Krautmotors Little Bastard SV650
Few motorcycles receive a more resoundingly positive response when brought up than the Suzuki SV650. The mere mention of the SV650 amongst a seasoned group of riders will inevitably spark a lengthy conversation about how they spent many a mile aboard a trusty SV. It was their first bike, their commuter compatriot, and weekend explorer. In many ways, it’s become the people’s motorcycle.
Accessible, affordable, and utility driven, the SV650 has filled a wide variety of roles. It is because of those traits that many have lovingly passed on their SVs, setting another rider off on their career.
Despite that, we rarely see the SV650 get the attention of custom builders. Surely, a bike held in such high regard would be worthy of the artist’s hand. It took Rolf Reick of Krautmotors, based in Heidelburg, Germany, to tackle the SV650 and the result is Little Bastard.
“Among customizers, the Suzuki SV 650 is one of the neglected bikes,” Reick acknowledges. “One is hard-pressed to come up with any reasons for that. The marvelously torquey V-twin, and the well-made frame, bear ample ground for modifications.” It was with this premise in mind that Reick began to dismantle a stock 2016 Suzuki SV650, ridding all of the unnecessary components.
With the frame and innards of the SV650 splayed across his shop floor, Reick reached for one of his favorite tools, the grinder. He took the grinder to arguably the most iconic SV design feature—the rear tail section.
Unlike many motorcycles, the modern SV sub-frame is not bolted on, and that meant he would begin the ghastly work of cutting into pristine motorcycle. Its steel trellis frame was worked over, and any unnecessary steel tab was removed posthaste.
Not without some issues, the SV650 has been a machine about versatility. Viable as a commuting machine, and even with some light modifications, a worthy track weapon; the SV650 has rarely felt out of its element. That spirit is ever present in the Little Bastard, and though extensively customized, it still can wear more than one hat.
Described by Reick as “personas,” two uniquely designed, aluminum monocoque seat and fuel tank combinations represent the two roles Little Bastard will happily fill. “Persona one, shown in blue trim, is the urban type with K&N filters giving a sporty look with a rail around it providing a means to fix one luggage on it,” Reick explains. “Persona two, shown in yellow trim, is the sportive classic cafe racer version of the bike.” Each of ‘Little Bastard’s’ personas can be quickly interchanged with a few bolts and connections.
Brazen in either configuration, the monocoque design elements are the true mastery behind this repurposed SV. Welds have been impeccably blended, drawing one’s eye along each contour, across the simple leather seat, and eventually to the large fill cap that now sits at the significantly shortened tail. Little Bastard has a stout, aggressive posture that matches its inherent personality.
The already-slender SV is now much leaner, thanks to this monocoque design. Fit, and in seemingly fighting shape, the exposed air cleaner harkens back to a time when American Muscle cars prowled city streets, and exhaust ordinances were still years off. Surely, once an eager wrist twists the throttle, the already sporty SV should provide a bit more thrill with a raucous induction howl right under our noses.
In its current form, Little Bastard is providing the same amount of power and torque that many SV owners should be familiar with, its spunky 645cc V-twin engine producing around 75 horsepower at 8500 rpm, and a peak of 47 ft/lbs of torque. Although, with an Akrapovic pipe now bolted on, plus a retune, Little Bastard is packing a bit more punch.
With or without the plastic embellishments, it’s difficult not to appreciate what Reick has done. Those plastic components are not repurposed stock trim; no, they are painstakingly designed 3D printed components. Reick holds a degree in Industrial Design, and teaches at a university focusing on product design, and multimedia, so these pieces shouldn’t come as too much of a shock.
Riser bars, which have always been a staple in the SV’s design, were cast aside for a set of LSL clip-on handlebars, as well as LSL rearsets and levers to match. It didn’t stop there—Reick lowered the 41mm forks slightly, giving the already aggressive Little Bastard a far more menacing posture. In the rear, the motorcycle underwent further surgery in order to accommodate a lower height.
Continental TKC80 tires now put the power to the ground on Little Bastard. The TKC80 adventure rubber is a far cry from what we’d normally expect an SV to be sporting, but the end result is a far more rugged and boisterous appearance.
There are some machines that simply should not be touched. Out of the factory, they have achieved their peak in every way imaginable, and doing so would be the closest thing to sacrilege that a non-religious motorcycle enthusiast might see.
The Suzuki SV650 is not one of those machines. It is a workhorse, a friend, and a weekend escapist. It is many things, but few have taken a bike for the people, a bike that has pleased the masses, and imbued it with such elegance.
Though jovial, and somewhat crass, the Krautmotors Little Bastard seems fitting. The SV650 never wanted to be in the hallowed halls of custom build offs, it felt comfortable parked outside because it knew where we’d always be returning to it. Though when given a chance, it fit in perfectly.