2018 Suzuki SV650X review: First ride

2018 Suzuki SV650X

Suzuki has treated its timeless twin to a trendy transformation with the 2018 SV650X.

Last year was a big one for Suzuki with a load of new bikes – but they've got less to shout about this time out, with only the revised 2018 SV650X listed as a new model. It uses the tried-and-tested V-twin roadster as the base for a restyled café-racer style retro machine.

We've had the SV650X in for a week or so now, and have been testing it up against Yamaha's new MT-07. More on that comparo test early next week – but in the meantime, we thought we'd let you know how the little Suzuki went.

First up of course is the looks – a vital consideration here, where the restyle is such a big part of the story.

Suzuki showed off a concept bike a lot like this a couple of years back, so we'd seen the headlamp fairing, quilted seat cover and slicker bodywork before. I wasn't 100 per cent sold on it at first, but I've got used to it a bit more now – and I do think it looks a lot better in the flesh too.

Our Laura wasn't keen on the colours or seat though – so maybe Suzuki will have to work harder for the 'yoot' vote…

Styling aside, the riding position is tweaked on the X, with the lower clip-on style bars giving a more sporty stance. There's little in the way of wind protection though, so if you're wanting something for longer trips, it might disappoint there. And if you spend a lot of time in town, the stock SV with higher bars and more upright riding position might make more sense. The tank is new, with an extra three-quarters of a litre over the standard SV, and stuff like the LED tail light, LCD dash and one-push easy-start system are all welcome.

On the road, the SV650X doesn’t have a lot of surprises, especially if (like me) you've ridden the stock SV a fair bit over the years. The V-twin engine design is a bit ancient now (like me), but is still packed with character and laughs (like, er, never mind). Similarly, the chassis looks quite plain and steady on the face of it, but performs much better than you might think from the specs. It's one of those 'the whole is better than the sum of the parts' kinda deals here I reckon.

If you forget about the spec, and just jump on and ride the thing, it all falls into place. The riding position is spot-on for me, and not at all the uncomfortable stress job something like this can be (BMW RnineT Racer and Husqvarna Vitpilen I'm looking at you here). The motor rorts away underneath like a wee race car engine, the fuelling and power delivery is spot-on, and the chassis feels skinny and agile. The brakes could do with more bite and power, but for a budget bike aimed at novices, I can see why they're a little soft. The tyres are good though – Dunlop Roadsmart IIIs give decent grip and feedback for a mid-market roadster.

We'll have a full test of the SV650X against the Yamaha MT-07 soon (there's a video of the last time we did this test below). In the meantime, the little Suzuki holds its own well in a very competitive class; the smart styling, brisk performance and decent price makes for a solid package indeed. Maybe 2018 will be bigger than we thought for Suzuki...