When it debuted for 1999, the SV650 was instantly recognized as a nearly perfect middleweight naked bike. With its sweet 90-degree V-twin engine and lack of “gingerbread”—e.g., fancy fairing panels, trick superbike styling, exotic suspension componentry, and the like—it set a new standard for affordable, versatile street riding. And more than just a few SV650s morphed into dedicated track bikes too.
Although modest in displacement, with oversquare bore/stroke dimensions and a lusty 11.2:1 compression ratio, the 645cc SV650 loves to rev and delivers a credible welterweight punch while doing so. A steel trellis frame, 17-inch wheels, and triple disc brakes (including an antilock system on the SV650 ABS) further position the SV650 as an honest versatile ride. With “mission creep”—the continual upsizing of bikes and bike categories—prevalent in the industry, it’s great to see the SV650 carrying on as a reasonable alternative. And its modest claimed curb weight of 432 pounds is likewise attractive, proving that bigger and badder isn’t necessarily better.
Likes: Sweet 90-degree V-twin engine, available ABS.
Dislikes: Minimal rear suspension travel, average halogen headlight.
Verdict: An authentic, versatile, and reasonably priced naked bike.