The other day I had a friend ask about a bike that’s about old enough to be in high school, sophomore year to be exact. It’s a story as old as time: When browsing for sale listings crosses the threshold and becomes buying. As luck would have it, I had some experience with said bike. Back then, I was but a humble enthusiast and not the professional enthusiast I am now. I have the business cards to prove it.Since that time, a lot has changed in the world of motorcycles. Mainly, the features exclusive to top-tier models are now becoming commonplace on mid-level and even some entry-level machines. Quickshifters, traction control, ABS, and TFT displays—all things once reserved for the elite, are starting to become standard fitment across more than a few boards. The 2004 Ducati SuperSport 1000 DS in question comes from an era of motorcycling that barely hinted at that technology. Not too long after, bikes of that era can seem to some as belonging to an ancient and primitive past.
I’ll blame the constant barrage of emails and an ongoing stream of new machines for my belated epiphany, but it’s rare we wind back the clock and dust off some of the oldies at a motorcycle publication. Well, that is, until we actually do. Focusing on anything other than what’s ahead of you is quite the faux pas at the racetrack, and perhaps we motorcycle journalists take that to heart in life.Just because something is old doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s terrible. There are countless motorcycles that I’d willfully drain my reserve funds for, given the right deal, and abandoning my lack of self-control. Depression-era spending habits instilled by my grandparents are quite the mental hurdle, I tell you.But that is beside the point. Now and again, we’ll have a bike roll into the garage that has stood the test of time. I mean that quite literally. A few carbureted relics still live among us, such as the Suzuki DR-Z400S, Yamaha TW200, Yamaha V Star 250, and Honda XR650L, just to name a few. They’re the motorcycling equivalent of alligators, refusing to evolve in an ever-changing world.In this case, it’s the 2022 Suzuki SV650, a bike that’s achieved cult status, thanks to its peppy V-twin engine, a stout chassis, versatility, and relatively affordable price point. Although a few updates have come to the middleweight SV, including EFI, we can accurately describe it as a motorcycle from the 20th century.I’ll postpone the inevitable and predictable love letter to the SV and direct your attention towards its accomplishments instead. At this point, it’s probably easier to create a list of things that someone hasn’t done with an SV because racing, canyon riding, commuting, touring, and much more are all proudly displayed on its resume.Measured in “motorcycle years,” the SV has become a bike of a certain age and can probably predict the weather by the pain in its joints. Its LCD dash is reminiscent of the now-defunct VCR, and it could stand to slim down a little. In the least, the SV is long overdue for a makeover that brings it into the new age. I’ll even throw in another unsolicited styling tip to Suzuki designers—avoid the in-vogue bug-eye headlight styling found on modern middleweights unless igniting internet pitchforks. But, man, that engine is still damn good.As far as we’ve come concerning two-wheeled technology, riding the spunky little SV650 around was quite a treat. There are no ride modes to fiddle with or electronics beyond non-adjustable ABS. You can’t adjust much of anything other than the levers and shock preload. Add fuel, check the tire pressure, and you’re off the races.A simple pleasure sums up a machine like the SV nicely. And, above all else, it is what a good ride should be. There is no need for pretense or expectation. There is no buildup of what something should be. There is just a curvy bit of road, an engine, and your ambition on that weekend morning.As with most things in life, experiencing the next significant advancements can become a high priority, and the motorsports realm is particularly guilty of chasing that dragon. Kicking off the new year on something that reminded me of what’s essential about motorcycling was a crucial tap on the helmet. So, break out those old records and pull the covers off those older steeds in the garage—it’s time to enjoy the simple pleasures in life.Nic de Sena Senior Editor Ultimate Motorcycling
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!