It doesn’t know it’s a big bike.

Southern California is a motorcyclist’s paradiseYear-round sunshine, diverse terrain, and a maze of roadways draw thousands of riderto nearby canyons on a weekly basisWhether you enjoy long sweeperor tight chicanesthe Southland has a route to suit your mood and skill levelAs the V-Strom 1050 XT and I continue to get acquaintedfigured I’d introduce the Suzuki adventurer to the local customs with twisties tour.  

From Angeles Crest to Mulholland Drive, from Glendora Mountain Road to Ortega Highway, the Greater Los Angeles area features some of the most noteworthy passes in the country. Each presents its own set of challenges and demands, but also offers stunning views of diverse landscapesJust as dynamic, the new V-Strom is one of the most versatile platforms on the market and there's no better place to put it to the test. 

While Suzuki classifies the V-Strom as an adventure modelthe flagship tourer earns most of its mileage on the blacktopWith a 19-inch front wheel and a 17-inch rear, the stock tires are more appropriate for the road and you'd be hard-pressed to find an aggressive set of knobbies to spoon on the road-biased wheelsetHowever, the smaller diameter Bridgestone Battlax Adventure A41s benefit the Suzuki with responsive handlingespecially on winding stretches of tarmac.  

With clickers on the fork tubes, the 43mm KYB inverted front end allows users to adjust the compression and dampening to suit their needsA link-style rear shock also ensures a comfortable ride with a preload adjustment knob and dampening settingsDepending on your riding style and weight, you may need to alter some of the dials, but a healthy percentage of owners will be able to set sag and forget it.   

Out of the box, the suspension suited my 160-pound frame perfectly and I haven't tweaked the factory configuration yetWhile the bike soaked up potholes and speed humps with aplombthat doesn’t mean the suspension is softMid-corner, the shock was supportive and never wallowedThe V-Strom always felt accommodating but firmsure-footed yet nimble.

V-Strom 1050 XT Canyon
V-Strom 1050 XT Canyon2

Upon corner approach, the front end withstood heavy braking and sudden weight transferwithout suffering from nose diveThe chassis remained poised even with engine braking and the dual Tokico calipers at workDespite my last-minute downshifts, Suzuki’s slipper clutch system smoothed out the abrupt gear changespreserving stability and rear wheel traction. Thanks to the 1050’s unwavering composure, I was able to focus on the turn’s camber, radius, and potential hazards before ever tipping in.  

Leaned over, the XT felt planted regardless of the speedThough Suzuki carried over the same frame from the 2019 model, the rigid, lightweight twin-spar aluminum frame steadied the handling when the pace hastened. During corner exit, the V-Strom's broad powerband enabled seamless drive out of each turneven in the event of a missed downshift.  

Of course, the 2020 V-Strom 1050 XT features three ride modes with sharp, moderate, and soft throttle response. For routes with long sweeping curves, sided with A mode. For switchbacks with 15-20 mph hairpins, I went for B modeC mode is usually reserved for rainy conditionsbut luckily, I never encountered any  

Gallery: 2020 Suzuki V-Strom 1050 XT

While A mode was the most spirited setting, I found myself in B mode for most of my trips. Any rider with a supple wrist and vigilant clutch hand can make A mode work in the tighter technical sections, but over time, my throttle hand became strained due to buildup of resistance and tension. Mode B allowed me to spend most of my attention on blind corners and decreasing radius turns instead of obsessing over every flutter of my wrist.  

For those looking for safety aids, the XT also touts a new 6-direction IMU. The Bosch-supplied system belies the model’s traction control system and cornering ABSWith three levels of sensitivity and an off mode, the traction control caters to the novice and the most experienced riders. On the other hand, the ABS system can’t be disabled, but users can toggle between two modes for standard and reduced ABS intervention.  

gravitated toward moderate traction control (mode 2) and minimal ABS intervention (mode 1)FortunatelyI never relied on them to save my hide from overcooking a corner or accelerating out of a turn too hard. Though traction control and ABS never kicked in, they provided a psychological safety net that imbued my rides with more confidence and reassurance. 

When it’s all said and done, the V-Strom is still a 545-pound motorcycle with a 61.2-inch wheelbase. In spite of its sizethe 1050 XT doesn’t know it's a big bike and doesn’t handle like one. Aside from the sharp initial bite of the four-pot Tokico calipersit's hard to fault the Suzuki’s performance in the twistiesNot to mention that once I applied some finesse to my braking lever pullsthe dual-caliper setup shed speed in a smooth and linear fashion.  

I wanted to find more wrong with the new V-Strom. I wanted to complain about its length and weight, but the full-sized tourer surprised me at every turnliterally. Yes, the 1050 XT exceeded my expectations in California’s canyon country but winding roads is only one part of the equation. Adventure riders also pound the pavement on the highway and kick up dirt on the trailsI look forward to seeing how the V-Strom fairs in both situations.