Could you tell us about your thoughts and the aims of development from the standpoint of a test rider?
There are many models to choose from in this very competitive category. I knew that to compete against them we would need a high level of performance in order to make customers select Suzuki’s new model. Therefore, I requested that our technical people considerably improve the engine and chassis compared with the previous model. I was very strict in my evaluation of the early prototypes.
Our technical people showed us their passion and persistence. As such, I now believe that the machine is even better than they initially imagined. For example, when testing the prototype I requested 30 modifications for just one small part of the speedometer to improve visibility and ease of use. The engineers, designers and test riders debated the changes passionately. But, as a result, I think that we have made a very high quality speedometer.
What areas proved most difficult when developing the machine?
I think that the strongest weapon of this model is its handling. We chose to conduct testing on both the high speed test course and the handling courses when we were focusing on stability. Testing on multiple winding courses is a feature in the development of this test model. The reason was to match the design concept of riding quickly and comfortably on these types of roads.
It was very difficult to satisfy the requirements of both the high speed stability and quick handling at low speed. Driving on both courses had synergistic effects. For example, a small problem at high speed which was difficult to identify and rectify here, was often clearer on the handling course. Resolving it at low speed on the handling course improved high speed stability back on the fast test course.
We further refined the handling by riding both on snowy cold days and sunny hot days. We have worked out the settings not only for riding stability, but also for engine characteristics and traction control together with our technical people. After making a lot of tests in various situations, we succeeded in making a highly controllable engine with very efficient traction control.
We were so successful, that our overseas test riders rated these settings highly and were fully satisfied with them. The characteristics of V-Strom is that riding on winding roads is superb, being both comfortable and highly stable. Testing both on a high speed test course and handling courses was effective in defining the character of the V-Strom.