For over 20 years, the Suzuki SV650 has established itself in a niche market for midsize upright naked bikes, offering riders a reliable canyon bike for top-performing commuters and weekend fun. Six years after his third generation, the 2023 Suzuki SV650 remains one of the easiest and most confidence-inspiring bikes in its category.
The ergonomics of the SV650 are attractive. The seat height is about 31 inches, so there’s a little more room for short strides. My inseam is his 30.5 inches, so my feet are easily flat on the floor and all the controls are within easy reach. The seating position is comfortable and upright, and the tank is stout enough to get a nice grip with your legs. The saddle offers so much freedom of movement that few riders will feel restricted.
Push the starter button to start the liquid-cooled 645cc V-twin. Suzuki’s Easy Start system makes starting easy without having to pull the slightly heavy clutch lever. Just put the transmission in neutral and press the switch. The 650’s satisfying torque engine is ready to ride.
No need to spend time searching for ride-related buttons to press before takeoff. The SV650 is a basic motorcycle, a performance mode without useful features like traction control, wheelie control and adjustable engine compression braking.
The 2023 Suzuki SV650 is a simple, easy-to-ride model. Draw a torque curve that gently rises from 3000rpm to 8000rpm. The engine works wherever it needs to, and power is delivered smoothly and predictably. This is a great companion for real driving, especially inexperienced drivers. An ambitious and responsive engine requires no management. It simply waits for your input. Suzuki’s Low RPM Assist is another key feature that benefits all riders by increasing engine revs when the revs are too low to prevent the engine from stalling.
The SV shines in the city. Whether you’re cruising down the boulevard or on your morning commute, the wide torque spread lets you adjust speed with acceleration and deceleration. The 6-speed gearbox works perfectly and the gear spacing is perfect, but you don’t need to shift much. The upright riding position gives you a good view of traffic and the mirrors ensure a good, vibration-free view.
The SV650’s suspension is not adjustable except for preloading the shock springs for luggage or two-person riding. Finding the right balance for the different roles you want your bike to perform will make the ride comfortable and safe, rather than fat or overly tight. A traditional fork puts about 5 inches of travel to good use and soaks up the bumps, swells and pavement abuse commonly found on city and suburban roads.
At highway speeds, the SV is just as reliable. In fact, this is the SV650’s greatest strength, its reassuring presence. With a heavier weight and slightly longer wheelbase than its closest competitor, the SV feels surprisingly confident on the road. An undisturbed, relaxed ride is a constant source of support. Our favorite speed test track doesn’t shake our heads even at triple digits that aren’t hard to achieve.
I love the elemental feel of a naked bike, but high speeds on an upright bike on the freeway take a bit more energy. You can push back in the seat to lessen the windblast, but the SV650 is most enjoyable at more moderate speeds utilizing the V-twin’s smooth, always accessible pull.
This consistency carries over into the canyons, where the SV650’s plentiful torque makes it a pleasure to ride. It’s satisfying to let engine braking shave off speed entering a corner, and then to accelerate out with authority. Turning the bike takes a bit more body English as the SV is not exactly nimble-footed, but for riders developing their sport riding skills, the slower handling provides a welcome margin for error.
Reliable braking is the other half of the confidence package, and the SV’s brakes don’t disappoint. They are perfectly suited to the bike’s capabilities and target audience. The dual 290mm front discs have reassuring power, and the initial engagement from the five-position adjustable lever is appropriately soft. There’s no unpleasant bite to catch a less skilled hand, yet a seasoned rider will find enough braking muscle to match an aggressive ride. The rear disc is useful for slow-speed finessing, or as an addition to the front when more deceleration is needed.
We did not have ABS on the base model we tested, though it is a $450 option that we always recommend. Keep in mind that if you want ABS, your bike will be Metallic Reflective Blue rather than the stealthy Glass Sparkle Black / Solid Iron.
The SV650 is shod with sport-touring Dunlop Sportmax Roadsmart III rubber, and they are well-suited to the bike’s expected use, balancing grip and wear. Grippier sport tires can be mounted, though if you feel the need to upgrade, it’s probably time for a new bike.
Perhaps the most enduring appeal of the SV650 is that it is not the most flickable, lightest, or quickest revving mid-size upright naked twin in its category. It rounds the edges off all those performance stats, establishing itself as an agreeable sidekick for your two-wheeled exploits. Closing in on a quarter century of service, the 2023 Suzuki SV650 remains a favorite choice for a broad range of riders.
Type: 90-degree V-twin
Bore x stroke: 81.0 x 62.6mm
Compression ratio: 11.2:1
Valvetrain: DOHC; 4 vpc
Clutch: Wet multiplate
Final drive: D.I.D 520 chain
Frame: Steel trellis
Wheels: Five-spoke cast aluminum
Tires: Dunlop Sportmax RoadSmart III
Front tire: 120/70 x 17
Rear tire: 160/60 x 17
Front brakes: 290mm floating discs w/ 4-piston Tokico calipers
Rear brake: Disc w/ single-piston caliper
ABS: Optional (+$450)
DIMENSIONS and CAPACITIES
Wheelbase: 56.9 inches
Fuel capacity: 3.8 gallons
Curb weight: 432 pounds