‘Suzuki have thrown the SV back into the mar­ket to do bat­tle with the ER-6N and MT-07’ £1100 £84.19 £2456 £95.75 £2114 Con­tin­ued over ‘ The MT-07 is a dif­fer­ent an­i­mal, its sus­pen­sion is stiffer and its ride sportier’

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Features - ST nd rd

Mid­dleweight nakeds are big busi­ness be­cause they’re easy to ride, ag­ile, punchy and cheap; a cock­tail of po­tent in­gre­di­ents with the po­ten­tial to pull in new rid­ers. And cur­rently Yamaha’s MT-07 par­al­lel twin has the sweet­est blend. The MT has dom­i­nated the sales chart since its launch in 2014 so it’s no won­der Suzuki want in, or back in, with their re­vamped SV650.

The SV’S hey­day was in the late 90s and early 2000s but its sales took a dive in 2009 when Suzuki made it more cur­va­ceous and called it the Gla­dius. Now they’ve re­launched it in the SV’S orig­i­nal style and thrown it back into the mar­ket to do bat­tle with the longestab­lished Kawasaki ER-6N and the new star of the show, Yamaha’s MT-07.

The com­pe­ti­tion is tough be­cause these bikes have to be so many things at once. For many they rep­re­sent a first big bike so must meet a whole spread­sheet of cri­te­ria. They must be easy to ride and af­ford­able, but also have meaty per­for­mance and cool styling – in other words look like the real deal.

First im­pres­sions count and I couldn’t un­der­stand what Liam and Tony saw in the Suzuki in the early morn­ing light. Sure, it’s got a cool racing stripe, a round retro head­light and a redesigned tail unit, but other than that, I’m not feel­ing it. There’s a fine line be­tween retro de­sign and just plain old look­ing and the SV is just on the wrong side of it for me. I dis­miss Liam’s protes­ta­tions of cool­ness im­me­di­ately; he’s emo­tion­ally bi­ased as the SV was his first big bike. Tony loves the look, too, but he’s run­ning one as a long-term test bike this year and used to own a Gla­dius.

I just can’t see it, es­pe­cially next to the MT-07, which looks like it be­longs in a com­pletely dif­fer­ent league. Its bright flu­oro wheels and graphite paint scheme are quirky and flash – ex­cep­tional de­sign has been clev­erly thought out and well ex­e­cuted. Ev­ery­thing from the flow­ing shape of the swingarm to the sharp an­gu­lar lines of the tail, neat ra­di­a­tor shrouds and fake air in­takes is pur­pose­ful and mus­cu­lar. The Suzuki is ba­sic in com­par­i­son. One look at its pil­lion peg hang­ers, swingarm, heel guard and ra­di­a­tor shrouds sug- gests much less thought has gone into their de­sign.

In fair­ness, our Yamaha test bike has come loaded with ac­ces­sories, in­clud­ing a tail tidy, en­gine slid­ers, rear axle pro­tec­tors and a full Akrapovic ex­haust sys­tem to­talling £1120.96, so the play­ing field isn’t com­pletely level. The Kawasaki had us scratch­ing our heads, too, be­cause it also came to us fit­ted with a cou­ple of ac­ces­sories, in­clud­ing a screen and crash pro­tec­tors. Its or­ange, black and mag­no­lia paint scheme trig­gered a lengthy de­bate but can’t hide a an age­ing de­sign, es­pe­cially when parked along­side the MT-07. The MT also scores top points for its sleek and smart dash, although its level of in­for­ma­tion – mpg, fuel gauge, clock, gear in­di­ca­tor and trips – is matched by the Suzuki.

Af­ter ar­gu­ing for 10 min­utes about which type of dessert the Kawasaki

most re­sem­bles – or­ange and cho­co­late cheese­cake was most pop­u­lar – we de­cided it was fi­nally time to head off in search of real cheese­cake. Tony, clearly the hun­gri­est, nabbed the MT-07 and rode straight for the dual car­riage­way. He hun­kered down, opened the throt­tle and squeezed all 74bhp out of the cross­plane twin. The crisp Akrapovic can (£784.99) growled and wailed as he ex­plored the par­al­lel twin’s top end.

“As soon as I got on the Yamaha I thought it would ab­so­lutely blitz the oth­ers be­cause it’s so bru­tal. But then I looked in my mir­rors and the SV and ER we’re right there,” said Tony. “Maybe there’s not as much in it as I thought.”

The Suzuki’s proven 75bhp V-twin had no trou­ble keep­ing up with the Yamaha. Its com­fort­able seat and easy reach to the bars and pegs make it well suited for mo­tor­way rid­ing, too, while the MT has a harder seat and a more up­right and ag­gres­sive rid­ing po­si­tion. The Kawasaki’s high pegs, mean­while, gave me aching knees af­ter a long day in the sad­dle.

We left the dual car­riage­way and made our way into Corby town cen­tre in search of sweet snacks. Nip­ping around town on all three is as easy as pie. The Yamaha is in­cred­i­bly light and at a claimed 179kg is a stag­ger­ing 25kg lighter than the Kawasaki. But it’s the 197kg Suzuki that’s the smoothest. Its throt­tle re­sponse is pre­dictable and the ma­chine is well bal­anced – a win­ning com­bi­na­tion – and it also comes with Suzuki’s Low RPM As­sist func­tion, which helps pre­vent the bike from stalling when pulling away by in­creas­ing the revs at the bit­ing point. Per­fect for new rid­ers. It also kicks in when rid­ing at low speed, al­low­ing you to stay in a higher (and calmer) gear than nor­mal.

My per­cep­tion of the SV was rapidly chang­ing from one of bor­ing retro to a ca­pa­ble road­ster. Af­ter a fu­tile search for a cheese­cake em­po­rium we left Corby for the finest squig­gly roads in Le­ices­ter­shire in­stead. The tar­mac flowed and twisted and was bril­liant for these mid­dleweight nakeds. On roads like these the MT-07 is a dif­fer­ent an­i­mal to the other two: its sus­pen­sion is stiffer and the ride feels sportier as a re­sult. As the speed in­creases it be­comes slightly choppy while the Kawasaki’s su­per-soft sus­pen­sion wal­lows in fast cor­ners. The Suzuki, though, finds a nice com­pro­mise be­tween the two, feel­ing con­trolled with­out be­ing harsh or choppy.

The Yamaha’s four-pis­ton calipers pro­vide su­pe­rior feel and power to the Suzuki and Kawasaki’s twin slid­ing pis­ton calipers, although all three have a de­cent ABS set-up. The MT’S throt­tle pick-up is also sharper and there’s a no­tice­able surge in the midrange, though this is partly due to the Akrapovic ex­haust, as MCN Editor Andy Cal­ton found out af­ter dyno test­ing his MT-07 long-term test bike last year. Af­ter fit­ting the same sys­tem Andy dis­cov­ered that his MT lost a few ki­los and gained a few horse­power. But he was most im­pressed by how it boosted the midrange and made the bike rev more freely from 5000 to 7000rpm.

Even with­out the cheat­ing ex­haust, the 07’s par­al­lel twin is the bet­ter en­gine. De­spite only hav­ing 3bhp and 3ftlb of torque more than the ER at peak, it’s far more rapid. This is most likely thanks to the shorter gear­ing and weight dif­fer­ence be­tween the two, mak­ing the en­tire pack­age sportier and more ex­hil­a­rat­ing.

That’s not to say the Kawasaki isn’t a quick, fun and easy to ride bike. Af­ter its 2012 up­date the ER is nim­ble and re­spon­sive with an al­most seam­less gear­box. It can get a move on too, but needs to be revved to get the most out of it. Wind on the throt­tle from a low gear and you’ll have to wait a sec­ond or two for the en­gine to catch up and pro­pel you for­ward. But keep it pinned and it’ll prove very re­ward­ing.

The Suzuki isn’t as sporty as the MT and it’s not as soft as the Kawasaki when rid­den hard, but it is the eas­i­est to ride, thanks to a well set up chas­sis and an ex­cep­tion­ally for­giv­ing na­ture. Suzuki’s mis­sion was to make the re­vamped SV lighter, eas­ier to han­dle and more pow­er­ful and they’ve suc­ceeded. The V-twin boasts 1bhp more than the Yamaha and 3bhp more than the Kawasaki. It’s eight ki­los lighter than the previous model and the ad­di­tional Low RPM rider aid and smooth torque, which now peaks higher up the rev range at around 8000rpm, makes for a re­ally at­trac­tive pack­age.

MT-07’S su­per flash dash is ul­tra mod­ern Four-pot calipers give bal­anced brak­ing Full dig­i­tal dash brings SV bang up to date Ex­haust is smaller but it’s still no looker Dated dash lacks gear po­si­tion in­di­ca­tor Lay-down shock is shielded from road dirt Nip

Suzuki SV650 K3, £2295 Yamaha MT-07, £4450 Rid­den care­fully, our trio of naked mid­dleweights re­turn up to 70mpg Kawasaki ER- 6n, £2999

Suzuki’s sim­ple styling harks back to a clas­sic age, the late 90s Flu­oro wheels and gap­ing air in­takes make the MT-07 stand out in a crowd Fun and friendly 650cc ER-6N is the very def­i­ni­tion of a su­per twin Mis­sion ac­com­plished, the boys find cheese­cake a

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