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2017 Suzuki SV650 First Ride Test | The Best SV Yet

2017-Suzuki-SV650-Test-Review-cornering

Suzuki has been producing the SV650 under various names since 1999, and the bike has developed a cult status that is the envy of any manufacturer. The 2017 SV650 pays tribute to the original concept and design of the SV650 line, while updating it in meaningful ways that makes an already fun bike that much more inviting to a wider variety of riders, existing and incoming.

  1. The motor has been updated. Although the 645cc motor on the new 2017 Suzuki SV650 is visually indistinguishable from the previous iteration (the SFV650) to all but the most discerning cognoscenti, the engine does get 60 new parts. The triple goal was more power, improved fuel economy, and more strict emissions control. The claimed horsepower of 75 is four over last year, and comes at 8500 rpm, just 100 rpm higher than before. On the downside, maximum torque remains unchanged at 47 ft/lbs, but it comes at 8100 rpm, 1700 rpm later than the SFV. In practice, it would be hard to tell the difference between the two engines, so the meeting of Euro 4 emissions standards has to be considered its most significant achievement.
  1. Performance parts have been changed from intake to exhaust. Starting at the beginning, the SV650 gets a new airbox, with staggered intakes to improve sound, and provide superior throttle response. Aurally, the SV650 is certainly pleasing when riding aggressively through the canyons. The Suzuki Dual Throttle Valve (SDTV) fuel injection is a throwback to the early days of fuel injection, with the throttle cable modulating initial intake and a servo-actuated secondary throttle valve controlled by the new ECM to ensure smooth throttle response and effective cold-engine idle. The throttle body itself is also new, with a 10-hole, long-nosed fuel injector.
  1. 2017 Suzuki SV650 Test - actionThe combustion chamber has been worked over. There are new resin-coated pistons and rings, which lower the compression ratio a bit (from 11.5:1 to the current 11.2:1), which allows the continued use of 87 octane fuel. To fire the gas/air mixture, the NGK MR8E-9 projection plugs are used to get the spark closer to the center of combustion for an improved burn. Without a doubt, the V-twin runs smoothly.
  2. The new exhaust system uses a mid-pipe catalytic converter. To improve handing and performance, the new exhaust system is lighter and designed to boost the low-to-midrange power. By putting the silencer after the catalyzer, you can add a Suzuki-approved Yoshimura R&D slip-on muffler without compromising the government regulations on sound and emissions. While the SV650 sounds good with the stock silencer, I did hear it run with the Yosh pipe and that’s definitely a fun accessory to consider. One place that weight was undoubtedly saved was the ditching of the ungainly footpeg/muffler support system for a more simple (and clean looking) design.
  3. The chassis got a makeover and was put on Weight Watchers. In addition to the 60 new motor parts, the 2017 Suzuki SV650 also gets 80 new chassis bits and pieces. The goal was to make the bike lighter, narrower and more compact, and those goals were met. By dropping the seat height to 30.9 inches, as well as narrowing the front of the seat, the side covers and the fuel tank, I was able to easily sit flatfooted with my 29.5-inch inseam. Gripping the tank is easier, with the slimmer design, which comes in handy when blitzing the twisties. In the real world of riding, without an SFV650 to compare it to, the weight differences are not something that is brazenly obvious. An owner may notice the difference, of course.
  1. The geometry and suspension is unchanged. You still get the trellis frame with a moderate 25 degrees of rake, so the SV650 strikes a perfect balance between agility and predictability. The conventional 41mm Showa forks have no adjustments, while the Showa shock does have seven preload presets. My 115-pound frame was fine in the standard setting as it allowed a bit more cornering clearance without the negative effect of overdoing the spring preload. From the beginning, the 645cc Suzuki V-twin sport bikes have been a delight to ride, and this version is the best yet thanks to the lighter weight. It encourages riders, rather than scaring them off.
  2. Dunlop Sportmax Qualifier tires are standard. No, they aren’t Dunlop Q3s, but that’s fine—the 2017 Suzuki SV650 is not a superbike. It’s a fun bike to ride on twisting backroads, and the tires are never a limiting factor. Feel free to upgrade when the standard Qualifiers wear out, if you feel the need or turn the SV into a track bike, as has been a tradition.
  3. The 2017 Suzuki SV650 is a great urban bike. Its light weight and narrow chassis make it easy to maneuver through traffic, and the low seat height removes any anxiety from the stop-and-go nature of the busy and changing conditions. There’s a bit of a sporting lean, but not enough to make the SV650 uncomfortable for long city rides. The steering stops are a bit tight by Japanese standards, and the conflict point would be the new higher-capacity radiator, which is 3/4 of an inch wider than before. The throttle and the brakes are easily modulated, and the seat is good for a full day of riding, making the SV650 a superb bike for commuters.
  4. 2017 Suzuki SV650 Review - urbanThe 2017 Suzuki SV650 enhances its novice-friendly character. New this year is Low RPM Assist, which helps avoid stalling when taking off from a stop and at slow speeds. When the engine senses stalling, the ECM orders the secondary throttle valve to open and raise the engine speed. I was able to get the bike moving without touching the throttle, so it works, but don’t try dumping the clutch with no throttle, as it has its limits.
  5. Starting the SV650 is incredibly easy. Instead of holding the start switch to start the engine, you simply push a button and the process is automated—neat.
  6. Diagnostics are 21st century. The 2017 Suzuki SV650 is the first Suzuki to have diagnostics that work with the new SDS II (Suzuki Diagnostic System) dealer-only tool. About the size of a smartphone, the unit can be put under the seat or in a pocket so it can accumulate data while the SV650 is ridden. Intended to assist dealer mechanics, the ECM’s memory keeps track of any errors found in at least 40 previous riding cycles.
  7. ABS is optional. Unfortunately, I did not have an opportunity to ride an ABS-equipped SV650.
  8. The 2017 Suzuki SV650 combines many small improvements to result in the best of the breed. Keeping a close eye on the heritage of the SV650, Suzuki has evolved the mid-size sport bike to keep it relevant 18 years after its introduction.

Photography by Adam Campbell/ACP Photography

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RIDING STYLE:

2017 Suzuki SV650 Specs

Engine Liquid-cooled, DOHC, 90-degree V-twin
Bore x Stroke 81.0 x 62.6mm
Displacement 645cc
Compression ratio 11.2: 1
Fuel System EFI
Ignition Transistorized electronic ignition
Lubrication Wet sump
Transmission 6-speed, constant mesh
Final drive Chain
CHASSIS
Front suspension Non-adjustable 41mm conventional Showa forks
Rear suspension Linkage assisted Showa shock w/ 7-step adjustable spring-preload
Front brakes 290mm discs w/ 4-piston calipers
Rear brakes 240mm disc w/ 2-piston caliper
Tires Dunlop Qualifier
Front tire size 120/70ZR17
Rear tire size 160/60ZR17
DIMENSIONS
Overall length 84.2 inches
Overall width 29.9 inches
Wheelbase 56.9 inches
Rake 25 degrees
Seat Height 30.9 inches
Curb Weight 430 pounds
Fuel tank capacity 3.8 gallons
Warranty 12 month unlimited mileage limited warranty
Color Pearl Mira Red; Pearl Glacier White
2017 Suzuki SV650 Price $6999 MSRP ($7499, ABS)

2017 Suzuki SV650 Photo Gallery

 

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