- The Washington Times - Friday, June 29, 2001

No longer do Americans have to cast jealous eyes on Europe: new for 2001 the sport version of the Suzuki SV650 has arrived.
The SV650 has been a popular bike since its introduction in 1999, but the first thing out of many persons' mouths at least in the states was "Where's the fairing?"
Well, the SV650S is now available in the United States. It has the fairing, clip on handlebars, a taller final gear and raised foot pegs making it the sportier cousin of an already agile bike. Dual front headlights, built-in instruments and fairing-mounted mirrors are also departures from the standard SV650.
With little fuss, the bike does it all. Plenty of power, easy handling, comfortable riding, and now with a little sporty pizzazz, there isn't a better bike out there for $6,100.
I'd heard good things about the bike and souped-up versions are doing remarkably well at the racetracks this summer.
Still with other midweight sport-standards falling short, I was expecting mediocrity. Instead I was pleasantly surprised by how easily the SV650S handled.
Dry, the bike weighs about 370 pounds, slightly heavier than the SV650. On the other hand, the SV650S is slightly shorter than the standard version, measuring just 55.9 inches at the wheelbase.
Net result for handling? "Flickable" is not an overstatement.
One caveat though, the front suspension is disappointingly vague. Probably heavier fork oil would help, adding at least some compression and rebound damping, but many owners have gone the extra mile and added cartridge fork emulators.
The rear wheel hangs off a box-section aluminum swing-arm suspended with a monoshock. The rear shock has an adjustable preload and seemed adequate.
The only other real problem with the bike is the brakes. It has dual front disc brakes, but the single-sided calipers left them not anemic, but certainly not "sporty" either. Again, installing braided-steel brake lines would solve the problem cheaply.
I thought the engine was a problem until I bothered to look at the speedometer. (It sits low on the left on the dash, with the tachometer placed front and center.)
It didn't feel like I had gotten to 50 mph that quickly. I had.
The 645-cubic-centimeter, 90-degree V-twin engine breathes through two 39-millimeter Mikuni carburetors. With a compression ratio of 11.5 to 1 the bike makes roughly 66 horsepower at 9,000 rpm.
Holding the throttle steady around 7,000 rpm produces a slight and inscrutable surge, but not strong enough to unsettle the bike in turns.
Typical of twins, the engine has a fairly flat power curve. Instead it delivers consistent power from 5,500 rpm to the red line at 10,500 rpm. Still, while the bike may not ever have arm-snapping power, it moves quickly to speed.
Which brings up the fairing. At reasonable highway speeds the bike's half-fairing provides more than adequate protection from the wind. Anything faster than 80 mph requires some hunkering down, but 100 mph still really is not much of a problem for short stints. But the windshield is a little too small and leans at little too acute of an angle for long rides.
In theory, the bike tops out at 130 mph; I chickened out at 120 mph.
Ergonomically, while the SV650S is more aggressive than the standard, it's still pretty plush compared to full sport bikes.
Bottom line, for those wanting a solid standard, stick with the SV650. But for those wanting to indulge the need for speed without all the ostentation of a race-bike replica, the SV650S is a bargain at the price.

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