Suzuki SFV650

Motorcycle.com  650 comparison photo shoot

Which brings us to the Suzuki SFV650, which finished a step ahead of the Ninja and CB500, but still solidly mid-pack in spite of the fact that the original SV650 of 1999 is to the youngsters at MO what the GSX-R once was to us Boomers: a life-altering machine. It was still a great middleweight Twin over the years in spite of losing its original oval-tube aluminum frame and gaining weight. It’s like somebody’s wannabe-designer child at Suzuki (who’s really more into shoes) was given the SFV to learn on. In 2009, it reappeared as the Gladius, which Suzuki hinted was intended to be a chick bike, and which we, of course, translated immediately to Gladys.

Motorcycle.com  650 comparison photo shoot

The mini-Ducati 90-degree Twin it’s packing remains an all-time favorite engine, and the chassis doesn’t let it down. Still, Suzuki seems to go out of its way to make the SFV look like something Liberace would park next to the sequined baby grand. The red trellis frame is kind of cool, but then it’s half covered with a big red piece of matching plastic trim. The exhaust is a big ugly black thing whose stainless heat shields just draw attention to it. It’s all supposed to be organic and flowing, of course, but it looks a little forced and fake with all the droopy covers designed to fool the eye that don’t. The Suzuki finished last in our Cool Factor category.

“Its 90-degree V-Twin is more pleasing and smoother than the parallel-Twins,” says EIC Duke mid-wheelie, “emitting a sweet aural signature that could fool many a Ducatista.”

“Its 90-degree V-Twin is more pleasing and smoother than the parallel-Twins,” says EIC Duke mid-wheelie, “emitting a sweet aural signature that could fool many a Ducatista.”

None of that keeps it from being a great bike to ride: 67.5 horses at 8300 rpm is the most ponies here, and 8000 rpm is a good place to be for maximum auditory pleasure. The SFV’s engine and transmission finished second on the collective Scorecard, and it picked up a solid third in the handling department.

“Suzuki has an engine that is so good all these years later, 15 to be exact. Too bad the rest of the bike is mediocre. I hop back on this and am immediately reminded why I used to race SV650s years ago. It’s just a great engine with an equally great transmission.” – Troy Siahaan

Dirty Sean Alexander, the biggest, tallest guy in our pack and well over 200 pounds, could barely stop raving about the SFV, which is funny because if you’re short, you’ll like that it shares lowest-seat honors (30.9 inches) with the CB500F. Lighter riders felt the SFV could use more rebound damping at the rear, as it would attempt to catapult them out of the seat over bumps occasionally.

2013 Suzuki SFV Review

It’s an excellent freeway cruiser, albeit with a firmer seat foam than the others that’s also shaped to encourage our delicates to become more familiar with the gas tank than we prefer. The comprehensive Salvador Dali instrument panel serves as a remedial flyscreen. We could be less harsh if the $8,149 MSRP wasn’t the second-most expensive bike here. Suzuki must’ve realized the SFV’s price was on the high side, as its MSRP drops by $500 for the 2015 edition, now in a Pearl Vigor Blue / Pearl Glacier White color scheme.

It’s fun to bang the red needle off the scale.

It’s fun to bang the red needle off the scale.

+ Highs

  • Super willing little V-Twin and shifty 6-speed box
  • Another surprisingly comfy long-distance cruiser
  • The red trellis is undeniably cool
– Sighs

  • It’s time for a “retro” version of the original SV
  • Not an SV750 to take on the FZ-07
  • opping off $500 from $8,149 for 2015 is a good start, but …

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