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Discussion Starter #1
I know that only riding one can truly answer that question, but I'm sure a test ride that's substantial enough to answer that question isn't going to happen. So I'm asking for your wisdom. Excuse the length...
I turned 61 some months ago. I've had 19 motorcycles since 1970. Having decided recently to downsize from the bike's weight and width, I just sold my third Yamaha FJR1300, a 2016 model with electronic suspension, and bought a pristine used 2018 Moto Guzzi V7 III Milano. I'd always had a "thing" for Guzzis, so I decided to indulge that interest in the context of my downsizing.
I knew the Guzzi would be a big, big change from the FJR, which -- if it fit me -- would be the finest bike available at any price for the kind of riding I enjoy: a mix of brisk canyon rides, occasional two-up duty and occasional 1,000-mile-in-24-hour Iron Butt Association "Saddlesore 1000s." I live in the western Denver suburbs, so some delectable canyons and mountain passes are within easy reach. But I'm on the balls of my feet at stops on the FJR, mostly because the bike is so wide between the rider's legs. And it's somewhat top-heavy. Over the past couple of years, I'd decided that my legs were actually getting a little shorter, enough so that I'd become concerned that I would eventually drop the thing on a sandy shoulder or at a greasy gas-station driveway.
The Guzzi solved that issue. I can flat-foot the 480-pound Guzzi, and unlike the FJR, I'm confident that I can pick it up if I every were to drop it. While a 1,000-in-24 seems plausible on the bike, I bought it knowing that two-up riding would be severely curtailed. And I think my wife's OK with that. I knew it didn't have the power; I've discovered that it doesn't have the suspension for two-up. (I'm 5'8" and weigh 160; wife weighs 140.)
But a month into the adventure, and with a bit over 500 miles on the Guzzi, I've decided I'm not satisfied with it as a solo mount. I could probably get used to the relative lack of power, but as I've begun to push it harder and harder in the corners, I've realized that the suspension just isn't up to a truly sporty pace. Today, for the first time, I managed to drag something (side stand? center stand?) in a tight left-hander.
I love the clean shaft-drive, I think it's a great-looking bike, and I have no complaints with either the fueling or the shifting. But I don't want to start pouring a bunch of money into suspension upgrades, and still have a bike with 52 HP and a 6,500-RPM redline.
So I'm thinking...
I actually had a 1999 SV650, and liked it, as I recall, but that's a long time ago. I sold a '95 Honda Nighthawk 750 to get the SV -- and I sold the SV to go back to an '03 Nighthawk 750.
I can't see spending almost $1,800 more to get a Monster 797 (which I've also owned, and enjoyed, despite the positively twitchy steering geometry at highway speeds).
If I were to buy an SV, I would want to add a windscreen, magnetic tankbag, Vista Cruise throttle lock, and some type of removable, locking luggage -- at least side cases, and maybe a top case.
So... what do you think? Would the SV be a good fit for me?
Thanks for taking the time to read this...
 

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So I've had a series of big standard motorcycles, GS1100E, FJ1100, and a hotted up ZRX1100 that I still got. A couple of years ago I decided I needed an FJR1300, that nothing else would do. Found a sweet burgundy '07 with a Russel Day Long seat that the guy needed to sell. Drove across the state, put the cash in his hand and went for a ride. The bike was perfect and I really wanted to like it, but after about 50 miles I decided I couldn't think of any trip I'd ever been on that the 100+ pounds heavier FJR would've been more fun than anything else I'd already had. Filled it with gas and paid the guy for the mileage. Then I bought a blue gen 1 SV650N, which weighs 400 pounds wet and upgraded the suspension and it's really really fun. There was a British magazine article around when your SV was new that claimed the custom frame builder Harris had tried to make a high-end race chassis for the G1 but couldn't improve on the original. A better Ducati than a Ducati. Hope this helps.
 

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Well, I love the SV, but if you want it to be a great handling bike you’ll have to put some money into the suspension. And after adding all the luggage, it’s not going to be as nimble as it was.
Really, it sounds to me like a V-Strom is the right bike for you. I’ve got one of those also, great bike for the type riding you do.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks, guys. V-Stroms are great bikes, but I sold the FJR because I didn't have the legs for it... a V-Strom is, unfortunately, not the solution.
 

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If you're trading in your Guzzi for an SV because of the suspensions, you're not going to solve your problem.
Although I love my SV, I feel that it's weakest side is exactly in the suspensions department.
The rear shock is not serviceable, and although at the beginning it was almost OK, after about 10'000 miles it became completely useless (i.e. too stiff). Ended up replacing it with an aftermarket YSS (the one for Gladius is interchangeable with 3rd gen. SVs).
On the contrary, the stock fork is terribly soft and not adjustable at all, not even in preload: it nosedives terribly when braking a bit more than gently. Since I don't want to start playing around with fork oil density and springs, I'll simply have the internals replaced with an Andreani or Mupo cartridge.

Brakes are the second weakest department of the SV: front brake feels somehow mushy and lacks stopping power when you really ask for it. As it is, it's perfectly mated with the fork, but since you want good performance from the latter, you'll soon start to notice OEM brake limitations. I have cured this simply by installing braided lines and better brake pads (EBC FF HA): now the braking power is correct for the bike and a touristic use.

The good side of this bike is its engine (mid-size with enough power to enjoy twisty roads - I live close to the alps - and plenty of torque from say 3'500rpm up to 10'000) and its agility, which I find extraordinary.

Concerning the possibility of adding side and top cases, here's my solution for the occasional trip.
 
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Given the OP's list of motorcycles he's owned, no stock suspended SV is going to cut it for him. The one to two thousand dollars required to bring rest of the bike up to its excellent engine and chassis should be factored into whatever its acquisition costs are. The bottom line is that nice motorcycles are rarely cheap, and cheap motorcycles? We've all been there with those.
 

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The one to two thousand dollars required to bring rest of the bike up to its excellent engine and chassis should be factored into whatever its acquisition costs are.
This exactly the way I feel.
I've always wondered since I bought a gen.3 SV why would Suzuki prefer to sell the SV as it is right now for (here in Italy) 6'000 euros, when it could be sold with better suspensions and brakes from the factory for, say, 7'200/7'500 euros.
It would still feature the magnificent mid-size engine and the spectacular handling characteristics we all love, but it would not require the owner to put additional money and effort to bring it up to par with what we know we want from it.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for the insights. If the stock suspension is as flawed as you make it sound, I would be on a quest, and I know how that can go, trying one "solution" after another. I was more interested in riding. :-(
I didn't think I was that demanding of a rider, but perhaps I am. I just don't want a bike wallowing in less-than-smooth corners (which my FJRs never did, nor my Super Tenere, nor my V-Strom...).
Maybe I need to be looking at Honda's CB650R, if the seat isn't too lofty for me.
Thanks again.
 

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Here in the UK, I did my training and took my test on the Honda 650.
It's a great bike but was out of my price range when i was looking to buy, and part of me is glad because I love my SV.
I've upgraded my rear shock with one from a zx14r and fitted ktech liner springs and silkolene rsf10 fork oil in the front and for around £200 and a couple of hours in the garage I've got a bike that is a massive improvement over the stock set up and plenty good enough to handle what I'll put it through
Id certainly recommend a test ride on the CB650R though

Sent from my SM-G960F using Tapatalk
 

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Maybe I need to be looking at Honda's CB650R, if the seat isn't too lofty for me.
Don't have first-hand experience on it, since I haven't tested it (yet, I have a buddy just across the swiss border that has bought one, as soon as the COVID curtain will be lifted we'll join for a ride and I'll ask him to switch rides), but on paper CB650R seems to be a couple of steps ahed of an SV.
Brakes: 4-pot calipers with radial mount are a definite improvement over 2-pot assial calipers.
Suspensions look promising: Showa UD adjustable fork and adjustable shock too.
Engine seems to be a bit more powerful, but torque (which is what would appeal more to me to ride twisty roads on the alps) is slightly less than that of an SV at about the same rpm, and I am not confident the Honda inline 4 would have the same pull across the whole rpm span as the SV does.
 
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Discussion Starter #11
Engine seems to be a bit more powerful, but torque (which is what would appeal more to me to ride twisty roads on the alps) is slightly less than that of an SV at about the same rpm, and I am not confident the Honda inline 4 would have the same pull across the whole rpm spam as the SV does.
I'm sure you're right about that, but I'm used to downshifting the FJR to get it spinning when real thrust is wanted. (More of an issue with the 2016s and later; the previous gen had a 5-speed.)
I think I'll be hitting the Honda and Suzuki dealers on Saturday. Not thrilled with the black of this year's SV -- maybe I'll appreciate it more in person -- but definitely would want the ABS. First stop will be at Honda to see if I can flat-foot the thing. Will go from there.
Thanks again...
 

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Thanks for the insights. If the stock suspension is as flawed as you make it sound, I would be on a quest, and I know how that can go, trying one "solution" after another. I was more interested in riding. :-(
I didn't think I was that demanding of a rider, but perhaps I am. I just don't want a bike wallowing in less-than-smooth corners (which my FJRs never did, nor my Super Tenere, nor my V-Strom...).
Maybe I need to be looking at Honda's CB650R, if the seat isn't too lofty for me.
Thanks again.
In my experience, the one solution after another quest usually only happens when you try doing something on the cheap. In my case a very low milage G1 specific Ohlins popped up on ebay for $500 and an equally low mileage set of stock forks modified with GSXR 600 cartridges appeared here on the Forum for $550. No quest, just instant awesome. Given the transformation, I consider it the most cost-effective mod money I've ever spent, and if I ever do decide to sell I'll put the stock crap back on and sell the good stuff separately. The only money I wasted was for a set of .95 RaceTech springs which I tried before the cartridges and found way too stiff with the recommended oil. I'll sell 'em to ya for $50....

I'm over in Glenwood Springs, BTW. My SV carbs are mailed off to the carb spa at the moment, but I expect to have it back on the road in a couple of weeks. Shoot me a PM with your phone number if you want and I'll let you ride it.
 

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Don't be afraid of a well kept used SV. You might even be able to snag one with a good enough suspension and or some touring bits on it already. For new, if you are not going to the track (and maybe even if you are), you won't need to spend $2000 to get the suspension working well enough. I have a set of GSRX cartridges in the stock forks and they are good enough for advanced group track day riding. I do have an Ohlins shock on mine, but almost any aftermarket shock properly sprung and set up for you should be great on the street.

For the brakes pads and lines may be enough. If you want more, pick up a better MC (used R6 for budget or new if you want to spend some money). No need for a $1000 Brembo MC. I like the Magura HC1 myself, but there are lots of options without breaking the bank.

This is the great thing about the SV. The motor and frame are great as is. There is a ton of reasonably priced options both new and used stuff to improve almost everything else anything on the bike.
 

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I traded in an '08 Concours 14 for my '19 SV 650 for similar reasons. I'm 68 now and my left knee is worn from shifting all these years, and the weight of the Concours was bothersome. I love my SV but I wonder if you'd like my other bike, a Kawasaki Z900? It's got way more power than the SV and the suspension is adjustable, plus the new ones have traction control, rider modes and other goodies.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I love my SV but I wonder if you'd like my other bike, a Kawasaki Z900?
Interesting possibility. I'm not too keen on the styling, personally, but it looks like a lot of bike for the money. Would have to sit on one. Have you added any wind protection to it?
 

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I'm 66, taller but also don't like to pick up top heavy bikes. I rode Ninja250's for a lot of years, moved up to a ZX6, followed by a VStrom 1000 and back to a Ninja 300. I liked the power of the ZX6, but went back to the smaller bikes because I couldn't pick up a loaded VStrom or ZX6. I rode the IBR on my 250, and am now getting back into LD rides. I have a Gen 1 because it was free. I was looking for a Versys 300, but free is better even though it has carbs.
I think a used SV650 would work well for what you want to do, but, but save some money for better suspension and I don't think this is a two up bike. With those two limitations, it would be a great bike for IBA rides and canyon carving.
 

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... I actually had a 1999 SV650, and liked it, as I recall, but that's a long time ago.
Maybe time to refresh your memory? :)

Add a windshield and luggage, like you say, I think you will be happy. The SV is a great little machine. The 2003 is an inch higher than all other years so avoid that if you want lower height.

I am close to your age and done with 600 lbs machines. I also do not want anything with 50hp. In another 10 years I may be looking at a 650 Burgman. The older I get the less I care about fashion too, lol.
 

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Interesting possibility. I'm not too keen on the styling, personally, but it looks like a lot of bike for the money. Would have to sit on one. Have you added any wind protection to it?
No, the only thing I've added is a slip-on exhaust and a fender eliminator. I do very little highway riding so the wind doesn't bother me.
 

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I own a 2019 SV650. Nothing wrong with the factory brakes. They upgraded them. I think for most riders the suspension is completely adequate. I have seen pictures of factory test riders tearing up the track, scraping the peg feelers in every turn. Everyone wants to think they're better riders than we really are. I love my SV. I also own a 2012 FJR1300 and a 2015 Honda CB500X. There is no way I would try to ride 1000 miles in a day on my SV. 200 is about enough. I guess if a person is short enough and they spring for a custom seat, maybe. If I had to ride 1000 miles tomorrow and was not allowed to take my FJR, second choice would be my 500X. Not much power but it's comfortable enough to ride all day. I plan to do some light touring on it.

Edit: Lack of lean angle and poor suspension are not the same thing.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Edit: Lack of lean angle and poor suspension are not the same thing.
So... are you saying the SV has inadequate cornering clearance, or poor suspension?

Planning on going to look at a CB650R, a Z900 and an SV on Saturday. The SV would be considerably less money, has a lower seat and probably better aftermarket support. But if I fit on one of the I-4s... I'm going to be sorely tempted by the extra ponies...
 
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