Suzuki SV1000

Great Sportbikes of the Past

2003 Suzuki SV1000S

In 2003 Suzuki added A big-bore model to the V-twin SV line-up. Despite the less-than-stellar success of the TL1000 series (TL1000S and R), Suzuki was brave enough to give it another try. The one-liter version included two editions: the naked SV1000 priced at $7999 and the half-faired S model retailing for $8599. The SV1000 was intended to be a less expensive (and less committed) way for riders interested in a full-sized sportbike to enter the market compared to the GSX-R.

The engine was based on the TL1000 powerplant, but with over 300 refinements reflecting both its less-hardcore intent and additional development time. The 996cc liquid-cooled 90-degree V-twin sports the same bore and stroke of 98mm x 66mm, but that's about it. The DOHC four-valve cylinder heads feature smaller 36mm intake valves (from the TL's 40mm poppets), single instead of dual valve springs, slightly reshaped intake ports for better velocity at lower rpm, and retimed intake cams for more overlap. Lighter forged pistons (by 15 grams each) replace the cast TL units, with thinner and lighter connecting rods (by 30 grams each) and a smaller-pitch cam chain for the hybrid gear/chain cam drive reducing reciprocating weight even further. The engine was fed by 52mm throttle bodies with Suzuki's SDTV secondary throttle valve system similar to the GSX-R series to smooth out off-idle throttle response. Unique to the SV system, though, was that the primary (rider controlled) and secondary (ECU controlled) throttle plates were closer together so that they overlap slightly at full throttle, helping keep the throttle body assembly shorter for better top-end power and increased airbox volume. Compression was 11.2:1 with forged pistons, and the engine cranked out 111.2 horsepower and 70.7 ft-lb of torque. Peak horsepower was down a smidge from the original TL engine, but the powerband was broader.

2003 Suzuki SV1000S

The frame was a vacuum die-cast aluminum beam setup that allowed it to have less welds plus more rigidity. Unfortunately the seat height was a bit high at 31.9 inches but thankfully the front of the seat was narrow so it wasn't that bad. Braking was handled by a pair of 310mm rotors and four-piston calipers on the front and a 220mm rotor/single-piston caliper out back. Stopping power was good and very few riders felt the need to change them other than the occasional braided line or pad upgrade. Wheelbase on this model was listed at 56.3 inches, coupled with steering geometry figures of 25 degrees rake and 3.94 inches of trail; wet weight was less than 480 pounds for the S model and a few less for the naked version.

The 3.5 x 17-inch front and 5.5 x 17-inch rear wheels allowed the owner access to a wide range of rubber choices. Unlike the 650, the SV1000 came with a fully adjustable 46mm cartridge (conventional not inverted) fork featuring spring preload, plus compression and rebound damping adjustments. The single rear shock was also similarly adjustable, and the 1000 also included a non-adjustable steering damper.

The SV1000's (and '03 and later SV650) frame used the precision die-casting technology that was quickly becoming prevalent on all sportbikes by '03. This not only allowed Suzuki engineers to make it simpler and lighter, but also "tune" the rigidity in certain sections for optimum performance.
The SV1000's 996cc V-twin engine appeared almost identical externally to the old TL1000 engine, but inside were over 300 changes to improve low-end and midrange performance to better suit the SV's slightly milder intentions.

On the road, the SV1000 delivered about 38 mpg under a steady throttle hand, meaning a decent 170-mile range from the 4.5-gallon tank. The pessimistic low fuel light usually began flashing at around 125-130 miles, translating to just over a gallon remaining; when the flashing light was replaced by a solid illumination about 15-20 miles later, you'd best find a gas station quick, as there was less than half gallon of fuel remaining. The SV1000 ran through the quarter-mile at 11 seconds flat at 122 mph, and topped out at just below 149 mph.

Suzuki thankfully ditched the controversial rotary rear damper unit of the TL series for a "conventional" piggyback reservoir-equipped shock on the SV sporting full adjustability.

There were a few differences between the naked version and the S version other than the obvious bodywork. For instance, the tubular handlebars on the standard were about 2 inches taller than the S models' clip-ons; many riders wished the S model had higher bars due to its high pegs and the long reach to the low clip-ons on the S model, a common complaint. The standard SV used a single round headlight up front as opposed to the S model's twin beams which also changed the look of the bike completely.

Forged pistons using the same pattern from the GSX-R1000 were 15 grams lighter than the TL's cast units. Compression ratio was set at 11.3:1, same as the TL.

The naked SV's sales figures paled in comparison to the half-faired S model, so the standard version was dropped in '05. In '04, the SV received a 20mm lower seat height, helped by a new rear sub frame that was 40mm lower. The pegs were also lowered and the swingarm was lengthened slightly to improve handling. Suzuki updated the SV yet again in '05 with higher-lift cams, more engine compression and a lighter flywheel. The '05 update list also included larger throttle bodies (now 54mm) as well as a new ECU. One unfortunate change was that the '03-'04 fork was replaced with a cheaper, non-rebuildable cartridge fork. The '05 model also sported a black frame.

The SV1000S's dash was clean and simple, with the analog tachometer sitting atop the multi-display LCD panel. The 46mm conventional cartridge fork is fully adjustable for spring preload, rebound and compression damping.

Sadly, the SV1000's sales numbers never lived up to its performance, and the V-twin was discontinued in '07. But its fan base is still strong today.

Perhaps the most common ailment of the SV1000 is the notorious "green connector" issue that seemed to plague more '03s than other years, but we have heard of it on other models too. It is a simple multi-wire plug-in connector that completely shorts out and causes a dead bike. Most owners simply replace it with a new factory unit, while others take a different approach such as an upgraded plug or even making their own connector. Suzuki did little to fix or even acknowledge the problem, causing a lot of grief for SV owners. If yours has not failed yet, a good cleaning and application of dielectric grease can help extend the life of the connector.

There is also a nagging issue with loud/rattling clutch baskets. Many owners find that raising the idle to 1400 rpm and adjusting the TPS (throttle position sensor) to compensate while adding a TRE (Timing Retard Eliminator, a device that tricks the ECU into thinking the bike is in a higher gear), the problem seems to get less noticeable. Others opted for new clutch baskets and primary drive gears to quiet the rattle.

Another common ailment is a failed regulator/rectifier. Resourceful riders find that the '07-to-present Yamaha R1 unit (among others) is a better replacement. Some wiring mods have to be done to make the swap but it's pretty simple and details can be found on a number of websites.

The SV's four-piston calipers and 310mm discs appear to be the same units on the '03 GSX-R600, and work fantastically, even with the SV's additional weight.

Topping the long list of upgrades is an aftermarket exhaust and a PowerCommander. In combination with a free flowing air filter, most owners are seeing about 112-115 horsepower which makes for a lot of fun on a bike like this. The next most common mod is to upgrade the fork; some simply added springs and new oil, while others resorted to new fork internals or even swapping the whole front end to GSX-R750 parts.

The rear suspension is another common area targeted for upgrades. Many SV fans find that certain models of the SV can benefit from a GSX-R shock swap. Details can be found on each of these suspension upgrades on the various SV owners' forums such as www.Suzukisv1000.com and www.sv-portal.com.

Jon James from the UK owns this turbocharged SV running eight pounds of boost from a custom turbo kit using Subaru Impreza injectors. Other obvious trick bits include a modified frame, GSX-R750 front end, a Kawasaki ZX-10R rear, Galfer Wave rotors, etc.

If you are interested in buying a used SV, they are sometimes available and are a great buy due to the general public not knowing a lot about the bike. Used 2003s range from $3995 to $4250 depending on the model. A 2004 used S model is worth $4540 today while the newer 2005 is currently fetching $5375; add another $300 for a 2006 model. The 2007 currently lists for $6100 according to NADA.com. It is a great bike and can deliver a lot of fun for a low priced bike. It's reliable, fairly fast and much easier to ride fast than the average one-liter four-cylinder sportbike.

Ohio's Mark Cobb owns this '05 SV1000S that he converted to a naked model, with carbon flyscreen and Aztec8 dual headlights, '08 GSX-R750 front end, Vortex top triple clamp, Tommaselli two-way adjustable clip-ons, and Holeshot Performance exhaust just part of the extensive mods.