In 2009, Suzuki abandoned its extremely popular naked street bike, the SV650, in favor of the (then) all-new Suzuki Gladius. The Gladius was among the first big bikes that were officially available on our shores, but with its polarizing looks and newbie-friendly ergonomics, Suzuki estranged all those who had come to love the bike it replaced.
The old SV650 was a blank canvas. Riders would find GSX front ends and shoehorn them into the steering bearing to make what was more akin to a baby street fighter.
The Gladius was a flop. It was almost universally panned, most especially by those who believed that Suzuki should not have messed with a winning formula.
Fret not, however, for 2017 brings its replacement—the revival of the legendary nameplate and Suzuki’s all-new SV650.
Gone are the swoopy shapes and amorphous curves of the outgoing bike. Replacing it are sharp angles and a slim profile. The exposed steel trellis frame hints at its sporting potential, and the weirdly oblong headlamp of the Gladius has been swapped out with a retro-themed single round projector.
The new bike has a trimmed fuel tank to afford riders a more engaging riding position, and the new LED lights in the rear further accentuate the modern timelessness of the new, retro-ish design.
Powering the SV650 is the same 90-degree V-Twin found in the Gladius, but slight modifications mean that it has higher horsepower and torque than its predecessor at 75hp and 64Nm. The bike features some minor changes to the engine’s piston and piston rings to reduce friction and increase engine life. This comes in handy as this bike will redline at a respectable 10,000rpm.
The biggest evolution of the new engine can be traced to the ignition system. There is a new airbox to increase and stabilize the flow of air to the engine, new throttle bodies to smoothen out fueling, and a new low RPM assist system, which assists riders while they are using the clutch at low speeds.
While the older SV650 had a reputation for having a grabby throttle, the new ignition system and ECU control mean that the bike should appeal to both newbies (for making it easy to learn how to use the clutch) and experienced riders (who would appreciate not having to worry about stalling when doing low-speed maneuvers, an embarrassing thing at any level).
Rounding out the bike are twin-piston Tokico brake calipers for the front, complemented by a single-piston Nissin rear caliper. Handling duties are taken care of by the 41mm Showa forks in front and a rear-link style shock absorber with seven pre-load settings for the rear. The combination of the revised suspension and the SV650’s lighter (195kg) wet weight make the motorcycle one that is as at home in the twisties as it is commuting to and from work.
The all-new SV650 is a resurrection of not just a beloved motorcycle, but also embodies the essence of what made the original SV650 such a cult-classic. Clearly Suzuki has learned from its mistakes, and this goes to show that sometimes a second chance is all you need to make something right.
The new Suzuki SV650 was launched during the 11th Inside Racing Motorcycle Show held recently at the World Trade Center in Pasay City, and the units will soon be available in Suzuki dealerships. At the same time, Suzuki Philippines is still mum on the price of the SV650.
Do you think this new Suzuki middleweight really deserves as second chance?