2019 Suzuki SV650X Review:
Going To The Café
The venerable Suzuki SV650 has been around in various forms for two decades and is one of my favorites in the mid-size upright naked category. Suzuki reworked the SV650 a couple of years ago with an updated motor and performance parts, this year Suzuki offers a café-styled version—the 2019 Suzuki SV650X— appealing to the continuing affection for retro-inspired motorcycles with modern enhancements.
- Clip-ons, a tuck-and-roll style brown-vinyl seat, and classic headlight cowling dress the Suzuki SV650 up as a modern café racer. Except for the sportier riding stance, the X is about aesthetics, and they are nicely done. Happily, the footpegs are mid-mount instead of period-appropriate rearsets, so the ergonomics are relatively comfortable for the racing-free riding the SV is likely to see.
- The grips are within reach on the more aggressive riding profile, but not uncomfortably so. Certainly, when riding at freeway speeds, the windblast coming over the SV650X’s headlight takes the weight off your wrists. When making a sporting ride through the canyons, the forward leaning position is natural and encourages you to tuck in, push back in the seat and strafe the winding asphalt.
- The SV650X has a secure, knee-gripping tank design. Being able to slot your knees into the tank and get a good hold on the motorcycle aids in feeling in control of the machine. At speed and without a fairing, this ability to hug the bike adds a critical element of confidence.
- The faux tuck-and-roll brown-vinyl seat is on the thin side, “butt” it does not fatigue. The acute riding position of the café-styled 650X takes just enough weight off the sit bones to prevent any numbing from the less-than-generously padded saddle. On the plus side, the pleated seat affords traction, so there’s less unwanted slide up against the tank. The seat design allows you to move around as needed.
- Carving the canyons is easy on the slender, well-balanced 2019 Suzuki SV650X. The front end feels convincingly planted when transitioning through twisties. Its 25-degree rake allows smooth turn-in, without any hint of nervousness. Downshifting into tight turns and accelerating out with the engine’s willing personality is a stress-free blast.
- Dunlop Sportmax Roadsmart III tires provide added confidence and are well-matched to the chassis. If you find them inadequate for the SV650X, common tire sizes allow you to mount something along the lines of a Sportmax Q3+ at the expense of more rapid tire wear.
- Suspension adjustment is limited to spring-preload on the 2019 Suzuki SV650X, but the engineers have the damping dialed. Suzuki has had plenty of time to tweak the settings, and it strikes an appropriate balance—comfortable enough for the mixed conditions around town and on the urban freeways, while firm enough for canyon runs. Spring-preload is adjustable via the fork caps up front, and there are seven presets in the shock to accommodate passenger or cargo loads.
- The mid-size power is practical for everyday riding. The Suzuki SV650X is in that comfortable power pocket of freeway-capable and around-town friendly that makes it a joy to ride. The 645cc V-twin has enough on tap to handle aggressive freeway conditions, with a smooth throttle response, leaving your attention firmly on surrounding conditions. The engine’s agreeable personality makes it easy to handle on busy, urban streets.
- The brakes on the SV650X perfectly match the power and likely use by most riders. The soft initial engagement is spot-on, and a firmer and quicker squeeze on the lever delivers sufficient stopping power from the Tokico calipers and 290mm front discs to justify spirited riding. The front end will dive when you pinch the lever hard, but it doesn’t unsettle the 650X. The rear brake is a useful sidekick when riding full-out, in addition to taking care of finessing slower speeds around town.
- ABS is standard on the SV650X. This is a feature worth having as it provides that extra peace of mind when conditions are less than perfect—i.e., just about any given riding day.
- The 2019 Suzuki SV650X is still a capable commuter, despite the clip-ons. Everything that makes the standard SV650 a favorite commuting buddy/weekend play bike—smooth and predictable power, easy handling, relatively low seat height and curb weight, and well-behaved brakes—is valid for the 650X. You just have to trade a few degrees of the riding triangle for some café racer vibe—a defendable decision.
- Suzuki’s Low RPM Assist and the Easy Start System are welcome features on the SV650X. Newer riders will particularly appreciate the extra help in avoiding stalling the bike when pulling away from a stop—the SV650X automatically gains engine speed when leaving from a stop if you are in danger of stalling. The one-push starter button means the V-twin springs to life without having to hold down the button or pull in the clutch when the bike is in neutral.
- Slow speed handling is fairly manageable, but take extra care with parking lot-type turns. With a narrow chassis and a seat height just over 31 inches, the Suzuki SV650X will be accessible to a fair number of inseam lengths. However, the clip-ons run into the steering stops sooner, making low speed turns vulnerable to tipovers.
- The SV650X has a secure, planted feel on the freeway, even if you are pushing past the limit on the Pickle Parkway. With a spacious 57-inch wheelbase, relatively relaxed 25-degree rake, and dad-bod 437-pound curb weight, the Suzuki SV650X is not the lightest nor quickest-turning bike in its class. Instead, it is the most sure-footed.
- The 2019 Suzuki SV650X wears its retro garb with confidence. Born from 20 years of satisfying practicality, as well as our need for a weekend adrenaline rush, the enduring model was ripe for niche-ing out. With tweaked ergos and a new outfit, Suzuki aims for the café crowd—be they real racers or fashionistas. The affable 2019 Suzuki SV650X should please both intended audiences.
Photography by Don Williams
Helmet: Arai Signet-X
Eyewear: Oakley Crossrange
Jacket: Joe Rocket Ladies Classic ’92
Back protection: Alpinestars Celli
Gloves: Racer Short Sport 2
Jeans: Alpinestars Daisy Denim
Footwear: Alpinestars Jam Air
2019 Suzuki SV650X Specs
Type: 90-degree V-twin
Bore x stroke: 81.0 x 62.6mm
Compression ratio: 11.2:1
Fueling: EFI w/ Suzuki Dual Throttle Valve
Final drive: DID 520 chain
Frame: Steel trellis
Front suspension; travel: Spring-preload adjustable 41mm fork; 4.9 inches
Rear suspension: Linkage-assisted spring-preload adjustable shock
Wheels: Five-spoke cast aluminum
Tires: Dunlop Sportmax RoadSmart III
Front tire: 120/70 x 17
Rear tire: 160/60 x 17
Front brakes: 290mm floating discs w/ 4-piston Tokico calipers
Rear brake: Disc w/ single-piston caliper
DIMENSIONS and CAPACITIES
Wheelbase: 56.9 inches
Seat height: 31.1 inches
Fuel capacity: 3.8 gallons
Curb weight: 437 pounds
Color: Glass Sparkle Black/Pearl Glacier White
2019 Suzuki SV650X Price: $8399 MSRP