I rode my new Suzuki V-Strom 650 again today. This was the first day I have ridden it that wasn't a ride in the rain. We had a nice warm, partly cloudy afternoon, so I took the motorcycle out to get more used to it and practice some maneuvers in dry conditions. I worked on low speed (walking pace) balance, U-turns, and cornering. Then I went into a large gravel and dirt parking lot to practice riding off the pavement. Even though I have prior dirt bike experience, I expected that riding the V-Strom off road for the first time would be difficult and maybe even a bit scary, because it is much heavier than the nimble dirt bikes I am used to.
I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the V-Strom handled the dirt and gravel with no problems at all. It felt like a very large dirt bike. (Mud might be a different story, since the stock tires do not look at all suited for it.) It seems like a very versatile motorcycle that can handle a lot of different riding situations. Of course, I never intend to do any "hardcore" off-road with it like riding on single-track trails, mud, deep sand, etc.
The engine has a very subdued burbling sound at low RPMs and sensible city riding speeds. I like to imagine that the engine is snoring, and saying "OK, I'm going to take a nap, wake me up when you want to go 100 miles per hour."