The Suzuki SV650 is a motorcycle that is hard to pin down. Most motorcycles that are great for the experienced rider are much too powerful for someone new to the hobby of motorcycling. On the other hand, most beginner motorcycles don't have the power of 600cc's or liter bikes, and that can leave veteran riders are wanting more. This has led to new riders buying 600cc+ motorcycles in an effort to 'plan ahead' for when they are experienced. Unfortunately, these type of motorcycles were designed for racing and therefore are not very newbie friendly. So does the SV650 exist in that goldilocks zone? Does it have enough power for the veterans but not too much power for the newbies? I think so!
V-twin Power for the Streets
The suzuki SV650 and the SV650s (sport edition) are the most modern and the largest displacement bikes that this website recommends as of this writing. The 90-degree liquid cooled V-twin, 645cc, fuel injected engine delivers power in a very manageable way and is great for both a new and experienced rider. Most sportbikes are equipped with an inline-4 engine which is the equivalent to a jet turbine in terms of power output. They can go quite fast once you rev them up to speed, but most of them are left lacking when it comes to mid-range torque.
The SV has mid-range power in spades, and is the type you need when riding on the street. That is also the primary reason why the SV makes such a great beginner motorcycle. It allows the newer rider to get used to the sensitivity of the throttle without having to worry too much about the motorcycle taking off without them.
If you pick up an older SV650 (pre-2003) you will find that the frame is more rounded compared to the new versions, this allows the frame to be 100% cast aluminum alloy. The older tube frames were partially cast and the rest was welded together. Both frames are well designed and very stiff which really adds to the already impressive handling of this bike. Couple that with the stock Metzler Mez 4 tires and you have a bike that can keep up with other more race oriented bikes in the twisties.
A comparison of the older tube frame and the modern anglular frame
The Suspension and Ride
One gripe that most SV owners have is the suspension. A lot of riders think it's much too soft which leads some people to replace their front forks with those of a Suzuki GSXR, but I think that the suspension works well enough on the street. If you were going to be doing some heavy riding either on the track or maybe some aggressive twisties then it may be worth it to change out the forks, other than that I wouldn't bother.
One more thing that some owners complain about is the hard seat that comes stock on the SV. During the times where I have ridden an SV I wouldn't say that the saddle is absolutely horrible, but it could use a bit more cushioning if you plan on riding for hours and hours. If you are going to be going on some long trips you may want to switch the seat out for an aftermarket seat (maybe a corbin).
When all things are considered the SV650 is not only a great looking bike, but also a really fun one to ride. This bike offers a great alternative for those that are too self conscious to start on a 250cc or 500cc motorcycle or those that simple have had lots of 2 wheeled dirt experience and want to move on to the street.
Three Levels of Fairings
Fairings are the plastic parts of a motorcycle that can impact how it rides it rides and how it looks. A fully faired bike has plastics covering most of the front, engine, and bottom of the bike as well as a windscreen. This is so the bike can be as aero-dynamic as possible, and it also looks great.
There are some bikes that come either 'naked', or partially faired. A naked motorcycle has no fairings, which means all of the wind that you experience will be hitting your face and chest. This makes riding a more visceral experience, and a fun one in my opinion!
The SV 650 comes in multiple levels of fairings. There is the naked level, the partially faired, and the fully faired version that you can create with aftermarket parts. This lets you really customize the look of the bike so it fits you and your personality.
The Best Beginner Motorcycle?
The SV650 is arguably the best motorcycle for many people. If you are nervous about 'outgrowing' your bike too fast, then the SV650 is a great choice. If you are a heavier guy or girl and are worried a 250cc motorcycle like the Kawasaki Ninja 250 won't have the grunt to move you around, then the SV650 is a good option. If you want a beginner bike that will allow you to go on longer multi-day rides, then the SV650 is tough to beat.
No matter how you slice it, the SV650 is one of the best beginner motorcycles out there. And now that it is no longer being actively manufactured, you can get them at a great price on the used market.
- Half fairing means less plastic to break in case of a drop.
- 70 hp is enough for the experienced, but not too much for the new rider.
- Cheaper than a 600cc 'crotch rocket'.
- Suspension is too soft
- Might be too much power for someone not comfortable on 2 wheels (either a bicycle or dirt bike).
- Engine: 645 cc, four-stroke, liquid cooled, 90° V-twin, DOHC, 8-valves, TSCC
- Power: 70 HP @ 9000 RPM
- Torque: 62.00 Nm @ 7500 RPM
- Fuel Capacity: 4.23 gallons
- Top Speed: 124.3 mph
- Miles Per Gallon: 50-55mpg