Suzuki SV650S & SV1000S

Text: Andi Seiler • Photography: Christian Neuhauser

For 2003, Suzuki has sent some hot V2 irons into the fray for the sport crown. The S models of their SV line, available in 650 and 1000cc configurations, have the looks to win over a lot of happy customers. RR tried them out to see what more there is than meets the eye.

Concept & Transformation

We are talking about two bikes with two totally different careers here. The SV1000S, based on its predecessor, the TL1000S, was introduced in 1997. Unfortunately, the first production series had problems with overly rich carburetion of the fuel injection, fuel in the oil sump, and dangerous handlebar kickback on rough surfaces. The company stood up, fixed all the weak points, and didn't charge their customers a dime. But with reputation and image already damaged, the TL didn't sell as well as expected, especially in Europe. In the U.S., the bike was still quite successful and officially sold up until 2001. Its sportier sister TL1000R is still in the showrooms.

In 1999, Suzuki tried their luck with a smaller displacement in the SV650S and SV650. The sport version S had a half fairing and clip-ons; the basic model came as a naked standard with touring handlebars. The bikes presented the midsize Ducatis a stiff challenge, churning out better performance for less money. Both of the Suzuki versions sold like hot cakes.

Heightening interest for Sportbike Year 2003, Suzuki debuts the successor to the TL, the SV1000S, and a revised SV650S. Both displacements are also available in a standard setup. At first glance, the bikes seem to be the same. But the closer you get - or better yet - having a chance to ride them, you'll come to know the differences.

Engine &Transmission
The 1000's bigger capacity sends a noticeably deeper sound out of its two mufflers. While the 650 cannot offer the same exhaustive operatics, sounding thinner, it's not bad at all. And although the smaller bike incorporates only one canister, that's not necessarily a disadvantage because it saves weight - a point of reference to examine later.

To get away from the old TL image and to improve the all-round performance, Suzuki added a lot of new features to the SV1000 engine. Many of these changes were already made in the dual-purpose bike, the DL1000 V-Strom, introduced last year. The most important modifications were smaller intake valves, new pistons, and a fuel injection with two throttle valves per throttle body. One is operated by the throttle cable, the other by an electronic motor - a feature from Suzuki's famous GSX-R line. This transformed the formerly capricious engine into a grade-A student.

Of course, as a sportbike the SV1000S needed more power than the dual-purpose machine, so Suzuki's engineers added other cams, new porting on the cylinder heads and 52mm throttle bodies instead of the 45mm bodies on the V-Strom. The power jumped from 98 to 120hp, something you definitely notice when you hop on the SV. Cranking 2,500 or better, 3,000rpm, are good marks to start from when you twist the throttle; at 4,000 the bike feels like home and pushes forward with muscle. No asthmatic coughing when you ask for a dance - the SV always performs nimbly. If you climb higher in the rpm range, there is no kick to bother, surprise, or disturb a nice riding line. Though not as revvy nor strong as the old TL, the SV is way more ride-able than its predecessor.

And then we have the 650: smaller displacement, smaller throttle bodies (39mm), less horsepower (72hp) - an uneven duel it seems. But the 2002 model can surprise and doesn't move at a snail's pace at all! Although the change from carburetors to electronic fuel injection (also w/dual throttle vales), other cams and new con-rods officially added only one more horsepower, the 650 feels much stronger and agile (colleagues in Europe measured 76hp!). And the delayed throttle response of the old model is history, with the new motor sharpened in every sense of engineering. It pulls well from the bottom without any flat spots, and at about 6,000 it kicks like nitrogen is being sprayed in the combustion chambers.

Really impressive running from this little bike. It revs easily up to redline at 11,000rpm and probably goes even a bit further but we didn't want to overdo it. Its six-speed gearbox shifts as well as the big SV's, with close ratios making it possible to hang on to its big brother. And the mechanically operated clutch on the 650 doesn't show any disadvantages compared with the hydraulic operation on the 1000. For improved reliability on the smaller-capacity bike, Suzuki also changed the cam-chain tensioner, the crank housing, and added a deeper oil sump, a new oil gaze and an oil-cooler as found on the 1000.

Chassis & Brakes
For both bikes, Suzuki has introduced a new manufacturing method for frames and frame materials. The aluminum tubes (TL, SV650 '02) are gone. The steering head, main frame, and swingarm plates are all cast pieces, created under high pressure, and welded together. They really look the same on both displacements, and you can't tell that the walls of the cast-aluminum on the SV1000 are thicker. The obvious advantages of the bigger Suzi are fully adjustable forks, a shock with the same features (SV650: only preload front and rear), the bigger diameter of the fork tubes (46 vs. 41mm), a nicer manufactured swingarm (aluminum on both) with better chain tension adjusters as well as a steering damper. The latter is required on the bigger bike because the front wheel gets light under hard acceleration and would tend toward kickback or tank slappers without steering damper.

We never had the feeling this hydraulic device was needed on the 650. But don't get that wrong. It doesn't have anything to do with a weak motor; everything works just fine. And when you factor in all the advantages of less weight (436 vs. 487lb.), narrower rear tire (160/60 ZR 17 vs. 180/55 ZR 17), and shorter wheelbase (1,430 vs. 1,435mm) coming into the game, it's not too surprising to note how easily the 650 keeps up with its bigger brother on curvy canyon roads. The missing steering damper makes it easier to turn, anyway. The SV1000S is a great handling bike - no doubt about that - but the SV650S makes life on twisty roads so much easier where power doesn't pay off that much, the way it does on the track or on the open highway.

Even the less expensive brakes (floating double-piston calipers in front) on the smaller bike can compete with the four-pots on the 1000. And at the rear we felt a noticeable advantage for the 650 when we had to make all those U-turns in parking lanes with dirt and gravel during the riding-picture session.

Accessories & Arrangements
As mentioned, the bikes look almost the same and show only small differences. Fairing, tanks, seat, rear, and side panels, fender, and footpegs share common parts. Instrumentation and controls are also almost the same. Slightly different clip-ons don't make a noticeable difference in riding position, which is clearly on the sporty side. No reason to be scared: it's not like being on a 998. You lean forward over the nice, short tank. If necessary, you're able to duck in behind the small half fairing with double headlights. For our tastes, the rider's pegs could sit just a little bit further back for more support at higher speeds.

For serious touring, you definitely have to look for some soft bags - a magnetic one for the tank and one for the rear seat. Even if the mufflers come out high, you also should be able to mount an angled sport-cut setup on the side. Be careful when you use the hooks that Suzuki mounted on both of the bikes underneath the seat cowling. It's easy to scratch the paint if you go for bungee cords. At least, you need those plastic or rubber-coated ones to tie down your luggage.

There isn't really room for a second passenger if you consider traveling longer stretches. The rear seat is just good enough for commuting, barhopping, or short trips on Sunday mornings. That's it! Unless you have a girlfriend with a titanium rear.

Test Summary
The S models are pure riding machines, mainly for single riders and sport bike enthusiasts. The equipment defines this, and, in this configuration, both bikes are great fun. The SV1000S is clearly the strong pulling V-twin with lots of torque, power, and abilities on the track where its adjustable suspension units make a difference. Folks who don't like to shift while making their way through combinations of back-road curves are better off on the big displacement bike. But with a little bit more in the way of rider efforts its smaller brother, the SV650S, shows impressively how cc, hp, and ft. lbs. can become non-essentials when the shape of the road turns into a rattlesnake, or downtown traffic converts into an avalanche of steel. The SV650S is not only the better deal in price. It's easier to ride without sacrificing fun or performance. Most of the time the 650 stays close, right in the draft of the 1000. Unfortunately, many in the motorcycle community define real sport bikes by capacity and horsepower amounts. Too bad. Those riders will never get the taste of a light V-twin with an immensely wide power range from 2,000 up to over 11,000 in combination with a close-ratio gearbox. Oh well. Later - on the road!

TECHNICAL SPECS:
Suzuki SV1000S

Retail Price $ 8,599
Warranty One year, unlimited mileage
Maintenance Schedule 600/4,000/every 4,000 miles (1,000/6,000/every 6,000 km)
Importer/Distributor
American Suzuki Motor Corp.
3251 East Imperial Highway
Brea, CA 92822-1100
Phone (714) 996-7040
Website: www.suzuki.com

ENGINE
Type 2-cylinder, V, 4-stroke
Cooling water-cooled
Valve Arrangement 4 valves per cyl., dohc, cams chain driven, shim under bucket adjustment
Bore & Stroke 98 x 66mm
Displacement 996cc
Compression Ratio 11.3:1
Carburetion electronic fuel injectionø 52mm (throttle bodies)
Exhaust Emission Control no (catalytic converter for Europe)

TRANSMISSION
Gearbox 6-speed
Clutch multi-plate wet clutch, hydraulically operated
Final Drive chain drive

CHASSIS
Frame trellis frame, cast-aluminum alloy
Wheelbase 1,435mm (56.5in.)
Rake 65,5 degree
Trail 99mm (3.90in.)
Front Suspension telescopic fork-
Stanchion Diameter 46mm (1.81in.)
Adjustments spring preload, compression and rebound damping
Travel 120mm (4.7in.)
Rear Suspension cast-aluminum alloy swingarm w/single shock
Adjustments spring preload, compression and rebound damping
Travel 130mm (5.1in.)

WHEELS & TIRES
Type cast aluminum-alloy wheels
Front 3.50 x 17
Rear 5.50 x 17
Front Tire 120/70 ZR 17
Rear Tire 180/55 ZR 17

BRAKES
Front Brake 2 discs, 4-piston calipers
Diameter 310mm (12.2in.)
Rear Brake 1 disc, floating 1-piston caliper
Diameter 220mm (8.7in.)
Combining no

DIMENSIONS & CAPACITIES
Seat Height 840mm (33.1in.)
Wet-Weight 219kg (487lb.)
Fuel Capacity 17l (4.5gal.)

PERFORMANCE
(European measurements)
Claimed Horsepower (measured at clutch)120hp at 8,500rpm
Torque 10.4mkp (102Nm, 77.0ft.-lbs.) at 7,200rpm
Top Speed 255km/h (159mph)
Acceleration 0-100km/h (0-62.5mph): 3.3s
Fuel Consumption 5.9l/100km (41mpg)
Fuel Range 288km (180mls.)

EQUIPMENT
Half fairing, dashboard w/ tachometer, digital gauges for speed, clock, coolant temperature, odometer and two tripmeters, key switch in front of the upper triple clamp, adjustable brake and clutch lever, side stand and steering damper.

ROADRUNNER Test Diagram
Engine 5/5
Chassis 5/5
Brakes 5/5
Comfort 3/5
Luggage w/accessories 2/5
Equipment 4/5
Design 5/5
Bike for the buck 5/5

Suzuki SV650S

Retail Price $ 6,299
Warranty One year, unlimited mileage
Maintenance Schedule 600/4,000/every 4,000 miles (1,000/6,000/every 6,000 km)
Importer/Distributor
American Suzuki Motor Corp.
3251 East Imperial Highway
Brea, CA 92822-1100
Phone (714) 996-7040
Website: www.suzuki.com

ENGINE
Type 2-cylinder, V, 4-stroke
Cooling water-cooled
Valve Arrangement 4 valves per cyl., dohc, cams chain driven, shim under bucket adjustment
Bore & Stroke 81 x 62.6mm
Displacement 645cc
Compression Ratio 11.5:1
Carburetion electronic fuel injectionø 39mm (throttle bodies)
Exhaust Emission Control no (catalytic converter for Europe)

TRANSMISSION
Gearbox 6-speed
Clutch multi-plate wet clutch, mechanically operated
Final Drive chain drive

CHASSIS
Frame trellis frame, cast-aluminum alloy
Wheelbase 1,430mm (56.5in.)
Rake 65 degree
Trail 100mm (3.94in.)
Front Suspension telescopic fork
Stanchion Diameter 41mm (1.61in.)
Adjustments spring preload
Travel 130mm (5.1in.)
Rear Suspension cast-aluminum alloy
Adjustments spring preload
Travel 137mm (5.4in.)

WHEELS & TIRES
Type cast aluminum-alloy wheels
Front 3.50 x 17
Rear 4.50 x 17
Front Tire 120/60 ZR 17
Rear Tire 160/60 ZR 17,

BRAKES
Front Brake 2 discs, floating double-piston calipers
Diameter 290mm (11.4in.)
Rear Brake 1 disc, floating 1-piston caliper
Diameter 240mm (9.4in.)
Combining no

DIMENSIONS & CAPACITIES
Seat Height 820mm (32.3in.)
Wet-Weight 196kg (436lb.)
Fuel Capacity 17l (4.5gal.)

PERFORMANCE
(European measurements)
Claimed Horsepower (measured at clutch)72hp at 9,000rpm
Torque 6.5mkp (64Nm, 46.7ft.-lbs.) at 7,200rpm
Top Speed 215km/h (134mph)
Acceleration 0-100km/h (0-62.5mph): 3.6s
Fuel Consumption 5.1l/100km (47mpg)
Fuel Range 333km (208mls.)

EQUIPMENT
Half fairing, dashboard w/ tachometer, digital gauges for speed, clock, coolant temperature, odometer and tripmeter, key switch in front of the upper triple clamp, adjustable brake lever and side stand.

ROADRUNNER Test Diagram
Engine 5/5
Chassis 5/5
Brakes 5/5
Comfort 3/5
Luggage w/accessories 2/5
Equipment 4/5
Design 5/5
Bike for the buck 5/5