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2018 Suzuki SV650X | BIKE TESTS

Suzuki has created a modern retro for the masses

If you are in the market for a motorcycle that boasts an extra bit of pizazz – that wow factor – then it’s generally the European brands that will accommodate. The Euros have a flair that the Japanese can’t often match; they add personality to their machines virtually every time. Sure, the big four Japanese brands make reliable and well-made bikes that perform great, but they tend to lack that something. Bikes like a KTM, Ducati or Aprilia just have that ‘I want to own you’ feel. What chance do the Japanese have?

They have been trying, upping their efforts in the quest to build more than just the perfect motorcycle. In Suzuki’s case, it has achieved brilliant results from a platform that started life at the turn of the century.

The new-for-2018 SV650X is far, far away from the original and very capable SV650 released back in 1999 and, although the basic layout remains similar in theory, this new X is so much more than a ’99 model with a set of clip-ons.

The X benefits from years of tweaks and modifications that came to a head in 2017 when Suzuki released the most sophisticated and modern version of the 645cc V-twin engine yet, and even it has been improved for the X version.

The naked hipster theme seems to be the way a lot of manufacturers are heading with their development, but I can tell you now that it’s not only the younger bearded trendsetters who will be attracted to these machines.

Let’s start with the engine because it’s a big part of Suzuki’s soul-giving formula. It not only delivers power so the wheels spin, but it’s got beat. That’s right, beat. It’s a term Suzuki uses to describe the soul of the SV, an engine that’s designed make you smile, sound throaty and feel meaty.

With a displacement of 645cc and a compression ratio of 11.2:1, Suzuki were able to substantially modify the internals of the 90-degree engine to gain not only much better fuel economy than the older version but increase both top-end and usable real-world power.

These achievements were made possible by a special resin friction coating of the piston, as well as new L-shaped piston rings to provide a better seal to the new-style SCEM (Suzuki Composite Electrochemical Material) plated cylinders. Twin spark-plug heads make the most of the super-sealed gasses, helping to get more bang for buck as well as better economy.

The 39mm throttle bodies are high-tech too, with upgraded 10-hole fuel injectors that spray a finer mist than the older version. There are a set of secondary butterflies, which are controlled by the ECU and help the SV perform some of its hidden tricks – like the Low-RPM Assist function that takes information from the clutch switch and tells the secondary butterflies to open a little just before take-off.

Read the full story in the current issue of (Vol 67 no 19) AMCN on sale now