A status of cool exudes from the 2020 Suzuki SV650X. With the styling of a retro café racer, the X blends the look of a feisty machine built to compete with the desirable feel period-feel daily-use machine.Looking from the front end, the Suzuki SV650X flows from a stubby nose fairing, while the ace clip-ons hug close to the hench-looking fuel tank. The nearly naked look is enhanced by the trellis frame and exposed engine that catches many admirers’ eyes. You do pay a dear price for the styling—the SV650X is $1300 more expensive than its less-adorned SV650 brother.
When first astride the SV650X, I immediately felt comfortable. I was thrown into an unpretentious forward position; the clip-ons are risers rather than low-set, and the footpegs are tucked-up to give a nice café racy feel. With its streamlined silhouette and racing heritage, I’m set to be riding a properly respected moto.The Suzuki SV650X does not feel top-heavy, so the 31-inch seat height is not daunting—I measure 5’ 6”, with a 29-inch inseam). When I first got my leg over, it was immediately apparent that I could lean to flat-foot on one side. That gives me a feeling of confidence. The gas tank is shaped for slotting my knees in tight while riding, and it works at a stop or for low-speed maneuvers.The Suzuki SV650X’s V-twin delivers a vigorous pull, ensuring certainty of smooth, controlled take-offs. If I’m sloppy with the throttle off the line, the Suzuki Low RPM Assist feature kicks in to prevent stalling—it works.Nifty straight-line acceleration and obedient handling, by which I mean that the motorcycle goes where I want it to go, makes for an exhilarating, positive riding experience. I enjoyed flipping through bends, giving rise to much grinning. My body wraps the tank with a natural knee grip to the tank position, making me feel a real part of the bike.The added benefit is that the lean-forward riding position adds weight to the front end, making for confidence in front tire grip and decisive turn-in on corner entry. With little input, I get an instant reaction. Handling is excellent for improving skills and, for more experienced riders, mucho fun tackling twisty roads.The Dunlop Sportmax Roadsmart III tires are grippy enough in a variety of conditions. I did not have any heartstoppers on braking hard in a straight line or braking for bends. The Tokico front calipers come in gently, and I didn’t get any jerkiness with more pressure. There is plenty of braking power, even with the modest 290mm discs. Ample compression braking from the V-twin aids the brakes.The hand levers have an easy yet reassuring feel. However, the clip-ons made hands work a little harder than on upright positioned handlebars, as my wrists are in a slightly bent position.Although the seat doesn’t feel as though you’d sink comfortably into it, that was not a draw-back regarding comfort on longer rides. There is plenty of room to move back further or accommodate a larger rider rump. The rider portion of the seat is tucked and rolled, giving good grip. I like the two-tone look that camouflages the passenger portion. The pillion has a strap across the front section for little hands to grasp. There’s no rail at the back, so the passenger has to hold onto the strap or the rider.The Suzuki SV650X took me on a variety of rickety Californian roads. Some horrendous freeway lumps and a few unexpected whoops. The suspension gave me a confident feel and no harsh bump-down on the butt. Again, with my knees being able to grip the tank so easily, I enjoyed the added stable feeling. The small fairing and windscreen are effective at highway speeds. Wind buffeting is negligible, and I am comfortable cruising around 80 mph.The only time I felt out of sorts on the 2020 Suzuki SV650X was when navigating in tight quarters. The low clip-ons restrict the turning radius compared to the standard upright SV650, and the sweep is just 30 degrees in each direction. As a result, U-turns require room and patience.Suzuki didn’t give the SV650X retro clocks. Instead, it has an LCD. Everything you need at a glance, with large mph digits, revs shown across the top, gear selected, temperature, time, and then fuel range along the bottom. The information is presented clearly and concisely, though not period-stylish.There’s the nice touch of cargo retention loops under the seat. We all have that odd item needing to take on board from time to time, and being able to strap your load with these loops eliminates searching for places to hook bungees to.The 2020 Suzuki SV650X offers enjoyment for the experienced faster rider, and much glee for the learner or improving rider looking for a feeling of achievement. My time with the SV650X has been much relished; I’d wake up each morning making an excuse to go out riding.Photography by Don WilliamsRIDING STYLE
Hello everyone and welcome once again to Ultimate Motorcycling’s weekly Podcast—Motos and Friends.
My name is Arthur Coldwells.
This week’s Podcast is brought to you by Yamaha motorcycles. Discover how the YZF-R7 provides the perfect balance of rider comfort and true supersport performance by checking it out at YamahaMotorsports.com, or see it for yourself at your local dealer.
This week’s episode features Senior Editor Nic de Sena’s impressions of the beautiful new Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST that is loosely based around the original FXRT Sport Glide from the 1980s. Hailing from The Golden State, these cult-status performance machines became known as West Coast style, with sportier suspension, increased horsepower, and niceties including creature comforts such as a tidy fairing and sporty luggage.
In past episodes you might have heard us mention my best friend, Daniel Schoenewald, and in the second segment I chat with him about some of the really special machines in his 170 or so—and growing—motorcycle collection. He’s always said to me that he doesn’t consider himself the owner, merely the curator of the motorcycles for the next generation.
Yet Daniel is not just a collector, but I can attest a really skilled rider. His bikes are not trailer queens, they’re ridden, and they’re ridden pretty hard. Actually, we have had many, many memorable rides on pretty much all of the machines in the collection at one time or another.
From all of us here at Ultimate Motorcycling, we hope you enjoy this episode!