2008 Suzuki SV650S

By: Ted Laturnus


Sometimes, a perfectly good motorcycle can be adversely affected by one badly designed component. An uncomfortable seat, misplaced shift levers, or poorly thought-out handlebars can ruin an otherwise nice ride and leave you scratching your head - or rubbing other parts of your anatomy - at the end of the day.

Thatís the case with Suzukiís SV650S, and this is as much a story about this bikeís handlebars as it is about the bike itself. My tester came with racing style clip-on bars and it was all I could do to stretch myself across the tank to reach them. I realize handlebars can be replaced, but clip-ons were originally designed for flat-out racing bikes, and have no place on a mid-range city street/sport motorcycle. They may look cool, but theyíre impractical, uncomfortable, and, I would argue, unsafe, because they affect the riderís ability to see straight ahead, and stay focused for any length of time. In case you hadnít noticed, I hated these handlebars so much I was seriously contemplating removing them and buying some regular drag-style bars just so I could ride this bike in relative comfort. In short, unless you plan on going racing, or enjoy pain, do not choose the clip-on handlebars with the SV650S.

As to the bike itself, this model received a minor tweaking for Ď08. The engine has been breathed upon and itís a bit livelier than its predecessors. Not to be confused with the "non-S" SV650, my tester has a frame-mounted fairing, a different headlight arrangement and different paint combos. Itís less of a hooligan bike and more of cafť racer.

Both are powered by a 90-degree V-twin that is liquid-cooled with four valves and two spark plugs per cylinder, electronic fuel injection, and a pair of camshafts. Itís mated to a six-speed transmission and final drive is chain. Suzuki doesnít release official numbers on horsepower and/or torque, but whatever the engineís output is, itís enough to give this bike very lively performance and a top speed of about 225 km/h. It only weighs 169 kilograms dry, so the power-to-weight ratio is obviously more than decent. The fact that an engine of this displacement can belt out so much power never ceases to amaze. Instrumentation is one level above basic: rev counter, speedometer/odometer, temperature gauge, and low fuel warning light. Thereís also a little clock, which I found kind of amusing. The fuel tank contain 17 litres and this is one bike that needs the good stuff.

My tester had a pretty cool colour scheme of "Hero" white with a red seat and pillion and definitely stood out in a crowd. Most bikes of this ilk have graphics and scallops and what-not all over them, but my test bike looked pretty clean. One of the cooler things about it is the LED tailights located under the rear body section. I also like the fact that the pillion can be lifted off to accommodate small (very small) items such as a cell phone or wallet, as does the saddle.

The SV650S offers a different riding experience than Suzukiís other popular middle of the range offering, the GSX650F. For one thing, it has half as many cylinders, and the engine configuration is completely different. This bike is actually kind of rough-running and lacks the smooth, linear power delivery of its stablemate. In a drag race, itíd be tough to call, but the SV650S has slightly less off-the-line snap, and doesnít seem to flow as nicely as the GSX650F. It is 47 kilos lighter, however. In a nutshell, I really enjoyed riding the GSX650F, but basically just endured the SV650S. I concede that this could be because of those wretched handlebars. Some might say that the SV650S just has more personality, but there you go. One thing both bikes have in common is a beautifully engineered gearbox and shift mechanism. Precise, unambiguous, well-spaced....they donít come any better.

This version of the SV650 also has ABS as standard equipment and the brakes are a pair of floating discs up front and a single disc in back. More than enough. Seat height is 800 mm, so for smaller riders, itís a bit of a reach, which is kind of strange, because this bike is aimed at female riders.

But regardless of who rides it, the SV650S serves up the sport bike experience in spades. Itís tossable, nimble, lively, and has a generous fun quotient. A bit buzzy at sustained highway speeds, though, and not that comfortable in bumper-to-bumper traffic, but I know some riders who consider it to be one of the best mid-size sport bikes on the market, period, and itís certainly maintained its popularity over the years. For its just under $8800 base price, it delivers a stylish and entertaining riding experience.

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Ted is a famous writer who writes on the topics related to cars review, car reviews used, consumer car reviews for Driver-seat.

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