In 1999 who would have ever thought Suzuki’s unassuming SV650 would become a cult classic? The basic motorcycle, with its 645cc V-Twin, may have had components sourced from the bargain bin within the factory, but the sum of its parts was so affordable, and so enjoyable to toss around, riders all over the globe hold the bike in high regard – including MOrons like Yours Truly and Editorial Director Sean Alexander. Both of whom have owned, modified, and raced SVs.

Next week Suzuki is holding its U.S. press introduction of the new 2017 SV650 which I’ll be attending (so be on the lookout for the First Ride Review!), but in lieu of the intro we felt it was a good time to take a look back at the SV over the years. Below you’ll find a spec chart featuring four generations of the SV650 in America. We’re sticking mainly with naked versions of the SV since the new bike is sans fairings, but the specs are mostly the same between the S and N models. Also included here is the Gladius/SFV650 because as much as the media (MO included) and the riding public may have ridiculed its name and the strange direction Suzuki took in the styling department, it’s basically the third generation SV with a different name. That and its chassis and engine form the basis of the new bike.

First Gen (1999 – 2002)


What better place to start than with the first SV. At its heart is the 645cc, liquid-cooled, DOHC, four-valve, 90-degree V-Twin that has become legendary. Its bore and stroke measurements of 81.0mm x 62.6mm have remained the same over the years, and remain so even with the new fourth generation model. Two Mikuni carburettors were equipped on first gen units. In 1999, MO measured rear wheel horsepower at 68.0 at 8,750 rpm. Torque was 44.5 lb-ft at its peak. Both numbers line up with Suzuki’s claimed figures of 69 hp and 45 lb-ft.

A tubular aluminum frame, similar in style to the SV’s bigger brother, the TL1000, wrapped around the V-Twin and helped keep the SV light – to the tune of 395 lbs wet on the MO scales. A non-adjustable damper-rod conventional fork was mated to a preload-adjustable shock. In 2002 fork preload adjustability was introduced. Stopping power was provided by twin 290mm discs and two-piston calipers, while a 240mm disc sat out back with a single-piston caliper. All of the SV variants have stayed true to the 160/60-17 rear tire size, while first and second gen models came equipped with the oddball 120/60-17 front. A switch to the more conventional 120/70-17 front was introduced starting with the Gladius.

Second Gen (2003 – 2008)


The SV received a major revamp in 2003 with a new rectangular-shaped aluminum frame replacing the oval-tube unit, and angular body lines instead of the rounded shape before. But the big news engine-wise was the introduction of fuel injection. In 2006, when we pit the SV650 against Kawasaki’s Ninja 650, the SV made 71.2 hp to the wheel and 45.3 lb-ft of torque – also in line with Suzuki’s claimed numbers of 70 hp and 45.7 lb-ft.

Bargain-level suspension components are a staple of the SV lineage, and so it is that the second gen also features a basic fork and shock with only preload adjustability. Brakes, too, don’t change from the first gen. The bike remains relatively the same throughout its lifespan; 2004 saw a revised subframe, and in 2005 frames were painted black.

The Gladius Years


Many (myself included) think Suzuki lost its way when the Gladius replaced the SV650 in 2009. Its styling didn’t capture the elegance of the naked SVs (with some opinions claiming an excess of femininity), and the long single seat also missed the mark, styling-wise. Worst of all is its name: Gladius. While it may be the Latin word for sword, the bike doesn’t conjure up thoughts of ancient battle weapons. Instead it almost feels like a SV knockoff named Gladys, like your aunt. Perhaps the media barrage about the name finally hit home, as Suzuki changed the name to SFV650 in 2013.

Still, the venerable 645cc V-Twin soldiers on in the Gladius/SFV650. Suzuki made several improvements to the engine, highlighted below:

Engine Updates:
• Cylinders receive racing-derived SCEM (Suzuki Composite Eletrochemical Material) for better heat dissipation, reduced friction, etc.
• 5% increase in crankshaft inertia enhances low-to-mid range output and “highlights power-pulse feel.”
• Single spring per valve versus the SV650’s two springs per valve reduces inertia weight, and thereby mechanical losses.
• High-lift cam for increased torque.
• Throttle body intake funnels, though longer than what the SV650 used, are two different lengths for improved mid-range.
• Idle Speed Control (ISC) system integrated into throttle body –first ever on any Suzuki street bike– improves idle, cold starting and eliminates additional wiring and hoses. The same 10-hole fuel injectors used on the GSX-R600 and 750 offer better atomization of fuel mixture. Two Iridium-tip spark plugs per cylinder complete the package for more thorough, consistent combustion which in turn is claimed to lead to better economy, emissions, power, etc.
• All new compact exhaust with mid-chamber is claimed to increase low and mid-range torque while different length exhaust pipes allegedly improve low-end performance; exhaust design also contributes to lower CoG.
• New radiator is smaller; oil cooler is now liquid-to-liquid rather than air-cooled, and its new design helps centralize mass.

Suzuki claims horsepower and torque numbers of 71.1 hp at 8,400 rpm and 47.2 lb-ft at 6,400 rpm, and in our 2014 six-bike Middleweight Mashup, our SFV test bike made 67.5 rear wheel hp at 8,300 rpm and 44.2 lb-ft at 7,900 rpm. Both numbers are within acceptable ranges factoring 10% driveline loss from crank to wheel, but it is odd our test bike’s peak torque came 1,500 rpm later than Suzuki’s claim. The engine is now wrapped (again) by a trellis-style frame, only this one is steel instead of aluminum. The same basic suspension remains, though a 120/70-17 front tire is finally used instead of the 120/60-17. We liked that the Gladius/SFV650 handled and stopped about as well as the SVs before it, but we never could come to like the funky styling. To make matters worse, as competition for the SFV started to appear – at cheaper price points – Suzuki was asking up to $8,149 for the SFV in 2014. Nail, meet coffin.

The Return Of The SV


With the fourth generation SV650 it looks as though Suzuki has heard the calls of the media and SV fans alike, and is returning to the simplicity that made the SV popular. The bones of the Gladius/SFV650 remain, including the 645cc V-Twin and steel trellis frame, though between the two components Suzuki claims it has made over 140 changes, including over 60 items on the engine alone that are either new or redesigned, resulting in Euro 4 emission compliance and a boost in power. Better still, pricing is competitive with the competition: $6,999 without ABS, $7,499 with.

Full details on the changes to the new SV650 will be included in the First Ride Review, though it’s worth noting that Suzuki is claiming four more horses than the outgoing SFV650 through the myriad of changes it has made: 75.1 hp at 8,500 rpm vs. 71.1 hp at 8,400 rpm. Torque stays the same at 47.2 lb-ft, though interestingly, Suzuki’s press materials have the new model reaching that torque peak at 8,100 rpm compared to 6,400 rpm for the SFV. Looking at the spec chart below, it’s also revealed that the new SV has a lower compression ratio: 11.2:1, compared to 11.5:1 before. Part of the appeal of the SV’s V-Twin engine was the abundant torque available at relatively low revs. We’ll be curious to see if the new engine character detracts from the experience.

On paper anyway, the fourth generation SV650 looks to have the same formula that made the original so great.

On paper anyway, the fourth generation SV650 looks to have the same formula that made the original so great.

The new SV has also gone on a diet; the new bike weighing in at a claimed 430 lbs wet. That’s 15 lbs less than the SFV650 (445 lbs) and 18 lbs less between the two when equipped with ABS (434 lbs vs 452 lbs). Suzuki says over 70 chassis parts and components are new or redesigned to achieve this weight target.

Despite the weight loss, the SV still has the same fuel capacity as before – 3.8 gallons (or 3.6 gallons if you’re in California), but makes a big jump in fuel economy: a claimed 61.3 mpg vs 56.5 mpg on the SFV. Brakes are still the same as on the SFV, but with a new ABS unit from Nissin that shaves 830 grams (1.8 lbs) off the SFV ABS unit.

The More Things Change…

Unlike the sportbike world, where technology is moving quickly and new bikes rarely share components with their predecessors (especially major components like engines), the SV650 timeline is clearly evolutionary rather than revolutionary. The engine is basically the same after all these years, as are the suspension and braking components. Does that mean Suzuki has rekindled the flame that made the original SV so special nearly two decades ago? I’ll let you know next week.

MSRP $6,999 – $7,499 (ABS) $6,899/$8,149 $5,799.00 $5,699
Engine Type 645cc Liquid-cooled, EFI, DOHC, four-stroke, 90-degree V-Twin, 4 valves per cylinder 645cc Liquid-cooled, EFI, DOHC, four-stroke, 90-degree V-Twin, 4 valves per cylinder 645cc Liquid-cooled, EFI, DOHC, four-stroke, 90-degree V-Twin, 4 valves per cylinder 645cc Liquid-cooled, Carburetted, DOHC, four-stroke, 90-degree V-Twin, 4 valves per cylinder
Bore and Stroke 81.0mm x 62.6mm 81.0mm x 62.6mm 81.0mm x 62.6mm 81.0mm x 62.6mm
Compression Ratio 11.2:1 11.5:1 11.5:1 11.5:1
Horsepower (claimed) 75.1 hp @ 8,500 rpm 71.1 hp @ 8,400 rpm 71.2 hp @ 9,000 rpm (measured) 68.0 hp @ 8,750 rpm (measured)
Torque (claimed) 47.2 lb-ft @ 8,100 rpm 47.2 lb-ft @ 6,400 rpm 45.7 @ 7,500 rpm 45.7 lb-ft @ 7,400 rpm
Transmission 6-speed; multi-plate wet clutch 6-speed; multi-plate wet clutch 6-speed; multi-plate wet clutch 6-speed; multi-plate wet clutch
Final Drive Chain Chain Chain Chain
Front Suspension 41mm conventional fork. 41mm conventional telescopic fork, coil spring, oil damped, preload adjustable 41mm conventional telescopic fork, coil spring, oil damped, preload adjustable 41mm telescopic fork, coil spring, damping rod (preload adjustable 2002)
Rear Suspension Link-type single shock, preload adjustable. Link-type single shock, preload adjustable. Link-type single shock, preload adjustable. Link-type single shock, preload adjustable.
Front Brake Dual 290mm floating discs, two-piston calipers. ABS Dual 290mm floating discs, two-piston calipers. ABS Dual 290mm floating discs, two-piston calipers. Dual 290mm floating discs, two-piston calipers.
Rear Brake Single 240 disc, Single-piston caliper Single 240 disc, Single-piston caliper Single 240 disc, Single-piston caliper Single 240 disc, Single-piston caliper
Front Tire 120/70-17 120/70-17 120/60-17 120/60-17
Rear Tire 160/60-17 160/60-17 160/60-17 160/60-17
Rake/Trail 25.0º/4.1 in 25.0º/4.1 in 25.0º/4.0 in (naked), 3.9 in (S) 25º / 3.9 in
Wheelbase 56.9 in 56.9 in 56.7 in (naked), 56.3 in (S) 55.9 in
Seat Height 30.9 in 30.9 in 31.5 in 31.7 in
Curb Weight (Claimed) 429.9 lbs (434.3 lbs ABS) 445 lbs 401 lbs 395 lbs
Fuel Capacity 3.8 gal (3.6 gal CA) 3.8 gal (3.6 gal CA) 4.5 gal (4.2 gal CA) 4.2 gal.
  • Born to Ride

    Nice informative article. I will happily eat crow regarding my previous comments about Suzuki being unable to price the SV competitively. What I did not realize however, is that the 2016 model shares a frame and swingarm with the Glady. While I enjoy the monsteresque styling of that steel trellis unit, mating it to the box section swing arm makes it look a little TOO late 90s monster for me. What happened to the oval tube aluminum frame? That iteration was by far the lightest and is considered to have better stiffness than the frames that succeeded it.
    I hope Suzuki sells a mountain of these bikes, I really do. But for me as a slightly older, slightly more experienced rider than the target demographic, it falls short. The SV has always been a budget bike, but it has the potential to be so much more. I would like Suzuki to release a premium quality SV with more power/displacement, modern suspension/brakes, the oval tube frame with a stylized swing arm (single side maybe?), with fit and finish to match the R Nine T. Call it a heritage bike or a hipster bike or whatever, build it and I will buy one.

    • c w

      The value of the yen happened to it.

      • Born to Ride

        I have often heard the claim that the tube frame was costlier to manufacture than the flat truss frame, But I have never heard evidence to substantiate it.

        • c w

          The aluminum tube frame might have been costlier than the aluminum truss, but I doubt that the steel truss is costlier than either of those.

  • c w

    “it’s worth noting that one of those changes is the introduction of twin
    spark plugs per cylinder to help achieve a cleaner, more efficient burn”.

    Troy, you listed this as a new feature for the ’17. That was introduced on the Gladius.

    Also, I think you should have noted that the MSRP of the SFV got up to $8,149 for the ’14 model before the price reductions for it and unsold older models still in stock.

    I’m wondering if Suzuki will discontinue the GSR/GSX-S750 now that the SV is being introduced…

    • Andre Capitao Melo

      That “engine updates” box is related to the Gladius engine.

      • c w

        That quote was from the section about the new SV. It was repeated from the section on the previous models’ updates.

        The 750 is larger, but not necessarily a different category depending on market. In the States, they are both going to be viewed as entry-level bikes. In fact the S-750 seems like it appeared here largely due to the presence of the FZ-07. Given the likelihood of the 750 and the SV to be cross-shopped, I wonder at the justification for them both carrying on.

        Plus, the 750 is six year old design now. Perhaps it has sold in enough numbers worldwide to justify keeping it (again, I wonder at the effect of the “return” of the SV worldwide), but it only has two model years and not a great deal name recognition here.

    • Born to Ride

      Can’t get a GSX750 in California, which as I understand is the largest market for motorcycles in the US. So the new SV certainly has an advantage in that regard.

    • Jeff LaLone

      Introduced with the Gladius? My 2007 SV650S had a total of four spark plugs.

      Of course, they also say that the second gen had a “rectangular tube” aluminum frame. That’s what they made it look like, but those big ol’ side spars were castings.

      • c w


      • Kevin Duke

        What’s to say castings can’t be shaped rectangular…?

        • Jeff LaLone

          Castings CAN be rectangular. Those castings on the second gen ARE rectangular.

          What they are not is tubes. If you were to look at a section view of that portion of the frame, it would look like c-channel.

          • Kevin Duke

            Point taken! Post updated.

  • Ofir

    Gen 1 SV (1999-2002)
    Gen 2 SV (2003-2015)
    Gladius (2009-2015)
    Gen 3 SV (2016-…)

    Production of the Gen2 continued until it was replaced with the new Gen3 just a few months ago.

    The Gladius/SFV may be a very similar bike –even a sister to the SV– but it was never officially an SV and, therefore, cannot be named a “gen”.

    • TroySiahaan

      Production of gen 2 may have continued, but it was no longer available in the U.S. once the Gladius arrived, which is where I set the cutoff.

      Re: Gladius/SFV. How does that Shakespeare line go again? “A rose by any other name…”

    • c w

      and so the argument migrates from svrider…

    • Sabelotodo

      I’d actually consider this bike to be a gen 2 Gladius.

      • Born to Ride

        Ha I was thinking that myself considering the level of components that the two share.

        • c w

          frame (with changes)…engine (with changes)…besides that about as much difference between the SFV650k15 and the SV650k17 as between the Sfv650k9 and the sv650k8.

          Same brakes & suspension since the Johnson administration.

  • Mahatma

    How does it compare to the nt650gt?

  • Born to Ride

    Also wanna point out that the Glady had the lowest measured horsepower despite claiming north of 70. MO measured it in 2014 to be 67.5hp and I have seen it measured as low as 65-66 and change in other publications. Hopefully the new one delivers on the promise of 75hp. Lots of people spent lots of money to make mid-high 70s with these bikes.

    • c w

      mfg’er claim crank hp.

      publications always measure wheel hp.

      • Born to Ride

        Usually they vary by a wide margin as well. However, I my statement was referring to the ‘measured’ horsepower ratings from publications. Which incidentally were almost identical to Suzuki claimed power for the first two generations. Read the article again and you’ll notice that Troy explicitly points this out. I was interjecting that the Gladius with its 67.5hp measured here at MO and the other publications that have dynoed it with lower numbers, makes it the least powerful and heaviest (read: slowest) iteration of the bike.

        • c w

          And torque?

          The Gladius, if memory serves, was biased more toward torque production than the previous gen.

          It may have been the slowest. Being the fastest was never the goal of that bike.

  • Starmag

    As Triumph is now doing with all the Bonneville variants, so should Suzuki do with the SV650 engine, which is charming ad reliable as acclaimed by many. This should be the first variant:

    I can get my own windshield and bags, or Suzuki could offer them as accessories

  • Cale

    Interested in this vs the FZ-07

    • Brett Lewis

      In the 2014 Middleweight Mash-Up Six-Way Shootout, the FZ was 1st, the Duke 2nd, and the now-soon-to-be-replaced SFV was 3rd by 8%. The raters didn’t give the SFV anything to hold over the FZ by even the slimmest margin. Hopefully the new SV can make up some of that difference.

      • Cale

        Yea i read that shootout a bunch of times. I want to see how much better this new SV is.

        • Born to Ride

          Judging by the published specs, the motor is going to be peakier than any previous SV but also more powerful. other than that, its exactly the same as the Gladius minus 15 lbs of suspended mass, which isn’t likely to affect the handling characteristics much. Having personally ridden the original and second Gen SV and the FZ, I’d say that the SV is smoother and revvier than the FZ. My SV steered more accurately and responsively than the FZ, but I remember the pogo stick rear end being a major confidence buster before I swapped it with a GSXR unit, so take that opinion with a grain of salt. The larger motor of the FZ is gruntier to my butt dyno and the brakes are simply superior stock to stock. I found the ergonomics a bit too relaxed for my taste as well (feet too far forward). All in all, I’d take the SV simply for the motor characteristics alone.

        • TroySiahaan

          So do I. That’s why we’ve already asked Yamaha for a FZ-07 for a comparison test.

  • Brett Lewis

    As for the 2017 model I like the bold new lack of Gladiusness. If I didn’t have to ride 2 hours to get to a suitably curvy road I’d be considering one now.

  • Larry Kahn

    FWIW I have a naked-ized 650 V-Strom (fairing/side panels removed & single headlight) and after 70+ motorcycles since 1968 this is my favorite streetbike. So a comfortable roomy SV with some added suspension travel and actual weight of 440lbs with 1/2 tank of gas. (and a 200+ mile range) As a real-world all-rounder tough to beat. If anyone cares…

  • Y.A.

    Man, 400lbs for an SV…. now I absolutely need one. An old one though, not this steel framed nonsense.