Since its introduction in 1999, the SV650 has birthed an almost cult-like legion of fans who tout the merits of Suzuki’s spunky Twin with fervent conviction. The fact that it’s long been a favorite with club racers lends validity to their conviction. The model, in its various forms, are in its 20th year of production, another reason to buy into the buzz about the bike. Naysayers that we are, proof is in the pudding, so we had to lay down 1,000 miles on one before buying into the buzz after Suzuki was generous enough to loan us a 2019 SV650X to review. The X means it is a café style version of the SV650, a package that includes clip-on bars, a bikini fairing, svelte side panels and a tuck-and-roll style seat. The X factor adds $900 to the price of a base SV650 ABS model, but at $8,399, it’s still an affordable middleweight motorcycle.

I use the term “middleweight” loosely because one of the first things that stood out about the SV650X is how light it feels. With a curb weight said to be 432 pounds, the motorcycle lifts off its sidestand effortlessly. Between its tank and trellis frame, the motorcycle is very slim. At a laden 30.9 inches, the long and narrow seat makes it easy for me to stand flat-footed at six-feet-tall. Its 90-degree L-Twin engine is tucked centrally between the frame’s trellis tubes and though I haven’t traveled two feet, the bike feels well-balanced as I tilt it side-to-side.

With a push of the starter button, the engine’s cadence is undeniably Twin. The SV650X is equipped with Suzuki’s Easy Start System and the motorcycle will fire up quickly without pulling in the clutch lever long as it’s in neutral. With a bore that’s almost 3.2 inches and a stroke that’s just shy of 2.5, the oversquare engine likes to be in the upper half of the rev range and comes on strong between 6,000 and 10,000 rpm. The SV650X accelerates hard enough to put a grin on your face without being overwhelming. Don’t get me wrong, though. Rev this baby up, drop the clutch, and it’ll scoot. In first gear the SV hustles up to 50 mph before banging against the rev limiter at 11,000 rpm. Second gear muscles up to 70 mph on its way up to its 11,000-rpm plateau, while third gear will quickly shoot you up to 90 before you need to grab fourth gear. Admittedly, it took me a little while to familiarize myself with its powerband because I found myself short-shifting, but soon as I realized I could ring out gears longer and higher than expected, the merits of the 645cc dual-overhead cam engine became crystal clear. The torquey Twin provides good drive out of corners and shined going over the steep grades of the Grapevine outside of Los Angeles on my ride home to Oregon. I now understand why they like to race this engine because you can comfortably push it to its limits.

After the fun of the curves and grades of the Grapevine ended, an almost 500-mile, mind-numbingly straight stretch of riding on the interstate awaited. The reach to the clip-on handlebars cants the riding position slightly forward and at high rpm the bars buzz with vibrations. While the mid-controls place my legs snugly bent against the bike, the riding position and the seat are surprisingly comfortable on long stints, albeit for a bit of fatigue in my shoulders after about an hour straight. The bikini fairing does an admirable job of deflecting wind from my chest but there’s still a bit of a breeze channeling over the crown of my head. Considering its only got a 3.8-gallon tank, the SV650X ran at an efficient average of 44.5 miles-per-gallon so I wasn’t constantly glancing at my fuel gauge. If you’ve ever ridden on I-5 before, you know there’s stretches of the interstate that’s beaten down by the sheer volume of big rigs traveling between Mexico and Canada. Even though the rear of the SV features a single link-type shock with a relatively short 2.48-inch stroke, it doesn’t compress easily and provides a firm ride. The stout rear has seven settings of preload adjustment and impressively handled both broken pavement and the bulk of a 225-pound rider. At 41mm, the fork legs look puny, but luckily punch above their weight thanks to a generous 4.9 inches of travel. Granted, it is softer than the rear and there were a few occasions when they blew through those 4.9 inches, but only when I hit potholes squarely. There are preload adjusters on the fork caps which I didn’t fiddle with but likely could have stiffened up the front a tad. But no amount of tweaking would have saved me from the way the front end gets whipped around mercilessly when blowing by big rigs at freeway speeds. When it came time to pass, I’d throttle hard, tuck in tight, and try to get around them as quickly as possible, but it was a constant battle against head shake as I pushed through their wake.

Lightweight, easy to toss around, and an engine with a playful punch makes the 2019 SV650X a fun bike to mob around on. 

The 750-mile ride home from Los Angeles over treacherous interstate came with the proverbial pot of gold in the form of the glorious roads I call home. Grants Pass, Oregon, sits in a valley, and no matter what direction I set out, I’m rewarded with curvy roads and little traffic. Between the way it turns in quickly to how easy it handles, the 2019 Suzuki SV650X is declared an honorary Oregonian because it felt right at home on local roads. The clip-ons make it mindlessly simple to coerce into curves, but the arrangement does come with one caveat. In low speed maneuvers, their range of movement is limited which makes executing tight U-turns a challenge. At speed, though, the mids sit up nice and high and the motorcycle has generous side-to-side clearance. The Suzuki’s Dunlop Road Smart III radials provide plenty of traction and between its center-of-balance, low weight, and light handling, the SV650X shines in the twists and turns of my home state.

Setting up for turns only takes a slight squeeze on the front brake because the dual four-piston Tokico calipers apply strong, even pressure. At the stock setting, the aforementioned softness of the fork dives a touch under heavy application without being unsettling. The 2019 SV650X comes standard with anti-lock brakes, and when activated pulse mildly but effectively on the rear brake pedal. Used independently, the back brake is squishy, but push hard and the ABS luckily kicks ins. Gear down, though, and the SV has a healthy amount of engine braking. Gears click into place firmly with little friction and not once did I experience any slippage or missed shifts with the six-speed gearbox, and fuss-free shifting adds to the enjoyment of the ride.

From its black trellis frame to pipes that snake beneath the bike to its black five-spoke wheels, styling on the SV650X matches the sporty disposition of its overall performance. The choice to go with a two-tone paint scheme adds to its racy look, the Glass Sparkle Black and Pearl Glacier White delineated by a trace of red. The small cowl gives it a touch of café racer coolness and doubles as a small shield against debris and buffeting. Tucked cleanly behind the cowl is the digital instrument panel with a tach bar running across the top, speed projected prominently in the center, miles-per-hour flanked by a gear indicator. A small, round headlight perches neatly beneath the bikini fairing, and while the look is timeless, its 12V60/55-watt halogen bulb doesn’t provide much punch when the sun goes down.

After spending almost two months with the 2019 Suzuki SV650X, I better understand how this bike has withstood the tests of time and has a devout legion of advocates. Between its agility and torquey Twin, it’s the type of bike you can ride to its limits without quickly getting in over your head. It’s offered at a reasonable price point, and bottom line is a hoot to ride. Color me among the converted because now I’m beginning to see the SV650 light.

Bryan Harley Gear Bag - 2019 Suzuki SV650X Review 

Icon Variant Pro Ascension Helmet

Vance Leathers Vintage Brown Leather Jacket

Klim K Fifty 2 Riding Jeans

Icon 1000 Axys Gloves

Icon 1000 Joker Boots

2019 Suzuki SV650X Specs:

ENGINE

Engine: 645cc, 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, 90˚, V-Twin

Bore x Stroke: 81.0mm x 62.6mm (3.189 in. x 2.465 in.)

Compression Ratio: 11.2:1

Fuel System: Suzuki fuel injection with SDTV

Starter: Electric

Lubrication: Wet sump

DRIVETRAIN

Transmission: 6-speed, constant mesh

Clutch: Wet, multi-plate type

Final Drive: Chain, DID520V0, 112 links

CHASSIS

Suspension Front: Telescopic, coil spring, oil damped

Suspension Rear: Link type, single shock, coil spring, oil damped

Brakes Front: Dual, 4-piston calipers, twin disc, ABS-equipped

Brakes Rear: Single, 1-piston caliper, single disc, ABS-equipped

Tires Front: 120/70ZR17M/C (58W), tubeless

Tires Rear: 160/60ZR17M/C (69W), tubeless

Fuel Tank Capacity: 3.8 gal. (14.5 L)

Color: Glass Sparkle Black/Pearl Glacier White

ELECTRICAL

Ignition: Electronic ignition (transistorized)

DIMENSIONS

Overall Length: 84.3 in. (2140mm)

Overall Width: 28.7 in. (730mm)

Overall Height: 42.9 in. (1090mm)

Wheelbase:  56.9 in. (1445mm)

Ground Clearance: 5.3 in. (135mm)

Seat Height: 31.1 in. (790mm)

Curb Weight (claimed): 432 lbs. (196 kg)