suzuki de800 vstrom

Suzuki DE800 Vstrom – Pros and Cons – Is It Better?

First let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Whatever this bike is and however good it is, it isn’t really a Vstrom. The V twin engine defined the Vstrom name. Yes, I’m a pedant. Don’t get me wrong, I like parallel twins. In time it may become a great succesor to the Vstrom, but for now, I will simply call it the new Suzuki DE800.

So let us look at what makes this bike what it is. The DE800 parallel twin is a bit late to the game really, so it needs to be better than the other options on offer. Is it Better? Firstly, is it better than previous Vstrom’s? And secondly, is it better than the Yamaha Tenere 700, Aprilia Tuareg, Honda Transalp, KTM 890 Adventure and others?

Some definite improvements

There are some features that are a definite improvement. The 21” front 18” rear spoked wheels are a real bonus for any off road use and all the bikes listed except the DL650 have this combination. It does improve off road usability and is a welcome change. Another welcome change that does put the DE800 in a class of its own is that it has a removable rear subframe. So if the rear does ever suffer any damage it can be replaced and not simply written off.

Great suspension

Suspension is another major improvement over previous Vstrom’s and a lot has been made of the fully adjustable long travel forks. This is one area where the DE800 does well, much better than the 650 Vstrom which has decidedly budget suspension.

In comparison the Tenere 700 and Transalp, both come with fairly basic non adjustable suspension too although they do get more travel, but they have both had criticism about it. The Tuareg 660, KTM 890 and the bigger DL1050DE all have comparable suspension and the differences here are much smaller. All have very good fully adjustable suspension.

Passenger comfort

It is good to see that customary Vstrom seat. Passenger comfort is stressed in the marketing material and Suzuki have obviously thought about it a lot more than most manufacturers. On this the Vstrom is a clear winner over the competition.

Tech features

The electronics packages of all the bikes is in some ways about personal taste. Some people will love the complex electronics of the Tuareg and KTM, others will prefer the simplicity of the Tenere 700 and 650 Vstrom. The DE800, Transalp and DL1050DE fall in the middle. They do use more complex systems with more features than the Tenere and DL650 but they don’t have the comprehensive electronics of the KTM and Aprilia.

Significantly, an up and down quick-shifter with slipper clutch is standard and there are 3 rider modes that adjust power delivery. Traction Control is fully adjustable and can be turned off completely and there are 3 ABS settings which will cover most riding conditions.

The new 800cc engine

The engine on the DE800 produces about 83HP and 78NM of torque which is an improvement over the DL650 which produces around 70HP and 70NM of torque.

Compared to the other motorcycles in its class, at 80HP and 70NM of Torque the smaller Aprilia engine is also slightly down on power, although it does rev very freely. The Tenere 700 cross plane engine produces slightly less at 72HP and 68NM but has been described as one of the best engine designs of recent years. The new Honda Transalp does a little better with 90HP and 75NM of Torque but these bikes are all fairly comparable on power.

The KTM 890 Adventure pushes performance, producing 105HP and 99NM of torque so it is a step above the rest at the moment. The bigger DL1050 obviously does better here too, with more power at 108HP and 100NM of torque which is produced lower down in the rev range, it has much more bottom end ‘grunt’.

What to expect

Many of the other specs are very similar and it will inevitably come down to personal taste and riding experience. I can’t compare or quantify taste, but there is a comparison that few look at which will affect the riding experience. The basic chassis geometry affects every moment of every ride. The turn in of every corner and the balance of the bike are intrinsically linked to the rake and trail of the chassis, the length of the wheelbase and the overall weight.

Understanding chassis geometry

The steeper the rake and smaller the trail the faster the bike will turn in and the more nimble it will be. The heavier the bike is the slower it will move from side to side, so the weight transfer and subsequent steering is slower. Both of these things can add stability or make the motorcycle more nimble.

The compromises and competition

A heavy bike with a longer rake and trail will hold its line much better which is great for riding on highways or in high winds, but a lighter bike with a steeper rake and trail will be more nimble which will improve off road performance and the ability to negotiate tight turns and more challenging terrain. A shorter wheelbase has a similar effect, with a longer motorcycle being less tractable but more stable than a shorter one.

The Yamaha T7

The Yamaha Tenere 700 has become the benchmark by which other bikes are judged for off road performance, so we will start with these figures. The rake and trail is 27 degrees / 105mm and the wet weight is 204kg with a wheelbase of 1595mm. It is stable and holds its line well on the road but is nimble off road, changes direction quickly and is a good balanced chassis.

The DE800

The DE800 has a rake and trail is 28 degrees / 114mm and the wet weight is 230kg with a wheelbase of 1570mm. The slightly longer rake and trail will balance the slightly shorter chassis, so the bike should be stable but also flickable with good off road manoeuvrability, but the weight is definitely going to hurt its performance off road. The short answer here then is that the DE800 is not going to ride as well off road. It will likely have better road manners but the weight will affect both steering and performance.

The Aprilia Tuareg

Comparing the Aprilia Tuareg, it has a rake and trail is 26.7 degrees / 113mm and the wet weight is 204kg with a wheelbase of 1525mm. The shorter wheelbase is significant here and the steep rake angle also increases manoeuvrability. Its low weight and fast steering help it off road. It is a more aggressive riding experience than the DE800 and this can be a good and a bad thing depending how steady your riding is.

The KTM 890 Adventure

This philosophy is taken even further with the KTM 890 Adventure. The rake and trail is 25.9 degrees / 107.8mm and wheelbase of 1509mm with a wet weight is 216kg. The weight is carried low which minimises its effects and the aggressive steering geometry and short wheelbase make it an exciting ride. It is nimble on and off road with remarkable stability for such a flickable motorcycle and its extra power will give you a more exciting ride than the DE800.

The Honda Transalp

The Honda Transalp has a rake and trail of 27 degrees / 111mm with a wheelbase of 1560mm and a wet weight of 208kg. With almost identical geometry to the DE800, it should be comparable in steering and balance, but this will depend on the quality of the non adjustable suspension, Where the DE800 loses again is that weight.

The DL1050DE Vstrom

Next we come to the bigger DL1050DE Vstrom. With a rake of 27 degrees but a longer trail of 126mm and a slightly longer wheelbase of 1595mm, it will feel slower to turn and lazier than the DE800. The wet weight of 252kg makes it a heavier bike too, which inevitably has consequences. So the DE800 will be better if you do any amount of off road riding.

The DL650 Vstrom

Our last comparison is with the good old DL650 Vstrom. The rake and trail is 26 degrees / 110mm and wheelbase of 1560mm with a wet weight is 220kg. Although compromised by the shorter travel suspension and 19” front wheel, the 650 Vstrom is remarkably nimble, with a steep steering angle and geometry very similar to the KTM 890 Adventure. Even the weight is comparable to the KTM, but it does carry its weight higher.

In comparison to the DE800, the Vstrom 650 wins in some ways and looses in others. This means the choice is likely to be in relation to your own style of riding. The 650 is lighter, shorter, and has more aggressive steering, but off road ability is compromised. The 19” front wheel and limited suspension travel don’t compare well to the DE800.

In conclusion

The original question was simply ‘is it better?’ That is never an easy question and will depend on your use. It certainly looks the part.

In comparison to the previous V Twin Vstrom’s it does sit comfortably between them. This will give it advantages. The power is more than enough for most people and the better suspension will make it more capable off road. However, the weight is up on the old 650. The wheelbase of the 650 is shorter too, which gives the 650 better manoeuvrability.

Why a parallel twin chassis would be longer than a V Twin chassis I have no idea. The DE800 shouldn’t be heavier than the DL650 either. These are questions for Suzuki to answer.

Missing the mark?

In comparison to the competition, I think the Vstrom has sadly missed the mark. However, that will depend on how you use your motorcycle.

The lower power to weight ratio will mean more to some than others. You will find the DE800 will make simple off road riding very easy, because the suspension is improved so much. This is where it is better than some of the other bikes mentioned. For people who ride mostly on the road with some light green laning it will be an easy bike to ride.

Where it will come unstuck is when the terrain gets harder and more technical. This is where the extra weight will affect it most. It wont be as much of a handful off road as the bigger Vstrom though.

Out of the box, for light off road use, it will be a good bike. The improved suspension will be a bonus. However, it will never be as capable as the KTM, Aprilia Tuareg or Yamaha Tenere 700 when the terrain gets more challenging.

If you only take on simple off road riding and travel with friends, this might be a great choice. Your friends can help you pick it up on the trails. I can’t help be a little disappointed. I will never understand why it is bigger and heavier than the V Twin DL650. Or any of its parallel twin competitors.

Could it be better?

Would the DL650 with the suspension and wheels from the DE800 be a better bike for all the things the DE800 is better at? I will leave that question for you to answer.

Don’t forget to like the video and subscribe to the channel if this gave you some information that helps. I hope it helps you quantify what the new Suzuki DE800 is all about.

Enjoy the ride everyone.

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