2000 Valuebike Shootout

Who let the MO out?

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First Place - Suzuki SV 650: $5,799

The original start date for this value bike roundup was iced when a (bad) man in a truck blew a stop sign and T-boned our hapless graphics editor (read about the crash). The only entity who perhaps fared worse than dear Calvin was the Suzuki SV650 he was riding. Fortunately, Suzuki supplied us with another bike (we love you, Mark). This was a wise move on their part, because it gave MO a chance to crown it champion of our shootout. And, shootout notwithstanding, we would like to add that this is one of our absolute favorite bikes regardless of price. Assuming you keep the rubber side down and delay your new career as a hood ornament, as Calvin discovered, the nimble, narrow and torquey SV650 can do practically anything you want. Urban commuting? No problem. Sport touring? Throw on some soft bags, a small windshield and head on out. Canyon carving? Pulleeezzee.

The SV650 is extremely competent in just about everything.

"The tighter the twisties, the more potent the little twin becomes."

We've seen several of these things flying around local backroads and racetracks, prepped with a set of early GSX-R600 forks, a steering damper, custom rear shock, free-flow exhaust and few other little niceties. In stock form, some readers have complained about the soft suspension.

Even though the non-adjustable forks and rear shock are sprung more for comfort than for speed, they're a good compromise considering the wide range of uses this bike is likely to encounter. For lighter riders, actually, the stock suspension is great.

Our testers constantly fought over the SV650's key.

If you're an aggressive, track-bound rider or heavier than an empty keg, though, you'll likely want some suspension mods.

The best word to describe the SV650 is "crisp." Twist the throttle, the engine snaps to attention and propels you forward. Grab some brakes, the wheels stop in a hurry. Wanna be in that other lane, push on the grip and you're there. The SV is a joy to ride in everything from slow to medium-paced backroad twisties.

Still, only in the really fast stuff did we wish for a larger-displacement, full-faired sportbike.

The life of a moto-journalist can be so hard. Just look at that blue sky. For shame.

"Suzuki hit the nail on the head with this one."

You can commute on this bike, too. But the lack of a wind screen makes the chore a bit tough for extended jaunts. The transmission is widely spaced, though, so the SV has no problem passing even rapidly flowing traffic.

Best of all, the SV650 has character. It sounds like a proper twin, the lines are clean and the seating position is comfy with just enough of an "I mean business" quality. Suzuki hit the nail on the head with this one. And the price makes the deal that much sweeter.


What at first looked to be a tough comparo wound up being a runaway victory for the redhead, er, Suzuki. We can't say enough about the excellent blend of comfort and performance. The price is right and it's doubtful the clean lines would offend anybody, regardless if they dig Calista Flockhart or Cameron Manheim, sportbikes or cruisers.

Group drive-by.

That's not to say we wouldn't recommend any of the other five, though. The 883 offers the most vibe for the buck like that older lady who lays waiting in the shadows but could surely teach you a thing or two if you would just ask her politely. The KLR clearly can deliver maximum versatility just like that lady who came to your house complete with her own goodie bag that night long ago.

The Nighthawk, legendary for its great all-around ride, reminds us of your mom. No offense to her, but she's just too nice and concerned about your well-being to make us want to take her out for the evening.

The V Star was surprisingly fun to ride (insert your own pun here, we've already done enough damage to ourselves to open this door), and the Blast lived up to its name, provided you stayed in the city, or at home. "I would've voted the Blast lower," said one (request-to-be) Anonymous Squid, "but there were only six bikes in the test."

The thing we learned from all this? Price need not be an obstacle between you, the wind, the sun and your favorite destination. After all, if you can pick up chicks in a bar with lame come-ons like that one about the drink or the money, any of these bikes is way too good for you anyway. Enjoy.

Rider Impressions:

Brent "Minime" Avis - Never had nothin' and still ain't got nothin'

Coming from a dirt background I was able to appreciate the KLR more than the rest of the testers. It's a hooligan bike that begs you to blast through parking lots, grassy fields and anyplace else that you really shouldn't be. It was lots of fun, but for the most part it's not very practical -- and it's just so damn ugly. Reminds me of a Glad trash bag with glitter. I still liked it better than the Blast, though. I just do not get that bike.

On the other side of the love/hate globe is the SV650. It's like an old friend from school that you still keep in touch with because, even though they're not terribly fascinating, they have their shining moments and they're never dull. Every time I ride the SV, I wonder why I don't spend more time on it. For any bike, that's high praise.

Someplace in the middle are the Honda (as generic as a motorcycle gets), the Harley (if I'm gonna buy a Harley, I'm gonna buy a big-ass Harley) and the Yamaha which is pretty damn cool as far as Japanese cruisers go. But none of these bikes do it for me like that damn Suzuki. I only wish our first one remained upright so I could have played with it longer. Damn, I'm sounding more like my girlfriend every day...

Roland Sands - Got somethin' but ain't sharin' with us

I think you need to hear the outcome of the value bike shootout according to me, Professional Suzuki destroyer. If my memory serves me correctly there were six bikes.

My least favoritest was the Buell because it was half as fast as a normal Buell.

"No competition from this bunch. The SV wins hands down." Even though it was the second best handling bike it was more like riding a scooter that a motorcycle and that bummed me out. It was bright yellow too, so not only will you be going slowly, but people will notice you going slowly. Not good in my book, but then again my book reads a bit differently than you're average street rider.

5th place. The V Star, it was big and very cruiserish'. It had the clutch of death, nothing, nothing, nothing, then everything. If I was a beginner I would of dropped the bike more than once due to the unpredictable clutch. It's actually a good-looking bike, but it's not really my style.

4th place. HD 883. I didn't ride it, but I've ridden enough of them to know it's a solid bike. It handles better than you'd think and with some mods it makes a fun and pretty street bike. Plus it's a Harley and it will get you chicks, or guys, or both, whatever your preference.

3rd. Honda 750. Dude, this bike kicked ass. I've never even thought twice about wanting to throw a leg over this thing, but it's actually an ass kicker of a bike. It's got a solid motor, predictable handling and it's fun to ride. Even though it looks boring as sh*t, it's really not. Surprise.

2nd. What's big and tall, wheelies really far and can jump over a Buell? That's right, the KLR. I picked this second based on the value, you get a street bike and a dirt bike for the price of one bike. Not a bad deal. Although it doesn't shine in either arena, it works. The major flaw was the front brakes, they were scary for street use, then again, you don't have to worry about locking up that skinny-ass front tire. Best wheelie bike in the test.

1st. Suzuki sv 650. No competition from this bunch. The SV wins hands down. It's the best-looking, best-stopping, best-handling, best-riding bike in the test. If you're looking for the most bike for the least dough, do yourself a favor and buy an SV. You won't be bummed, It's like the Gary Rothwell starter kit. Just look out for sand when doing stand up burnouts.

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