SUZUKI SV650 (2016 - on) Review

Highlights

  • Tried and tested 650 V-twin engine
  • Cheap to buy and run
  • Can be restricted for an A2 licence

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 4.8 out of 5 (4.8/5)
Annual servicing cost: £130
Power: 75 bhp
Seat height: Medium (30.9 in / 785 mm)
Weight: Medium (434 lbs / 197 kg)

Prices

New £5,599
Used £3,400 - £5,500

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The 2016-on Suzuki SV650 is a fun little V-twin roadster that will appeal to new riders and give older ones a thrill as well.

It dates back to the original 1999 SV650, which was available both in roadster and half-faired sportster forms, was updated with fuel-injection and a new chassis in 2004 then replaced by the face lifted, renamed and reframed SFV650 Gladius roadster in 2009.

Reverting to SV form in 2016, Suzuki’s naked middleweight received another new chassis, updated engine and fresh styling and remains a temptingly priced ‘first big bike’. Highlights are its still characterful, effective and durable V-twin powerplant, sweet, entertaining handling and a price point that undercuts more modern rivals such as Yamaha’s MT-07. Today the only question marks hang over its slightly anonymous styling, arguably basic, budget spec and slight issues over build quality – although reliability is rock solid.

Overall, the SV is a fantastic real world, mid-size V-twin naked bike. Owners universally praise it for its ease of riding, handling and superb engine and its manageability and affordability are worth highlighting, too.

If you're after a more retro take on the SV650 formula, check out the cafe racer-styled SV650X which is basically the SV with clip on bars, nose cowling, retro ‘ribbed’ seat and a different paintjob.

To address the ‘bland styling’ jibe, Suzuki ushered in various colour schemes for the SV650 during the bike's lifecycle. In 2019 you could have it in black with red detailing, white with blue details or black with blue details while for 2020 Suzuki announced another new set of colours – metallic silver with a blue trellis, matt black with red frame and wheels or gloss black. For 2021 both the SV650 and its adventure bike sibling, the V-Strom 650 (which uses the same 645cc V-twin engine), received further engine tweaks to get them through the new Euro5 emissions regulations.

The SV retains a strong following to this day. Owner groups can be found online at www.svrider.com or in various Facebook groups.

If you're after a more retro take on the SV650 formula, check out the cafe racer-styled SV650X.

During 2016 MCN ran a Suzuki SV650 on our long-term test fleet, and found it a lively, solid and rewarding machine. We took it to the Isle of Man for TT week, and even compared it with the bonkers 207bhp Kawasaki H2, with a very surprising result. Check out our video below after 2000 miles: 

2021 model update for SV650

2021 Suzuki SV650 colours

Suzuki unveiled new colour options available on their SV650 for 2021. The models’ long-lived V-twin engine has also been tweaked to make it through Euro5 emissions regulations.

The standard SV650 model is available in white with a red frame or in black with a blue or gold frame, and the cafe racer-styled SV650X gets a new gold frame, too.

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
3 out of 5 (3/5)

Although a fairly basic, budget machine, the SV, in all its guises, has always won friends for its combination of easy, novice-friendly manageability (including a decently-low seat), great balance and ergonomics and impressively engaging handling. As such, though now aging, it remains a respected machine both for inexperienced or smaller or female riders looking for a ‘first big bike’ and as an affordable, easy, sporty all-rounder for more experienced types buying on a tight budget.

Its accessible 785m seat height remains from the old model, though the saddle itself 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 downside of that is the riding position is slightly cramped for taller riders, although even six-footers rarely complain about riding on the little SV. There’s not that much room for pillions although considering the type of buyers the SV attracts it’s not that much of a concern.

The SV’s slightly budget, non-adjustable forks were 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 rear single shock has seven-step preload adjustment and generally copes well. Overall, though basic, the suspension is effective for the budget price, but 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.

Engine

Next up: Reliability
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The liquid-cooled, 645cc, 90-degree, DOHC powerplant is one of the SV’s highlights and has long been regarded as one of motorcycling’s great engines for its combination of flexible, thrilling performance, character and durability. With a performance pipe fitted it sounds great, too.

The current peak Suzuki SV650 horsepower of 75bhp remains comparable to newer engines such as the parallel twin powering Yamaha’s rival MT-07 and is complimented by a flexible midrange. The extra 4bhp it gained in 2016 came from less internal friction thanks to resin-coated piston skirts and plated cylinders. This let the bike rev harder than before and also contributes to it passing the new Euro4 emissions regulations. Further changes to the ECU and injectors got it through Euro5 for 2021.

The willing little V-twin 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.

The six-speed gearbox, meanwhile, is typically Suzuki-smooth and fault-free.

Best of all, however, is the SV motor’s rugged reliability. Despite sometimes ham-fisted abuse from novices or being at the wrong end of a thrashing by more experienced riders or racers, the little V-twin is almost entirely bulletproof with now reliability concerns whatsoever.

Suzuki SV650 top speed is 130mph, if you can duck down and hand on for long enough... 

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
5 out of 5 (5/5)

Although updated and re-engineered repeatedly, evolving from the original 1999 SV650 to the fuel-injected 2004 version, followed by the 2009 Gladius and then back into the 2016 version, the basics of the SV have remained the same. That is as a budget-conscious, novice-friendly 645cc V-twin roadster that appeals to first big bike buyers and more experienced riders alike.

As such, and by being so consistently popular, the SV survives as one of the most proven, durable and refined bikes of the modern era – although it’s still not perfect.

The DOHC engine has now been around for over two decades and there are plenty of long-in-the-tooth examples bearing testament to tip-top reliability. Essentially it’s well engineered and sorted and, if looked after properly, will give years of reliable service – as many have.

Its chassis and cycle parts, however, can be less durable. The SV’s conspicuously built to a budget and that sometime shows, particularly with its metal finishes and vulnerability to corrosion. Although we’re dealing with the latest, 2016-on version, which is less likely to be affected simply because of its age, corrosion can still take place on exposed areas such as the exhaust header pipe or around the swing arm.

Check to for other signs of damage which can be the result of neglect or novice abuse. Scuffs and scrapes are not only common they’re a magnet for further corrosion. Poor novice maintenance can lead to a corroded, out-of-adjustment chain. Oil levels may be ignored. Control levers and more may need lubrication. These may not be inherent SV faults but they’re the kind of problems it can suffer from because of the type of buyer it attracts.

Our Suzuki SV650 owners' reviews show mainly positive comments, with plenty of advice for those who want to modify their bikes. 

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
5 out of 5 (5/5)

Although there are undeniably cheaper bikes out there, both to buy and run, when it comes to ‘first big bike’ middleweights of over 600cc there are few better than the SV650.

Cheap to buy, the SV is also impressively cheap to run with not only thanks to a claimed impressive average claimed fuel consumption figure of 74mpg (although in realty, especially if ridden hard, it’s nearer 60mpg) but also due to reasonable insurance rates, a more than acceptable hunger for other consumables such as tyres, brake pads, chain and so on and even undaunting servicing costs. A typical owner reported an annual service cost of around £120, which is lower than many.

All that said, the SV is in a very competitive sector of the market. Yamaha’s newer MT-07 parallel twin has been a Europe-wide best seller since its introduction in 2014 thanks to its more modern design, slightly punchier delivery and more nimble handling, even if it is slightly more expensive. A number of variants are available, too, including the retro-styled XSR700 and Tracer 7 sports-tourer, both of which are more convincing than the slightly old and tired SV. All have also been updated again to meet Euro5 in 2021. Kawasaki, too, offers stiff opposition to the SV with its cute but willing, well-equipped and stylish ER-6n-derived Z650. At the end of the day, though, the SV is probably cheaper to run than both.

Whether it’s better value is down to if you can accept the trade off in up-to-the-minute design and specification but it’s worth remembering that there are masses of used SVs out there, of all vintages and with many at tempting prices while, as a new proposition, Suzuki are masters of discount offers and the SV is often advertised with fuel or accessory vouchers enough to make it a mouth-watering buy.

Equipment

3 out of 5 (3/5)

The 2016-on Suzuki SV650 makes a virtue of being a budget-orientated, basic first bike which is based on a 20-year-old design so don’t expect much by way of fancy equipment. That said it does have more than enough for most, especially considering the fact that it’s targeted as a ‘first big bike’.

Its suspension and brakes are competent without shining but are pretty good when taken in context with the rest of the class. ABS brakes comes as standard, too (well, they are compulsory), its new ‘Low RPM’ mode makes pulling away and low-speed riding easier (it makes it very difficult to stall) and the latest SV’s dash includes helpful info like fuel range and current/average fuel economy displays.

Suzuki SV650 custom

The SV650 is also a brilliant ‘blank canvas’ for accessories or for owner customisation. Suzuki themselves offer the likes of a small screen and ‘comfort’ seat (desirable as the standard version is very thin and can be a bit uncomfortable after about an hour's riding) while the sheer number of SVs out there due to its popularity and long life span has fuelled an enormous market for aftermarket accessories ranging from performance exhausts and chassis upgrades, to crash protection, luggage, different types of fairings and screens, parts that can protect your bike from corrosion such as rear huggers and ‘fenda extendas’, radiator guards, heated grips and more.

Inevitably, the appeal of any of these things is subjective. But they can also not just add appeal but value to a bike and should be considered seriously – as long as they’re quality and fitted well – when considering any used SV.

Specs

Engine size 645cc
Engine type 8V DOHC V-twin
Frame type Tubular steel trellis
Fuel capacity 13.8 litres
Seat height 785mm
Bike weight 197kg
Front suspension 41mm telescopic forks, non-adjustable
Rear suspension Monoshock, 7-way preload adjuster
Front brake 2 x 290mm disc, twin-pot calipers, ABS
Rear brake 1 x 240mm disc, one-pot caliper, ABS
Front tyre size 120/70 ZR17
Rear tyre size 160/60 ZR17

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 49 mpg
Annual road tax £93
Annual service cost £130
New price £5,599
Used price £3,400 - £5,500
Insurance group 10 of 17
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two years

Top speed & performance

Max power 75 bhp
Max torque 47 ft-lb
Top speed 130 mph
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 149 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

  • 1999: The SV650 is launched in naked N and half-faired S guise
  • 2002: Fork spring preload adjusters are added
  • 2004: Model updated with a new frame, look and fuel-injection
  • 2007: ABS is an option and the motor gains dual spark plug heads
  • 2009: The SFV650 Gladius replaces the SV650N
  • 2016: The SV650 is updated with 60 alterations including a new trellis chassis. Gladius and SV650S are discontinued.
  • 2018: Suzuki SV650X revealed as cafe racer-styled retro
  • 2019: New colours introduced for SV650
  • 2020: More new colours revealed for SV650

Other versions

The 2018 Suzuki SV650X is a cafe racer styled retro take on the SV recipe. 

Owners' reviews for the SUZUKI SV650 (2016 - on)

6 owners have reviewed their SUZUKI SV650 (2016 - on) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your SUZUKI SV650 (2016 - on)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 4.3 out of 5 (4.3/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 4.2 out of 5 (4.2/5)
Engine: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Reliability & build quality: 4.8 out of 5 (4.8/5)
Value vs rivals: 4.8 out of 5 (4.8/5)
Equipment: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Annual servicing cost: £130
4 out of 5 SV650, buy one.
15 January 2021 by Ted R.

Year: 2019

Annual servicing cost: £165

Best features are rideability, and engine which is beautiful. Worst feature is definitely the seat, it is the most uncomfortable I have sat on in 58 years of motorcycling.

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

Fantastic on the B roads and country lanes but a bit draughty on motorways. Not carried a pillion so far.Did need a break after 40 minutes on the original seat, had it remodelled and now can go for hours.

Engine 5 out of 5

LUUUUUUUVVVVVVLLLLLLLLEEEEEEE

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

Seems well built but only 18 months old so a bit soon to judge. No corrosion so far.Not had a problem so far.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Only had one annual service from main dealer so far.

Equipment 5 out of 5

Riding position, all controls both hands and feet in the right place.Must have a rear hugger(why not standard I'll never know). Heated grips, radiator guard, crash bobbins, front mudguard extender( they are never long enough), also knee grips for the tank to eliminate sliding forward under braking. All now fitted.

Buying experience: Bought privately with only 1400 miles on the clock. Advertised for £4200 and gladly paid. It was mint condition.

4 out of 5 King of the midrange.
28 November 2020 by a.e. robertson

Year: 2019

Annual servicing cost: £140

Best are ease of riding, handling, superb engine. Worst is, even with aftermarket screen, very little weather protection.

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

Had seat remodelled and now very comfy. Was one of the most uncomfortable I have ever sat on.

Engine 5 out of 5

Fantastic power delivery for a 650, sounds good too.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

Only done 3.5k so far.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

First annual service done in June 2020.

Equipment 3 out of 5

Have put on, MRA screen, fenda xtenda, rad guard, crash bobbins, heated grips, rear hugger, Hepco & Becker rear rack, rear cotton reels. Also a rear paddock stand is a must. Favourite feature is the ENGINE.

Buying experience: Privately. Done over the net unseen apart from lots of photos. Very genuine first owner, only 1600 miles on the clock. Bought in lockdown (April) and delivered from Pembrokeshire and still a bargain after all that.

5 out of 5 Phenomenal all round bike.
11 November 2020 by Nick Williams

Version: AL7

Year: 2019

Annual servicing cost: £134

Fantastic real world, mid size V-twin naked bike. Does everything I need it to. I've had mine a year and absolutely love it. The engine pulls like a train and with the aftermarket Yoshimura slip in I've fitted, it sounds phenomenal. There's so much scope for personalising these great bikes and I've spent extra money on some genuine Suzuki accessories, including a meter screen and tuck & roll seat. (The standard seat is very thin and can be a bit uncomfortable after about an hour's riding,) I look forward to every ride on this bike, It's just a really great, fun machine to ride...

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

I've only covered 2.5k miles in a year and a half of ownership, I'm a leisure, summer only rider now (I gave up winter riding a couple of years back). For me the SV is a fantastic bike to jump on for a day out riding solo or with a mate in the countryside. It's a great all round performer and does everything I need. If I'm out for a day's riding I usually take a break after about 90 minutes in the saddle. I always ride solo so can't comment on passenger comfort. The lack of fairing can prove a bit tiring after an hour or so on the motorway, but it's part of the choice of buying a naked bike. I've found buying a small meter screen has helped with this a bit.

Engine 5 out of 5

Great strong V-twin power plant ... Plenty of real world power for UK roads. I've never needed any more than it can provide. Low RPM assist really helps in stop start, slow moving traffic.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

It's built to a price point, but finish is great overall, no corrosion (but I do look after it) it's reliable and hasn't let me down at all.

Value vs rivals 4 out of 5

Dealer serviced in order to maintain warranty and book stamp, A bit pricy for an oil and filter change in my opinion.

Equipment 4 out of 5

Standard factory exhaust is heavy and quite unsightly. I've bought and fitted and R77 Yoshimura and it sounds truly phenomenal. Suzuki tuck and roll seat has greatly overall comfort and saddle time. Meter screen has taken the edge off motorway fatigue. I plan on changing stock tyres next spring and considering Michelin pilot road 5s for my next rubber.

Buying experience: Robinson's of Rochdale. A fair PX deal for my trail bike and 3 year low rate finance with Suzuki. Very manageable low cost monthly repayments. Dealership were great to deal with and I thoroughly recommend them.

5 out of 5 Excellent fun bike.
22 August 2020 by Bill

Year: 2020

Annual servicing cost: £100

Excellent value for money. A very genuine, well sorted, all round bike that will not disappoint.

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

The handling is generaly safe and predictable, but can get exciting on twisty roads with uneven surfaces. The new four pot calipers really sharpen up the braking.

Engine 5 out of 5

The engine is outstanding. Wonderful linear torque and more than enough power for road use.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

Well engineered and sorted. Looked after properly will give years of reliable service.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5

Buying experience: Purchased new from main dealer. The SV650 has been around for 20 years and good discount are available.

4 out of 5 Great overall package at a bargain prive
22 January 2020 by Fresian

Version: SV650 ABS

Year: 2018

Annual servicing cost: £120

Great mix of performance and economy, very strong pulling engine and excellend handling. As for the price, this has to be one of the best bargains out there.

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

Overall a great package only really let down by a crap, thinly padded seat ( uncomfortable after an hour on longer runs, although less of a problem on twisty roads where you are moving around all the time

Engine 5 out of 5

The basic engine has been around a long time, but is now tweaked to give a bit more power than older SVs. It isnt the smoothest, but then it is a V twin. My last bike was the inline 4 Bandit, which was smoother and I think more suited to long distance work.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

I though 120 was a bit steep after 600 miles, but realise that most dealers do not include first service in the cost of a new bike these days

Equipment 4 out of 5

Pretty basic in terms of fancy features, but that to me is what biking is all about. Great information from the dash, I have made us of the ABS capability a couple of times and saved having to change underwear. I have added a small flyscreen which does make a difference, and occasionally use soft luggage other than that I might consider heated grips.

Buying experience: Bought from Saltire in Edinburgh at the start of the season in 2018, brand new for £4999 on the road. Great price for a great, albeit slightly basic, bike from a major manufacturer.

4 out of 5 Great mid sized bike
09 June 2016 by Bike mike

Version: SV650

Year: 2016

Best features are -easy to use. Vg motor for beginner or experienced rider. Vg handling user friendly braking (not too fierce) Has ABS. VG for shorter person.Not intimidating but plenty of power for enthusiastic riding. Seat is a bit loose at the back.Excellent position for commuting and riding twisties. Seat a bit low for anyone over 5ft 10'' approx. Suzuki need to have an alternative seat for taller riders with 40mm more padding.Very narrow tank and seat so rider can tuck in makes it easy to swing thru bends. Comfy upright position places little pressure on wrists and hands. Would be great for a girl or short male. Good 2nd bike once you have learnt the basics.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Nice all round bike for long commuting ,weekend warrior or with a carrier and small fly screen a trip.Rear of seat a bit wobbly for a pillion.Brake reach adjustable. ABS means a beginner rider cannot over brake and get into a skid.Im going to get about an inch more padding added to the seat (5ft 9")

Engine 5 out of 5

Very smooth linear power -vg power after 6000 rpm .Not a super bike but good usable power -even in the wet when super bikes are a hand full.VERY hard (impossible? ) to stall.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

Too early to really tell really but these bikes have 17 years of development and previous models are bullet proof.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Too early to tell but previous models were cheap to own

Equipment 4 out of 5

Tyres seem fine but v few km yet.Instruments easier to read than on an MT07 I tried. Both bikes need a small fly screen for sustained hi speed riding.

Buying experience: Has all the essentials .Front suspension is not adjustable but doesnt need to be changed. Rear can be adjusted for your weight.Tried out an Yamaha MT 07 but the SV is a bit cheaper and a much better bike all round. Engine of SV (smoothness) is MUCH better. MT-07 has a strong mid range but gets quite harsh about 6-7000rpm. In my experience Suzuki dealers cant be beaten for good service (owned more than 20).

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