In the autumn of 2008 in Paris, Suzuki unveiled their latest (for the time and for now) entry-level motorcycle entitled the SFV 650 Gladius. Basically a refined SV650, but for the European crowd a whole new kind of riding excitement, the new bike sit on the thin line between impressive performance and awesome styling.
As a 2009 model year, the middleweight Gladius caught on to the public and it is now a much safer ride as Suzuki fitted it with ABS assisted brakes.
Destined to those who just approach riding, the new Gladius not only impresses through the way it looks, but with the help of a low seat (only 30.9 inches from the ground) and a fuel-injected, twin plug head engine, which is tuned for low-to-mid range torque.
Production costs were kept as low as possible and that implies a little bit of sacrifice on the weight chapter. For example, the trellis frame is made out of steel instead of aluminum. That brings a significant contribution to the 446 lbs wet weight that doesn’t do the Gladius that much good.
70 bhp-hp fuel injected V-twin engine
Still, the name Suzuki says everything about the bike’s performance and reliability even though, at a first glance, you have many chances to confuse it with an Italian naked.
Testimony of the fact that the Gladius is one bulletproof piece of engineering sits the SV650 genes. Being brand new, this Suzi doesn’t have anything to brag about but its features and if you relate to those, you will find many years of development and refining behind.
Initially, the Japanese manufacturer would have launched the SV650 with the same purpose for which it introduces the Gladius today, but we have a hunch that there will be no need for a third model as experience now said its word.
Read about SV650’s history here .
It is by now clear for everyone that the Gladius is out for the Ducati Monster 696 . This last is backed up by its tremendous notoriety in Europe, but because the Suzuki seems to have followed the recipe literally, it has a good chance to ride along The Ducati and most likely never in front of it. Italy’s favorite naked is characterized by exceptional handling characteristics, a low seat, as well as a comfortable riding position while its 355lb (dry) are simply incomparable to the 446lb (curb) of its claimed competitor.
The engine behind it is the always efficient and great performing air-cooled L-twin cylinder with 2 valves per cylinder Desmodromic producing 80 hp. The V-Twin SV650 engine produces only 70bhp, so you do the math, but that seems like the second big punch in Suzuki’s ego.
With a better power to weight ratio and original, Italian looks, the Monster 696 is the undisputable king of its class, while the Gladius remains a decent alternative and a good way for Suzuki to get a slice of Ducati’s pie.
Ok, so we have first and second place. Aren’t we supposed to look for the occupant of the third place? No need for that as the Kawasaki ER-6N presents itself. Also powered by a 650cc, but featuring parallel cylinders, the Kawi engine develops 72 hp and gets you rid of those nasty vibrations that are so characteristic to V-twins. Styling is nicer for and even though the ER-6N doesn’t look as European as the first two bikes, at least it is original.
Leader of its class, the Monster seems to have that much influence on the Gladius that this last “borrowed” its design and plans to sell it to the same public; an ugly thing to do, but a very effective one as well if you ask Suzuki designers.
Even though an entry-level bike, there is nothing cheap about the way it looks. High level of refinement can be found all over the bike. The headlight is very stylish and defines the Gladius look, while the gas tank, seat and rear end blend perfectly in together, making this naked look like being only now schemed on the drawing board.
The V-twin engine sits quietly between those 17” wheels, masked by also a Monster-style frame which changes colors depending on what scheme the customer chooses. This can be: Black or Black/Red in 2010.
"Power is manageable and linear but certainly not flaccid. My seat-o-the-pants dyno says that the claimed power gains are there. The Gladius will easily wheelie in first gear with some help from the clutch, over-taking on the freeway doesn’t require downshifting from top-gear, and engine vibes are limited." – motorcycle
"With the bike wearing nothing but its stylish birthday suit, you’re totally unprotected from the elements, but lay flat enough on the 3.8-gallon tank and the Speedo’s triple figures could exceed 125mph (and more if you’ve been laying off the pies!)" – motorcycle-usa
"Like the engine, the chassis and suspension is simple but effective. With its friendly riding position, you feel at ease right from the off." – superbike
"Even though the harder-edged engine of the Ducati gave the impression of having more vigorous performance, only a fool would underestimate a Suzuki’s zip. The 645 cc V-twin in the Gladius is the model of Asian sophistication." – passionperformance
"Experienced riders will either not notice or actively enjoy it, but some novices will find it hard work and even a little intimidating. Ironically, this is partly because of a very positive aspect of the bike, its enhanced low- and medium-rev torque." – telegraph
Probably the main reason for which buyers will consider the Suzuki SVF 650 Gladius is the $6,899 suggested retail price. Significantly lower than Ducati’s $8,775 MSRP and the bike offering the same thing at a fairly lower level, this is an adequate starter bike, while the Monster will suit very well to experienced riders. Still, priced at $6,699 the Kawasaki ER-6N is the cheapest in this class.
Is it hard for you to make a decision? Well, this article is about the Suzuki Gladius so…a little support here please. Summarizing, it is powerful enough to keep the blood flowing even after riding it for some time, Suzuki reliability is a thing you should never doubt about and it looks fun and modern, perfect for those who just turn to motorcycling. Wait, wasn’t this why Suzuki created it for in the first place?
Engine and Transmission
- Engine: 645 cc, 4-stroke, 2-cylinder, liquid-cooled, DOHC, 90 V-Twin
- Bore Stroke: 81.0 mm x 62.6 mm
- Compression Ratio: 11.5 : 1
- Fuel System: Fuel Injection
- Lubrication: Wet sump
- Ignition: Electronic ignition (Transistorized)
- Starter: Electric
- Transmission: 6-speed, constant mesh
- Primary Drive Ratio: 2.088 (71/34)
- Final Drive Ratio: 3.067 (46/15)
Chassis and Dimensions
- Frame Type: Steel-truss
- Front Suspension: Telescopic, coil spring, oil damped
- Rear Suspension: Lynk type, coil spring, oil damped, spring preload 7-step adjustable
- Front Brake: ABS assisted, 2-piston calipers, 290 mm disc, twin
- Rear Brake: ABS assisted, 1-piston caliper, 240mm disc
- Front Tire 120/70ZR17M/C (58W), tubeless
- Rear Tire: 160/60ZR17M/C (69W), tubeless
- Overall Length: 2130 mm (83.9 in.)
- Overall Width: 760 mm (29.9 in.)
- Overall Height: 1090 mm (42.9 in.)
- Seat Height: 785 mm (30.9 in.)
- Ground Clearance: N/A
- Wheel Base: 1445mm (56.9 in.)
- Curb Weight: 202kg (446lbs)
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 14.5 L (3.8 US gal)
Features & Benefits
New for 2010:
- ABS assisted dual floating front brake discs measure 290mm in diameter and work with dual piston calipers.
- 645cc displacement with a bore and stroke of 81.0mm x 62.6mm and a compression ratio of 11.5:1
- An automatic Idle Speed Control (ISC) system is integrated into each throttle body, and produces stable idle while improving cold starting and reducing emissions immediately after start up.
- An oval throttle pulley helps smooth low rpm/mid-range power delivery
- Clutch release mechanism is changed from ball-screw type to cam type system and the transmission gear engagement dogs are strengthened to help improve shifting of the six speed transmission. .
- Conventional pressed in iron liners are replaced with Suzuki’s own race proven nickel-phosphorus-silicon-carbide coating (SCEM), which reduces friction and improves heat transfer, durability and ring seal.
- Dual spark plugs cylinder heads feature iridium spark plugs reduce spark plug electrode degradation and allow the electrode to be finer producing a more intense, hotter spark and further enhancing combustion.
- Each 39mm throttle body carries a 10-hole fuel injector. The extra-fine atomization injectors produce an average spray particle diameter that is smaller for improved combustion efficiency
- Each cylinder head features a compact combustion chamber with two 31mm intake valves set at 14-degrees from the cylinder centerline and two 25.5mm exhaust valves set at 16-degrees from the cylinder centerline.
- Fuel pump is lighter and more compact and located within the 15 liter fuel tank.
- Increased low-to-mid range torque output as well as a broad and smooth power delivery are produced through changes in Cam profiles, valve lift, a 10% increase in crankshaft inertia, newly staggered intake and exhaust tract lengths and an increase in exhaust system volume. All this without affecting top end power.
- The efficient radiator is both light and narrow, while the liquid to liquid oil cooler reduces overall weight.
- Single valve springs reduce inertia weight and mechanical losses while maintaining accurate valve control.
- SDTV fuel injection system uses two butterfly valves with the primary valve controlled by the rider and the secondary throttle valve controlled by the engine management system to maintain proper intake air velocity needed for maximum combustion efficiency and improved throttle response
- SFV650 is powered by a sporty fuel injected, DOHC 90-degree V-twin engine based on the proven SV650 powerplant famous for its long term reliability, broad power and quiet rumble.
- The engine is so efficient in burning fuel that it doesn’t need a secondary system to inject fresh air into the exhaust ports to ignite unburned hydrocarbons.
- The SFV650 has a catalyst built into an exhaust chamber mounted underneath the engine and connected to a stylish upswept muffler.
- To reduce mechanical noise, a scissor type primary gear is split length wise with the two halves spring loaded, and the clutch and countershaft sprocket covers are now double layered for additional sound reduction.
- Chassis and bodywork are designed to be as slim as possible where the fuel tank meets the seat, the outside forward edges of the seat are rounded and features a low 796mm seat height. All to make the new SFV650 easier for entry level riders to comfortably put both feet on the ground when stopping and for maximum rider confidence.
- Compact combination tail and brake light is packaged neatly underneath the rear seat framed by stylish seat rails and also flanked by clear lens turn indicators
- Compact trellis steel frame featuring 25-degree of rake and 104 mm of trail for stable and sporty handling with a beautiful look
- Dunlop qualifiers sport radials are fitted with a 120/70ZR17 front and a 160/60ZR17 rear tire.
- Edgy lines of the frame cover on each side match the seat rail and engine cover detailing and compliment the shape of the chrome muffler cover
- Engine covers are updated to match the stylish look of the SFV650 with edgy design elements
- Front fender and radiator covers are color matched with the fuel tank covers and side covers and contrast with the color of the fuel tank and the color of the frame.
- Front forks feature 41mm stanchions with spring preload adjustability over a 15mm range and front wheel travel is 125 mm
Instrument cluster is positioned above the headlight and provides an analog tachometer, LCD digital speedometer, LCD dual trip-meters and odometer. An LCD digital clock, and LCD digital gear position indicator are also featured. Indicator lights include a two way remaining fuel warning lamp, backed up by an LCD digital reserve trip meter.
- European inspired styling treatment features sleek flowing lines and an unmatched elegant new look.
- Organically shaped multi reflector headlight incorporates high and low beams as well as a position light and flanked by chrome lens turn indicators.
- Rear shock spring is preload adjustable over a seven step range and rear wheel travel is 130 mm
- Richly curved bodywork matches nicely with the organic flow of the footpeg mounting brackets.
- Single 240mm rear disc brake disc works with a single piston caliper
- Single rear shock is connected to the rectangular-section steel swingarm through a progressive linkage which allows the suspension to react smoothly to bumps and improve overall ride comfort.
- Stylish 17 inch cast aluminum ?alloy wheels feature a new five spoke design with a 17 x 3.50 inch front wheel and a 17 x 5.00 inch rear wheel
- The carefully shaped seat has ample padding and the rear edges are bolstered to support the rider’s hips well.
- Tubular handlebar shape and footpeg positions are designed to work with the seat position to add to rider comfort