2013 Suzuki SFV650 Motorcycle Test
What’s in a name? Evidently a lot, because Suzuki’s SFV650 was known as the Gladius in 2009 and that odd Roman-inspired name just didn’t stick.
For 2013 Suzuki has gone name-less, just sticking to the model number: SFV650. The legacy of the Gladius lives on, with a 2013 model that is mostly unchanged – though the wheelbase is extended by nearly an inch – and it’s still a winner.
The SFV Is offered in only one color scheme, Metallic Mat Black / Glass Sparkle with a glossy black frame, grab handles and tank insert surrounded by nicely sculpted matte black plastic bodywork, lots of plastic, giving it a particularly sexy, clean and stealthy appearance. It has a slim waist and carries its claimed 446-pound curb weight gracefully.
The DNA in this standard-type motorcycle can be traced back to the 1990s and the SV650, which enjoys a cult-like following with many riders of all abilities finding something to love.
The 2013 SFV650 is easy to ride no matter your skill level, it’s fast, won’t bore advanced riders, and it’s fun. Even after riding to pick it up on a Suzuki Hayabusa, riding out with the SFV650 was not a disappointment. In fact, there was no diminished experience, just something different.
If you haven’t ridden a modern 650 lately, you will be in for a surprise. This baby leaps off the line, thanks to its torquey V-twin nature, yet it simply loves to rev to its redline at 10,500 rpm. Strong thrust is plentiful right off idle and has enough to grunt out of turns, even if you’re in too high a gear.
The SFV650 has plenty of bottom end combined with a motor that’s happy at 80 mph, turning just over 6100 rpm there, with plenty to spare. Top speed on our private test track is about 122 mph.
My first ride, as is often the case, is 90 miles of the best/worst freeways in Los Angeles to get back to the office. Here, the SFV acquits itself well and is happy to hum along at any rate you choose. The fairly wide spaced six-speed gear ratios offer just the right revs for the job and I quickly realized that this 650 has what it takes to be the master of traffic.
The upright seating position – marred slightly by a pretty-but-hard seat that kept this six-footer closer to the tank and a bit squirmier than was my preference – is fairly comfortable and the bike moves over the road without being too stiff. The suspension is nothing to envy, and includes only preload adjustments front and rear. Still, this is enough for a bike like this. Twin Tokico 4-pistons calipers and 290mm rotor are up front, and a Nissin two-piston caliper grasps a 240 mm rear rotor; ABS is not offered.
The mirrors don’t vibrate at all and are positioned perfectly as are the medium wide chrome handlebars. This, oddly, is the only chrome on the entire 2013 Suzuki SFV650 and the bars look cheap, unfortunately.
The analog tach and digital speedometer along with a large gear indicator keep it simple but effective in the cockpit and there are two trip odometers, an odometer that starts counting up when you hit the reserve (nice touch) and a clock but there is no fuel gauge. Fuel tank capacity is almost four-gallons with nearly one-gallon in reserve and I averaged 47 mpg during my testing, which means you can probably do better.
The real fun for me happened as soon as I dove into the corners right down to the peg feelers. There is no real learning curve when riding the SFV650. The bike is stable, just wants to turn and does not intimidate with its power or personality yet it really gets up and goes.
Rolling on Dunlop Qualifiers mounted on 5-spoke cast wheels, the bike drops in smoothly and quickly and can be steered a bit with the throttle. The SFV650 feels more like a super motard than a standard and it exhibits more poise than one might imagine.
The SFV grinds off the Qualifier’s chicken strips right to the edges and this, truly, is a bike that has you smiling or laughing in your helmet on the first few rides. Really. When following larger and faster big bikes through tight canyons I could read the small print on their license plate tags and it was all I could do to stay back and not go right by them.
I have ridden many of the current middleweight favorites and some cost almost twice the $7999 asking price for the 2013 Suzuki SFV650. Sure, they are more refined and faster, but how much and at what cost?
If red, white, and green paint aren’t mandatory colors for your next middleweight mount, and you realize that you don’t really need or want 125 hp in a bike this size, then the SFV650 may be the perfect choice for you. It hauls ass, sips fuel, does well on the highway and is an absolute hoot in the canyons.
Photography by Don Williams
- Helmet: Shoei RF-1100 TC-5
- Jacket: Cortech Adrenaline
- Gloves: Cortech Adrenaline II
- Pants: Cortech Adrenaline
- Boots: Cortech Latigo WP Road Race
2013 Suzuki SFV650 Specs:
- Type: 645 cc, 4-stroke, 2-cylinder, liquid-cooled, DOHC, 90-degree V-Twin
- Bore x Stroke: 3.19 in x 2.46 in
- Compression Ratio: 11.5: 1
- Fuel System: Fuel Injection
- Starter: Electric
- Lubrication: Wet sump
- Ignition: Electronic ignition (Transistorized)
- Transmission: 6-speed, constant mesh
- Final Drive: Chain
- Suspension Front: Telescopic, coil spring, oil damped
- Suspension Rear; Link type, coil spring, oil damped, spring preload 7-step adjustable
- Brakes Front: 2-piston calipers, 290 mm disc, twin
- Brakes Rear: 1-piston caliper, 240mm disc
- Tires Front: 120/70ZR17M/C (58W), tubeless
- Tires Rear: 160/60ZR17M/C (69W), tubeless
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 3.8 Gallon US
- Color: Metallic Mat Black / Glass Sparkle Black
Dimensions and Curb Weight:
- Overall Length: 2130 mm (83.9 in.)
- Overall Width: 760 mm (29.9 in.)
- Wheelbase: 1445mm (56.9 in.)
- Ground Clearance: 135mm (5.3 in.)
- Seat Height: 785 mm (30.9 in.)
- Curb Weight: 202kg (446 lbs)
- 12 month unlimited mileage limited warranty.