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Ownership review of my second gen Suzuki SV650s motorcycle

It's a good intermediate sports bike and it's customizable, so most people just end up swapping things to make their SV better.

BHPian voyageur recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

This motorcycle is called a poor man's Ducati because the engine note faintly resembles a Ducati twin. I have seen some experienced riders turn it into a Track-tool. I have also seen newbies and intermediate riders getting this bike for more seat time. Ladies and Gentlemen, 'The SV650.'

Suzuki struck gold with this motorcycle, at least in North America, looking at the sheer number of SVs around. The bike has remained the same mechanically (sort of) for the past 20 years. It came out in 1999 and it's still one of the offerings of Suzuki even though the form of the motorcycle has changed a bit. The best thing about this bike is that it's available in different versions: naked, clip-on, fully-faired, bikini faired, semi-faired... except for an ADV and Cruiser version. SV has a 1000cc sibling too called SV1000, which is rarer to come across. There are so many forum posts, articles, and videos of this bike, you can customize it to the moon and back.

My story was that I was looking for a Supersport 600cc motorcycle. In my mind, it was always the Daytona 675r. But read some forum posts and decided that the best thing to do is get an insurance quote for all the motorcycles I'm considering in order to not make the insurance companies richer than they already are. A staggering 400$ quote (per month) gave me much needed jolt back to reality and by the end of that call... what Daytona?? Btw, that was the only insurance company willing to quote me. Rest won't even touch a Daytona - since I'm a new rider with no previous history of riding in Canada. Building a good driving history became the first priority. In a way, it's good I say. A new rider won't be able to afford a SuperSport bike right away. They need to build a riding history before even thinking of buying an R6 or a ZX10r and prove that they're responsible riders. But isn't there a workaround you might ask? There is always a workaround but usually involves paying insurance double the cost of the motorcycle itself, sometimes more per year. And it's funny some people are able to do that. Good for them!

My only condition then was that I wanted a sports bike, a naked/adv/cruiser won't do. It should have a clip-on and be really uncomfortable. The seating should be cramped and force me to rethink my fitness levels. Nah, actually I just wanted to enjoy a sports bike while I can. So with that criteria, I started looking at smaller cc bikes that are not typically categorized as sport bikes but more of a sport-tourer. An RC390 was on the top of my list (even Duke 390 was ok)- I had an RC/Duke from a friend for a bit and I really enjoyed the experience. Honda had a few choices CBR300R and Ninja had 250, 300, and 400. As I was researching further - I found that some individuals on the motorcycle forum had suggested that SV650 was cheap on insurance and so was FZ6r. They both are 600cc motorcycles and a friend from Dubai had an FZ6 previously(which was discontinued but the more powerful version of FZ6r). That's when I started looking at the SV. The SV650 had an 's' version which is a sports bike but not really categorized as a sports bike because it also has the naked version. Suzuki doesn't offer the SV in s version anymore, it's only a naked sport model.

During the last 10 years or so, some folks were able to knock sense into my thick skull and I'm now a fan of buying well-maintained used things (motorcycles included). This motorcycle was bought used, the gear was all used. After I picked up my current motorcycle, I started the thread on how to buy a used motorcycle, here on Team BHP, so that others can also benefit from it. Link: here (Guide: Buying Used Motorcycles). It took some time and a few viewings before I came across this motorcycle. But it was worth the wait. A seller wanted to get rid of his 2013 SV650s asap and I was looking for any 2nd gen SV650s, so that became my motorcycle. Went to the Ministry and got a Used Vehicle Information Package and confirmed that there were no loans on the bike. Also, checked the VIN online to ensure that no accidents/flood damage. The only thing left was had the previous owner pulled a mile-long wheelie along the expressway? Wheelies hurt the SVs more than the other bikes from what I have read. Pulling a long-distance wheelie starves the front cylinder of oil. I had a mechanic with me and I test rode the bike and it felt okay. After a year of owning it, I can say it still works well - so was a good purchase, for almost half the market price.

Moving on to the bike:

  • First-generation - 1999 to 2002.
  • Second generation - 2003 to 2014 (Suzuki came up with SFV650 aka Gladius sometime after 2009, which was the successor of SV650. Canada, EU and Aus retained the SV650s model until 2012 as per wiki).
  • Current generation - 2017 to present.

Mine is a 2nd gen SV650s from 2013. The main difference between the first-gen was the addition of the FI system. I seriously didn't mind the first-gen SVs with carbs. It was more artistic with a lot of curves but most were semi-faired. The 2nd gens looked better in full-fairing. The 1st gen is said to be built better, simpler machines and easier to work on - which I read online and I believe is the case. But then the major deterrent was the pricing for 1st gen. When a brand new SV comes for $7700, it isn't fair to ask 3200 for a 20-year-old bike.

After riding my motorcycle for close to 6 months now and doing over 12,000 km, I think I'm in a position to write more about how this thing rides. I'll include some photos from my rides as well. Also, I'm not someone who can distinguish between various BMW, Porsche, or Ducati models but I enjoy riding/driving. My main focus and love have always been seat time and riding/driving. I still hop into a go-kart whenever I can, have driven super cars on tracks (with an instructor beside me - didn't enjoy it much but was a good one-time experience), and ride my motorcycle around as and when I get a chance. I probably might get some technicalities wrong, in which case, please feel free to correct me.

On paper, the (2013)sv650s is my 2nd motorcycle and the 1st one was a 2003 Bajaj Pulsar 150 (classic Pulsar). But, I have had the opportunity to hop on from one motorcycle to another as friends, family, relatives, cousins, etc would leave their motorcycles with me - sometimes for extended periods. I would ride it like my own motorcycle and if something was broken on the bike, I would fix it for them. In India, one of the motorcycles I loved was the RC390 and I think if I stayed in India any longer, I would have gotten one. I digress.

So let's do this the Team BHP way, shall we?

What I like about the bike:

Decently powered at 73 hp, good for city riding and decent for long-distance riding as well (talking about the engine, not the ergonomics).

Since it's a v-twin, usable power starts from a lower rev range. Like inline 4s you don't need to rev the nuts out of the engine to actually move the thing.

Cheap to maintain. From what I have heard, if you do your periodic maintenance, this thing can run forever. I will talk about what maintenance I have done thus far shortly.

Easy availability of parts; aftermarket parts are in plenty.

Exhaust note: Sounds decent. Especially, a good slip on tail pipe is all it needs to make the exhaust note better. The previous owner slapped an M4 end can and it sounds good.

Looks decent too: The first owner cheaped out on the fairings and now it's partially faired. I will fix that by next year.

Something I personally learnt is that I have a long way to go before I can reach close to the limits of this bike. It's plenty bike for me at this point and mind you, I rode my first motorcycle over 20 years ago. When I bought this bike, I was considering it as a stepping stone to Daytona and for the insurance to come down but now I think I can own it at least for 3 years if not more. Something I urge fellow riders here is to graduate from lower cc to higher cc motorcycles, even if you have the resources to jump on a zx10r. The reason is that your growth as a rider would be much faster. A 600cc, 1000cc supersport bike would try to kill you at every single turn, and starting off on those is not the best way to learn. I don't mind considering a Ninja 400 or an RC390 now (riding on an expressway would be a challenge)...but being able to ride a slower bike fast is always better than riding slow on a faster bike. What happened to riding fast on a faster bike?

What I dislike about the bike:

Vibrations: I short shift at 4,5,6k rpm (unless I need to go up the rev range) but still gets me. Leaves my right hand numb after a while. Don't think I noticed similar vibrations on the Ducati Scrambler L twin. But I rode that ages ago (again post must be somewhere on the forum).

Suspension: A sports bike that's cheap and is not too expensive on maintenance. Where did the manufacturer cut costs? The rear suspension feels like a piece of wood and the front also needs some upgrades. Can be swapped with GSX750 or similar bikes.

Seats: An upgrade or adding gel foam would be a nice gesture to my buttocks.

Common issues: Rectifier and stator going bad, Cam Chain Tensioners replacement, etc. Not a big deal as this was more of an issue for 1st gen from what I have read.

I don't have much to complain about, not because it's my bike and people generally tend to overlook faults of what they own, but because there is not really much going on here. It's a good intermediate sports bike and it's customizable, so most people just end up swapping things to make their SV better.

Pic credit for above image: figomba.

The scratches came free as part of "breaking" in done by the previous owner(s). This bike had 5 previous owners in 7 years (bought this bike in Oct 2020). 1 or 2 of them were dealerships that registered the motorcycle before flipping it. But even otherwise, it almost feels like a norm that a smaller cc bike needs to be replaced with a bigger cc bike in a matter of a year or two. I hope I can stay clear of any such norms.

Design, styling, and overall looks of the bike:

Hard to comment on looks as everyone has their own preference.

IMHO the S version of the SV650 looks sporty and aggressive;  with full-fairing, it is not bad at all.

Below 2 images are taken from Google:

The first and second-gen SV came in all colours; red, blue, Indigo (purple), grey, yellow, white and black. I have not seen too many yellow ones, but the other colours, yes. The naked ones can be modified into a good-looking Streetfighter and I have seen some beautiful-looking ones for sale.

Here is an image of the current model. People who don't mind naked bikes would actually like this I feel:

Ergonomics and NVH:

When it comes to Ergonomics, let's do a comparison with some other bikes:

Out of the lot, the Daytona looks like it has the most forward lean angle. SV650s is also a pretty uncomfortable bike to sit on. Wrist, back and legs get sore after riding for a couple of hours. I usually ride 700-800 km on a good weekend (approx. 12 hours of riding) and I'm sore for the next 2-3 days. If you want something to cruise/munch miles on, I would say look at a VStorm or another adv bike.

Vibrations on this motorcycle are fairly noticeable. As mentioned above I try to short shift almost always. Even then after a few hundred km, my wrists and fingers start going numb. If you're riding more than 100 km in a stretch, it's better to leave it on higher gears (as much as you can). Even on 6th gear at 6-7k rpm, it feels buzzy. I'll write more about the ride quality later on.

Fit and Finish:

I would give it an 8/10. Since it's a used motorcycle, I cannot comment much. I had issues with the seat fitment. Both the seats don't fit snug and I'm not sure if the previous owner(s) did something to it. I'm planning on looking into it soon. Other than the seat, I haven't had any issues with the build quality or fit, finish yet. Fingers crossed.

I have heard in the US, there are SVs with over 150,000 miles on them. Some other folks have confirmed that they have put on 100,000 + km on their SVs on some forums. So I have come to believe that these are fairly reliable motorcycles unless the owner abuses them.

Engine and Transmission:

The apt word for this section is 'Solid'

Many SVs especially from first-generation end up becoming track or race bikes. The reason is cheap maintenance, availability of parts and reliability.

The engine becomes buzzy at higher RPMs. I think that is just how it is. Mechanically, it's an extremely reliable motorcycle. It produces 73 hp and 64 Nm. By Indian standards, it's decent power and probably if you're not doing expressway drag races most people would find this motorcycle a keeper. The best thing about a v-twin is that you get good power right from the lower RPM itself. This makes city riding bearable.

Here is a dyno run that I managed to find online:

Features:

From 2007, the SV650 got ABS as an optional feature. Apart from this, I cannot recall any fancy features that are worth mentioning. Front brakes are dual discs (290 mm) and the rear is a single disc (240 mm). This bike is liquid-cooled and comes with 120/60 and 160/60 front and rear tires respectively. There is a trip meter. Funny enough, the motorcycle lacks a fuel gauge and only has a fuel warning light. You also get the hazard switch just below the engine kill. DRLs come standard as per law.

Overall, nothing fancy but has everything that I would want.

Continue reading voyageur's review of his Suzuki SV650s for BHPian comments, insights and more information.

 
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