By Marissa Baecker
My spirit for adventure was awakened the moment the 2014 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 SE was unloaded from the trailer. Bright red and adventure-ready, the road less traveled was calling my name. Equipped with hand guards, centre stand, side panniers, and a nine-way adjustable windscreen right off the showroom floor, the SE is ready for the long haul before your imagination can decide where to take you.
I closed the pannier, plugged in my iPhone to the 12-volt outlet, set the trip meter to zero, and navigated the quickest way out of downtown Vancouver I could find, intent on racking up 800KM in search of the smell of fresh cedar. The V-Strom is still the original tried and true bike it always has been, but it has had a makeover for 2014.
A redesigned fuel-injected engine, with increased cooling capacity, serving up low and mid-range torque for those tricky off road areas, redesigned exhaust, transmission tweaks plus a chassis and suspension upgrade, all equating to an eight-kilogram trim down from the previous model and improved stability.
Recent increased speed limits on B.C. highways showed off the V-Strom’s sport handling and the inverted front forks absorbed every slight bump. I slipped through the gears and into sixth for a smooth ride as the city skyline sank rapidly in my rear view and the mountains grew taller every passing mile.
Roaring past sprawling pastures of livestock and agriculture, my adventure mirage was intermittently halted by an offensive slap in the face of freshly spread manure enveloping the Trans-Canada Highway through Chilliwack. No visor or helmet could rescue me — just a twist of the wrist and my new found ability to hold my breath longer than originally anticipated.
Having survived the sensory assault, I resettled in the saddle just in time to enjoy the onslaught of sweeping curves on the approach into the mountains. I was reacquainting myself with Mother Nature when Aeolus, the Greek God of Wind, decided to take over in the rocky canyons of the ascent up the Coquihalla highway (now coined the Highway Thru Hell by Discovery Channel). A quick push of the adjustable windscreen sent the wind up and over but even so, no better time to exit the pavement for a more sheltered experience.
Over the dirt and into the woods, the digital fuel consumption and range meter gave me the confidence to explore the dirt path. The banks of Sowaqua Creek were ready to burst with rapidly flowing mountain runoff as I rode alongside wondering if I would get an opportunity to cross when I arrived in the clearing of a private canyon paradise whose occupants were lounging creek-side and I would ponder crossing no more.
After a dirt-bike slide u-turn, a quick push of the button turned on the traction control and my rear tire gripped the gravel as opposed to spitting it. Some knobby tires would be an asset for this terrain. Back on the highway, I accelerated past the coughing 18-wheelers up the ascent to the 1,250-metre summit. Crisp mountain air wafted through my visor after a 10-degree temperature drop and the road continued to ebb and flow from right to left. I marveled that my backside had yet to complain after 2.5 hours in the newly shaped carved out seat.
Near the 1,728-metre Pennask Summit of the Okanagan Connector Hwy97C, I again exited the pavement for a descent through Bear Creek. The sun was dipping and it wasn’t long before I tried out the ABS and stared down a path-crossing cow moose still keeping my hand on the throttle in case she decided to introduce herself. We watched one another with a spacious distance until she meandered back into the brush and I continued on my way thinking, “This is what it’s all about.”