Harry Fisher: “the real beauty of the SV650 is that it can be so many things to so many people”
Story: Donovan Fourie
Pics: Meghan McCabe
If we’re honest, most bikes can perform most tasks. You can just as easily commute on a 200bhp Superbike as you can on a twist-and-go scooter; you can have just as much fun at a track day on an adventure bike as you can on a naked sports bike.
Yes, there are some limitations; taking a Superbike on a dirt road would not be anyone’s idea maintaining a long and fruitful life and no-one would think to enter a race on an adventure bike, at least if they harboured any aspirations to stand on the podium.
Somehow, it seems wrong to subject a bike to a task for which it was not designed, even if it can perform it faultlessly. On the other hand, how many of us have the money to have a different bike for every type of riding we want to do?
Which brings us neatly to the case of the ‘all-rounder’; a bike that can perform multiple roles well enough to be entertaining in all of them. One such all-rounder is Suzuki’s SV650, an example of which currently resides in The Bike Show garage for our long-term pleasure.
It’s not necessarily a bike that would attract a second glance, even though it is pretty enough. But delve deep into its abilities and it is clear that the beauty is more than skin deep.
The first thing that one cannot ignore is the quality of Suzuki engineering. We’ve raced, crashed, broken and burned our GSX-S1000F endurance race bike over at least 150 hours of merciless track action and it has never missed a beat. Similarly, the SV650 engine is so well-sorted through being around for ages and so unstressed as an engine that it should last forever. Nuclear holocaust? No problem; cockroaches will be riding around on SV650s when all of humanity has disappeared.
It’s not a fire-breathing engine but a power output of 75bhp and 64Nm of torque is plenty for what is a very light motorcycle (197kgs) and that’s the key; it’s so un-intimidating and easy to ride. You’ll find no top-drawer components but what there is, works perfectly well.
But the real beauty of the SV650 is that it can be so many things to so many people. Commuting? Easy. Weekend breakfast blast; you won’t be embarrassed. Taking a pillion? Enough power and comfort to handle it. Long-distance trip; mile-eating ability. Track day? Entertaining and solid handling with a decent turn of performance and strong brakes.
It is often difficult to steer prospective buyers away from what is deemed to be glamorous towards something that is a little more mundane, especially if their heads are full of the desperate need to have the biggest and the best. If only they can be persuaded to swing their leg over an SV650 they will find a motorcycle that not only has a happy character but also has a very deep level of competence that carries on revealing itself as time passes.
The SV650 isn’t always a bike that I look at, saying to myself, ‘oooh, goody, I get to ride the SV today.’ But, when I set off, I realise that I have actually got the best deal and I know that I will enjoy my ride, no matter where it may lead me.