Moto Review: 2023 Suzuki V-Strom 800DE

For adventure seekers and off-road enthusiasts, the new 2023 Suzuki V-Strom 800DE can be a right-sized Africa Twin replacement that Honda has yet to offer in North America.


Whatever happens in the automotive industry, it slowly trickles down to the motorcycling world. We have adventure-oriented entries more than ever, for more rugged looks, and better off-road capability. However, just like the modern-era SUVs, the problem with modern adventure bikes is that they get bigger, bulkier and heavier, totally missing the fun factor and losing the character. The 2023 Suzuki V-Strom 800DE is finally here to change the trend in the motorcycling industry.

You don’t have to be a V-Strom fan or own one to know that they are meant for touring long distances in a fun and comfortable fashion. However, with the large V-Twin engines, and 19″ front wheel setup, they were never meant for off-roading. The main role of the DE model lineup is to offer better off-road capability with more suspension travel, and 21″ wheels in the front.

Even though the 800DE is meant for a different type of audience, you will still find the features that make the V-Strom a cult-like following, including the looks. The single-piece headlight is no longer halogen, the bike comes with full LED lighting. The beak is not unique to the V-Strom, but it definitely underlines the off-road worthy character, and most importantly the traditional V-Strom colour combination of yellow and blue, which is definitely a head-turner. If bright yellow is not your cup of tea, Suzuki also offers the 800DE in black, and in gray.

The 800DE is a completely new platform, but it is still a V-Strom, meaning that it still offers great riding comfort. The seat gives it a dirt bike look, but it is exceptionally comfortable. At 33.7 inches of seat height, it isn’t difficult to ride as some other adventure bikes, especially if you consider it offers 8.75-inch ground clearance, which is the highest number for any V-Strom model. The foot pegs are located slightly lower than traditional adventure bikes, but standing up feels just as comfortable as sitting.

The handlebar is slightly wider than traditional V-Strom models, and the 800DE comes with the latest digital 5-inch TFT screen which offers great visibility day and night. More importantly, navigating through the menus is very easy, as you only have to use a few physical buttons located on the left side of the handlebar. It allows you to change riding mode, ABS and TCS settings on the go, which is rare in this price range. The 800DE comes with a tiny windscreen, which surprisingly offers a decent amount of wind protection, but a larger screen can be installed quite easily. I just wish Suzuki offered a manual adjustment lever which would make the 800DE a better touring bike.

Aside from the accessible seat height and great ground clearance, there are a few important features that make the V-Strom 800DE quite appealing for adventure seekers. It comes with a bi-directional quick-shifter, fully adjustable SHOWA forks in the front, semi-adjustable shock in the rear, traction control and rear ABS that can be fully disabled for off-road, and just like the V-Strom 1050DE, it comes with a 20L fuel tank that allows 800DE to go longer distances. You can also add an aftermarket top case very easily, as it already comes with the top case mount standard and side panniers can also be added. Changing the air filter is also very easy because it is conveniently located right under the seat, so you don’t have to disassemble the whole bike and remove the gas tank to reach it like some other entries in this segment.

The V-Strom 800DE is technically a completely new platform, but the engine is the most controversial part of the V-Strom family. The letter “V” indicates that the engine is supposed to be a V-Twin, and all V-Strom models traditionally had a V-Twin engine, but it is no longer the case with the 800DE. It comes with a brand new parallel twin 776cc engine that generates around 83 horsepower and torque peaking at 57.5 lb-ft. which gives the 800DE the edge over the entries like 72 hp Yamaha Tenere 700. The only problem is that it requires premium gas (91 octane) which might not be available if you are discovering new places.

For V-Twin lovers, it might be a deal breaker that Suzuki ditched the good old 650cc V-Twin, but the engine sounds and feels very similar to a traditional V-Twin setup mainly due to the 270-degree crank. There is no doubt that parallel twin engines offer compact packaging, it’s lighter, easier to manufacture, and offers a lower center of gravity. The new engine has twin balance shafts to muffle excessive vibrations and the overall buzziness of a traditional parallel twin. You don’t feel any vibrations through the handlebar, but at highway speeds, you still feel it through the foot pegs at certain RPMs.

Let’s be honest – with its 21″ tires in the front along with long, the new V-Strom 800DE is not made for twisties. It is not hard to find the cornering limits of the bike especially if you ride at a spirited pace, just like any off-road oriented bikes in this segment. However, the V-Strom 800DE’s chassis felt very communicative and predictable, which makes you feel what’s happening on each wheel.

The suspension tune is a right fit for this type of bike, it’s focusing on riding comfort even at the firmest setting. The only gripe that I had was the location of the rear preload adjuster, as you cannot reach it easily while on the go. The bike feels compliant on pavement, and light duty-off roading. However, if you take it to a very tight-technical trail, that’s where you feel the excessive weight, and the tires aren’t very confidence inspiring on loose surfaces, knobby tires are highly recommended for off-road use. The V-Strom 800DE comes with 2-piston Nissin calipers in the front with dual 310mm discs which will not blow away with its performance, but are adequate for this type of bike. There is no doubt it might not replace your fully dedicated dirt bike, but it will get you anywhere at a slower pace.

Due to the price point, it would not be fair to expect fancy components, but everything works well in harmony, and that’s what matters when you ride. The clutch feel, brake lever feel, and throttle/ECU tune is extremely predictable. The button layout is very simple, the screen is easy to read and choose the right driving modes & settings on the go. Overall, it is extremely easy to live with it every day. Suzuki added more features compared to the older V-Strom 650 platform, but they didn’t make the 800DE more complicated to interact with.

After many years, Suzuki finally decided to come up with new offerings, and V-Strom 800DE is an excellent addition to the model lineup for the right audience. Considering the $13,299 MSRP, the 2023 Suzuki V-Strom 800DE shreds the Yamaha Tenere 700 not just with its value proposition, but also offers more tech, more horsepower and torque, more comfort and better touring features with just a little bit of extra weight penalty. Suzuki also should bring the “Adventure” trim to Canada, for people who want to have all the extra touring goodies right off the dealer lot.

Suzuki clearly hit the nail on the head and finally offered a very competitive product that doesn’t feel dated in the middleweight adventure segment. It is still undoubtedly a V-Strom with its relaxed ergonomics and excellent ride comfort but with more off-road capability and a little bit more fun factor added to it. As it is a completely new platform including the drivetrain, there are a few small things that can be fine-tuned in the future, but most of them are forgivable due to excellent value proposition. Maybe it’s time for the other manufacturers to go back to the drawing board.

Engine776cc, liquid-cooled, transverse parallel-twin, DOHC
Max Power83 hp @ 8,500 rpm
Max Torque57.5 lb-ft @ 6,800 rpm
Front BrakesDual two-piston Nissin calipers with 310mm discs
Rear BrakesSingle two-piston Nissin caliper with 260mm disc
Weight507 lbs – 230 kg
Fuel Capacity5.3 gallons – 20 L
Seat Height33.7 in – 855 mm
Base Price (2023)$20,799 (CAD)

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