The SV650 makes a perfect bike for all riders, novice or experienced, road or track. Its thumping V-Twin engine, stylish bodywork, and excellent handling chassis give it great character, and the mass of upgrade options and parts make it a great choice for budget racing.
Suzuki launched the SV650 in 1999, as a naked budget bike with the option of a full or bikini fairing, and became a best seller in its sector. The V-twin engine has stuck with it from the beginning and matches the lightweight yet rigid chassis to give a real rider’s bike, that is so rewarding to ride.
The original SV650 is fitted with Mikuni carbs, and makes 65hp, and was largely unchanged through the years until the 2nd gen, and often runs with the nickname of curvy among owners.
The 2003-2012 generation (the 2nd gen) was upgraded to fuel injection, which boosted the power to 74hp. It kept the same 645cc 90 degrees V-twin, but also had chassis changes to the frame itself and suspension componentry. The 2nd gen was nicknamed the pointy between owners due to its angular design on the plastics.
The 2007-2017 (3rd gen) models of the SV feature an upgraded twin spark plug engine but due to emerging euro regulations catalytic converters and other spec changes are fitted which sap the power slightly from the gen2.
The upgraded frame on the 2nd gen was upgraded from an aluminium oval trellis frame to a cast diamond-shaped aluminium frame, giving more stiffness and rigidity.
Suzuki also joined the modern aggressive styling by upgrading the rounded curvy fairings with those iconic clean sharp edges.
SV650 weight increase
The Suzuki SV650 weight did bulk up during its revisions. The fairing modifications, incorporation of fuel injection and other upgrades through the year saw the SV650 go from 189kg to 198kg during the early years. Modern SV650’s benefit from their lack of bodywork but still come in at 195kg due to the addition of a cat.
SV650 suspension upgrade
The SV650 does come with some level of suspension, although in standard trim it’s not great. Suzuki launched the bike as a budget bike, and the suspension was one of the areas which are slightly lacking. The first and third generations of SV had telescopic forks, whilst the second generation is equipped with dampening rod forks. The rear is a single shock with adjustable pre-load only. This means the suspension isn’t as adjustable as owners would like.
Upgrade options are available, both aftermarket and OEM. It is possible to fit some model GSXR front ends which will allow more adjustment, give upside down fitment and better brakes. This is the same situation with the rear, where GSXR swingarms and shocks can bet fitted or alternatively a rear shock from a ZX6 ninja can potentially fit with some tweeks. All this does add some cost, but this can help people looking to race or do SV650 trackdays.
Is the SV650 A2 compliant?
The first and second-gen SV650’s can be A2 restricted mechanically. The gen1 uses airflow restrictors, the gen2 uses a throttle stop restrictor limiting the amount of throttle to be used. The newer gen3 SV650 are restricted through the ECU with a factory fitted different map installed. This ECU can be changed and sourced by your Suzuki dealer, previously the didn’t charge, however this might have changed.
Easy bike upgrades, a simple afternoon’s work
To take your stock SV650 from stock to a perfect ride, there are some essential but straightforward SV650 modifications.
Common SV650 modifications include replacing the stock exhaust. There are plenty of brands out there making in lots of materials ours has a Fuel stainless steel system. It has a removable baffle, which takes some of the bass out. Replacing the can is an easy task using a slip-on link pipe and clips. This brings out the most of the V-Twin noise and sounds like the bike should.
Oil cooler and radiator guards are readily available, they simply fit in place to protect from stones and debris. Pyramid plastics offer great aftermarket accessories including a fender extender designed to reduce dirt and spray onto the exhaust header and engine. They also offer other plastic parts including rear seat cowls, replacement panels and a belly pan.
Aftermarket brake lines are readily available. With stock lines on the SV being dated, this can cause a spongy brake feel. Replace the lines, and bleeding the braking system with fresh fluid makes a massive improvement.
Crash protection is available from all brands such as engine cases and crash bobbins from R&G or GB Racing.
So how much?
This is where it gets highly variable and technical. Cheap gen1 SV650 can be picked up for circa £600, this would be a high miler, that’s a bit rough around the edges, but good for a project or a track bike prep. A good condition low milage gen can be up to £1500, but we expect this to start rising soon with examples getting close to classic age.
Second-gen SV650’s can vary from £1000 to £1900 for an immaculate example with low mileage and some useful modifications.
Third gen SV’s vary in price, due to the long production runs but L series (2010+) can be £3000+ for a used example and there are some deals on brand new models for a snip under £5k.
Once again used bike websites are packed with SV650 trackbike packages. Supertwin bikes seem to range from £2000 up to £8000, with the latter being a full-on Ex IOM machinery.
The best thing is, the SV650 is timeless and a future classic, people will always want an SV. If you are selling, you’ll always find a buyer when you want to sell, and from a buyers perspective, they retain their value very well.
So you’re buying an SV650, what do you look out for?
Many SV650’s have aftermarket integrated rear indicators. These are combined with the tail light and contain a row of LED’s inside the brake light to indicate direction. These alone can be an MOT fail, so wiring in some regular indicators for MOT time could be required.
Another key thing to look out for, especially on the earlier models, is the problematic regulator/rectifier issue. You can tell when it is failing by the lights being dim at tick over and brightening up when you apply engine revs. It’s best to avoid any bikes which do this unless you are competent changing the regulator rectifier.
Aftermarket levers can be problematic if not set up correctly as the clutch cable system can be very fiddly. Some cheaper levers if not installed correctly, require being pulled underneath the handlebar to engage the clutch fully.
As many SV650’s are taken on track or raced in the mini-twins race series, you might be purchasing an ex-track bike. It is worth checking for damage, to critical areas, again there is nothing wrong with buying an Ex track or race bike, the engines are reliable but use it as a check to make sure the seller is open about the bike.
SV650 common issues
Other things to look out for include checking for a rattley cam chain tensioner, this isn’t a major job to replace, it’s about an hour but obviously, if it is rattling adjust the buying price to reflect. It’s always worth checking chain and sprocket wear, SV’s are getting a bit old and milage numbers higher, so bikes could have worn our sprockets. Again check and adjust as required.
More parts to check include fork seals. If they are weeping, this could be a sign of abuse and could need sorting. Again this isn’t a major job, but it might be a hint the bike has been wheelied a lot so the clutch might have also had some abuse.
Some older gen1 SV’s can suffer from rusty fuel tanks. If a bike has been long term stored with a low fuel level this can leave the inside of the tank dry and allow rust to start.
Other key things for SV owners
If you bought an SV and think something’s up, check the following list:
- Don’t drill your airbox. Yeah, we have seen it, and while it does make the induction noise a bit louder, it messes the inlet airflow and has the potential to suck hot air instead of cold air.
- Carbed model SV? End can? Check that your carbs have been adjusted correctly to suit the new end can. Roll on the throttle building in 1k rpm increments and if you have backfires, stutters or sudden low revs you may need to re-jet those carbs.
Need I say anymore?
The SV650 is a perfect starter bike, track bike, want something different to a 4 cylinder bike, it does everything. To commute on, its relatively efficient getting about 150-180 miles (about 40 – 50 miles per gallon) to a tank when ridden correctly. When ridden hard the fuel economy does drop but it is still nothing major to worry about.
We get plenty of torque, enough speed, and plenty of fun so if you’re in the market for an upgrade or fancy something different for the road or track the SV650 is well worth checking out.