First a huge shout out to Stuart Baker from Suzuki Motorcycles SA, who when contacted did not hesitate in offering the DL1000XT as a loan bike for a week.
Some history on the last few bikes I’ve ridden, Honda VFR1200 Crosstourer and of late the BMW F800 GSA.
Now onto the DL1000.
Collected the bike on the Thursday morning just after the birds started singing, on offer as extras were the panniers and topbox, which I took. Extra on the bike was a set of crash bars, which I was hoping would not be put to the test.
Starting the DL1000XT and hearing the V-twin rumble into life is music to the ears. While we’re on the starting topic, Suzuki have introduced this fancy feature where you just touch the start button, no need to hold it in to start the bike, it does it all for you and disengages the starter as soon as the motor is rumbling away. Having ridden the Honda V4, which is silky smooth and the BMW 800 parallel twin, which is smooth as a parallel can be, the V-Twin motor feels rough but that is where it ends.
From Suzuki HQ to the office was a short stint of 7km, so not much time to get a feel for the bike. Later that afternoon after chomping at the bit to get out and ride (not much work done that day, sorry boss), left the office to do my commute home. Commute is 26km and decided to follow my usual route so that I could compare the DL1000XT to the 800 GSA in similar terrain. Lane splitting was a breeze as the standard panniers keep the bike slim.
One of the first things I noticed was how well balanced the bike felt, according to the specs in the back of SuperBike SA there is a whole kilo more on the 800 GSA, however the DL1000XT felt 10kg lighter with a full tank. When stopping at traffic lights quite often I was able to keep my feet on the pegs without having to fight to keep my balance compared to the 800 GSA.
The brakes on the bike are superb, very little effort in bring the bike to a stop, would love to have the same setup on the 800 GSA. Suzuki have this added feature on the DL1000XT called “Motion Track Brake System”, which in layman’s terms means that if you run out of skill while cornering you may just be able to save your sorry ass. This feature was not tested.
The DL1000XT is quite at ease whether you are traveling at 10km or at 130km. At highway speeds there was very little buffering, unlike the Honda and BMW where it was often the case. (Note, I ride with an adventure helmet). While on the topic of highway speeds, the bike is super smooth, before I took delivery of the bike did some research on it and quite a few people mentioned that they feel the vibrations from the V-Twin, I did not feel this, quite often had to make sure the motor was still running. At 130 the bike is ticking over at 4500rpm.
On the twisties the handling was to perfection, point the bike where you want to go, and it takes the bends as if on rails, majority of the twisties in Golden Gate were done without having to use the brakes, just correct lines, correct gear, and throttle.
On gravel the DL1000XT is just as at home as it is on the tar. Although labeled as an Adventure bike, it does not have the ground clearance that the 800 GSA has, and I for one would not take it along goat tracks, but then neither have I taken the 800 on one. One of the so-called negatives here is that you can’t disable the ABS. However, I did not find any issues while traveling gravel with the ABS on.
The DL1000XT has 3 settings for traction control. 1. Traction control on, 2. Bit more traction control (rain mode?), 3. Traction control off. For the 7 days that I rode the bike, did not change the traction control, road conditions varied from, tar, gravel to wet roads, but at no time did I feel the need to change anything.
All the controls are easy to reach, with a mode button on the left side, where you can select traction control level, trip meters, a range of varying information, temperature, kml etc. A two-year-old could find his way around the various modes, unlike majority of top end bikes where you require a major in electronics to work out how to change anything.
On to the finer points, comfort level, tops, no aching butt after a few kilometers. On one day I spent 10 hours on the saddle with no aches that night or the following morning.
The other bike that was traveling with me was a R1200 GS LC, fuel consumption wise there was very little difference, bearing in mind that the 1200 does have cruise control. Some will say that the GS has larger engine capacity, but that is negligible.
Overall the Suzuki DL1000XT is a highly underrated bike, would I buy one? The answer is most definitely a yes. If you can’t afford the likes of the BMW 1200 and are thinking of going the 800 GS/A route, rather go test ride the DL1000XT and decide for yourself.
When I returned the bike to Suzuki SA I tried my luck in seeing if I could keep it, the stern answer was NO!! At least I tried to keep it.