL DRIVE: O-ring style chain, size & links TBA
SUSPENSION, FRONT: Inverted telescopic, coil spring, oil damped, 8.7″ (220mm) of travel
SUSPENSION, REAR: Link type, single shock, coil spring, oil damped, 8.7″ (220mm) of travel
RAKE / TRAIL: 28O / 114mm (4.5 in.)
BRAKE, FRONT: Nissin, 2-piston calipers, dual 310mm discs, adjustable ABS-equipped
BRAKE, REAR: Nissin, 1-piston, single disc, adjustable ABS-equipped
TIRE, FRONT: 90/60-21M/C (54H), tube-type
TIRE, REAR: 150/70R17 M/C (69V), tube-type
FUEL TANK CAPACITY: 20.0 L (5.3 US gal.)
COLORS: Champion Yellow No. 2 -or- Glass Matte Mechanical Gray; Glass Sparkle Black (Adventure model only)
IGNITION: Electronic ignition (transistorized)
SPARK PLUGS: Iridium type x 2
HEADLIGHT: Mono-focus LED x 2
TAILLIGHT: LED
TURN SIGNALS: LED
OVERALL LENGTH: 2345 mm (92.3 in.)
OVERALL WIDTH: 975 mm (38.4 in.)
OVERALL HEIGHT: 1310 mm (51.6 in.)
WHEELBASE: 1570 mm (61.8 in.)
GROUND CLEARANCE: 220 mm (8.7 in.)
SEAT HEIGHT: 855 mm (33.7 in.)
CURB WEIGHT: 230 kg (507 lb.)
WARRANTY: 12-month unlimited mileage limited warranty
MSRP PRICING: V-STROM 800DE ($11,349 USD); V-STROM 800DE Adventure ($12,999 USD)

Author: Rob Dabney

Rob Dabney started a lifelong obsession with motorcycles at the age of 15 when he purchased his first bike – a 1982 Honda MB5. Through his 20’s and 30’s he competed in off-road desert races, including the Baja 250, 500 and 1000. Eventually, his proclivity for exploration led him to dual sport and adventure riding. Rob’s never-ending quest to discover what’s around the next bend has taken him on Adventures in Latin America, Africa, Europe, Asia, and throughout the American West. As a moto journalist, he enjoys inspiring others to seek adventure across horizons both near and far.





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