Suzuki SV650 Test Ride | Does Suzuki’s New Offering live up to the hype?

When the boss asked me if I’d like to go to Spain for a few days to take part in the new Suzuki SV650 test ride  I didn’t even breathe before choking out an enthusiastic YES! Who would say no to an offer like that eh?

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UK Journalists were hopping on the SV two weeks before any dealers had the same privilege and the feedback coming through was nothing but promising. I read everything I could about the rebooted model and the general consensus was extremely positive. However, let’s be honest; bike journos are their own very special breed of rider. They’re often experienced and look out for some very specific, often technical, aspects of a motorcycle that go over my head most of the time.

Having just passed my full test in Dec 2015 I was approaching this test-ride a little differently from the average journalist or dealer. As a first-time rider the likelihood that I’d really notice the difference between similar models from different manufactures is slim to none. That said, as one of Suzuki’s key target audiences for this bike, the first-time rider’s opinion was sought after. So here it is.

This bike is great. No bones about it. It’s solid, smooth and just the right balance of power for a first-time or returning rider. If you’re stepping up from a 125 or stepping back to bikes after a break, you can’t go far wrong here. I’ll break it down.

Performance

The engine is one of the biggest features to set the SV650 apart from its competitors. Unlike the parallel twin systems of the MT07 and the ER6, the SV650 houses a stunningly torquey V-Twin making it the most powerful in the class, especially at higher range RPMs.

Size

I’m a happy 5’4” (or just under) so there are a load of bikes I can barely sit on, never mind ride. Working in a dealership full of beautiful, but tall, motorcycles can often be torture. When it comes to the SV650, there’s no issue. The seat height it a respectable 785mm, allowing me to have one full foot solidly on the ground or both on the balls of my feet. Getting your left leg down is easy as pie and you can keep it close to the bike without worrying about a jab in the calf from a wayward footpeg. Chassis-wise the V-Twin shape means the SV also has the narrowest tank and seat in its class too. Also, being 8KG lighter than its predecessor, the SV feels agile, nimble and fun.

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Economy

The eagle-eyed spec reader among you will notice that the fuel tank on the Suzuki SV650 is quite a bit smaller than the ER6 and MT07, yet despite this the driving range per tank is greater. Thank you superior fuel economy! More powerful, yet more economic? Sounds like a contradiction right? But Suzuki have managed it. There’s a bunch of technical reasons for this that I won’t bore you with, but the research is here if you’re interested.

Features

The most impressive feature for me has to be low RPM assist. What a piece of kit! This mechanism detects when engine RPMs are dropping and injects some on your behalf. Why is this good? Well, for a first-time rider who might be a little shy on the throttle, this will seriously reduce the risk of stalling. That’s not the only thing; the feature works continuously, not just on the biting point. As a result, it gives you tonnes of space in the gears to play with. In Spain I was able to stick the bike in 3rd and cruise though all the twists and turns without having to shift down for the bend or up for the straight. The engine just handled it with no issues at all. It didn’t struggle, choke or judder and was impressively smooth.

As the Suzuki SV650 is Euro 4 compliant (unlike the MT07 and ER6), it comes with ABS brakes as standard. This will no doubt give the average first-time rider some additional piece of mind too. The biggest benefit of which is the ability to control the bike under hard braking. Let’s be honest we’ve all had to break and serve at some point. ABS gives you added stability under these conditions, although hopefully you don’t need it!

There a few other nice extras worth mentioning, although they probably wouldn’t be a deal-breaker for the average rider. The Suzuki easy start mechanism allows you to start up with a single tap of the start button; no more holding it in until the engine fires. It’s not going to save you a huge amount of time in the long run but it’s a nice-to-have nonetheless. For the commuters among us you might be looking and that tail end thinking where on earth you would put a bag? It’s simple, covertly hidden under the seat are luggage loops on either side so you can add bag or two if you needed and tuck them away if you don’t. Again, not a deal breaker but it’s nice to know Suzuki are thinking of riders’ needs and adding these finishing touches just to give you a little something on top of what is already a fantastic bike.

Any downsides?

The only place where the SV650 loses a point for me is a small aesthetic point. I personally love the overall look of the bike. The round headlight is not only classic but the most efficient shape when it comes to output. The trellis frame and slim line tank all contribute to giving the bike a sophisticated look beyond its budget. I’m not a huge fan of the tail unit but it certainly strikes the balance between sport and naked for those who want a sporty looking ride to go along with that powerful V-Twin engine. However, if you’re the kind of person to pay attention to detail you’ll notice that the swing arm is quite disappointing. As a long, straight, plank of black metal it does the job certainly but I would have loved to see a little more design thought go into it. To be fair to Suzuki, the quality of the build and the ride makes you forget that this is a budget bike; so for an amazing £5,499, I can happily put up with a boring swing arm.

To conclude, if you’re looking for a mid-range bike at an amazing price then this is the one for you. In fact, I’m saving for one myself. Stay tuned to our Facebook and Twitter to find out when they will arrive in store.

Result: 9/10

Front, Top, Rear and Dash views of the Suzuki SV650

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