Motorcycle History - The Suzuki SV650
February 13, 2013 - San Diego, CA
In 1999, Suzuki debuted the Suzuki SV650 as a budget entry in the developing naked bike market. Due to its versatility, the Suzuki SV650 is very popular with new and inexperienced riders, yet its affordability makes it popular with experienced racers too. The company now offers the bike in both naked and fully faired versions.
First generation Suzuki SV650 (1999-2002)
Upon its debut, the Suzuki SV650 was lauded by many for providing a sporty, yet easy to manage, ride. While it was clear that Suzuki modeled the aesthetics of the first generation Suzuki SV650 after the Suzuki TL1000S (the Suzuki TL1000S is still considered by many to be the "big brother" of the Suzuki SV650), there are also some similarities to the Ducati Monster. The TL Series (TL1000S and TL1000R) was ultimately replaced by the SV1000 in 2003, at which point Suzuki marketed it as a larger alternative to the second generation Suzuki SV650.
With a solid combination of the V-twin's strong mid-range torque and a light weight, rigid chassis for strong handling, the Suzuki SV650 was attractive to beginning riders and experienced riders alike. The Suzuki SV650 immediately became popular with racers due to its relatively low purchase price and excellent handling characteristics. The popularity of the Suzuki SV650 with races generated a rebirth of the "lightweight twins" racing classes across the U.S. and North America and the Suzuki SV650 started winning against veteran bikes such as the Honda NT650, Kawasaki Ninja 500R, and Suzuki GS500.
Despite its popularity with racers however, American buyers wanted the sportier 'S' version available only in the European and Canadian markets. This version of the Suzuki SV650 included higher foot pegs, lower handlebars, a bikini fairing and windscreen. To meet demand, Suzuki began importing the SV650S to the US in 2000.
Second generation Suzuki SV650 (2003-)
Suzuki introduced a redesign of the Suzuki SV650 in 2003. The revised model featured new bodywork, a new pressure-cast aluminum truss frame (vs. the old aluminum alloy oval tube trellis), a new exhaust, a new swing-arm with revised rear brake caliper mounting, a digital speedometer display, and a new electronic fuel injection/induction system to replace the carburetor. The 2003 SV650S wasn't all changes however - it was still compatible with some first generation Suzuki SV650 parts (like the radiator and the rearsets). The second generation Suzuki SV650 was initially unsuccessful with riders however, mostly because of the new "angular aesthetic," which looked larger and more aggressive than the "curvy" first generation Suzuki SV650.
From 2003 on, the subframe of the Suzuki SV650 has year-specific parts, such as plastic frame covers, the rider seat, exhaust hanger brackets and passenger pegs. In 2004, Suzuki used a lower 40mm subframe and a seat with a slimmer design in the front. This made flat footing easier for riders who were shorter. The trail was also raised by 2 mm, and the rear fender was restyled to provide more protection against flying debris. In 2005, the frame was changed from a silver color to a matte black finish.
For 2007, both the Suzuki SV650 and the SV650S saw the additions of twin spark plugs per cylinder and an exhaust gas oxygen sensor for reduced emissions. An anti-lock braking system (ABS) was also now offered as an option.
Alongside the traditional Suzuki SV650, in 2008 Suzuki offered a new SV650 Sport (UK) or SV650SF (US) model with a more traditional complete fairing. The SV650S was then eliminated from the US market. Suzuki Australia also introduced the SV650SU in 2008, a detuned version of the SV650S, to enhance their selection of motorcycles that comply with the country's Learner Approved Motorcycle Scheme.
In 2009 the Suzuki SV650 naked version was replaced by the SFV650 Gladius replaced in the US; however, a naked 2009 SV650 is still available in Canada. Although the naked version was also replaced in the UK by the Gladius, the SV650S has remained in the Suzuki model line-up through to the present.
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