What is a retro bike? Is it a one that faithfully channels DNA from the '60s and '70s? Or a styling exercise on an existing platform? Suzuki take the view that if it looks the part and delivers, that’s good enough.
The latest SV650X uses the nifty 650 V-twin engine and chassis, which you could argue are Suzuki’s DNA in the 21st century, so why not explore its lineage as there are bargains to be had all the way back to 1999.
The Suzuki SV650X is an accessible route into the world of retro for café-racer-inspired bikers on a budget. And it more than holds its own against Ducati Scramblers and Yamaha XSR700s.
More than that, it punches well above its £6199 price tag and is great fun on the road. MCN’s Chief Road Tester Michael Neeves recently rode one, and found it so fun that he couldn’t resist taking the twisty route to work. High praise from a man who usually rides a Ducati Panigale V4S.
Restyled bodywork, ABS and traction control make this a great used bike that just happens to be at a budget price. The tried and tested engine from the SV650 is the perfect power unit for an adventure style bike with its low-down grunt and powerful top end.
It should be every bit as reliable and bomb proof as the other bikes built around the platform, but there have been issues with headlight connectors failing.
One we found £6500, 2,900 miles.
In 2016, the faired version of the SV was dropped, but the naked version got a makeover with a more revvy engine tune. The peak torque now kicks in at 8100rpm, 1700rpm later than its predecessor which rewards more experienced riders.
Watch out for stators which can burn out over time, but the engine is largely unchanged from the original 1999 version and has proved itself to be rock-solid.
One we found £4900, 5,754 miles.
Forget the looks, the real beauty is under the skin. None of the bikes built around the 650 V-Twin platform are likely to win any beauty contests. That’s not what they’re for. But the Gladius is possibly the worst of the bunch in terms of styling.
Fortunately, it’s a fantastic motorbike to ride. The fuelling is improved to make it smoother than the SV and 10% more efficient. It’s still every bit as much fun, though.
They often make a ticking sound caused by camchain tensioners being slow to take up slack.
One we found £2800, 29,300 miles.
What is it? Launched in 2004, the first-generation V-Strom is big fun to ride. The SV650 engine is retuned for even more mid-range power and you get a higher tank range of over 200 miles (the SV managed around 150 miles).
Comfortable, capable, easy to use and reliable – you couldn’t really ask for more from a motorbike. Watch out for poor running from worn throttle position sensors. The electric screen is also a great addition, but does let water through in the rain.
One we found £2250, 42,000 miles.
A revamp in 2003 saw angular styling and fuel injection. Sometimes referred to in the SV650 community as the ‘pointy’ SV (as opposed to the ‘jelly mould’ original) it is a very popular bike for those stepping up from something slower, tourers or even experienced riders.
Popular mods tend to focus on the suspension which is a weak point on the bike, but it is possible with enough research to convert superior Suzuki GSX-R units to fit. The left bar switchgear is also prone to failure due to corrosion.
One we found £2000, 14,120 miles (naked version).
Suzuki’s fun and practical TL1000S lookalike is where it all started for the Suzuki SV650. The bike was a smash hit and an awful lot of bikers have owned, ridden or raced them at some point.
The forgiving nature of the pliable 650 V-Twin makes it the perfect bike to earn your spurs on when you get your full licence, but it’s got plenty to give for more experienced riders. Watch out for regulator rectifiers and drenched front sparkplugs.
The rear shock linkages can seize, as can the gear selector. Check the service history for a valve clearance check on higher mileage examples.
One we found £1699, 36,000 miles.
Find a Suzuki SV650 for sale.