Styling Designer Talks V-Strom 1000

/ July 21, 2013

Following the launch of the brand new V-Strom 1000 website and the first interview with product planner Tomohisa Ichimaru just less than three weeks ago, the second interview with a member of the team behind the new V-Strom 1000 is here. Tomoya Murakami worked as the main designer on the new adventure bike. Read the interview below, and to view the videos, head to

Tomoya Murakami has been working with Suzuki as a styling designer since 2003, first turning his hand to designing some of the Japanese firm’s ATV range, before having a hand in the design of models in the off-road range, and more recently working as a project member for the GSX-R and GSR series.

For the new V-Strom 1000, Murakami-san was working as the main designer, responsible for all of the design aspects of the new adventure bike before it goes into production.

“I drew all of the sketches from the initial survey through to the final design sketch, and I was also involved in producing the clay model,” Murakami-san explains. “We spent a considerable amount of time on this project. I visited Europe many times for the survey and I drew thousands of sketches.”

To come up with a design concept for the V-Strom, customer research and a number of surveys were undertaken in target markets, to understand the needs of potential customers and what they might want from a new adventure bike.

“The customers of this type of motorcycle are experienced riders who have plenty of knowledge and experience of motorcycling,” Murakami-san describes. “We have had many internal discussions on how to appeal to these customers. After that, we set the overall styling design concept as ‘wild and smart’, through which we looked to express qualities such as tough, functional, and agile with a spirit of adventure.

“First of all, we wanted to create an emotional response with a bold and distinctive look for the flagship model in the V-Strom family. Secondly, we paid meticulous attention to the quality of the fit and finish to satisfy discerning customers. Additionally, when discussing what Suzuki’s adventure touring model should look like, we decided to reflect the roots of Suzuki’s adventure spirit in the DR-Z rally bike of 1980s.”

“In 1988, former motocross world champion Gaston Rahier participated in the Paris-Dakar rally aboard the DR-Z. Suzuki then introduced the DR-Big as a production version of his DR-Z. With its distinctive ‘beak-like’ front cowl design, the DR-Z had a major impact on the motorcycle design field. It has now become common for other manufacturers to emulate this design motif. However, this distinctive design was originated by Suzuki, and it expresses Suzuki’s adventurous spirit. That’s why we incorporated this design element on the V-Strom 1000 to show this personality in our new adventure touring machine. Additionally, the vertical headlight design is another element of Suzuki’s identity.  It is part of Suzuki’s design heritage found on the Hayabusa and GSX-R series.”

As well as the adventurous design cues taken for the new V-Strom, representing Suzuki’s past expertise and prowess in the adventure market sector, a number of other aspects of the bike’s design were taken with rider practicality in mind.

“To create a tough and functional look, we used black plastic parts just like the bumpers and fenders of four-wheel drive cars and SUVs. Aluminium panels connecting the beak to the fuel tank also play a role as accents of the whole motorcycle. Aluminium panels are also included on the side bags and top case which were designed at the same time. They help to give a more functional and cohesive sense of style when fully equipped with luggage.

“Adventure touring bikes are fun and easy once you start moving. However, this kind of bike can be big, bulky and intimidating before you ride away. On this new V-Strom, thanks to the slim V-twin engine design, reaching the ground is much easier, handling and manoeuvrability is also easy thanks to its light weight design. So, my intention was to express this friendly character in its looks.

“For example, we have designed the area where the fuel tank and seat meet to be slim, black plastic parts around the fuel tank are designed with an intention to make the bike look compact. In fact, foot reach to the ground is much easier and it is easy to lift the bike from the side stand. Also, the lightweight aluminum 10 spoke-wheels are another example of expressing its agility.”

With the production model close to fruition, Murakami-san is confident that the new V-Strom 1000 will tick all of the right boxes with customers looking for their next big adventure bike.

“I have a strong determination to produce a bike only Suzuki can build. The adventure touring market is booming in Europe. Suzuki is introducing this model to meet the demand from our customers and dealers who have been waiting for Suzuki’s next adventure touring machine. We have worked hard exploring this theme and how to meet the expectations of our experienced and discerning customers.

“We are confident that a wide range of customer can enjoy the long range comfort of the new V-Strom. I really want everyone to see and touch the bike in person, not just look at the pictures. We will soon deliver the production model and I believe you will find it has been worth the wait.”