Since 1999 the Suzuki SV650 has been a standard for affordable, highly adaptable motorcycles that deliver quick and nimble handling from the street to the racetrack. Over the years, the SV has seen various upgrades including fuel injection, and chassis and frame improvements. Along the way it has found a dedicated following by riders who've customized the flexible twin-engine platform into track bikes, customs, touring bikes and even flat trackers.
After a departure from the U.S. market in 2009, the SV650 was replaced by the SFV650, known as the "Gladius," which never really took off in the United States. Aimed squarely at the new-rider segment, its more docile handling and updated styling never really found the audience enjoyed by the original SV.
In an effort to bring back the original magic, Suzuki has brought back the SV for 2017. Designated the SV650A, the new bike brings back the more minimal styling of the original SV model as well as a host of new features and improvements.
The 2017 SV650A is built around an updated 645cc four-stroke liquid-cooled, dual overhead cam 90-degree L-twin engine (but Suzuki calls it a V, so we'll stick with that). The updated motor has more than 60 new parts, delivering more power and better fuel economy while conforming to worldwide emissions standards.
The new motor turns out 75.09 hp at 8,500 rpm and cranks out a maximum torque of 47.2 ft.-lbs. at 8,100 rpm. Across the RPM can range the SV's V-twin delivers plenty of torque and smooth power to make it accessible to riders of all abilities. The motor feels comfortable at low RPMs during city commuting and feels at home at freeway speeds. At the top, the SV650 doesn't disappoint either –– delivering its top torque in a way that sporty, aggressive riders will appreciate.
New Features for New Riders
A new feature on the 2017 SV650A is a clutch-activated low-RPM assist system. The assist feature is activated by the clutch, which communicates to the ECU and raises the engine RPM when the clutch begins to engage. The system helps the motorcycle get rolling from a stop, lessening the chance of a stall off the line. Aimed at new riders who've likely never even driven or ridden a vehicle with a manual transmission, the low-RPM assist is designed to lower the barriers to entry to riding.
Experienced riders will hardly notice the system working. We tested it out by intentionally keeping the throttle closed from a dead stop while smoothly releasing the clutch lever and the system worked as advertized to get the motorcycle moving with little to no clutch/throttle coordination.
Also new to the 2017 SV650A is a quick-start ignition system that starts the motor by a quick tap of the starter button, dispensing the need to hold the starter switch down while the engine cranks and starts.
Throughout its life the SV has always been designed to be narrow and compact with maneuverability and rider confidence in mind. The 2017 SV650A continues the tradition. For the new model the top-down profile is even slimmer. The fuel tank is 2.5 inches narrower at its widest point and the seat width is decreased by 1.2 inches over the previous SFV. The bike also has the lowest seat height in its class at 30.9 inches.
The result is a very manageable motorcycle in every riding situation –– from parking lots to highways and canyon roads. What's more, the 2017 SV accomplishes this without feeling cramped, even for a tall rider after a 160-mile day in the saddle.
The front end is suspended by non-adjustable Showa 41mm conventional forks. The rear suspension features a preload adjustable link-style mono-shock.
Unsprung, the SV650A rides on a set of 17-inch, five-spoke cast aluminum mags on front and rear. Stopping power is delivered with front dual 290mm x 4.5mm floating rotors, with twin two-piston sliding calipers. A solo 240mm x 5mm rotor with Nissin single-piston caliper provides braking for the rear wheel.
Under normal riding conditions the chassis suspension and brakes work together well, giving the SV predictable and agile handling. Toward the upper end of sport riding, however, the front end begins to show its limitations. When we pushed the bike hard through corners the 41mm forks began to flex during heavy trail-braking. While there are plenty of affordable, aftermarket options for improving the SV's front end, including Race Tech Gold Valve emulators or a relatively easy G-SXR600 front-end swap, we did wish that Suzuki had made updating the SV's forks and suspension a priority for 2017.
At first blush, it appears Suzuki has split its bet with the 2017 SV650A between performance and accessibility. Features like "easy start" and "low-RPM assist" will appeal to new riders, while the increase in horsepower will appeal to the more experienced crowd.
Suzuki plans to offer a number of cool genuine accessories including:
• Café seat – Pleated cover provides a Tuck n’ Roll look. Japanese Suzuki logo on tail.
• Meter visor – Color matched and easy install.
• Frame cover – Also matched with a racing number-plate motif.
• Under cowl – Black, bolts easily in place..
• Frame protectors – Black nylon and aluminum construction, easy to install.
• Wheel rim decal sets – Also matched to main body color.
*Availability and price of these items TBA
Small gripes aside, the all-new SV650A is a lot of machine for the value, and a flexible motorcycle platform to suit many riding styles. The 2017s will be arriving at your Suzuki dealers this month and will be available in two colors: pearl glacier white and pearl mira red. The base model will be priced at US $6,999 MSRP and the ABS version will be priced at US $7,499 MSRP.