It has been seventeen years since the first curvy SV650 graced Suzuki showrooms, thirteen since the pointy bike made its debut. Two years later, in 2005 the bike had gone through a series of tweaks and been given a much sexier black frame. This bike is one of the all time great motorcycles.
I truly do not believe there is a better machine for a rider to learn performance riding on. First off, its price point was, and still is nearly unbeatable, its downfall, the price point. Simply put, everything in front of the steering head was crap, as was the rear shock, which frankly had no business being fitted to a motorcycle. We will double back to these points later.
The positive attributes are much more plentiful. Firstly, the bike is a looker, the simple round headlight and minimal bikini fairing are perfect, the gauge cluster is a balanced blend of analogue and digital. Everything you need save for possibly a gear position indicator, a non issue for the seasoned rider, but for the inexperienced it is a nice feature. The tail section is one of nicest units to ever come from an OEM. Throw on a fender eliminator, and a Suzuki seat cowl, simply gorgeous. The tank is another strong point, beautiful and slim, thanks to what is the obvious key to this simple bike. The slim V-Twin.
The motor is hung from the gorgeous pressure-cast aluminium truss frame. The first gen bikes tended to look a bit like a bloated take on the simple trellis frames coming out of Bologna, with the second generation bike that is not the case, it looks great and is immediately recognisable. The motor itself is a fucking marvel, sure it makes just 75 hp, but it is immediate and very user friendly. Fuelling is quite good from the factory but like almost any bike, an ignition module and pipe go a long long way to liven it up. Another dead simple and cheap mod is a Timing Retard Eliminator (TRE). They can be sourced from svrider.com user 92westshady for a mere $27, worth every penny.
From the factory the bike is really really good, but it fell short of being spectacular. There is really no excuse for this as Suzuki had every part required to make it so, even in 2005. There is an explanation, price, which lucky for SV Owners has only gone down. You can fix the suspension and brakes for under a grand with simple hand tools and a jack to place under the engine. To get my feet wet and my hands dirty I started at the back with the rear shock. This is a dead simple modification, the toughest part is getting the rear into and un-sprung position. This could be accomplished any number of ways, jacking the bike up from the motor, or lifting the rear sub-frame from above. I chose the later. From here its a matter of unbolting the old shock and replacing it with a model of your choosing. There are a number of popular options, from CBR600's, as well as most the Kawi and Suzuki sport-bike ranges. There is a great thread outlining compatible models and there spring rates on svrider.com I went for a ZX14 model, this decision was based simply on spring rate. It came fitted with a spring suitable for the 200# + crowd. I found mine on eBay for about 65 USD. I re used the original hardware, job done.
Now to the front, this job seems slightly more complex, but really it is not. What does the SV need? Better suspension and better brakes, well the fix can be accomplished one of two ways, a bunch of calls to Race-Tech and Brembo could do the job, but you would still be left with a dated set of axial mount brakes.
Or you could go with the easier, cheaper, and simply put best option, a GSXR front end.
You can source these on eBay all day long for under 1000 USD and if you really put time in, much less. I paid less than 600 for my last front end, everything save for a tire. Almost any GSXR front end, dating all the way back to the SRAD, will fit on the SV without any modification, however the 2004-2005 600/750 is the best option. This comes down to a rather simple reason, the ignition mount on the top triple is in the same location on both bikes. Make sure to get the master cylinder recalled, if it has not already been taken care of. This swap truly transforms the bike, the fork is not even comparable, but for me the real selling point is the braking power. I went for a bit of a mash up myself, using a Brembo 19X8 master cylinder pushing R6 calipers. The Brembo clearly brings more stopping power over OEM, the calipers however were simply a cosmetic choice. I also sourced some spacers allowing to run 320mm rotors.
The end result is some great looking jewellery if nothing else. I also chose to put on some 1.5 inch riser clip ons, but the stock units would work just fine. Everything needed to mount your bikini fairing, headlight and gauge cluster is available from various vendors on svrider.com
But I went a different route. You know that beautiful bikini fairing i talked about? Ya...fuck that thing, garbage. The headlight was the toughest part of this project for me, and all that hard work was for nothing. The lights I spent hours trying to build just wouldn't fit the bike in the way I wanted. So I settled, if you can call it settling when you end up with something so beautiful, for a MT03 headlight. It looks great.
The rest of the modifications are simple everyday, everybike mods. An OEM gel seat, svracingparts.com rearsets, Renthal grips, Pazzo clutch lever, a 520 chain conversion with more aggressive gearing and lastly Tech Spec tank grips.
At the end of the day I feel I have built the perfect street bike, it is a shame Suzuki didn't feel the same way.