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Motorcycling: Suzuki V-Strom 1000 road test

This is fun.

Much more fun than I expected. A little nudge on the wide handlebars and the Suzuki V-Strom 1000 tips into the corner. Push the other bar and accelerate as the roads straightens and off it goes, all 100 horses galloping down the bumpy back road between Maryhill and Milngavie.

I expected the new V-Strom to be competent, to be a good all-rounder, but I didn't expect it to be such a joy to ride. I didn't think it would have me smiling a big silly smile long before Glasgow's city limits disappear in the excellent, though slightly ugly, mirrors.

It's a relatively tall bike, with a seat height of 850mm, and I was worried how I'd get on surrounded by stop-start traffic leaving Glasgow. I had visions of a driver suddenly braking, me grabbing at the front brake, then tipping to the ground as my little legs - I'm 5ft 10in - struggled to balance the bike.

I tell myself to plan properly, pick a side and stick to it as I coast up to each traffic light, using the back brake rather than the front and find I have no problems. It helps, too, that being a V-twin it's narrow.

I decide to head for Aberfoyle, which is where I took my first wobbly rides on a Suzuki AP50 as a 16 year old, back before things like Compulsory Basic Training, when you simply stuck on a L-plate at the back, wrapped another round a fork leg, and off you went.

The V-Strom makes light work of the journey. The commanding riding position gives an amazing view over cars, hedges, houses. OK, not quite houses but you get the idea. On this bike you can see what is coming, and it can see you. Later, on the M8, I marvel at what a view it gives of the road in front. It makes for a relaxing ride.

I'm surprised, too, by how quickly it accelerates. It's a smooth bike, not like V-twins of old, and although it's not in the same ball park as something like a 150hp Ducati Multistrada, it makes swift progress. It also comes with a slipper clutch.

We swing onto the A821, the Duke's Pass between Aberfoyle and Callander which is a rollercoaster of a road, alive with hairpins, hills and occasional patches of gravel. The Strom copes admirably and I swear this road is just as much fun on something like this as it was on the sports mopeds and 125ccs we used to chuck around back in the day.

I'm planning to head up the lochside from Kilmahog to Crianlarich but the A84 is closed due, sadly, to a bike accident, so I turn and head down to Callander to visit my mum and dad, and stand around outside admiring the bike, cup of coffee in hand.

The big Suzuki, which makes 76ft of torque and weighs in at 228kg is well appointed. It comes with two-stage traction control (which can be switched off) and ABS (which can't), which is an illustration that the Hamamatsu factory don't expect anyone to take it off-road.

The clocks give plenty of information - including average mpg (which I became mildly obsessed with) and there's a three-way screen, which can be adjusted on the move. Lookswise, it is a handsome, purposeful-looking machine and it ticks all the adventure boxes, including beak-type front mudguard, 12 volt plug on the dash, and a range of options from handguards to running lights, engine bars and luggage. It comes in red, white and black.

Suzuki says it will do 250 miles per 20 litre tank, although hardcore tourers may be put off by the lack of shaft drive but Scottoiler produce a kit for it to extend chain life and reduce maintenance.

The V-Strom won't topple the BMW1200GS from the top of the sale charts but it's the sort of bike you could jump on tomorrow and ride to Spain. Comfortable, fast, good looking, fuel efficient and relatively cheap, what's not to like?

The Suzuki V-Strom 1000cc is £9,999.

Thanks to Mickey Oates Motorcycles, 19 North Canal Bank St, Glasgow, 0141 332 7374

A Triumph Explorer rider is setting out on a 1600-mile tour of Britain to raise money for charities fighting Motor Neurone Disease, a terminal illness with no cure.

Mark Bowers' father was diagnosed with MND last year, the same condition that killed footballer Jimmy Johnstone. Bowers' sponsored solo tour is in June, which is national MND awareness month, and he will visit all locations which host a major MND care centre or fund raising office. At each centre he will meet an MND representative who will sign his screen.

The Manchester motorcyclist, who has Scottish grandparents, hopes to raise £4000. He will be visiting MND Scotland in Glasgow on June 23.

If you'd like to join him for a ride or donate see www.justgiving.com/teams/mnd-gb-motorcycle-tour

Motorcycling: Suzuki V-Strom 1000 road test

Garry Scott, @garryscott7

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