I’ve got a soft spot in my icy cold little heart for the SV650. The first (and only) bike I ever bought new off a showroom floor was a 2000 SV650…holy cow that was 19 years ago! Never you mind that, though.
Apart from an ill-advised name and style change to the Gladius (Suzuki would probably rather we all forget the Gladius), the SV650 hasn’t changed much in the last 20 years. Its liquid-cooled 645cc 90-degree V-twin went from carburetion to fuel injection, the steel trellis frame was tweaked, the analog gauges evolved to LCD and there are a few more modern bells and whistles, but for the most part Suzuki stuck with the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” philosophy with the SV.
Best of all, the SV650 is still one of the best bang-for-the-buck, bulletproof, user-friendly middleweights on the market. It might not have the edgy flair of the KTM Duke, or the hooning personality of the Yamaha MT-07, but when you throw a leg over the SV650, thumb the starter and release the clutch lever, everything sort of just falls into place without much extra effort or thought.
This is a bike that demands little of its rider, while delivering bucketloads of fun whether munching through traffic or shredding the twisties.
Helmet: HJC RPHA 11 Pro
Jacket: Flying Duchess ‘The 66’
Jeans: Bolid’ster Jeny’ster
Boots: Sidi Gavia Gore-Tex
For starters, the scooped-out seat is only 31 inches off the ground, and if that still sounds high remember that it’s also very narrow at the front so it’s surprisingly easy to get your feet on the ground. It only weighs 437 lbs, fully fueled, which also contributes to its user-friendly nature.
The SV650X (as well as its standard SV650 sibling) includes Suzuki’s Easy Start system, which means you just give the starter one short press and it does the rest for you, plus Low RPM Assist, which automatically raises engine rpm when you release the clutch, reducing the chance you’ll accidentally stall out.
Unlike the standard SV, it also comes with ABS. Just like in your car, a feature you never think about til you need it.
Riding the SV650X is like pressing the street motorcycle version of the Easy Button (remember those commercials?). Fueling is precise and well-metered, and the power band is linear and predictable. Our SV650X test bike made 69.3 peak horsepower at 8,700 rpm, and 43.3 lb-ft of torque at 8,100, enough to keep an experienced rider happy so long as sheer top speed or keeping up with friends on liter-bikes isn’t the goal.
The one potential downside is that long reach to the clip-ons, precipitated by the 90-degree orientation of the V-twin underneath. Even as a tall woman at 5’9″, with a long torso, I found my right hand going numb after about an hour on the SV, unless it was on a twisty road where I could roll on/off and move around on the bike a bit.
I also found the tall-ish footpegs and short seat height combination resulted in a very sporty, tight bend in my knees. After a full day I was stretching out my legs every few minutes.
Otherwise, there is very little to complain about. The LCD isn’t a trick full-color TFT, but it gives you a lot of information including range to empty, a gear indicator and a clock, and the headlight is an old-fashioned halogen rather than the super bright LED found on many competitors.
But the SV650 is a comprehensive package that works, and works well, which is why Suzuki hasn’t changed much about it — and when they did (ahem, Gladius), the moto world went into a full-blown tizzy until Suzuki changed it back.
Since this platform has been in use for nigh-on 20 years, parts and aftermarket accessories are super easy to find, and there are no bugs to be worked out of the design. It’s what an stock trader would call a safe investment. Your good luck, it’s also FUN.
The 2019 SV650X comes in the white/black color shown here, while the 2020 version is all black (both with a brown quilted seat), and the retail price of $8,399 is unchanged. Check out suzukicycles.com for more info.
2019 Suzuki SV650X Specs
Base Price: $8,399
Warranty: 1yr., unltd. miles
Type: Liquid-cooled 90-degree L-twin
Bore x Stroke: 81.0 x 62.6mm
Compression Ratio: 11.2:1
Valve Train: DOHC, 4 valves per cyl.
Valve Insp. Interval: 14,500 miles
Fuel Delivery: DFI w/ SDTV & 39mm throttle bodies x 2
Lubrication System: Wet sump, 2.9-qt. cap.
Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated wet clutch
Final Drive: O-ring chain
Ignition: Full transistorized
Charging Output: 375 watts max.
Battery: 12V 10AH
Frame: Steel trellis w/ steel beam-type swingarm
Wheelbase: 56.9 in.
Rake/Trail: 25 degrees/4.2 in.
Seat Height: 31.1 in.
Suspension, Front: 41mm fork, non-adj., 4.9-in. travel
Rear: Single link-type shock, adj. for preload, 5.1-in. travel
Brakes, Front: Dual 290mm discs w/ 2-piston floating calipers & ABS
Rear:Single 240mm disc w/ 1-piston caliper & ABS
Wheels, Front: Cast, 3.50 x 17 in.
Rear: Cast, 5.00 x 17 in.
Tires, Front: 120/70-ZR17
Wet Weight: 437 lbs.
Load Capacity: 488 lbs.
GVWR: 925 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 3.8 gals., 1.1 gal. fuel light on
MPG: 87 AKI min. (low/avg/high) 38.9/53.1/58.7
Estimated Range: 202 milesIndicated RPM at 60 MPH: 4,250