2013 Suzuki SFV650 Review - Motorcycle.com

Tom Roderick
by Tom Roderick

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 In no way, however, would Suzuki continue without introducing a newer version of the beloved mid-displacement Twin.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.

Although the SFV650 offers no upgrades since last seen in 2009, the 2013 model retains all the fine handling elements we lauded in our initial review.

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.

The instrument cluster is nothing fancy but it delivers information in an easy-to-see format including a gear-position indicator.

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.

While the SFV boasts twin 2-piston Tokico calipers gripping 290mm discs, initial bite is underwhelming and stopping performance only moderately impressive. They, combined with the rear’s single, 1-piston caliper and 240mm disc get the job done.

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.

The seating position/rider triangle is comfortable for a variety of sizes of riders, however taller riders will notice the seat-to-footpeg distance is tight, forcing an acute bend in a taller rider’s knees.

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.

We welcome the return of the Gla... er, SFV650, but new competition has arisen from Honda and Kawasaki featuring more affordable price tags. We smell a shootout brewing.
Engine Capacity645 cc
Engine Type4-stroke, 2-cylinder, liquid-cooled, DOHC, 90-degree V-Twin
Bore x Stroke3.09 in x 2.46 in
Fuel SystemFuel injection
Transmission6-speed, constant mesh
Final DriveChain
FrameSteel tube trellis
Front SuspensionTelescopic fork, coil spring, oil damped
Rear SuspensionLink type, coil spring, oil damped, preload adjustable
Front BrakesTwin,2-piston calipers, 290mm discs
Rear BrakesSingle, 1-piston caliper, 240mm disc
Front Tire120/70 x 17
Rear Tire160/60 x 17
Seat Height30.9 in
Wheelbase56.9 inches
Curb Weight446 lbs
Fuel Capacity3.8 gal
ColorsMetallic Mat Black/Glass Sparkle Black
Tom Roderick
Tom Roderick

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