‘It’s the best bik­ing fun you can have on a small bud­get’

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Feature -

Great bikes aren’t al­ways per­for­mance or tech mar­vels. The ones that af­fect most lives are not poster ex­ot­ica or su­per­bikes need­ing su­per­hu­man skill. In­stead they can be unas­sum­ing but pleas­ing and ver­sa­tile ma­chines that are within reach of the many. And there’s no greater ex­am­ple of this in re­cent his­tory the SV650.

Launched in 1999 the SV is, sim­ply, one of the most suc­cess­ful and best­selling mo­tor­cy­cles so far this century. Still in pro­duc­tion after 18 years, the cute V-twin has sur­vived three in­car­na­tions; been of­fered in faired and un­faired forms; be­come the ba­sis for a num­ber of spin-offs, most notably Suzuki’s own mid­dleweight ad­ven­ture all-rounder, the DL650 V-strom, and served not just as a ‘first big bike’ but also as a favourite for bik­ing re­turnees, as a com­muter, in­tro­duc­tory sport­ster and even TT racer.

Cen­tral to that ap­peal has been the SV’S ver­sa­til­ity and value. As reader Rupert Tazewell from Som­er­set told MCN. “I've owned two over the years – a new SV650S back in 2000 as my first bike and last year I bought the naked one. I've had many bikes over the years but came back to the SV650 be­cause I loved the engine and how light and flick­able it was. I used it for my 70-mile round trip to work and it was per­fect.”

Matt Lindley is an­other. “My SV650S is my first big bike,” he told MCN. “It kick-started my pas­sion for mo­tor­cy­cles and taught me more about rid­ing than I could have ever read or watched. It’s my ab­so­lute pride and joy and I couldn't have wished for a bet­ter big bike to be­gin on.”

Yet they’re cer­tainly not the only ones. In fact, with over 410,000 ex­am­ples of all ver­sions of the 650 twin sold it’s one of the most suc­cess­ful Suzukis of all time.

That perky V-twin is the SV’S heart. De­vel­oped fol­low­ing Suzuki’s TL1000S, the liq­uid-cooled, DOHC, four-valve V-twin is a peach de­liv­er­ing that rare ‘dou­ble whammy’ of be­ing novice­friendly flex­i­ble yet also free-revving fun and fast.

The alu­minium trel­lis is equally adept in be­ing both light, slim and man­age­able yet also im­pres­sively fine-han­dling. While the cre­ation of two ver­sions (lower-barred and faired S and easy-go­ing and up­right naked) en­sured the SV ap­pealed to vir­tu­ally ev­ery­one. The fact that it was cheap, too, made it ir­re­sistible.

And all of that would have been suc­cess enough if the SV story ended there – but it didn’t. First, its ap­peal broad­ened to would-be rac­ers when the SV’S track abil­ity lead to the cre­ation of an all-new class – Minitwins. Then, just as its orig­i­nal lus­tre was begin­ning to dull, the SV was rein­vented – and not just once, but mul­ti­ple times: first in 2004 with fu­elin­jec­tion, die-cast frame and body­work; then, in 2009, into the restyled, reengi­neered SFV650 Gla­dius (with the ‘old’ SV sur­viv­ing along­side un­til 2012); be­fore fi­nally, in 2016, be­ing re­born once more with re­worked engine.

Through­out all of that, though, the SV’S ap­peal has re­mained un­changed. It’s al­ways been an unitim­i­dat­ingly light, slim and af­ford­able mid­dleweight (and as such a per­fect first big bike), yet one which has also al­ways punched above its weight in terms of fun and ver­sa­til­ity. Plenty of own­ers agree.

“I owned a 2010 SV650 and I loved it,” reader Paul Ger­ber told MCN. “It was my first big bike and did ev­ery­thing I asked. I toured to Le Mans for the GP and took it on sev­eral track days.”

Gilles Vis­mans is an­other fan. “It’s the first bike I got after my li­cence,” he told MCN. “I’ve done 15,000 miles. I’ve done a track­day, went on a trip through the UK and an­other through Poland and Ger­many. It is the best fun you can have on a small bud­get.”

Mark Adling­ton adds: “That fan­tas­tic punchy V-twin puts a smile on my face ev­ery morn­ing on my way to work and es­pe­cially when I take a de­tour down the lanes on my way home.”

Gra­ham Hard­man is an­other: “I used to have a GSX-R600,” he told MCN. “Then I had kids so got rid of it. Now they are a bit older I bought an SV650. I love it be­cause it’s un­der­stated. It's com­fort­able, easy to ride and can still in­crease your heart-rate.”

‘I couldn’t have wished for a bet­ter big bike to be­gin on’ MATT LINDLEY MCN READER AND SV650 OWNER

‘Just sav­ing the front tyre, hon­est’

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