BUYING NEW ON PCP
‘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’
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.