2013 Suzuki SFV650 Review

Don't call me Gladius

Touchy-feely editor, Troy Siahaan, cried the day Suzuki announced the retirement of the original, unfaired SV650 in 2008. In no way, however, would Suzuki continue without introducing a newer version of the beloved mid-displacement Twin. But WTF is a Gladius? We don’t know, but we think Spartacus might ride one.

Now, after a few-year hiatus, the Gladius returns sans the name, recognized only by its alphanumeric nomenclature, SFV650. Last seen wearing Metallic Triton Blue/Glass Splash White or Pearl Nebular Black, the 2013 version sports only a Metallic Mat Black/Glass Sparkle Black color scheme. This, and its current price tag $7999 ($6899 in 2009), are the only new elements of the 2013 SFV.

2013 Suzuki SFV650 Action Right Turn

Characteristics that made the original SV so popular and continue with the SFV are the bike’s ability to attract newer riders with moderate skills while providing enough performance to keep seasoned riders excited. The SFV does this by way of a low seat height (30.9 in), relatively low curb weight (446 lbs), neutral handling manners and, most of all, its sprightly 647cc, liquid-cooled V-Twin.

VIEW: Read our Hyosung GT650 vs. Suzuki Gladius shootout

“The SFV650 engine is an absolute gem that Suzuki has now perfected,” exclaimed Siahaan during a shootout pitting the Suzuki against its Korean alter ego, the Hyosung GT650.

“Power develops smoothly with no discernible flat spots or hesitation in fueling. Even when in top gear at freeway speeds, the 645cc engine accelerates to overtaking speeds without any hesitation as it spools up smoothly and briskly,” we said then and stand by those comments now.

2013 Suzuki SFV650 Gauges

Handling is another strong point of the SFV. While not overtly aggressive in the way it rounds a corner, the diminutive Twin returns pleasing results to the rider’s inputs – handling characteristics that make the SFV a nurturing midwife to newer riders while delivering stability and control to those possessing a more decorated skillset.

2013 Suzuki SFV650 Front Brake

COMPETITION: Read our review of the 2012 Kawasaki Ninja 650

Footpeg feelers touch down sooner than expected but the damn things are excessively long. Still, better those than the muffler. Cornering clearance, though, remains more than enough to keep things exciting in the canyons.

2013 Suzuki SFV650 Action Left

The SFV’s seat is quite narrow to allow short legs an easy reach to the ground, but there’s little area to provide good support and it creates discomfort for a rider’s upper, inner thighs. The distance between handlebar grips is also on the narrow side. Otherwise, the SFV is a relatively comfortable mount.

COMPETITION: Read our review of the 2013 Honda CB500F and CBR500R

As competent as the SFV is, however, we see stiff competition for the motorcycle formerly known as Gladius in the offerings from Honda and Kawasaki. Honda’s new CB500F ($5499) and CBR500R ($5999) are far cheaper though not nearly as quick, while Kawi’s comparable but faired Ninja 650 retails for $400 less at $7599. We could include the Hyosung, but that bike hasn’t changed much (if at all) since our last comparison and the SFV handily defeated it in that test. But the new Hondas and recently revised Ninja 650 will certainly give the Suzuki serious competition.

2013 Suzuki SFV650 Action Rear

MSRP $7999
Engine Capacity 645 cc
Engine Type 4-stroke, 2-cylinder, liquid-cooled, DOHC, 90-degree V-Twin
Bore x Stroke 3.09 in x 2.46 in
Compression 11.5:1
Fuel System Fuel injection
Transmission 6-speed, constant mesh
Final Drive Chain
Frame Steel tube trellis
Front Suspension Telescopic fork, coil spring, oil damped
Rear Suspension Link type, coil spring, oil damped, preload adjustable
Front Brakes Twin,2-piston calipers, 290mm discs
Rear Brakes Single, 1-piston caliper, 240mm disc
Front Tire 120/70 x 17
Rear Tire 160/60 x 17
Seat Height 30.9 in
Wheelbase 56.9 inches
Rake/Trail 25.5°/104mm
Curb Weight 446 lbs
Fuel Capacity 3.8 gal
Colors Metallic Mat Black/Glass Sparkle Black

View all Photos PHOTOS & VIDEOS

Get Motorcycle.com in your Inbox