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Pirelli SA Bike of the Year 2017 bike by bike:

Fifth place – Suzuki SV650


There were 15 finalists in the 2017 SA Pirelli Bike of the Year and only one winner. You might agree with the judges and you might not, so The Bike Show decided to take a look at each one and see why what was where. Click Next or Previous at the bottom of the page to see finalists, or click here to go to the beginning. In fifth place is the Suzuki SV650:

Story: Harry Fisher

BOTY Suzuki SV650It is funny how sometimes the least inspiring bikes on paper and in the flesh inspire us more than other, more fancy models. Suzuki’s SV650 has been around for a long time and sold tens of thousands of units and, looking at the latest incarnation, it’s easy to see why as much as it’s hard to see why.

Here is a bike that is not all that special; there is no fancy engineering; there are no class-leading electronics; there’s no ground-breaking styling. If anything, everything is a staid as staid can be. But what we as professionals can easily forget that not everyone is interested in all the baubles; they want a bike for transport, not passion – very much like the majority of car owners.

But, while the SV650 might fill a role for the non-biker among us, it has so much more to offer. Here is a bike that punches way above its weight. Its simplicity is its strength; you get on and ride it and enjoy it for what it’s worth.

And, in terms of monetary value, it’s not worth a lot – R98,000 is very reasonable for a bike these days, especially one that will last until the turn of the next millennium. There is lots to be said for continued engineering; all the bugs have been ironed out and what is left is solid and dependable; not exactly words that are designed to endear you to a bike but values that will save you money in the long run.

However, it’s no mistake that every Bike of the Year judge who climbed off the bike had nothing but praise for the way it went about its business; goes well, handles well, much more fun that it has any right to be and perfect for the rider who wants to go about unnoticed.

We deride the term ‘commuter’ when referring to a bike but isn’t that what starts people off being passionate about bikes? Get them riding to work and all of a sudden they are riding at the weekend for fun. The SV650 could be the perfect introduction to motorcycling.


Suzuki SV650 – for & against points:

For: Price, versatility, entertainment and grin factor, doesn’t shout about itself, narrow

Against: exposed undercarriage, slightly bland


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