2017 Suzuki SV650 Reviewed
Words by Ben Wilkins – Photos by Geoff Osborne

Just when we thought Suzuki’s SV650 was due its long service award, a complete revamp brings it bang up to date. Gone is Gladius however, and so we welcome the return of Suzuki’s SV650.

Suzuki's SV650 replaces the outgoing Gladius and is a significantly updated model
Suzuki’s SV650 replaces the outgoing Gladius and is a significantly updated model

This is a model that was first introduced in 1999 and, personally, I’m glad to see it back in the range. In Europe, the SV gained a cult-like following among experienced riders and beginners alike. In fact, in France the SV is probably one of the most popular bikes for modifying to ever hit the market. 

The SV actually has a cult following over in Europe, particularly France
The SV actually has a cult following over in Europe, particularly France

Updated and significantly revamped to meet the next round of stringent EuroIV emissions regulations, the new SV650 is back with a bang. Available in just a LAMS version here in Australia, it’s the LAMS model on test featuring a power output of 35kW with the restriction, or just shy of 50hp, according to Suzuki.

All up, the new bike has some 60-odd new components in the engine to bring it up to date to meet EuroIV emissions. The cylinder heads are dual spark to improve economy and keep emissions low.

The updated powerplant features a number of changes but with the LAMS compliant version is limited to 35kW
The updated powerplant features a number of changes but with the LAMS compliant version is limited to 35kW

The pistons have a resin coating to reduce friction and the inlet trumpet are staggered lengths to improve mid-range power. The airbox is also new and has been tuned for a ‘more exiting sound’. In these days of extremely stringent emissions laws, every bit of sound for the rider helps make the ride.

Sitting on the new bike, it’s apparent Suzuki has narrowed the seat and tank. This new-found lean-ness along with a seat height of 785mm, makes the SV an enticing prospect for shorter riders.

The SV650 offers a nice easy reach to the ground - definitely no problems here!
The SV650 offers a nice easy reach to the ground – definitely no problems here!

Suzuki says the new bike is suitable for riders of 5′ 3″ or so. At 183cm (6-feet) tall and a 33″ inside leg, I found there was just enough seat to peg distance. Any less and it’d be cramped. So those shorter than me should find there’s plenty of room.

The seat is comfortable but I found the heavily sculpted shape only allowed a limited range of seating positions and there’s been a significant boost in the engine’s midrange torque.

The SV650 features good power delivery from tickover revs and through to 5000rpm is strong
The SV650 features good power delivery from tickover revs and through to 5000rpm is strong

The surge from tickover revs through to 5000rpm is strong and, honestly, this 650 feels bigger in capacity than the modest 645cc engine size might suggest. This bottom-end of the rev-range power lets the SV pull away quickly and easily pull taller gears when cruising or commuting.

This is a jewel of a motor that is flexible in terms of power delivery and there’s plenty of oomph to nip through traffic. In fact, at low revs this could be mistaken for a 750. As this is a LAMS machine, and restricted in outright power output, the power is much more modest above 5000rpm, the delivery really flattens out once past that marker. The engine still pulls nicely but without the same sort of urgency as below that point. 

Fuel economy closely matched Suzuki's claims, and we found it varied from 3.6L per 100km, through to 4L
Fuel economy closely matched Suzuki’s claims, and we found it varied from 3.6L per 100km, through to 4L

Suzuki claims best in class fuel economy of 3.84L/100km. This is somewhat backed up by our test results, which varied from 3.6-4L per 100km depending on riding conditions. 

So, Suzuki has a torquey engine package. One of the old SV’s previous strengths was the chassis and handling package. Thankfully, the new machine continues in this tradition. The main frame is of a trellis design, as before, and has relatively basic suspension at both end.

With the SV650 Suzuki has got the damping and spring rates spot on for a variety of rider weights
With the SV650 Suzuki has got the damping and spring rates spot on for a variety of rider weights

But basic doesn’t have to mean bad. And it isn’t, far from it in fact. Suzuki has got the damping and spring rates spot on for a variety of rider weights. The action is controlled and just gets on with its job without getting itself noticed. 

ABS is fitted as standard and provides a level of security to the braking system. The brakes work well, stopping the bike quickly and securely. At the back, the brake is powerful and sensitive and the ABS doesn’t kick in too quickly.

Front brakes can feel a little wooden but the power is there with enough pressure at the lever
Front brakes can feel a little wooden but the power is there with enough pressure at the lever

The brakes at the front are up to the job but have a slight lack of bite in the initial squeeze, compared to the back brake at least. A good squeeze brings the bike to a halt quickly, so the performance is there.

The exhaust and airbox combine to give the bike a little more bark than you might expect which is welcome as a rider
The exhaust and airbox combine to give the bike a little more bark than you might expect which is welcome as a rider

One thing about the bike I really noticed is the exhaust and airbox sound. They combine to give a rorty-kinda braaap when using big throttle openings at low revs, such as when pulling away from traffic lights or gunning for a gap in the traffic. Suzuki has always been good at great airbox sounds, and the SV650 is no exception.

The SV650 has enough performance to help a LAMS rider develop, while still being capable in more experienced hands
The SV650 has enough performance to help a LAMS rider develop, while still being a capable performer in more experienced hands

As a LAMS option, the SV650 makes for a compelling option that’ll flatter a learner’s progressing skills and still entertain once you’ve got your full test pass. At $9,990 the price is right too. If this is how good the LAMS machine is, then I’m looking forward to riding the non-restricted machine if one becomes available.

Welcome back to the SV650, you’ve been missed. 

Comfort and the engine are strong points on the SV650
Comfort and the engine are strong points on the SV650
2017 Suzuki SV650 Highlights
  • The 90-degree 650cc engine is a venerable unit that’s been heavily updated and continues to surprise with it’s flexible power delivery and easy manners. 
  • The main frame is a trellis design, in keeping with previous incarnations of the SV and looks great for it, in keeping with the SV’s legacy.
  • Conventional right-way-up forks are non-adjustable but not too much worse off for it. Preload adjustment is offered on the rear shock. 
  • ABS is fitted as standard. Two discs with floating calipers and a single disc with a single piston caliper provide capable braking.
  • Strong points – Comfort, great engine, fun, economy and price.
  • Weak point – Front brake’s a little wooden. Engine really flattens out after 5000rpm. 
2017 Suzuki SV650
2017 Suzuki SV650 (LAMS)
2017 Suzuki SV650 (LAMS) Specifications
  • Engine type – 645cc, liquid-cooled DOHC, 4V per cylinder, four-stroke  90-degree V-twin
  • Bore x stroke – 81 x 62.6mm
  • Compression – 11.2:1
  • Starter – Electric 
  • Fuelling – Electronic fuel injection
  • Ignition – Digital electronic
  • Power – 35kW(46.9hp)@8500rpm
  • Torque – 56.5Nm(41.7ft-lbs)@4000rpm
  • Clutch – Wet, multi-plate
  • Transmission – Six-speed, chain
  • Frame – Steel diamond
  • Swingarm – Steel
  • Rake/trail – 25°/95mm
  • Suspension – 41mm telescopic fork, 130mm travel front; Linkage-type single spring/damper unit with spring pre-load, 125mm travel rear
  • Brakes – 298mm disc, two-piston caliper front; 220mm disc, single piston caliper rear; ABS as standard
  • Wheels – Cast aluminium alloy
  • Tyres – 110/70 ZR17 front; 140/70ZR17 rear
  • Wheelbase – 1380mm
  • Seat height – 780mm
  • Weight (kerb) – 169kg
  • Fuel capacity – 14 litres
  • Price: $9,990 Ride-Away
  • Warranty: Two year unlimited mileage
  • Website: www.suzukimotorcycles.com.au
An LCD display on the SV650 is easy to read and includes a gear indicator
An LCD display on the SV650 is easy to read and includes a gear indicator
Tie-down points on the seat ensure adding some luggage won't be an issue
Tie-down points on the seat ensure adding some luggage won’t be an issue
A stylish tail with distinctive lights ensure the SV650 has a sporty rear end, if you ignore the standard fender
A stylish tail with distinctive lights ensure the SV650 has a sporty rear end, if you ignore the standard fender
A single headlight harks back to the older SV models
A single headlight harks back to the older SV models
Dimensions on the SV650 are ideal for new or less experienced riders, with a very easy reach to the ground thanks to being thin under the seat and between the legs
Dimensions on the SV650 are ideal for new or less experienced riders, with a very easy reach to the ground thanks to being thin under the seat and between the legs
The trellis frame on the new SV650
The trellis frame on the new SV650