2003 Suzuki SV650 and SV1000 Motorcycles Previewed

2003 Suzuki SV650 and SV1000s previewed

SV1000 AND SV1000S

Finally. The SV1000 seemed more a question of when than if since the naked SV650 materialized in 1999. Although the TL1000S chassis opened to mixed reviews in '97, the big-bore, short-stroke (98mm x 66mm), 996cc 90-degree V-twin was a gem. Too good to die with the TL last year, it's back, complete with evolutionary improvements in a sporty real-world twin for the masses. "We didn't want to leave the TL idea behind," Suzuki's Mark Reese says, "so we took it up a notch with fresh styling and some key engine upgrades."

Aimed at bulking up midrange muscle, the TL/SV transformation starts with 52mm SDTV throttle bodies feeding smaller, 36mm intake valves-down from the 40mm TL poppets-through reshaped intake ports. Cams are new, and one spring closes each SV valve (vs. the TL's two). Shot-peened chrome-moly connecting rods are lighter, and forged pistons replace cast TL slugs, with an L-shaped compression ring to form a better seal against a 11.3:1 compression. A compact, flat-panel filter lives in the SV airbox. On the exhaust side, muffler canisters are larger.

Refining the TL's trellis aluminum frame idea, the SV skeleton uses a high-vacuum mold process, allowing larger, more complex shapes to be formed without being compromised by air pockets or porosity. The main trusses on either side are cast as a single piece, as is the steering head and swingarm pivot. Allying a 24-degree rake with 3.9 inches (99mm) of trail ahead of a 56.5-inch (1435mm) wheelbase, essential chassis numbers suggest a sporty, user-friendly mix of agility and stability.

The big SV's suspension bits are clearly a cut above price-point bargain bits. The stout, 46mm fork is fully adjustable, showing 4.7 inches (120mm) of travel. Out back, we're happy to report the TL's wretched rotary damper has been replaced by a normal piggyback-reservoir shock: fully adjustable, with 5.1 inches (130mm) of travel. Two 320mm rotors gripped by four-pot calipers form a competent, workmanlike combination for slowing things down, followed by a single 220mm rear disc and dual-piston caliper. Wheels and tires are as standard as standard gets: a 3.5- x 17.0-inch hoop and 120/70 radial up front, and a 5.5- x 17.0-inch rear hoop wearing 180/55-17 radial rubber.

All of the above applies to the nude SV1000 and scantily clad SV1000S. Both carry the same 4.5-gallon fuel tank. Free of all fluids, the naked version wears a $7999 sticker price and weighs in at a claimed 408 pounds (dry). Opting for the S version adds an angular little quarter-fairing-complete with dual multireflector headlights-and matching belly pan, bumping dry weight to 417 pounds and the price tag to $8599. It all adds up to what looks like a competent, comfortable liter-class twin for approximately the price of a current 600 super-sport, which is a potentially attractive proposition from where we sit.

SV650 AND SV650S

Is it too much to call the Suzuki SV650 an icon? Can a scrappy, inexpensive sportbike really make a difference in the wide world of motorcycling? We think the answers are no and yes, respectively, which puts the 2003 redesign of the SV series into broader perspective. How would you, if you ran Suzuki, update one of your best-selling and most popular models? How about don't fix what's not broken? OK, then.

By and large, the SV's 81.0mm x 62.6mm, 645cc, 90-degree liquid-cooled V-twin is unchanged, though its pair of 39mm downdraft Mikunis have been replaced with Suzuki's dual-valve throttle bodies in the same size and fed fuel through electronic injection. Suzuki's learned a lot since the early days of the TL1000S and its wonky injection, so you can bet the new SVs are sweet. Even so, it's unlikely that Suzuki has unleashed much more power from the midrangy twin, but the just-shy-of-70-horsepower engine has always seemed powerful enough. (Plus, there's the SV1000 for the thrust junkies.)

As ever, the SV's delightful engine drives a six-speed gearbox. If you're upset at the carry-over engine then you'll be happier to see an all-new chassis. Using Suzuki's new casting processes, this alloy piece uses all cast items-the old SV had some cast, some tube, some extruded-for a slight overall weight savings. Claimed dry weight is 364 pounds for the naked bike and 373 for the half-faired SV-S. Although the pieces are new, the chassis might as well be a carbon copy of the old SV's.

The wheelbase is slightly longer-56.5 inches vs. the old bike's 55.9-but rake and trail, at 25.0 degrees and 100mm, are the same as before. It rides on the same-size wheels and tires, also; SV owners who wanted to fit big meats to the rear will continue to be disappointed. Hardcore SV types may also rue Suzuki's decision to not upgrade the 650's suspension. As in the outgoing model, the SV rides on a 43mm damping-rod fork with spring preload adjustment only and the single, link-mounted shock returns as a preload-only model. Sigh. Company principals at Fox, Penske, Race Tech and others can plan on new bass boats this spring.

We could assume the unchanged suspension was necessary to keep prices in line-the SV will sell for $5899 and the SV-S for $6299, a $100 jump for each-and to pay for the angular sheet metal. There's no confusing the '03 bike with the previous version, thanks to wicked new shapes and colors, plus a trick electronic instrument cluster. Oh, and the tank holds a useful 0.3 gallons more. Better looking, more practical, likely to be just as much fun, the '03 SV650 and SV-S seem worthy successors to a perennial favorite.