EICMA 2015 FIRST LOOK: 2017 Suzuki SV650

Suzuki's SV650 returns as an early-release 2017 model.

2017 Suzuki SV650 static side view at EICMA 2015

You know the old adage "If it ain't broke, don't fix it"? Well, Suzuki doesn't. Or didn't anyway, when the decision-makers in Hamamatsu decided to replace the popular SV650 standard with a naked bike called the Gladius. Heavily stylized in an ill-advised attempt to appeal to women (or metrosexuals?), the Gladius missed the mark completely and was subsequently rebadged as the SFV650 to little avail. That left a hole in the market that the Honda CB500, Kawasaki Versys 650, and Yamaha FZ-07 quickly filled, leaving Suzuki with a token share of a segment it had once dominated.

Finally, Suzuki has seen the error of its ways and brought back the SV650. The familiar 645cc, DOHC, 90-degree V-twin has been upgraded with more than 60 new parts to increase output (from 71 to 75 horsepower) and improve fuel efficiency. New, FEM-designed pistons are strong and lightweight, with resin-coated skirts that reduce friction in the plated cylinders. The SDTV EFI system with 39mm throttle bodies and 10-hole injectors has been upgraded to allow better low-speed running, and inhales though a new airbox with staggered intake funnels for improved torque. Dual-spark ignition and a lightweight, catalyst-equipped 2-into-1 exhaust help the engine meet stringent Euro 4 emissions standards. A new radiator with a larger cooling fan works with a liquid-cooled oil filter to keep engine temperature in check.

2017 Suzuki SV650 headlight close-up
2017 Suzuki SV650 engine close-up

The chassis wasn't neglected either, as it features more than 70 new parts. As on the Gladius/SFV650, the frame is a lightweight steel-trellis unit instead of aluminum like the original SVs. The two-person seat and gas tank have both been reshaped, the latter now 2.5 inches narrower despite having the same capacity. The 30.9-inch seat height is said to be the lowest in class. Suspension consists of a traditional 41mm telescopic fork and a linkage-equipped shock with adjustable spring preload working in conjunction with a steel-beam swingarm. The brake system employs a pair of Tokico two-piston calipers grasping 290mm rotors up front and a single-piston caliper pinching a 240mm disc in the rear. While ABS is now mandatory in Europe, American buyers can choose their SV with or without the Nissin system that is said to be smaller and lighter than before. All told the new bike weighs 15 lbs. less than the one it replaces, and 18 lbs. less on the ABS version.

As on most modern motorcycles, the SV features a multi-function LCD dash display with adjustable backlighting. It also gets the one-push Easy Start system from the GSX-S1000, plus the Throttle-body Integrated Idle Speed Control (TI-ISC) with a Low RPM Assist function that aids in accelerating from a standstill.

The SV has always been an excellent beginner's bike, and there's every reason to expect that will continue for 2017 and beyond. Available in the USA as the SV650 or SV650A (with ABS), it is expected to hit dealerships by late spring or early summer. Price has yet to be determined.

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2017 Suzuki SV650 at EICMA 2015.Jeff Allen

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2017 Suzuki SV650 at EICMA 2015.Jeff Allen

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2017 Suzuki SV650 at EICMA 2015.Jeff Allen

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2017 Suzuki SV650 at EICMA 2015.Jeff Allen

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2017 Suzuki SV650 at EICMA 2015.Jeff Allen

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2017 Suzuki SV650 at EICMA 2015.Jeff Allen

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2017 Suzuki SV650 at EICMA 2015.Jeff Allen

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2017 Suzuki SV650 at EICMA 2015.Jeff Allen

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2017 Suzuki SV650 at EICMA 2015.Jeff Allen

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2017 Suzuki SV650 at EICMA 2015.Jeff Allen