Suzuki may not be synonymous with V-Twins in the minds of the many, but they should be. Some of the finest metal ever to come out of Hamamatsu has thumped along with the aurally uplifting tune of this type of engine. Whether in their excellent soft-road V-Strom tourers, or the various TL and SV sports bikes, Suzuki know how to build soul into a motorcycle with a capital V. Now, proving that everything old and good will be new again, one of the sweetest lightweight roadsters ever built has returned, and it’s better than ever.
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Welcome back the SV650!
They say: The product concept of the 2016 SV650 is ’Back to its origin’. The core of SV650’s concept is delivering the fun of V-twin sports for all riders, in a slim, simple and lightweight package.
Youngy says: This sounds like a great plan to me. The original SV650 was an instant success back in 1999, and I’ve got no doubt this thoughtful redesign will boost interest in the model. The Gladius 650 which this new SV650 replaces was an attractive but perhaps over-stylised design. The SV650’s more timelessly classic styling will definitely appeal to a wider range of motorcyclists. Making its architecturally clean V-Twin engine the centerpiece of the design, then framing it with a tubular steel trellis work, has Ducatiesque connotations. But the overall design has a strong identity of its own, and has a particularly unique shape when viewing its slender profile from above. This sort of basic beauty is also a perfect canvas for some inventive customisation.
They say: The 645cc DOHC 90°V-twin engine from the Gladius has been refined with more than 60 new parts, it produces increased max- power (Non LAMS) while conforming to Euro4 requirements.
Youngy says: OK, so this is where I get the negatives dealt with straight away. Here in Australia we are only, for the time being at least, getting the restricted LAMS approved model. Sure, it’s great that leaners are getting access to this brilliant bike, and the SV650 is an ideal model to get started on. But, the full power version of the original SV650 was an absolute belter, and I can only imagine the unleashed example of this new SV would be one of the best all-round lightweight sports bikes on the market. If you agree with me, and want the grownup’s SV650 to come Downunder, tell your Suzuki dealer to tell Suzuki. My fingers are well and truly crossed.
They say: By redesigning more than 140 parts and components (engine and chassis parts combined), the curb mass is reduced by 8kg (ABS model) with the ‘Back to its origin’ concept. Its slim and lightweight chassis provides super-agile handling performance, yet it has forgiving character.
Youngy says: Proof positive that this isn’t just a minor makeover but a serious attempt to make a great bike even greater, and even more fun than ever before. To strip 8kg out of an ostensibly similar motorcycle is no small task. From what I can work out, the vast majority of this lost weight has been from above the centre line of the chassis, and I also get this impression from its excellent road manners. The super-agility Suzuki are spruiking about no doubt comes partially from its centre of mass being positioned lower in the chassis, and the forgiving character is not only helped by its suspension being above the performance suggested by the SV650’s modest price tag, it is also a well-documented characteristic of utilising a tubular steel trellis frame.
They say: The newly introduced, Low RPM Assist feature helps the rider in launching and riding at slow speeds through traffic. Suzuki’s Easy Start simplifies the engine starting process. Narrow bodywork and lightweight chassis is easy to maneuver. Seat height is 785mm, the lowest in the 500cc-660cc LAMS approved naked street bike class.
Youngy says: Proving that simple ideas are often the best and most over-looked, the SV650’s Low RPM Assist is such an easy function to program into the majority of motorcycles’ engine management systems, it’s quite unbelievable that its not already common practice. It won’t guarantee that you’ll never ever stall your engine again, but it does make it far less likely. And it will make learning the art of the take off a lot easier for those new to riding. One touch starting isn’t likely to make or break a bike sale, but it will potentially extend the life of engine parts associated with starting. The low seat height, however, is very likely to sway first bike buyers toward the SV650. Having said that, I heard no complaints from the taller riders on the launch either, just smiles and praise for the little SV.
They say: The exhaust system is newly designed to achieve lighter weight, clean looks, and brisk acceleration performance. The exhaust system is a 2 into-1 system. Lower chamber found on Gladius is eliminated. The design contributes to lighter weight, and stronger low-to-mid range output. Triangle shaped muffler body enhances the SV’s sporty character and produces that V-twin rumble.
Youngy says: Although I liked most of the Gladius styling, its exhaust silencer looked like something from a 1970s space movie. The new system on the SV650 looks much better, and gives the robust exhaust note which a V-Twin needs to fulfill its character. And naughty aftermarket exhausts will make it even more fruity and appealing.
They say: Newly designed, full LCD Instrument cluster is lightweight and compact. Thanks to its full-LCD design, it eliminates the need for motor and needle mechanics, it weighs only 275g. Instruments are brightness-adjustable full LCD. The LCD readouts includes; speedometer, tachometer, odometer, dual trip meter, gear position, water temperature, driving range, average fuel consumption, instant fuel consumption, fuel gauge, clock. White back light for good visibility in night time riding. LED indicators include a turn signal, high-beam, Neutral, Malfunction indicator, ABS and coolant temperature /oil pressure indicator lights are designed to easy to recognise. Bar-type tachometer features ’Peak-Hold’ function, which shows peak rpm when rpm drops. So the rider can recognise the peak rpm of the last moment when downshifting.
Youngy says: Good kit with a generous amount of information for a bike at this price. The ‘peak hold’ function is a great little extra, as it will provide the non-mechanically-sympathetic rider with evidence of the error of their ways. Repeat after me; ‘The gear box is not the rear brake’.
They say: Newly designed chassis is engineered in compact, lightweight package to provide agile, fun-to-ride and confidence inspiring handling for a wide variety of riders. It has been developed to perform best in real world street riding conditions – all surface types that riders encounter on public roads, city traffic, highway, rural roads and twisty winding roads.
Youngy says: Lithe and agile is certainly what this new SV650 is and does. It’s truly impressive that Suzuki have been able to make the tank and seat so much slimmer than the previous bike, 64.5mm at its widest point, yet kept fuel capacity at a relatively generous and useful 13.8 litres. Cornering ground clearance (once the peg extenders are removed) is amazing for a bike with such a low seat height, but this is the beauty of the narrow V-Twin engine layout. Riding twisty mountain roads, the SV650 will be just as much the giant killer as previous versions of the bike. It has also improved as an all-rounder for city traffic duties. Long straight highways are the only place I wouldn’t want to spend too much time on the SV, but then highways aren’t my cup of tea anyway!
They say: 41mm front fork features 125mm travel, providing a sporty yet plush ride. Link-type rear shock is tuned to deliver a superb progressive feel whilst efficiently reacting to varying road conditions, delivering an agile and stable feel. Spring pre-load is 7-way adjustable.
Youngy says: Non-adjustable suspension damping will always be a compromise at either end of the rider weight and height scales, and that’s why well-considered base settings are important. The SV650 has a good balance front to rear, and doesn’t dive excessively under brakes, which means Suzuki has got it pretty much as good as you could hope for. Adjustable preload at the rear gives some flexibility to keep the rear guard off the tyre when you are two-up or loaded up.
They say: Two piston front brake calipers are mated with 290mm floating-mount dual discs providing strong braking performance. Antilock Brake System (ABS) monitors wheel speed 50 times per wheel rotation, and matches stopping power to available traction. New ABS control unit, produced by NISSIN, is compact and lightweight in design, lighter than the previous design by 830g.
Youngy says: Twin discs up front is good to see. It would have been a big cost saving to go with a single disc, as some bikes in this capacity class have. Consequently, stopping power is more than enough to match the SV650’s sporty handling, and the Nissin ABS system is reactive enough to do its job properly yet subtle enough to not annoy experienced riders with overzealous intervention.
They say: Seat shape is tailored for sporty riding – easy to move around on and good grip from the seat cover.
Youngy says: To keep the seat height as low as it is, the thickness of the seat has also been kept to a minimum, and this is something I was instantly aware of riding the SV650. Thankfully the seat foam is dense and well positioned, making the most of its thin layer. But, while I wouldn’t describe it as harsh, it’s still far from being the most comfortable place to sit for long stretches. Not that I’ve ever been one to complain about having too many coffee breaks in a ride! Summary: The new SV650 is an attractive, entertaining, and intuitive motorcycle to ride. It’s also a fantastic and fashionably Nuevo-classic addition to the LAMS market. Now all we need is the full-power version. Listen up Suzuki!
Location – Sunshine Coast
By: Paul Young