Loyal Motorcycle.com readers will know I have a soft spot for the Suzuki SV650 – as many people do. A lot's been said about what a great bike it is and how it can please riders of all ages and skill levels. Many of us are also of the mindset that the earlier, pre-Gladius and pre-SFV650, versions are more desirable. The problem is that, as time goes on, earlier models are getting harder to find – at least in good condition.
At long last, the spiritual successor to Suzuki’s wildly popular SV650 (but not the actual successor, the SV is still staying in the Suzuki lineup) is finally here. Say hello to the GSX-8S, a motorcycle Suzuki says was “engineered from the ground up as an innovative path for future Suzuki sportbikes…”
Spy photographers have snapped images of two new Suzuki prototypes powered by a new Parallel-Twin engine. The two motorcycles, an adventure bike and a naked model, appear to be the eventual successors to the V-Strom 650 and SV650, and the culmination of a long development path for Suzuki’s new middleweight twin-cylinder engine.
We last performed this public service in 2017, when your Yamaha FZ-07 prevailed over the Kawasaki Z650, Suzuki SV650, the new Harley-Davidson Street Rod, and the new and indeterminate Benelli TnT 600, in that order. The FZ-07 has since morphed into the MT-07 amidst a host of well thought-out upgrades in 2018, and then again for 2021. The Z650 got a modern instrument pod in 2020 with a few other tasteful refinements, and the SV650 hasn’t changed a bit (God bless it). The Benelli is still around but didn’t get the call this time, and the H-D Street Rod has been withdrawn from the market under a hail of ridicule. Sad.
With the Aprilia Tuono 660 and Triumph Trident 660, we’ve got two brand new middleweight nakeds on the market this year, entering what was already a pretty good field with the Honda CB650R, Kawasaki Z650, Suzuki SV650, and the Yamaha MT-07. Obviously, this calls for us to put all six motorcycles together in a shootout.
“There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.” – Mark Twain
I knew this day would come eventually. I didn’t expect it to take so long, but I suppose good things like the Aprilia RS660 are worth waiting for. You see, as an owner of a Suzuki SV650 that’s almost of legal drinking age (and a former Kawasaki Versys 650 owner), I have a soft spot for bikes in this middleweight category. They hit that sweet spot between power, performance, and price – there’s just enough power to keep things exciting, moderate performance to emphasize the importance of rider skill, and well…SVs are dirt cheap. After all this time, I still haven’t found a compelling reason to replace my trusty little Suzuki.
I credit my early foundations in motorcycling to my beloved Suzuki SV650. Like with any sport, you need to learn the basics before you can progress to the more advanced stuff, and while my motorcycling career progressed on a number of different motorcycles over the years, my foundation was solidly built on my humble little SV.
Alright folks, let’s do some math! If we take the sum of S+V multiplied by 650 we find the factor is equal to or greater than a standard or naked bike. If we then take SV(650X) we see the coefficient of X, 650 in this example, being equal to… Who am I kidding? I was always terrible at math/algebra/statistics, all of it. But what Suzuki’s telling us is that X equals cafe. Simple as that. Don’t question your teachers kids; just put your head down and conform.
The Suzuki SV650X, a retro-ish cafe racer version of the SV650, is coming to the U.S., along with some minor updates to the regular SV. The SV650X has actually been available in other markets as a 2018 model, but the extra wait gives U.S. consumers a new black and white color scheme and upgraded brakes.
Pardon me for a moment while I take you down memory lane. The year was 2007. I was racing my beloved Suzuki SV650 at the Barber Vintage Festival in Alabama, with intentions of going further east afterward and tackling the high banks at Daytona International Speedway with the American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association (AHRMA). The Barber round was great – I had some decent finishes to my name, and better yet, I came away from the event in one piece and with so many happy memories. Meanwhile, one kind competitor even agreed to take my SV to Florida!
Electric motorcycles may be the future, but right now they are far from being price-competitive with their gasoline-powered cousins. But don’t worry! Even though having an electric motorcycle can cost you many thousands of more dollars, you may be able to even out the price difference.
Suzuki will present a SV650X next month at the Tokyo Motor Show, showcasing a “neo-retro” version of its naked V-Twin. Though it looks to be production ready, Suzuki says the SV650X is only a concept, and the company says it hopes to gauge consumer reaction before deciding whether to put it into production (which seems like a familiar theme for Suzuki this year.)
Three years ago in its maiden season, the Yamaha FZ-07 came out with both 80mm pistons blazing to take the win from five other tasty middleweights (including the KTM 690 Duke) in our 2014 Middleweight Mash-Up Six-Way Shootout! Last year, we threw the Yamaha in with the Duke 690 again – also the reborn Suzuki SV650 (alongside Gabe’s old SV, because why not?), and watched as the Yamaha lost out to the Duke by the slimmest of margins (a different set of testers…), on its way to beating up (barely) the new Suzuki SV.