Does Suzuki’s perky middleweight still make sense?
What we said then
“Since the SV650’S introduction in 1999, the 90° V-twin has built up a huge fanbase consisting of owners who bought the bike as a stepping stone from a freshly-licensed novice or people who simply want a solid, reliable workhorse.
The engine is just as adept at motorway cruising as it is at slicing through congestion and it is actually comfortable over distance. On the downside, it’s vulnerable to corrosion and the suspension is a little basic, although years on sale has led to an abundance of aftermarket parts. Overall, the SV may be cheap but it’s still a bloody good motorcycle.” MCN SV650S reintroduction, first ride | August 3, 2010
But what is it like now?
I’ve fond memories of the secondgeneration SV having had a silver N version for a year in 2005. That bike immediately impressed as a willing, do-it-all pup of a lightweight twin and this faired ’06 version from Wheels Motorcycles in Peterborough brings those happy memories flooding back.
It’s a fairly standard example with just 6400 miles showing on its fairingmounted instrument pod and rides well, too, with no glitches or slop. The perky, pull-from-anywhere, freerevving Suzuki V-twin remains one of motorcycling’s greats and is both easy for novices and enjoyable enough for more experienced types, while the handling and manners are light, neutral and instinctive.
Best of all, though, is how well the SV has aged. In this form it’s nearly 13 years old and is based on a model that goes even further back, to 1999, so there’s no electronics and, being a fairly budget machine, few frills: the clocks are a little basic, the brakes and suspension slightly crude. Those angular looks, too, are now more than a little dated. But despite all that, the SV is still great to ride – practical and versatile, but also engaging and fun. There are still few better first big bikes – especially for the money.
Common faults explored
Not much goes wrong with SVS. The 645cc V-twin is solid and proven as long as it’s properly looked after, and the uprated aluminium chassis (which replaced the first-generation model’s tubular steel trellis) is straightforward and relatively durable. Cosmetically, though, the finish isn’t the best so they need looking after. This bike’s not bad but a closer examination reveals pitted fork tops to go with some rust of the bellypan bracket and slightly corroded header pipes. It’s not disastrous, but nor is it great for a 6500-mile bike. It would benefit from some TLC.
This is a surprisingly standard example – surprisingly because the SV, like its Suzuki stablemate the Bandit, tends to both get used and abused by novices (and thus touched-up and have parts repaired, replaced or modified) and, as it’s fairly basic, accessorised as well. Not here. Apart from a road-legal stainless Scorpion can plus pleasingly new Bridgestone Battlax 016R tyres, this example is pretty much as it left the factory – which is a good thing as you can then be more confident about what you’re getting.
It’s difficult not to admire Suzuki’s sweet SV650 – especially in half-faired S trim which, thanks to its added weatherbeating abilities greatly enhances its versatility and long-leggedness. But with so many aging examples out there you have to be careful not to land a dud. Slightly disconcerting fork top pitting aside, this one is great. It’s low mileage, reassuringly standard and at a decent price (£2999), which adds up to a great first big bike on a budget.
‘ The free-revving V-twin is one of biking’s best’
If you can find one this close to standard trim, you’ll be laughing