This entry is part 1 of 44 in the series AusMotorcyclist Issue#1

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The Suzuki SV650 is a likeable 650cc V-twin roadster that has proven to be one of modern motorcycling’s most enduring success stories. First launched in unfaired roadster and half-faired sportster forms in 1999, it was an instant hit due to its excellent 75bhp V-twin engine, easy manners and affordable price

The Suzuki SV650 was first updated in 2003 when it received a new frame, styling and fuel injection, then again in 2009 when it was restyled and renamed the SFV650 Gladius roadster. The ‘old’ half-faired SV650S was reintroduced in 2010 before both were replaced by a further updated SV650 roadster in 2016. 

Finally, a retro-restyled café racer, the SV650X, was added in 2018. Both live on to this day.

History of Suzuki SV650

YearModelPowerTorqueWet weightSeat heightTop speed
2009-2015SFV650 Gladius71bhp63Nm202kg785mm131mph

Suzuki SV650N and SV650S 1999 – 2002 

The original Suzuki SV650 was launched as a junior sibling to the TL1000S in 1999 in two forms – the SV650N unfaired roadster and the SV650S half-faired sportster, with lower handlebars and frame-mounted fairing.

Intended as affordable, unintimidating ‘first big bikes’, both were powered by the same 72bhp 645cc V-twin which with its flexible delivery, characterful exhaust note, and entertaining performance has proved to be one of motorcycling’s great engines.

Both also shared the same tubular alloy frame and fairly budget cycle parts all adding up to a versatile, fun and affordable machine, although the cheaper SV650N proved the most popular, while the faired SV650S gave more engaging steering due to its lower bars and some weather protection due to its fairing. Both also proved reliable and popular used buys.

Suzuki SV650S and SV650S 2003 – 2008  

The Suzuki SV650 received its first major update in 2003, when its engine switched to fuel injection from carbs (although performance was unchanged); it gained a new box-section aluminium frame; new, more angular styling and new instruments.

As before, there were again two versions: an unfaired roadster, the 2003 Suzuki SV650N, and a half-faired sportster, the 2003 SV650S.

Both were dropped at the end of 2008, although the SV650S was reintroduced, now with a black frame and ABS, and lived on until 2015.

Suzuki SFV650 Gladius 2009-2015

Suzuki dropped the SV650 in 2008 and replaced it with the SFV650 Gladius in 2009, although the faired SV650S returned in 2010.

But despite having new styling (considered at the time to be a brazen attempt to be female-friendly, with a white/pink option among the paint schemes) and a new name, it was effectively an updated SV650 with a revised engine and new composite tubular steel and cast alloy frame. 

Although smart, decently performing and with improved quality and finishes, the roadster-only SFV650 was never as popular as the SV650 and was finally dropped in 2015.

Suzuki SV 650 2016

Suzuki SV650 2016 – Today

In 2016 the Suzuki SV650 made a surprise return, this time based on the SFV650’s engine and frame, but with minor updates, revised, more neutral styling, plus new instruments, lights etc. 

Now very much emphasizing its budget value and affordable versatility rather than attempting to beat newer rivals such as Yamaha’s MT-07 and also now only available as an upright, unfaired roadster, it nevertheless has proved popular for its all-round ability and value.

It’s has only received minor updates since. New colours were announced in 2019, and again for 2023.

Suzuki SV650X 2018 – Today

The Suzuki SV650X was launched in 2018 as a variant of the standard SV650. Inspired by the popularity of retro bikes, it’s intended as a mildly modified café racer.

Differences over the SV are quite minor, leading to some criticism that its retro styling is not as convincing as many. These include: lower ‘clip-on’ handlebars; a small nose cowling; a ribbed, ‘tuck and roll’ brown seat and black paint. However, by being merely a mildly-modded SV the X also performs better than most more authentic retros and its handling, by virtue of the lower handlebars, is more engaging at the cost of comfort over distance.

What to expect from the next Suzuki SV650

Although aging and now in production for over 20 years, the SV650 remains popular, and continues to receive minor updates. While noteworthy updates have been scant of late, the SV650 line shows no signs of being ‘killed off’ and is still one of the best ‘first big bikes’ both as a used and new buy.

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