$3000 Streetbike Surgery - Suzuki SV650

Building the R-model Suzuki should have

By Ari Henning, Photography by Joe Neric

The GSX-R front end was easy to install, but left some details to be sorted out. Mounting the SV's headlight and gauges posed a challenge, and the speedo drive had nowhere to go on the 750's front wheel. Once again we tapped the knowledge base at the SV forums for an answer. Eight magnets on the rotor and a hall-effect sensor now provide the electrical signal for the speedometer, and Scott Anderson of Aztec 8 makes brackets to hang the SV's instruments and trademark round headlight and bikini fairing. Our front end didn't come with a fender, so we ordered a Superbike piece from Hotbodies Racing, along with an undertail kit. The ABS-plastic parts match the SV's OE Candy Grand Blue paint perfectly, and the undertail does away with the stock duckbill rear fender while incorporating bright LED turn signals. Replacing the passenger seat with a Suzuki accessory cowl completed the transformation, accentuating the SV's sharp tail and giving the bike a much sportier appearance.

The SV is renowned for its neutral ergonomics, which we were keen to maintain. While the GSX-R clip-ons could have killed the 650's upright riding position, clip-on risers from recently-defunct Swatt Inc. successfully straighten out the rider's back. Custom-length braided stainless-steel brake lines from Galfer compensate for the added bar height while contributing to a firmer feel at the blue-and-gold Pazzo adjustable levers. Vortex adjustable rearsets offer a matrix of footpeg positions, allowing us to raise the pegs and eliminate that annoying grinding sound we kept hearing in corners.

Suzuki outfitted the SV650 with a big #525 chain-and-sprocket combo to improve durability, but that's unnecessarily robust for a bike that barely puts out 70 horsepower. A popular modification amongst SV racers is to install a narrower and lighter #520 chain and matching sprockets. Not only does that cut weight off the drivetrain, it opens the door to a much wider range of sprocket sizes. We added a little bling to our SV with a gold Renthal R4 SRS 520 chain and gave it a little extra oomph via a Vortex 47-tooth aluminum sprocket in place of the stock 45-tooth steel job. Those changes added up to significantly better acceleration and better utilization of the SV's power, its comfortable highway cruising range now closer to legal limits.

With its chassis and gearing sorted, our Suzuki felt tamer yet at the same time capable of much more aggressive behavior. Still, something was missing. The stock bazooka of a muffler muddies the 650's otherwise refined lines while muzzling its exhaust note, so we slid on a high-mount slip-on exhaust in satin black from SV specialist Holeshot Performance. Now the SV looks, works and sounds better.

Was our project a success? You'd better believe it! Our SV650R is an absolute hoot to ride, with firmer, better-controlled suspension movement and race-ready brakes. The gearing change and freer-flowing exhaust make the bike feel and sound significantly faster, and the Hotbodies fender and seat cowl, plus the gold forks and brakes, make the SV look even better than the Ducati Monster it was intended to mimic. Not only did we create a ripping, multi-talented SV, we came in under budget! With $175 left in the coffers, we ordered up a smorgasbord of blue-anodized aluminum and titanium Pro-Bolt Tasy Nuts fasteners to tie together the SV's color scheme and give it a custom look.

Equally at home commuting, shredding the canyons, at a track day or bike night, our surgically enhanced SV650 stands head and shoulders above the bike that replaced it. Told you so, Suzuki!

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