The non-adjustable forks are never going to be the most compliant, but they’re effective and don’t dive at the first sign of weight transfer under braking. The shock has seven-step preload adjustment and it coped well with our tester's 14.5-stone frame throughout a challenging launch ride. The suspension is basic and effective for the budget price, but it will be one of the areas for attention for more demanding riders.
The twin-pot, sliding piston brakes don’t give the most feel but they are comparable with others in the class and do the job well enough. The ABS system works well and will be attractive to new riders while only interfering with the more experienced rider under heavy braking over sizeable bumps, as we found on our first ride.
The 785m seat height remains from the old model, though it is now narrower and the side covers have been on a diet to give a more direct route for the rider’s legs to point towards the floor. Suzuki has shown images of a 5ft 9in rider with feet flat on the ground and a 5ft 3in rider with the balls of both feet in contact with the floor.
The riding position is slightly cramped for taller riders, but I’m 5ft 10in and didn’t find it uncomfortable, with some riders on this test who are considerably over six feet also reporting ache-free riding on the little SV.
The SV gets into its stride at 6000rpm and charges on to around 9000rpm before the rev limiter kicks in somewhere north of 10,000rpm. Torque stays the same as the old bike at 47ftlb, but it’s now strongest at 8100rpm rather than 6400rpm. For more experienced riders, the new tune makes for a more rewarding ride. Whether newer riders will feel the same about the more demanding power delivery remains to be seen.
The extra 4bhp in the 2016 SV650 comes from less internal friction thanks to resin-coated piston skirts and plated cylinders. This lets the bike rev harder than before, and also contributes to it passing the new Euro4 emissions regulations.
The SV engine has been around for 16 years and there are plenty of long-in-the-tooth examples bearing testament to tip-top reliability. The chances of the new tune making the bike less reliable are very slim indeed.
The new SV650 has a massive heritage a heap of helpful aids for new riders, is more economical and comes with ABS as standard. To get a Yamaha MT-07 or Kawasaki ER-6n for less than the SV you'll have to forego ABS.
In 2017 Suzuki offered £400 towards fuel, and with a claimed economy of 74.34mpg, the SV is a bike that will go far on £400 in the tank. It could even see up to 5,000 miles covered before you have to start filling up from your own pocket – that’s over a year’s worth of riding for the average UK rider!
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A new Low RPM mode makes pulling away and low-speed riding easy, ABS is standard and the new dash includes helpful info like fuel range and current/average fuel economy. Suspension and brakes are competent without shining, but are good when taken in context with the rest of the class.