"My motorcycle is my weapon". A phrase coined by Speed and Strength, made me laugh the first time I read it. Visions of a soldier riding his street bike over a berm into withering enemy fire brought an inexplicable feeling to my mind wondering what the marketing department was thinking when they produced this ploy. Blasting down a favorite one and a half lane country road, a moment of clarity struck me.
My good friend Brian and I swapped bikes for a weekend for no other reason than to just ride something different. Since my work is 110 miles round trip, I figured I would be able to get some decent seat time in on this beloved little bike. Most commonly referred to as a "beginner bike", the SV650 immediately impressed upon me how light and user friendly it is. Coming off of my 2006 Speed Triple, I was shocked how low to the ground I was, straddling the SV. Brian has replaced the fork springs and replaced the stock shock with a more adjustable shock from a Kawi 636 which raised the bike some 10mm. Even so, the bike sits quite low to the ground. Starting the SV up, the rumble of the 645cc engine lets me know that this bike means business. A little choke is required even on this 97 degree day and soon I am underway. I enter the interstate traffic and am astounded when I look down at the speedometer to find that I am doing 85 mph. The fairing really is well sorted without any trace of wind buffeting even at an illegal speed. Finding some of my favorite curves, I dive in testing the limits of ground clearance and speed. One of the best attributes I found for the SV is that I could go into a corner hot and at the apex just give it full throttle. The SV would just keep pulling out. If I did that on the Speed Triple, I would spin the rear tire and then go into a monstrous wheelie. The SV is incredibly forgiving. Here too, I was impressed with the Suzuki's gearbox. With smooth shifts, the SV feels as tight as a sewing machine and I never missed a shift. Problems with the gearbox only displayed when I arrived at work two hours later and tried to find neutral.
The bike had come with an aftermarket slip-on built by ART exhausts. The steel can had taken a beating and was quite long and heavy. Getting home Friday, I removed it and looked to see if there was a removable baffle. No such luck, just a straight through pipe. So, I looked around the garage and found the carbon exhaust that I removed after my accident on the Speed Triple. With the help of IndyTiger, we modified the carbon pipe to fit the SV's larger diameter mid-pipe. What a difference in sound! I had to cut 4" off the carbon can and drastically modify the honeycomb interior but I definitely think it makes a difference. It was easily 2-3 lbs lighter too.
Riding to work on Monday, I fill up for the second time and realize that even though I am riding the SV hard, it is still giving me 42mpg. Not bad! The more time I get with the SV, the more I like it though there are some glaring negatives. The instrument cluster is ludicrously bad. It is a 2001 but has a rev and speedo gauge that looks like it is off of my 1980 Honda CB900. Seriously Suzuki, what were you thinking? The trip is digital but the placement of the gauges makes it difficult to read in full sunlight and the speedometer numbers are so small that it takes a bit of time to make out what speed you're going. The brakes are very budget oriented with a lack of initial bite and a wooden feel. While I had the exhaust off, I replaced the brake fluid in the front and rear reservoirs to find that the rear reservoir is very difficult to get to without removing the side fairing and is very small. The steering also felt very heavy compared to other sport bikes I have ridden. It takes some effort to fall into a corner but man, when you get on a line, the SV just sticks.
All in all, the SV650S is hard to beat. They can be found quite cheaply and are a ton of fun even for an experienced motorcyclist like myself. I loved how power was laid down and how hard I could corner without fear of loosing the rear end. It loves sweeping curves and the only difficulties I had with cornering was when things got really tight. I imagine the naked version would be slightly more flick-able with a traditional handlebar. Thinking back on the phrase, "my motorcycle is my weapon", I wonder if the marketing firm was considering the SV650S. After riding the curving roads of southern Indiana, I did get the sense that this little bike whipped the tarmac into submission.