Suzuki SV650S

Visual Impressions
Commonly known as the Suzuki SV650S ‘pointy’, this is a sharp looking machine, especially for a first ‘big’ bike, which is what it was for me. It replaced the original ‘curvy’ version in 2003. The bike looks much more aggressive now and to my eyes it can hold it’s own parked next to some sports bikes. The half-faired look still works today, and the combination of LED tail lights and tail tidy really round the whole bike off nicely, even if the back tyre is a bit narrow for my liking.

On Board
Besides the fairing, one of the other main differences between this bike and the normal SV650 is the addition of clip-on bars. These are noticeably lower than the standard bars, and coax the rider into a more aggressive stance. I really enjoyed this riding position, though it may not be as comfortable for some. Despite the arrangement, the seat was not uncomfortable after long journeys. The footpegs also are not too high, so your knees won’t be complaining either. The pillion is a bit higher up, and more exposed since the rider is leaning forward. So not so great for them. Ask them to get the tube instead. The controls on the handlebars make sense. This will be a first big bike for a few people, so it’s good to not confuse them with many switches even before they have set off!

This is a very easy bike to ride, even for me. Some riding schools even use the ‘naked’ version of this bike to teach those who want a full license. The nature of the V-Twin means a constant spread of reasonable power. Gear changing becomes more of a choice than a necessity. The standard brakes are reasonably strong, and they match the power of the engine. So we have no excuse for going into the back of a car. As with every bike, the strength of the brakes is related to the strength of the tyres, so it pays to choose these wisely.

The bike is clearly not going to trouble the superbikes of this world in a straight line. But it would be ridiculous to describe a machine that can get to 60 from rest in 3.5 seconds as ‘slow’. Give it a handful of throttle, and in the real world it’s more than quick enough. Just don’t ride it straight after a 1000. Like I did. Yamaha’s latest superbike does show this one up in terms of performance. But as I said earlier, how much power can one actually use every day? For the little Suzuki we can use nearly all its power, most of the time. I would argue that this makes it more enjoyable.

Driving Experience
The Suzuki has a pretty basic chassis with very little suspension adjustment, but for most people, this doesn’t matter. It is set up very well for most people, so it’s not really a drawback. It’s also because most won’t care as it’s a fun bike to ride. It’s a relative light machine and very happy to lean over. I didn’t have the most modern tyres on my bike, but I was still happy to get a move on. The V-twin makes a great noise, although mine was helped by having a custom (louder) exhaust end can. Clutch is light and progressive, and throttle isn’t too snatchy for a V-twin.

Anyone can get on, ride and enjoy. And they should. Due to the speed limits in this country, one won’t be compromised when wanting to ride fast on a twisty road. The fast road riding experience is more about maintaining speed round corners, and handling. Again, chuck on a good set of tyres and we won’t need to slow down too much for corners. This makes for a very satisfying riding experience.

Running Costs
Another benefit of the SV650 is that we get all this fun for much less than we should. It’s not hard to find a decent one for £1500-£2000. Mine cost me £1600 a few years ago and it was in good condition. It had even had the major service done where the valves are checked. It was reliable (as Suzuki’s tend to be) and it didn’t use a lot of fuel. Even with me at the handlebars. 40-50mpg should be achieveable for most riders. Insurance was very cheap (less than the 125 it replaced). Allow around £150 -200 for each service, depending on what needs doing.

Who’s it for?
It’s for anyone who is starting out on their first big bike. It’s for those who want a taste of proper acceleration, without being scared all the time. This bike is for those that want a fun bike but not the worries about with having something more expensive. It’s an excellent first bike, track bike and everyday bike. I even picked up my wife from work on it once. Luckily, her mood at the end of the journey is not relevant to this review. It really does cover nearly all the bases, but in a way that keep enjoyment at the forefront. Enjoyment for the rider anyway, and that’s probably more important.

MotorKwirks Value Rating: 90%
This really is an ‘all things to all people’ bike. The bike equivalent of a hot hatch, as it just does everything. Your can tour. commute, track, or just go out for a nice fast ride on some of the many great roads on offer. It’s not the most imaginative choice, but you can rarely go wrong if you get yourself a good one of these. I would encourage people to see past the specs and the numbers. Bikes like this amount to more than the sum of their parts. Buyers are rewarded with many years of service, reliability and fun. The bike delivers all this for a price and running costs that stay low. Thanks for reading!