Can we expect more out of a basic entry-level bike? I guess so when it comes to the Suzuki SV650. Suzuki Malaysia loaned me a unit for a short term test ride, albeit only for 4 days.
It’s my first riding experience on the new Suzuki SV650 and it left me with mixed feelings. The SV650 looks sexy and beautiful (a bit like Ducati Monster) with a very classic round headlamp but slight turn off the moment I saw an LCD meter cluster instead of a TFT; and there wasn’t any traction control, adjustable suspension, and it’s using a conventional halogen bulb for the headlamp. I hardly see any new bike fitted with a halogen bulb instead of an LED. Well’s it is what it is, a basic entry-level bike. However, the Suzuki SV650 has always been Suzuki’s best-selling model and I found more than just one reason why.
The overall look
Let me start with the look. As mentioned earlier; at first glance, it does have premium look. Parking it at my usual Sunday ride spot at Goh Tong, feedback from most is that it does look like a Ducati Monster (almost). The red trellis frame nailed it, it look solid yet light. Yes, the design tells its age but that’s what classic is all about. Although it looks muscular, it is in fact the narrowest bike of its class with end to end only 760 mm wide. It comes with a 14.5 litres fuel tank and I can’t tell much about the fuel efficiency as I only had 2 proper riding days.
There is nothing much to shout about when it comes to electronics for this bike. We have the famous Suzuki Low RPM Assist. This is ideal for a beginner as it prevents engine stalling and also assists one during take-off. Just release the clutch, the electronics will feed a few hundred RPM into the engine. Great news for beginners at least you won’t ‘jatuh bodoh’. Trust me ‘jatuh bodoh’ in front of many is not a fun thing.
It comes with a quick start function as well where one can start the bike simply by pressing once on the start button and optional ABS. There isn’t traction control by the way. It doesn’t have any riding mode as well. Just another plain old Suzie that has a basic function.
The seat height of 785 mm with a slimmer saddle fits most shorty (168cm height) riders like myself. I had no problem placing both of my feet on the ground firmly. This is one of the highlights since this is a beginners bike; it will be extremely helpful for beginner riders since they can plant both their feet firmly on the ground; especially when one needs to navigate through standstill traffic in the city. The only setback is the seat doesn’t have much padding, still, it’s ok as I don’t really have any butt ache after riding it for the entire day. However, I can’t say the same for a taller rider, it will not be that comfortable for a taller rider.
Engine and performance
It is powered by a liquid-cooled 645cc 90 degrees V-Twin double overhead cam engine. This engine has long been regarded as one of the best motorcycle engines for its riding character and durability. Pairing it with an aftermarket pipe, this bike will definitely turn many heads.
The engine produces 75 bhp at 8,500 rpm and 64 nm of torque at 6,800 rpm. Comparing to the 2016 model, it has gained an extra of 4 BHP from less internal friction thanks to resin-coated piston skirts and plated cylinders. May not sound much but it is more than enough for beginners thanks to its power to weight ratio. The engine power delivery is very linear which means no drama when it propels you forward. On the other hand, it is so deceptively smooth as the bike actually travels faster than what you may feel. Most importantly, there is no calf or thigh-burning heat from the bike!
Handling & Brakes
My personal take on this, it’s a bloody damn easy to ride bike. With the low RPM assist, one can take the arms off completely from the throttle and yet the bike continue to roll smoothly. The front comes with a non-adjustable 41 mm telescopic fork with 125 mm travel while the rear comes with a link type mono-shock with 7 stage preload. Although the front is non-adjustable, it is quite firm and has quite a good damping for its class.
The bike handles easily especially with such a low centre of gravity. If you buy this from Suzuki Malaysia, you will get a 120 mm Dunlop Roadsmart III for the front and 160 mm for the rear. I don’t quite enjoy on the Dunlop as I am more of a Bridgestone man. I reckon the handling will be a lot better if it is fitted with a Bridgestone Battlax S22.
The front brake comes with a Tokico four pots callipers paired with 290mm discs and the rear brake comes with a single pot calliper with a 245 mm disc. The brake however doesn’t give much feel but when it comes to budget and others in the same class, it does the job well enough.
Although the Suzuki SV650 has been updated and re-introduced many times, the DNA of the Suzuki SV650 is very much the same. The bike cost RM38,800 without GST which is surprisingly affordable. At such a price range, it will be the main competitor in the naked middleweight category.
As mentioned above, I found a few reasons to own the Suzuki SV650. First, of course, is the riding height which fits shorter men like myself. The low RPM assist is one of the key attractions to me if I am a beginner as I won’t feel the stress especially riding it around Kuala Lumpur heavy traffic. It is comfortable and fits to be daily commuting but as well. So yes, thumbs up from me.