Spunky Mid-Displacement Café-Style SV For Your Riding Pleasure

Suzuki expands its SV650 roadster lineup for the 2018 model year with its café-tastic SV650X ABS. The “X” sports some subtle changes to the bodywork, plus a not-so-subtle bullet fairing to make that crucial historical connection to the target era sometime back in the seventies. The suspension system saw an update this year for the whole SV650 family across the board, and it brings a spring-preload feature to the front end that will be difficult to match at this price point and genre. Power comes from the same 645 cc twin that pushes the rest of the family with 75 ponies ready to go and a handful of electronic fandangelries to help manage them. What else has Suzuki got in store for us? Let’s dig into this tasty mid-size ride and see.

Continue reading for our review of the Suzuki SV650X.

  • 2018 Suzuki SV650X
  • Year:
    2018
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V-Twin
  • Displacement:
    645 cc
  • Price:

2018 Suzuki SV650X Design

Thanks to its characterful and punchy V-twin engine and capable chassis, it combines a fun, sporty ride with affordability and practicality.

Suzuki manages to field a more genuine café model than many who use the name simply by adding a proper bullet fairing, and sure, the clip-ons aren’t exactly period correct, but who wants to turn their bars upside-down and risk the inevitable tank dings common on the originals. Of course, the desired result is the same in that the pilot is pulled into an aggressive riding posture over the tank to reveal the X’s true nature. About that nature, GB Marketing Manager Rob Cooper had this to say:

The SV650 is a hugely popular machine in the middleweight sector of the market, and it has been ever since the launch of the original in 1999. Thanks to its characterful and punchy V-twin engine and capable chassis, it combines a fun, sporty ride with affordability and practicality. The SV650X builds on that proven platform and brings retro styling to the range, with clip-on handlebars that not only add to the look, but create an even sportier feel. Preload adjustable forks will further enhance performance, with riders able to adjust to suit their own riding style and use, and that will apply across the SV range for 2018.

Fans of the naked-bike genre should worry not; the bodywork that also channels the tarmac rally cars of the ’70s adds very little to the overall weight — only about four-and-a-half pounds — so it’s not like moving back toward the fully-faired superbikes, more like a sidegrade to a cool little subgenre. The round cyclops headlight toes the retro line with blackout touches throughout to tie into the custom culture from whence the old-school café racers sprang. Behind the 3.8-gallon fuel tank, the faux tuck-and-roll seat forms a shallow butt-bucket for the pilot but quickly tapers off down to nothing over the elevated subframe. Finally, the recessed taillights form the trailing tip of the tail with the turn signals mounted down on the mudguard/plateholder, all with LED technology for maximum visibility/safety.

Instrumentation is almost fully digital with just a handful of indicator lights to supplement the info on the LCD screen. Backlighting is adjustable to aid in adverse lighting conditions and it seems as though the factory made sure all the pertinent metrics are represented.

2018 Suzuki SV650X Chassis

2018 Suzuki SV650X
- image 779402
The suspension system update brings a spring-preload feature to the front end that will be difficult to match at this price point and genre.

A tubular-steel Trellis serves as the standing structure, and it uses the engine itself as a load-bearing member to complete the assembly and eliminate the entire downtube/cradle section of the frame to keep weight down. Steering-head geometry comes set for 25 degrees of rake and 4.17 inches of trail and the nimble handling that comes with it, because let’s face it, the café look without the café handling is a bit like licking a windshield; there’s just no flavor to it.

I can tell what is spicy though, and that’s the spring preload adjuster set in the 41 mm forks. It’s rare to see adjustments up front in this bracket, and rarer still to find it in right-way-up forks, but here we are with the classic look of the latter with the flexibility of the former. Naturally, the rear-end matches this variable ride quality with the same adjustment, but nothing more than that most basic of tweaks.

Dual, 290 mm brake discs and two-pot, piston-and-anvil calipers slow the front wheel with Nissin ABS protection at both ends. Cast aluminum rims round out the rolling chassis with a Dunlop “Roadsmart III” 120/70 hoop up front and 160/60 out back, both with 17-inch diameters and built for performance in wet conditions.

Suspension, Front: Telescopic, coil spring, oil damped, spring preload adjustable
Suspension, Rear: Link type, coil spring, oil damped, spring preload adjustable
Rake / Trail: 25° /4.2 inches
Brakes, Front/ Rear: Disc, twin/ Disc
Wheels, Front/ Rear: 17M/C x MT3.50/ 17M/Cx MT5.00
Tire, Front: Dunlop, 120/70ZR17M/C (58W), tubeless
Tire, Rear: Dunlop, 160/60ZR17M/C (69W), tubeless

2018 Suzuki SV650X Drivetrain

2018 Suzuki SV650X
- image 779391
Electronic techno-wizardry combine to give the SV650X overall smooth, predictable, user-friendly power delivery.

The beating heart is a water-cooled, 645 cc, 90-degree V-twin. It runs an 81 mm bore and 62.6 mm stroke with an 11.2-to-1 compression ratio that will likely have you at the premium pump. Dual over-head cams time the four-valve heads with a shim-and-bucket valve adjustment, definitely not my favorite system to be sure due to the major aggravation involved with performing a valve-lash adjustment procedure.

A pair of 39 mm throttle bodies controls induction via the Suzuki Dual Throttle Valve system that uses two butterfly plates — one rider controlled, and one computer controlled — to reconcile the difference between pilot demand and the engine’s capability to deliver for an overall smooth power delivery. The Idle Speed Control feature helps stabilize the idle and aid with cold starts, and the Low RPM Assist helps smooth out your holeshots by boosting rpm as you release the clutch and begin to load up the engine. That’s a total of three smoothing features, four if you count the linear torque curve that delivers predictable, user-friendly power. The intake funnels come in staggered lengths in an attempt to widen the powerband toward the bottom end, and that gives the mill a total of 47 pound-feet of torque at 8,100 rpm, and 75 horsepower at 8,500 rpm.

Inside the cases we find evidence of some friction-reducing efforts on the part of the factory. First, the FEM pistons come with resin-coated skirts that ride in SCEM plated cylinders to deliver a long service life while other moving parts received a tin plating to further reduce friction. Dual-spark heads provide positive ignition for more complete combustion with catalysts in the exhaust to take care of the rest to meet Euro 4 emission standards.

Engine: 4-stroke, 2-cylinder, liquid-cooled, DOHC
Displacement: 645 cc
Bore x Stroke: 81.0 mm x 62.6 mm
Compression ratio: 11.2: 1
Max power: 75 hp @ 8,500 rpm
Max torque: 47 ft lbs @ 8,100 rpm
Ignition system: Electronic ignition (Transistorized)
Fuel system: Fuel injection
Starter system: Electric
Lubrication system: Wet sump
Transmission: 6-speed constant mesh

2018 Suzuki SV650X Price

2018 Suzuki SV650X
- image 779405
MSRP is TBA for the U.S. market, but look for it to come in around $8k.

Pricing has yet to be announced for the U.S. market. The 2018 SV650 ABS is $7,499, so I imagine the “X” will add a few bills to that. MSRP on the “X” is $8,299 in the Canadian market.

Color: Glass Sparkle Black/Metallic Oort Gray No.3 (BD7)
Price: TBA

2018 Suzuki SV650X Competitors

2018 Suzuki SV650X
- image 779410
2016 - 2018 Kawasaki Vulcan S / S Cafe / S SE
- image 745115
It's no secret that café racers are currently enjoying an uptick in popularity and it seems that almost everyone is trying to get a piece of the action.

It’s no secret that café racers are currently enjoying an uptick in popularity and it seems that almost everyone is trying to get a piece of the action. The neo-café models come in two basic categories; historical and the rest. Since the SV650X falls into the latter category, I decided to grab another other and went with the Vulcan S ABS from Kawasaki.

Kawi’s café connection seems based solely on the bullet front fairing, and while that makes for a tenuous thread indeed, it’s right on par with the X’s design. Too bad the bars aren’t; those little pullbacks on the Vulcan just ruin the go-fast vibe that is the hallmark of the café. Gotta’ ding Kawi on the seat too. Sure, the solo seat is very cool and all, but if you want to share with a friend (or make new friends) then you’re bound to skin that checkbook again first.

The chassis sees more points in favor of the Suzuki product. Kawasaki runs with a single front brake versus dual anchors on the X, and Kawi’s suspension is pure-D vanilla with only the obligatory rear preload to provide any sort of ride-quality control. The Vulcan’s powerplant is similarly simple with nothing in the way of gadgetry like the X brings to the table, but it does crank out a near-equal 46.3 pounds o’ grunt against 47 from the Suzuki

As far as price goes, the 2018 Vulcan S Café goes for $8.1k, which may end up being just a skosh under the SV650X, but maybe not enough to sway the buyer one way or the other.

He Said

“Pretty safe to say that the new SV650X comes out well ahead in this head-to-head. The adjustable front suspension and electronics are real selling points, and if Suzuki throws in some traction control it will have a real winner on its hands here. The only question is price, but the base SV650 ABS rolls for $7,499, and I expect the X to be right between there and 8 grand.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “This is a really nice bike. The seat is much more comfortable than it looks. Over the base model, the bars here are dropped and the pegs feel higher. Maybe that’s just me because the bars are low.. It has very predictable handling, and while I wasn’t sure whether I’d recommend the base model for new riders, I really feel like the “X” model is quite stable and forgiving. So yeah, maybe I need to look at the base model again. The SV650X is a lot of fun to ride. I’m tippy-toeing at best. I checked in with some tall folks, and apparently, the rider triangle is quite comfortable for them.”

Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: 4-stroke, 2-cylinder, liquid-cooled, DOHC
Displacement :645 cc
Bore x Stroke: 81.0 mm x 62.6 mm
Compression ratio: 11.2: 1
Max power: 75 hp @8500 rpm
Max torque: 47 ft lbs @ 8100 rpm
Ignition system: Electronic ignition (Transistorized)
Fuel system: Fuel injection
Starter system: Electric
Lubrication system: Wet sump
Transmission: 6-speed constant mesh
Primary drive ratio: 2.088 (71/34)
Final drive ratio: 3.066(46/15)
Chassis:
Suspension, Front: Telescopic, coil spring, oil damped, spring preload adjustable
Suspension, Rear: Link type, coil spring, oil damped, spring preload adjustable
Rake / Trail: 25° /4.2 inches
Brakes, Front/ Rear: Disc, twin/ Disc
Wheels, Front/ Rear: 17M/C x MT3.50/ 17M/Cx MT5.00
Tire, Front: Dunlop, 120/70ZR17M/C (58W), tubeless
Tire, Rear: Dunlop, 160/60ZR17M/C (69W), tubeless
Dimensions & Capacities:
Overall Length: 84.3 inches
Overall width :28.7 inches
Overall height: 42.9 inches
Wheelbase: 56.9 inches
Ground clearance: 5.3 inches
Seat height: 31.1 inches
Curb weight: 436.5 lbs
Fuel tank capacity: 3.8 gals
Oil capacity: 3.2 qts
Fuel economy (in WMTC mode): 60 mpg
Emission level: Euro 4
Details:
Color: Glass Sparkle Black/Metallic Oort Gray No.3 (BD7)
Price: TBA

References

Suzuki SV650

2017 - 2018 Suzuki SV650 ABS
- image 664038

See our review of the Suzuki SV650.

Kawasaki Vulcan S

2016 - 2018 Kawasaki Vulcan S / S Cafe / S SE
- image 745102

See our review of the Kawasaki Vulcan S.

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: suzukicycles.com, kawasaki.com

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