Riding a Suzuki SV650 v. the SV650S


After spending a few months on my new ride, I thought I would share my experiences riding almost the same bike.  This is my second SV and my fifth motorcycle since I started riding bikes in 2004. My previous S model was with me for 4 years before I sold it last Christmas before moving to Philadelphia. The main reason I bought that one was because I hated the Kawasaki z750s I had at that time. I made the mistake of buying it because it looked cute and I did very little research on it. As a result, I only rode it 6,000 miles in 3 years! Sad. Before I tell you some of these differences, I think it's important that you know where I was coming from before I bought my first SV.


Once I found the S model, I was in love. Definitely love at first sight, and first ride.


So that brings me to what made the S model so awesome. Here are a list of features that I noticed and right off the bat and learned to love:

  • Falls easily into corners, with very little input
  • Much lower center of gravity; the fuel tank felt like it was under me not in front of me
  • Responsive to my lower body's input; when I used my legs and feet to lean into the corner the bike responded quickly and easily.
  • Figured out how to use my body position to lean into the corners
  • Almost 2" shorter seat height! I can barely remember how I rode that thing.
  • 50lbs lighter

Toward the end of our relationship, I grew to hate the aggressive riding position because I enjoyed taking long rides (150+ miles) and long trips (1,000+ miles). This bike was killing me at the end, although I thought heavily about putting risers on it I simply never got around to it. In hindsight, I should've sold it for the other version.

2006 sv650 naked blue

Which brings me to the differences I've noticed about the non S model.

  • Steering input; feels different but just as easy to fall into a corner with. I can't quite say if it's better or worse, it's just different.
  • More comfortable; if I hadn't almost ruined my back on my last trip with the S version, I would've gotten another one. I'm really loving the almost upright riding position. Of course the seat is still stock, so still massively uncomfortable after 30-40 minutes but we'll (and hubby's speed triple) be refoaming our seats very soon.
  • Stiffer front end; I think because there isn't a windscreen and large fairing up front that it's lighter, so the front doesn't feel as soft. I feel like the front isn't as 'bouncy' when I come to a stop. Whereas the rear is definitely stiffer and I need to drop the preload and then at some point, get a shock that's a bit softer. Even with the awesome Pilot Power tires I have, my weight doesn't compress the rear shock enough to give me stability in corners. If I throttle too hard then the rear end slides a bit.
  • No windscreen; Oy. Riding into the wind at highway speeds is definitely more work. I definitely need a small windscreen of some kind, hoping that I can find a Puig that will work and not look too awkward.
  • More seat space; since the toolkit is stored in a different spot so that means I can shove my rain liners and a pair of gloves under the seat. YES!
  • Torque; I have a Delkevic shorty exhaust and it's Loud. It has a low rumble, which I appreciate so hopefully I'm not pissing off any of my neighbors. They say some aftermarket exhausts add a little power. I really can't tell if it's the noise that's creating the illusion of more power.

Everything else is the same; gas mileage (although the fuel light blinks now, instead of just staying on), seat height, weight, overall performance.

Overall, I would recommend the non S version, because it's a much more comfortable bike to ride vs. the S. You're more upright and almost in a supermoto-ish riding position. Feet are right beneath you and it feels natural and easy.


Funny convo with a customer today.

Me and my SV on my first track day back in 2011, sans mirrors and headlights.

Me and my SV on my first track day back in 2011, sans mirrors and headlights.

A funny convo I had at Scuderia West when someone saw me with my bike. 

Him: What do you ride? 

Me: an SV650s

Him: Oh cool, that was my first bike

Me: Yeah, it's my 3rd

Him: It was a good little bike

Me: I love it, it's taught me so much and is the best bike I've had so far. I've learned body positioning on it. 

Him: What's that? 

Me: Guess you still need to figure that out!

Motorcycles for Short Riders

Motorcycles for Short Riders

Motorcycles for Short Riders aka Tips for Success if You're Short

Modifying my motorcycle to fit me?

A listener from the Pace Podcast emailed me recently, asking me how I've modified my SV650 to fit me.  My answer is probably not what you'd expect from a shorty like me... "I've been listening to you on the Pace podcast and want to thank you for doing what you're doing! I love the fact that you break down in detail you review of products instead of the typical simplistic responses of "Great" or "Lame". Anyhow my question is not about gear, but about your SV. I love the look and V-twin sound of the SV. I'm not so crazy about the seat height, I'm only around 5'4" w/appox 28" inseam. I used to ride a 93VFR - which I could flat foot a single foot and was *OK* doing so. Do you have any mods on your SV to lower the seat height? If so, what do you find works best? Do you have bar risers? I'd like to use a bike like this to commute. The 2012 Ninja 650 is on my short list as well but it lacks the "coolness"/vibe of a V-twin - but the ergos are much closer to what works for me."


I also have a 28" inseam.

I've never modified my bike, ever (or any of my previous bikes). My best friend has been my Daytona boots as well as my riding experiences since I started on a scooter back in 2003.  For me, spending time on a ninja 250 for a couple years after that, and then a ginormous z750s made me appreciate the nimble and lightweight abilities of the SV650s. I never even thought about modifying it.

Are you wearing protective footwear? If so, the traction on them will give you extra leverage and help compensate for the lack of height.   If you aren't, something like these will give you an extra inch, easy:

I also wear Sidi Fusions, and they offer absolutely no additional height. Actually, they took away a good inch from me. I really had to modify my riding technique (focus on smoother breaking) to adapt to them and be comfortable with just relying on my left foot.

Even in my daytonas, I still can't flat foot both feet in those, even with the additional 2 inches. I'm flat on my left, and that's all I've ever needed on that bike (or any bike for that matter).  It has such a low center of gravity and is so light that I've gotten used to the weight distribution and just using one foot. Being a twin certainly makes things a lot skinnier between um, your legs. :P

I guess I'm a bad person to ask about this, because I've actually lost vertical height but haven't done anything to my bike to compensate for it.... I've just modified myself!

I can only recommend checking out to see what others may have done to modify/lower their bikes.