Enduring qualities : 5 forgotten motorcycles as old as the Suzuki SV650

Who'd have thought back in a different millennium that the Suzuki SV650 would still be going strong some 23 years later...? 

Suzuki SV650

We all like to think we will grow old gracefully, but it’s an adage that doesn’t quite apply to motorcycles.

Sure, you have your classics of yesteryear we celebrate today, but that’s often retrospective admiration for that particular model. 

Indeed, few models go 15, ten or even five years without getting a fairly major overhaul… but then there is the Suzuki SV650, which in 2022 trim remains a close relation to the first iteration of the middleweight roadster 23 years on from its launch in 1999.

Sure, it’s had some botox and kitted itself with modern gadgets, but the design, architecture and 645cc V-Twin engine has stood the test of time better than other gems with which it shares its birth year, such as Blue (Da ba di da ba da) and Star Wars Episode I.

Time - or rather, emissions legislation - has finally caught up with the SV650 though and a brand-new model is on the way in the coming months.

Nevertheless, the SV650 has certainly weathered many eras and out-lived numerous rivals en route to retirement, so in tribute to its enduring qualities, here are five other motorcycles launched in a different millennium that remained very much of their time.

Aprilia SL1000 Falco

Aprilia’s brief foray into the Sports Tourer category came and went with the SL1000 Falco, the sensible, loose fit jeans sibling of the SL1000 sportsbike powered by the rorty 998cc V-Twin RSV Mille engine.

Back in the day, Visordown reported the SL1000 Falco mirroring the general perception of Italian motorcycles of its era - aka it regularly swooned and tested your head, heart, soul and bank account - writing:

“There’s a twinkle in the Falco’s eye that quite simply makes it irresistible. Its got personality in spades, although it’s a bit agricultural in places. It’s a full-bodied, espresso shot of the V-twin experience for Nescafé instant money.

Triumph Sprint ST

While there is some irony calling a Touring motorcycle ‘Sprint’, at least it leaned into Sports territory with its 955cc triple-cylinder engine and lean looks.

Replacing the Sprint 900, the Sprint ST was a competitive rival for the Honda VFR, finding favour with buyers right up until 2010 before it was replaced by the Sprint GT

Kawasaki ZR-7

Kawasaki’s answer to the Honda Hornet, Yamaha Fazer and - fittingly - the Suzuki SV650, the ZR-7 was never destined to mature through the ages like the latter. 

A dependable, economical, easy to ride mid-weighter, the X-less ZR-7’s name may have looked like a disappointing typo but as Visordown reported at launch, it was ‘pound for pound, we reckon the ZR-7S is one of the most underrated commuters available on the secondhand market today’.

BMW R1150 GS

While the R 1100 GS set the foundation, it was the second generation BMW R 1150 GS that ultimately forged a path towards the legendary status it holds today as the R 1250 GS.

A Swiss army bike which can be every tool in the box. Odd looking, but bulletproof,” Visordown reviewed in 1999… not much has changed then.

MV Agusta F4

It’s a credit to the Suzuki SV650 that it outlived the MV Agusta F4, a model so beautiful it will continue to stand the test of time. In fact, it's likely the F4 would still find plenty of eager buyers today.

In fact, the desirability factor ensured a long life for the F4, which tussles with the Ducati 916 for honour as Massimo Tamburini’s most inspired design. 

At the time of launch, the F4 had ‘only’ 750cc to play with before it was replaced by a bigger, more powerful 1000cc unit in 2004, a transformative upgrade that ensured it was enjoyable to ride as it was to look at.