On the recent Suzuki Karoo Adventure I found myself spending three days on the DL1050XT V-Strom. Having recently bought a new bike in this segment, it was interesting to ride a rival bike for three days. The Suzuki impressed me in several ways. At first, it was difficult not to compare it to my Africa Twin DCT, but this bike does not compete with the Africa Twin DCT. It competes with the Africa Twin Manual. And in that comparison it has a lot going for it.
Firstly, it’s a little cheaper. R221 995 vs R233 800. And while that difference might not sound like much, consider this. The Suzuki comes standard with a rear luggage rack, lower crash bars, a centre stand and tubeless wheels (19” & 17”). So the actual price difference is closer to R30k.
We can continue comparing specs, but after three days in the saddle that is pointless as the bikes are targeting totally different riders and rider styles in my opinion.
The more technical riders and weekend warriors will go for the Honda. It’s a little lighter, has bigger wheels (21” & 18”) and the option of a DCT gearbox that makes a big difference in technical conditions specifically. If you are one of the guys doing trails-type riding on big bikes, this is the option for you.
The Suzuki is aimed at the 80% middle-of-the-road type adventure rider who wants to get out there and see the country. He wants to do it on an honest, reliable adventure bike that is not going to break the bank and will be comfortable to ride over distance. This is where the Suzuki shines. It is so easy to cover distance on this bike. The seat is comfortable, the windscreen is adjustable (without tools), the standard tubeless wheels, crash-bars and centre-stand are practical features, even the suspension is adjustable. The tank is a decent size 20L and is good for up to 350 to 400km.
The bike looks big, but once you throw your leg over, it feels surprisingly small. This is because it is a narrow bike and not intimidating at all. The relatively low seat height (850mm) is welcome and I never felt like I had to manhandle the bike. The instrument cluster is an LCD unit containing all the necessary info, including settings for Throttle Response, Traction Control and ABS. There is even a USB charging point on the side.
The stand-out feature is the styling, paying homage to the DR Big. Personally I would never buy a yellow bike, but in this case it was my colour of choice. This bike was made to be in that colour, there is a lot of heritage there. And it really draws the eye! More than once a member of the public would make mention of the colour specifically.
In this segment and price point the Suzuki should not be overlooked. Yes, something like the KTM 890 or the Honda Africa Twin will be more capable off-road, but they are also more expensive. The Suzuki offers more power and a bigger tank than the BMW GS850 and the Yamaha T7 has a much smaller engine and sparse tech while still costing R200 000. The Suzuki certainly offers a good honest package at a fair price and we should be seeing more of them on the road.
Photos: Rob Till