SV650 is so good they’re almost giving it away...

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Motorcycle road test: Suzuki SV650S

Any rider looking for a good, middleweight motorbike that offers excellent all-round practicality should look no further than Suzuki’s SV650S.

And one of the best things about it was that, at the time of writing, you could pick one up for the absolute bargain basement price of £4,325. Oh yes, and that was on a 0% finance deal. And did I mention that was with as little as £1 deposit?

They might as well just have given them away. But seeing as they weren’t, here’s what you get for what little money Suzuki is asking you to part with even without the great finance offers.

You actually get a whole lot of bike! It’s a 645cc, six-speed, liquid-cooled V-twin machine that feels a whole lot bigger than the 69bhp bike it says it is.

The S version I tested has, as the S would suggest, a fairly sporty look which, if I’m being totally honest, wasn’t really doing it for me when I first saw it.

I felt the half fairing looked as though it had been added to the bike almost as something of an afterthought. But after spending a week in each other’s company my feelings towards it changed. I’m not so shallow that I fall for looks alone, and I began to see its inner beauty and fell in love with its personality pretty quickly.

In fact, I actually grew to love the half fairing too, and for a couple of good reasons. Firstly, it provided great protection from the elements, particularly on jaunts up and down the motorway,

And secondly, I was actually quite grateful for the added visibility it gave me on the roads – combine the width of the faired front end and its dual headlights with the sound chucked out by the V-twin engine, and it made for quite an imposing and dominant presence on the roads, which can only be a good thing when you’re on two wheels.

The sportiness doesn’t just extend to its looks. It has a fairly large 17-litre tank and a raised pillion seat, so you feel as though you are in the bike rather than on it, but at the same time, the low clip-on handlebars pull you forward into a sportier position. Yet it’s extremely comfortable – not once did I feel excessive pressure or aches in my arms or wrists.

In fact, the only thing that did give me a bit of gyp was the very stiff, and non span-adjustable, clutch lever, but even that stopped hurting after a few days of solid riding.

Speaking of riding – it really is a dream. It’s light and easy to handle and manoeuvre be it in urban traffic or out on the open roads. The V-twin engine is extremely smooth and very torquey, particularly in the low to mid rev range, but it has a good bit of poke whatever gear you happen to be in.

It’s especially fun in the bends. Its weight and low slung bars make it a joy to handle on twisty roads and it really is very easy to get a good lean on, thanks no doubt to the Dunlop Sportmax tyres the bike is fitted with. They offered good feel and grip in the dry – although I wasn’t as sure about them in the wet. But then that may just be a confidence and experience thing with me.

The natural engine braking provided by an engine of this type is good anyway, but whenever I did need to put the anchors on I could do so safe in the knowledge that the twin discs on the front would pull me up smoothly and safely. This bike may be in the budget price bracket, but rest assured the brakes are anything but. In fact, I would go as far as to say they are verging on excellent.

All in all, there are very, very few bad points about this bike at all. Some may point to its huge can, but I quite like that to be honest. In fact, just about the only thing I could criticise about it is the display. Overall it is very good, with a large analogue rev counter, digital speedo and two trip counters.

There is no gear indicator, but I don’t mind that – in my short riding career I’ve decided that counting gears myself and just listening to and working with the engine isn’t a bad thing.

There is also no fuel gauge, although this isn’t the end of the world as there is an indicator that comes on when fuel is low. Combined with resetting your trip counter every time you refuel you’ll have a pretty good idea of how far you can go between stops. I was averaging around 170 miles to the tank.

But those really are slight niggles for niggling’s sake, and in all honesty, the SV650S is a truly stunning bike. It’s incredibly easy for new and inexperienced riders to get to grips with, but has enough power, torque and all-round fun to offer something to the more experienced rider. A class act.

More information about getting on two wheels is available from the motorcycle industry’s campaign aimed at recruiting more new riders. For details visit Get On

Specifications

> Model: Suzuki SV650S

> Engine size: 645cc

> Engine spec: Six-speed, four-stroke, two-cylinder, liquid-cooled DOHC, 90-degree V-twin

> Power: 69bhp

> Fuel capacity: 17 litres

> Range: 170+ miles

> Seat height: 800mm

> Weight: 196kg

> Price: From £4,325 (Sept 2011)

Suzuki