Suzuki unveiled a brand-new upper-middleweight platform at EICMA in 2022, with the 776 cc parallel-twin unit that instantly found it’s way into two brand new models - the adventure-focused V-Strom 800DE & naked streetfighter GSX-8S. Next up to use this versatile motor and the 800DE chassis in a road touring format is the 2023 Suzuki V-Strom 800RE.
Despite this new motor not adhering to the V-Twin configuration of old, it’s a seriously torquey unit that translates into brilliant fun on the road. Next up to utilise this versatile motor in a road-focused touring format is the Suzuki V-Strom 800RE.
As you’ll guess, this tourer is based heavily on the frameworks of the V-Strom 800DE before it, and having now ridden both of these on the road, I’m fortunately in a good position to tell you what the RE is good at, and what you could say it’s missing.
It’s one that many people on social media are excited about, but is this V-Strom 800RE really the motorcycle you can use to ‘Ride Everywhere’? With a 180 km guided tour pencilled in, let’s get out on the roads of Montpellier, France, to find out how it rides. It could well make our future 'Top 10 Touring Motorcycles' list...
Suzuki V-Strom 800RE | Good and Bad
- Versatile motor, torque is on tap.
- Great option for mid-capacity tours with 20L tank.
- Road handling is improved compared to V-Strom 800DE.
- No cruise control.
- Comfort is not perfect for a taller rider (as bone stock).
- Selling itself short as V-Strom iteration, it’s a brand-new platform!
What’s New on the 2023 Suzuki V-Strom 800RE?
Using the 2023 V-Strom 800DE (the dual explorer) as a starting point, Suzuki tweaks the formula to optimise the bike for the road and long tours, or as your daily runner. Some key features come across from the DE, namely the 776cc parallel twin engine, steel main frame and subframe, with the overall visual style remain the same, but some key differences include:
- It’s a cheaper £9,699 price tag. (DE is £10,699, Transalp is £9,699)
- 19-inch front and 17” rear, cast aluminium wheels, with Dunlop tubeless tyres. (21” inch front on DE).
- Rider triangle adjusted – footpegs are 14mm further rearward and 7mm higher, handlebars are 13mm lower, 23mm further forwards, and 15mm narrower.
- Suspension: Showa USD SFF-BP USD front forks are still used, but with only a preload-adjustable front, paired with a link-type mono shock with preload and rebound damping adjustment, 150mm travel front and rear. (220mm travel on DE).
- 825mm seat height. (855 mm on DE).
- No gravel/off-road mode, no rear ABS on/off switch, Dunlop D614F/D614 tyres.
- 223 kg weight (230kg DE)
- Shorter wheelbase – 1515 mm instead of a long 1570mm on the DE.
- Taller and wider screen than the DE. DE screen was tiny, and it required a full ‘chin on tank’ positioning to garner any influence on wind and bluster protection.
- Colour options: Pearl Vigor Blue, Metallic Matt Steel Green, Glass Sparkle Black.
- Accessory options: three-piece aluminium or plastic luggage, heated grips, and centre stand (plus more).
So all in, you save £1000, it has the same base spec as the off-road variant, but includes a bigger screen, smaller front wheel with cast wheels, and adjusted ergonomics, all to better place it as a sporty tourer.
Perhaps Suzuki saw the Transalp launch price (also £9,699) and wanted to provide an alternative that competes closer on price, and tailors the bike for what 90% of riders will be doing on it more often – riding on the road. You don’t get the off-road modes and ability to switch off the rear ABS on this RE, but if you’re not planning extensive off-road jaunts it’s not a huge miss – the only miss is no cruise control!
2023 Suzuki V-Strom 800RE Colours
The 2023 Suzuki V-Strom 800RE is available in dealerships instantly, priced at £9,699 OTR. You can pick from 3 colour options, the Pearl Vigor Blue (as ridden, and is by far the nicest in person), the Glass Sparkle Black, and Metallic Matt Steel Green.
Judging from the release photos I did assume the green would be the standout winner, but in person it wasn’t quite the matt I expected, with more of a shimmer and shine than first thought. Still nice, mind.
Accessory options are available to bolster its abilities; you can chuck on the OEM heated grips, accessory bars and fog lamps, crash bars and hand guards. The options are there to spec this to the nines, but be prepared to pay the OEM price tag – which in fairness does diminish if you spread over monthly costs.
Compared to the rivals, the Transalp is the same £9,699 price, the Yamaha Tracer series ranging from the Tracer 7 (£8,810) and Tracer 9 (£11,010), Kawasaki Versys 650 from £8,129. It is a tad pricier than the Tracer 7 and Versys - but has more ponies than both, 83 bhp compared to 72 bhp and 66 bhp respectively. Saying that, let’s look at the engine.
V-Strom 800RE Engine | 776cc Parallel-Twin
- 776cc parallel-twin, liquid-cooled, DOHC, 270-degree crank, 83 bhp at 8500 rpm, 78 Nm at 6800 rpm.
If the ‘V’ in V-Strom really stands for ‘Versatile’ and not 'V-Twin', this motor absolutely fits the bill. Torque is found low down, and it’s more than happy to rev up and gets up to speed smoothly. This is partly thanks to the slipper clutch and Suzuki low RPM assist, which makes the clutch a breeze to use in traffic with some revs being added automatically to assist you when pulling away – handy on a cold morning with a cold engine.
Seeing as this exact same unit finds its home in a naked roadster/streetfighter, an off-road adventure bike, and this road-focused tourer, I'd say the versatility is clear to see - and with rumours of the GSX-8R sports bike gaining traction, this twin really could be a fundamental part in Suzuki's future.
The exhaust is altered slightly to the DE variant, and with a ride-by-wire throttle, it all comes together seriously well. Spooling up fast, the lovely engine note is livened up by the 270 crank that almost gives it the same feel as the V-Twins used in its predecessors. An A2 restricted version is available, if you’re running an A2 licence.
Also fitted with the Suzuki Clutch Assist System, the Suzuki Cross Balancer, and a bi-directional quick shifter, the V-Strom 800RE is a great place to start a long tour. Throw in the suite of latest driver aids, including adjustable ABS (1/2), the Suzuki Drive Mode Selector (Mode A/B/C), and Suzuki Traction Control System (1/2/3/Off), with 1/A being the least intrusive, and higher intrusion with higher increments.
It's all intuitive to navigate through via the 5-inch colour TFT display with auto/switchable day & night settings, and the switchgear is exceedingly simple – an up and down button, and a mode button. Factor in the standard-fit USB connection on the left of the screen, and you’ve got yourself an adept touring machine that doesn’t overcomplicate itself, capable of long stints on straight roads, and quick jaunts on mountain passes.
There were two elements to this launch ride, we set off in the busy Montpellier centre and headed north-west for the hills and perfect mountainous roads weaving through sleepy French villages. In traffic the 223 kg weight was handled perfectly, filtering past cars and with a seriously light clutch feel.
When the road opens up you can close the throttle and easily flick into the least intrusive Mode A for max power and Traction control level 1 for the least intrusion, roll on the power and let the torque come into play, with plenty of acceleration, control and road feel from the front end.
Successive hairpins are also handled superbly well, in part due to the smaller 19-inch front and shorter 1515mm wheelbase providing superb feedback and allowing the smallest of inputs to return elegant response from the bike, but also the auto-blipper up/down quickshifter that worked smoothly at speed.
Chassis, Suspension, Brakes
Moving to the chassis, the RE shares its base with the DE version, but has a few differences that translate into road-focused riding.
The same steel main frame and subframe feature, with an aluminium swingarm. Overall, this bike is 7kg lighter than the DE at 223 kg wet, and it does feel that bit nimbler on its feet when riding – but realistically it’s a negligible difference that could be negated by a hearty lunch stop, resulting in you whacking up the rear preload a few clicks.
Suspension isn’t quite as adjustable as the DE, but still comes in the form of Show separate-function big piston 43mm USD forks with preload adjust, and a rear mono shock with hand-dial preload adjust. You get 150mm travel as opposed to 220mm, and therefore the seat height comes down to 825mm, with a 1515mm wheelbase. Again, this helps in the on-road agility but also makes the RE a bit more accessible to shorter riders.
Feedback from the bike was superb, particularly the front end, and it’s only under heavy braking do you notice a bit of front dive. At excess speeds you may notice the rebound of the suspension struggle somewhat –but with a span adjustable front lever you get a solid bite on the discs, and you can rely on them to halt speed calmy, even allowing some light trail braking into corners.
On that, you get twin discs up front with radially mounted 4-pot Nissin callipers, and a single disc at the rear, with 2 options for ABS intrusion; 1 being less intrusive and capable of some light off-road trails, and 2 being a tad more intrusive. I rode in mode 1 for most of the day, and it allowed some tyre squirming but intelligently intervened if it felt the rear locking.
If you’re after an adventure bike with off-road potential, out of the two V-Strom 800 models the DE would be a natural choice, but for 90% of riders who spend all of their time on the road the RE package makes a huge amount of sense, particularly with a price point £1,000 cheaper.
Montpellier Touring | Tour-Ability
Our launch ride consisted of what could be considered the ideal day out if staying on the coast. Riding out of the city into the perfect location for riding, with France having some beautiful roads to sample. Naturally, a launch ride will tend to cater perfectly for the bike at hand, but this route would suit any machine – and the 800RE made it so very easy to enjoy. Let’s touch on the touring aspects.
The current trend in new motorcycles is to give the rider an adventure base, with fairly upright positioning and visibility, potentially offer some off-road ability, and call it a day. Sports tourers were the go-to some years ago, and though they are certainly still around, Suzuki has taken the adventure roots of the DE and adjusted it slightly by altering the seat height, peg position and handlebars with touring and comfort in mind, and sticking a 19-inch wheel up front to create a slightly sportier feel but with that upright comfort from the adventure side.
What that’s created is a motorcycle that reacts well to your inputs, and provides a solid foundation for long-distance touring – and the bigger screen! Though the screen can't be adjusted without fallen keys, and creates quite a noticeable amount of turbulence to your head (if you're tall, anyway). I did feel the tweaks to the rider triangle meant my knees also got a tad uncomfortable towards the end of the 180~ km ride, with legs tucked up under my 6’3” frame. My knees didn’t quite fit the indents on the slim waistline of the bike, and though it was comfortable enough, taller riders may need to opt for the taller seat accessory, or the DE (with 855 mm seat).
But… where’s the cruise control? It has a ride-by-wire throttle, and Suzuki pointed at cost savings (for them and the rider) when quizzed on the DE launch. Though, the 2023 1050 range does have it… it should really be an option, or an accessory fit if the tools are there.
The 20-litre tank also reduces the necessity for frequent stops mid-journey and is one of the bigger tanks for this category of motorcycle. Naturally, over the course of the day Suzuki filled all the tanks whenever they could, so the real-world tank range wasn’t privy to test - but the TFT display was giving me MPG of around 5 l per 100 km, or 56 mpg - though a press launch tends to be quite a spirited ride.
Theoretically, if achieving Suzuki’s quoted 64.12 mpg with a 20 L fuel tank, which I think is actually plausible on a long gentle ride, a theoretical range of over 280 miles should be achieved.
Given the adjustments to the ride positioning and ability to fit panniers and a top box (either plastic or aluminium), you could in theory get a huge amount of touring done on the V-Strom 800 RE – and the playful motor provides a great mid-ground of fun and sensible mileage.
Suzuki V-Strom 800RE | Verdict
Ultimately, if searching for a mid-to-upper capacity touring motorcycle, the 2023 Suzuki V-Strom 800RE fits the bill very well. The versatile motor has plenty of torque and character on the road, you could criticise it on paper for not having more BHP, but given realistic use this is plenty for what the UK roads allow you to achieve – with speed cameras, dodgy roads and wet weather galore.
It’s almost a shame that this is down as a variant of the V-Strom – but hear me out. When Suzuki initially revealed this platform at EICMA 2022, the covers were pulled and the name announced. ‘New Suzuki V-Strom’. I’ll admit I was almost turned off by the idea, I was in a way expecting a brand-new model with a new idea, signifying a new direction for the Hamamatsu marque.
But that’s the problem – it is an entirely new model. This 800RE completes a trio of motorcycles that utilise a brand-new engine, with a new frame, and a bold new idea of where Suzuki can go. Suzuki also assures us that plenty more is on the way, and I’m inclined to believe them.
This is a superb bike for the money, and it’s a shame that it’s almost devalued and weighed down a touch by the colossal name of the V-Strom with the V-Twins. Not to say that instantly means it’s dull, but with a new motor and platform, I truly believe a new name would have been beneficial.
Suzuki seems to be turning a new leaf here, since stacking the headlights on the GSX-S, it seems a lot is changing and on the way. It’s worth giving this new V-Strom a chance, forget what you know about the V-Strom – this is a superb touring motorcycle at a decent price point.
Cheers to Suzuki for having us on the launch, head to their website to find out more about the V-Strom 800RE.