Conquest of the unknown

by Andy Bryenton

We live in a nation where adventure tourism is king — people from all over the planet have New Zealand on their bucket list for our dramatic scenery and wild open spaces. With few wild animals to menace the outdoors trekker and a dizzying choice of terrains, from tundra to mountains to rainforests, it’s easy to see why we’re a top pick for the adventurous. And hard to see why many Kiwis haven’t explored their own backyard.

A great way to remedy this situation is the classic combo of a road trip and two wheels. Adventure motorcycling has come a long way in recent years, and the price of getting on board a machine capable of bashing through the old Paris to Dakar or beating the Baja is more reasonable than ever. At the same time, technology has beefed up the bare-bones image of the old endurance motorcycle, so that now it’s easier than ever to travel in comfort. Leave your hiking shoes behind and get on board the latest Suzuki V-Strom — the formidable 1000x ABS. 

For novices, there’s always the 650cc model, but the big one-litre four-stroke is truly top of the tree when it comes to adventurous riding. With beefy power delivered by that thumping big v-twin mill — set low down in the frame for better weight distribution — and a six-speed box delivering power via some serious rubber, the latest V-Strom lives up to its lineage with grip and torque aplenty. Both front and rear suspensions are fully adjustable, and this is where the techno-magic begins — that ABS in the name stands for one of the most advanced anti-lock and braking systems fitted to an adventure bike. Squeeze the front brake, and the rear brake comes on progressively for a safer stop. Anti-lock technology has been taken to a new extreme, coming online not just when the bike is straight up and down, but also when it’s leaned into the corners.

This inspires confidence, as does the intuitive riding position, the easy to read and understand control layout and the sheer low-down power of the V-Strom. Those who have previously not ventured off the tarmac of the open highway will take to the gravel and mud with ease, while those weaned on farm bikes and quads will find this a perfect hand in glove fit — just far more fun. There’s very little which beats being outside and part of the environment, and adventure riders know this feeling well. Introduce yourself to the latest V-Strom at your local Suzuki dealership and get the most out of New Zealand’s natural ‘adventure playground’.