I wrote an article on my old blog comparing the V-Strom 650 to the 1000 when I was riding a 2003 V-Strom 1000 (The Vee BumbleBee). I chose that bike primarily based on the fact that it was within my price range, but also on the belief that I needed the 1000cc motor for riding at our 6,000+ feet above sea level Colorado altitude, and that the extra power would be necessary for riding with a passenger.
Ironically, I purchased my new bike (The Stallion – a 2011 V-Strom 650 ABS) based on the same primary reason – it was within my budget! However, my criteria had changed from before. This time I was certain I wanted ABS, and I wanted to look at the 650cc based on better mpg and the good things I had heard about it.
I talked to numerous guys riding a 650 here in Colorado and every one of them said the bike had plenty of power for not only riding through the mountains, but also for taking a passenger along as well. Two of the guys I talked to had owned a 1000cc in the past and said that it certainly has more pep than the 650cc, but nothing that they truly needed or missed.
In the end, I found an amazing deal from a wonderful seller and purchased the bike without even going for so much as a test drive. Now that I have ridden both models for myself, I have to say that I strongly prefer the 650 over the 1000! I struggle to define exactly what it is…but the 650 seems more refined to me. It shifts smoother, rides better, feels nicer, and somehow even seems to have more torque.
If you are still deciding between a 650 and a 1000, my advice is still the same as before – go for the one that fits your budget. Either bike is an amazing machine that will bring miles of enjoyment at a phenomenal value. Happy riding!