First Ride: Suzuki SV1000 review

It's big, naked and bloody good fun to ride. Suzuki's SV1000 finally lands and instantly starts to win friends and influence people

Click to read: Suzuki SV1000 owners reviews, Suzuki SV1000 specs and to see the Suzuki SV1000 image gallery.

Another month, another SV. It seems as though every bike we've tested recently has been an SV of some description. Why it has been this way is a bit of a mystery. The faired versions of both the 650 and 1000 were on sale at the start of the year but it has taken Suzuki until mid-way through the UK biking season before the naked machines finally hit the streets.

Which is a real shame, both for Suzuki and British bikers, because I'm sure that if the naked versions had arrived at the same time as their faired siblings sales of the SV would have been much higher. While the faired SV isn't to everyone's taste - its sporty riding position can put a bit of a strain on your wrists making it a pain through town - the naked version comes with flat bars and a comfier and much more upright riding position. And like the SV650, this makes it a much better town bike.

Sitting on the SV1000, having just spent the last week riding around on the naked 650, the extra size of the 1000 is instantly apparent. Where the 650 almost doesn't feel like a proper bike because it's so small and lightweight the 1000 has a lot more physical presence about it. It only weights an extra 18kg over the 650 but it feels bigger and chunkier in a reassuring kind of way, especially if you are quite tall.

The riding position is slightly more aggressive than the 650 because of the extra size of the bike. Your legs are pushed slightly further apart and the bars feel a bit wider than the 650's, which combined with the extra weight makes it feel sturdy. Also the pegs are set lower than the faired SV1000, putting you in a straight-backed, straight-armed riding position which is actually quite comfortable.

On the move the extra weight isn't very noticeable. The 1000 feels more planted through corners than the 650 thanks to its extra weight and is slightly harder work to change direction on but you would only really notice this if, like me, you swap straight from one bike to the other. Compared to other 1000s the SV handles very well. It's not as racy as Aprilia's Tuono but has that typical SV reassuring feeling about it that gives you confidence.


It just wants to be your friend and you know that there are no hidden surprises waiting to catch you out. Through fast bends it's very competent and planted and in town the large steering lock and low seat height, which feels lower thanks to the narrowness of the bike, makes manoeuvring it at low speed very easy.
With the SV1000 being a large capacity V-twin naked bike there are going to be the obvious parallels drawn with Suzuki's other naked twin, the ill-fated TL1000.

This isn't very surprising really, seeing as the SV uses a re-tuned version of the TL's motor. But where the TL was a total hooligan bike the SV is far more civilised and friendly. Far from just bolting the TL's motor in a new chassis and junking the controversial rotary rear damper Suzuki has made sweeping changes to the TL engine for the SV. In some ways it has removed a bit of the character but in others it has improved the lump hugely.

The power is delivered in a smooth and totally constant flow with no kicks or power bands. Fans of the TL will consider this dull but in reality it makes the SV a very easy and enjoyable bike to ride. The fuel injection is just about perfect when the bike is moving but I did find it a bit rough at very low revs on a constant throttle. It wasn't a massive problem and is more of a problem with the V-twin engine configuration than anything else, and anyway the Suzuki's injection system is far better at low revs than other large V-twins such as Aprilia's Mille.

Now despite the engine having its character slightly removed there is one major advantage of the constant power delivery of the motor. It wheelies like a bastard. The SV1000 is the easiest bike I have ever ridden to wheelie. Just dip the clutch in first and the front is up and from then on the smooth power makes keeping it there a doddle. Maybe there is still and element of the TL hooligan buried in there somewhere after all.


If you have cut your teeth on the SV650 the SV1000 is more of the same, but on steroids. Like your best friend it's solid, reliable and fun to be with. If you are after a naked bike it's very competent but it does lack the 'kick-in-the pants' elements of the TL.

1997: Suzuki launches an all-new 90-degree V-twin engined naked bike, the TL1000S. Using a rotary rear damper instead of a more conventional unit the TL hits the headlines for unpredictable handling. Later in the year it was recalled and a damper fitted
1998: Undeterred, Suzuki launches a race rep version called the TL1000R. It retains the controversial rotary damper but never sells well
2001: Suzuki drops the TL1000S from its range after just four years
2002: The TL1000R follows the S into oblivion but the V-twin engine lives on in the V-Strom, a giant trailie produced mainly for the European market


Yamaha Fazer1000: £6849, gets you a de-tuned R1 motor in a naked bike. Like its baby brother, the Fazer 600, the 1000 is very competent but can get a bit out of its depth when the pace hots up.

Ducati 1000DS: £7250, Torquey, lazy motor matched to eighties race replica riding position - an odd mix. But the Ducati name has real kudos and the new 1000cc motor is the best air-cooled Duke yet.

Suzuki VS1000 Specs

PRICE NEW - £5949
POWER - 118bhp@9000rpm
TORQUE - 75lb.ft@6400rpm   
WEIGHT - 185kg
SEAT HEIGHT - 820mm   
TOP SPEED - 150mph
0-60     - n/a