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I obtained a full motorcycle licence late in life at the age of 39. I was more than happy to throw away the learner plates and decide upon which would be my first bike. I did hours of online research and at the end of it all my attention was drawn to the Suzuki SV650S sports touring model.
The SV650S has an upper front bikini fairing and a more forward reaching seating position than the SV650 naked version. The seating position is no where as forward reaching as a super sports bike so it is still comfortable to ride at slow speeds around town. It is termed as a budget bike and can be gotten new for around £4900 on the road. It is classified as insurance group 9 which translates to low insurance premiums. Do not be fooled though, the 649cc v twin engine produces 69bhp and with the bike being fairly light at 169kg you have a fairly fast machine in your hands. I will refrain from repeating any more specifications as these are freely available online.
There are many accessories available for the SV650S. I added lower fairings to give the bike a full fairing look as well as a rear hugger which fits over the rear wheel to offer protection from dirt and road spray. Perhaps the most common and one of the first things owners do is change the exhaust. The v twin engine has a lovely deep growl which is killed off by the standard exhaust. For as little as £120 you can get an after market stainless steel exhaust to replace the standard one and the difference is sensational. Just make sure the exhaust you get is stamped for road legal use or you will not pass the M.O.T. when the time comes. The bike comes with a basic tool kit which fits in a compartment under the seat.
The bike feels light on the move and is easy to flick around those great twisty country roads. The suspension is adequate and is adjustable on the rear. I had no need to make any changes but then again my weight is 170lbs and someone heavier may find they need to adjust the suspension a notch or too. The front suspension does an ok job of soaking up the bumps but you have to remember the bike is built to a budget. This is most evident when you need to undo a bolt on the bike as if you are not careful you can easily strip the thread or snap the bolt. They are basically made of cheese and I ended up replacing many of the fairing bolts with stainless steel ones.
The v twin engine is just great and has good torque. It will propel you to 60mph in around 3.8 seconds. The top speed is well over 125mph so it is more than enough when you consider the motorway speed limit is 70mph. The bike feels well planted at high speed thanks to the bikini fairing and this makes for a decent touring bike. I added a Renntec sports rack to the back of my bike to which I attached a Givi roll bag. I was able to remove the rack quickly and easily for the times it was not needed. I had no interest adding a top box to the rear of the bike as in my opinion they spoil the look of the bike. The rack and bag saw me through several trips to Alsace in France. The bike just gobbled the miles up without any complaints though it did take a day or 2 to get used to the seat which could do with more padding. However I still managed to do 650 miles on one day without much bother. They only other thing to note is the vibration from the engine associated with it being a v twin. This takes a bit of time to get used to but eventually your wrists become accustomed to it and it will no longer be an issue. All in all though the bike does well at touring and you can expect about 55 mpg with fuel fill ups every 125 miles.
There are a couple of issues you need to be aware of. The position of the front spark plug means it will get soaked in heavy rain. This can be avoided by adding a fender extender and/or grease around the spark plug, to avoid the bike running on one cylinder. You need to take care with the throttle as power delivery is not exactly smooth at times and if you are not careful the bike can lurch forward.
To sum up, the SV650S is a very capable bike that would well suit a beginner as well as more seasoned riders. It is cheap to buy and run (5 years NCB meant £91 fully comp ins) and is great fun to ride.