The new SV650S has a hell of a reputation to live up to as it steps into the shoes of its vastly popular predecessor
Click to read: Suzuki SV650S owners reviews, Suzuki SV650S specs and to see the Suzuki SV650S image gallery.
If you were given a clean sheet of paper and told to write down your perfect real-world bike what would your list include?
Well, for a start a bike has to handle so a sweet chassis is obviously at the top of the list. Then you'd like a motor with enough thrills to keep you amused while not being a pain to use and obviously you'd want brakes that work, decent suspension, a comfortable riding position and clocks you can read. And at the bottom of the list come real-world considerations - a grabrail for a pillion, bungee hooks for luggage, mirrors that show more than your inner elbow and a padded seat. Oh, and a bargain price tag.
It's a simple formula, and probably the template Suzuki used to design the original SV650. And boy did they do a good job.
Since its launch in '99 the SV650 has proved a phenomenal sales success. Suzuki simply listened to what riders were saying and built the bike they asked for, in both a naked and faired version. And surprise, surprise, sold it by the shed load.
Last year the SV was Europe's best selling bike. Over 16,200 of the little beauties were sold during 2002, to go with the 17,800 sold the year before. Not bad going at all, and surely someone, somewhere at Suzuki is lying in a hot tub surrounded by Geisha girls at this very moment thanks to the enormous profits the humble SV must have generated by now.
Having reached this jolly successful stage, Suzuki could quite reasonably have sat back on their collective laurels, patted themselves on their collective back at their cleverness in making the bike, and taken an 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' attitude. But they didn't, and so for 2003 the SV650 has received a host of changes to make it (they hope) even better.
The most obvious change is the styling. The old SV always looked a bit soft with the lights just a shade too GSX600F (the standard unit of motorcycle ugliness against which all others are measured), giving the whole bike the appearance of being a bit bug-eyed. The seat unit, and especially the pillion seat, were very rounded too and the half-fairing came so low it covered half of the frame - one of the coolest features about the bike.
So for 2003 the SV has gone all angular, and looks much better for it. Visually it's identical to its new big brother, the SV1000S, with the same front fairing, tail unit and tank design. It also shares the sharp twin vertical strip LED rear lights, funky clocks and improved frame design, proudly displayed on the 'S' thanks to that shortened front fairing.
And the new frame isn't just a visual improvement over the old tubular style either. A new high-vacuum-mould process makes the frame lighter and stronger with fewer ugly welds. The benefits of all this techno-wizardry to the rider are minimal. Apart from the improved looks, the handling feels identical to last year's model and on the road you would be hard pushed to split the two.
But then this is no bad thing because the old SV650 was always a sweet little handler and one of those bikes that brought a smile to your face whenever you rode it. A big part of its sales success, apart from its low price, was the confidence it gave newer riders, and all that's still there on the new bike.
The bike feels very small and compact without being uncomfortable. Suzuki's use of a V-twin motor in the SV means it's narrower than an in-line four rival like Yamaha's Fazer 600 or Honda's Hornet 600, which makes the SV feel smaller as well as making it easier for shorter riders to reach the floor. This may sound patronising, but to new riders having the floor within easy reach is very reassuring, not to mention useful, and this is one of the SV's major selling points.
Click here to read the final page of the 2003 Suzuki SV650S Review
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