THANK THE LORD that Suzuki took the TL1000 to the recycle bin and returned with the SV1000. Sorry if you're a TL owner, but I hated that humpy seat and lumpy engine. Now, my TL125 Honda from the scorching summer of 1976 - that was a different story, Bay City Rollers, hot pants, Breaker malt liquor... but I digress.
The SV1000 is a much more refined riding experience, with its light handling and flexible, easy-to-use engine and slick gearbox. From a distance all looks well with this bike, but get up close and the general finish doesn't have the quality of the GSX-R range. The riding position is roomy, though, and despite complaints of a hard seat from some of my colleagues, I suffered no discomfort.
For a big twin the engine feels very smooth. The throttle response is excellent in all areas to keep things safe, particularly on wet, greasy roads. There is an enjoyable raspy induction noise all the way through the rev range, but short shifting and using the torque delivers the most rewarding ride. The standard suspension gives a positive, sure-footed feel whether you're on changing road surfaces, dodging potholes or, in our case, sheep (and sheep shit) in the Brecon Beacons.
The SV actually comes in three guises: the standard, unfaired bike costing £5849, the half-faired SV1000S (£6049) and the fully-faired SV1000SZ with GSX-R-ish blue and white paintjob and breathed-on motor putting out an extra 5bhp or so. That will set you back £6499.
Endowed with good ground clearance, decent brakes and nimble handling, any model of SV1000 will be fun to ride on track days, but I found brisk A road rides, motorways (providing you're on an S or SZ model) and flicking through country lanes is where this big twin is most at home.