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Two schools of thought here.

The first (as usual) is the guys who have never ridden anything but an SV650, chiming in how it's the ideal beginner bike. Of course, they have no other experience to compare it to, and so by definition have a limited perspective.

Then there are the old farts like me. People who started out on horrible old bikes like CB360s and KZ400s and beat up dirt bikes held together with coat hangers and spit. They'll tell you that limited horsepower and mild manners are the new rider's best friend. And they'll have the perspective to back it up.

The problem here is that there aren't a whole lot of genuine learner bikes on the market today. You can choose from tiny chopperettes like the 250 Rebel or 250 Virago, and a couple of smaller sport bikes like the GS500 or EX500. From there you jump immediately to larger (650-2000cc) cruisers, hypersports (600-750-1000cc) and some large displacement dual-sports. The SV650 somehow falls into the gap that spans the two, and by default becomes the "beginner" bike that you supposedly won't outgrow.

A little historical perspective. When I started riding in 1977, the biggest, meanest, fastest bikes on the market were the GS1000, KZ900, and XS1100. The SV650 will outrun them all. This so-called "beginner" bike (and commonly dismissed as a "girl's bike") is quicker and faster than the fastest production bikes on the planet, circa 1977. Sure, it's no great shakes compared to current literbikes, but that's simply a matter of engineering progress, which hasn't been accompanied by a similar improvement in human reflexes and skills.

You can learn to ride on an SV650. Just realize that you're potentially making the learning process more difficult and dangerous than it needs to be. The problem with learners is that they're, well, learners. They'll make the usual, expected beginner's mistakes. The idea is to minimize the consequences of those mistakes. That isn't necessarily easy when you have 70 horsepower and a bunch of torque waiting for nothing more than a quarter turn of the throttle.

There's a lot to be said for a bike that won't unintentionally wheelie or send you into someone's living room if you make a common newbie mistake. Yes, people will argue that "the throttle works both ways" but here again you're learning a whole new set of skills. Modulating a throttle and clutch simultaneously while maintaining balance and teaching your feet to shift and apply brakes, while scanning for traffic and idiots who're too busy yakking on their cel phones to see you can add up to a whole lot of stuff to concentrate on. The idea is to not add an extra level of complexity and detract from what should be a fun and enjoyable process.

This is why so many of us, um, experienced riders recommend a real beginner bike for beginners. Something with limited potential to punish you for the inevitable newbie error. Something like an EX250 or CM400/450 or GS500 or EX500 or a 350cc dual-sport. Something that will chug along no matter how badly you botch your clutch engagement. A bike that won't fling you into places you don't want to be if you're too enthusiastic or ham-fisted with the throttle. A bike that won't cost you $300 if (when) you drop it backing out of a parking space. Heck, you can pick up a good beginner bike for well under $1000. This leaves plenty of money for other essentials, like riding gear and taking the MSF course. A lot of new riders object to the idea of having a somewhat beat up bike to ride around on. They want to look cool and figure that they'll be looked down upon by other riders for having a bike that isn't as state-of-the-art as what everyone else is riding. The problem with this sort of thinking is that pretty much everyone drops their first bike. That shiny new bike will really show off the scratches and dents that come with learning.

Remember that military pilots start out in single-engined, propeller-driven trainers, not F-16s. Kenny Roberts teaches aspiring road racers to find the limits of a bike's potential by sticking them on 125cc dirt bikes and sending them out on a flat track. A smaller, less-powerful bike is much more forgiving of newbie mistakes, and will give you much more warning before it reaches its limits. A modern sport bike (SV650 included) will simply spit you off into the weeds once you reach those limits.

I can pretty much guarantee you that if you spend a year on a true beginner bike, and learn to ride it to its limits, and then move up to an SV650, you'll be a better, more capable rider than someone who started out on and spent the same amount of saddle time on an SV650. And when you do step up to the SV, you'll be far more capable of using it to its full potential, because you'll have safely learned what it feels like when a bike is approaching its limits.

For the record, I've owned larger, more powerful, faster bikes than my SV650, but none of them were as fun to ride. And I currently own and ride a couple of other older, slower, less-capable bikes. There's a lot to be said for flogging an old, slow, poor-handling bike to its limits. Lots of fun there, without having to be concerned about getting ticketed. And, truth be told, after riding them for a week or so and getting back onto my SV, I have to re-acclimate to the SV's hyperresponsiveness. No more full-throttle blasting away from stop lights. Remember to only use two fingers for applying the brakes. Use lighter, more subtle inputs. Regardless of what the magazines or websites or your friends might say, the SV is plenty capable, and capable of getting the new rider in way over his head.
There's also a lot to be said for embarrassing guys on 600cc supersports when you leave them behind in the twisties on something like an EX250. Horsepower and weight aren't necessarily your friend.

If you've got dirt bike riding experience, if you've had a year or two on a smaller bike, if you've additionally gotten the MSF course under your belt, you'll have a blast on an SV. Short of this, however, you may not be doing yourself any favors. Not trying to be dramatic here, just honest in passing along what I've learned from almost 30 years of motorcycling.
 

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I am living (thank God) proof of all that you've mentioned in your review. My SV650S is the first bike I ever rode. The generic reason I'd give anyone who asks why I chose the bike is "It's a great beginner bike"... But who am I kidding? How would I know that? Because I read it in some message forum review? I never rode another bike (short of quads and small dirt bikes) before this one, so I really had nothing to compare.

The real reason? Typical male pride... I did not want to be seen riding a Ninja 250R, or an EX500... Or any other bike with tires that could be used on a mountain bike. The SV keeps most people off your back because most think of it as a "great beginner bike", so it becomes a low-stress, *easy* choice. Hey, the least amount of people you can keep from telling you you're crazy for getting a 600+ cc bike as your first bike, the better, right?

The biggest issue with the SV is the nature of its twitchy sudden acceleration response, followed by a fair amount engine brake when not on the throttle. For a beginner, this combination adds to the already high learning curve they must undergo by keeping their mind busy trying to keep the bike at a steady speed. It is a tiring effort that someone who's already distracted enough with all that entails riding a motorcycle on public roadways could do without.

Within just a week of owning mine, this resulted in a misshap that costed me my confidence for a few more weeks... Something that I was looking forward to enjoying became a subject of fear for me... Anytime I'd get invited to go out on a ride, I'd find reasons not to go...

With the advice, patience, and support of 2 of my friends, I was back on the road and finally began to enjoy riding. Looking back, maybe I should've dumped my pride and chosen something with a smaller engine and more predictive throttle response, but now that I've finally come to enjoy the act of riding, I'm glad I chose the SV... Once you learn its basic behavior and how to get along with it, it's now a matter of keeping a level of respect for its (and my own) limits, as I continue on the never ending road to becoming a better rider.

Would I personally recommend the SV to an absolute beginner? Maybe not... Would I try to talk someone out of getting one as their first bike? Not at all! I think most who choose the SV are looking for the same thing... And the SV represents what they're searching for. It is one of the few bikes I could think of that would inspire me to get back up and try again... You get this sense of its capabilities before you even experience them, and you simply don't want to give up.

With that said, if you have thought about getting an SV650(S) as your first bike, chances are no matter what anyone tells you, you will very likely end up getting it anyways. It's probably the one thing most SV riders who made their SV their first bike have in common. And that being the case, all I can say is that you should keep at least the following 2 things in mind... First, it is a very capable bike, so it will demand a higher level of respect than the other, more forgiving beginner choices that may have crossed your mind. Second, it is a very capable bike, so enjoy it! :)
 

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Wow, nice thorough posts gents. With that said, I purchased a 07 SV650 last Tuesday. I’m a bigger guy 6 ft +, 215+, and a small bike “seems” ridiculous. Keep in mind, I’m fine with taking it slow, and my beginner riding class is next weekend. I guess we’ll see how I do… Thanks again.
 

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I am about 6'1, 205. I really like the SV650, I am a very new rider, and I am looking for a bike that I will not outgrow, but will not be too much punch for my first bike. My only concern is that the SV maybe to small for my height and weight. Any input would be really appreciated.

PRD
 

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prd84 said:
I am about 6'1, 205. I really like the SV650, I am a very new rider, and I am looking for a bike that I will not outgrow, but will not be too much punch for my first bike. My only concern is that the SV maybe to small for my height and weight. Any input would be really appreciated.

PRD
6'3" and 220lbs here. I love the SV650.

Just my 2C.
 

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6'2" 225 lbs.

More bike than what you think it is capable of.

Learning to ride it to its limits, that will take some serious time and effort.

Once mastered ... yeah, you can move on and get bigger though you can't really use bigger without going into chrome bracelet territory.
 

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Thanks...I appreciate the Input..I was worried that I would outgrow this bike too soon. However everyone here seems to think that it has plenty of power to handle my larger size. Thanks...

PRD
 

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figure I'll throw in my 2cents from my own experience. I picked up the SV650 as my first bike last year. I had not been on a bike thats not pedal powered before, however I used to live on my bicycle, did lengthy tours on it, commute on it, modded it, did all the work on it myself. My point being I knew I loved the feeling of being on two wheels, riding. And I was very experienced with being a bike in traffic. so that was going to be a non-issue. I picked up a book called "How to Ride a Motorcycle" by Pat Hahn. In there he says In the authors opinion Suzuki can claim to offer the best all around beginner bike in the SV650. Light, nimble, quick, adaptable, fun, and cheap, its easy to ride - which means you'll learn very quickly - yet versatile enough to keep you entertained for a while. Great I thought, but he also stressed the importance of the MSF beginners course. So I got myself into a class and practiced in my apartment complex on my sv while I waited. When I took the class I was amazed at how much I learned so quickly on the nighthawk 250. I left feeling very confident having received a perfect score on my test (in fact the instructor said that if all his students had my kind of background on bicycles he'd have a class full of perfect scores, pretty cool I thought) After that riding the SV became easier and my learning has continued full boar.

The point of this rambling is that the SV was an acceptable beginners bike for me and apparently for many. But if I was forced to spend a year on the nighthawk 250, I'd surely learn more faster.
 

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It all depends on who you are, how quick of a learner you are and your spectation...

Actually, to the wrong person starting from zero the SV can be a turnOff factor which may
make you drop biking all together.

I also met a guy who never rode a bike before, got a 2003 SV Naked brand new and have been riding ever since with no regrets to this date...

For a first timer who can take the challenge, I think and 500 ninja or night hawk would be ideal, specially if you are a big dude...

For a first timer who is very shy about the whole experience and short in hight or petite, then a 250 cruiser would be best, virago, rebel, etc...

For the big boyz here the SV seems to be not fast enough but for a lot of people here my feeling is the SV deserve respect, and it is plenty of bike to scare s**T on your pants...
 

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I toook the msf course last august. My only reasons were that i was tired of riding on the bike of bikes with guys and decided to flex my independence. i however dropped the bike in the msf course but i still passed and got my endorsement. i bought a ninja 250 and rode it under various conditions here in NYC. (just use your imagination). i didnt get a lot of mileage in but i learned some valualbe lesson, so, i was going to keep the 250 and the sv but i got an offer for the 250 and i am going to sell it. i like the smaller cc bike because it is easy to handle and forgiving yet it is still a motorcycle. the sv650 is that venture into a more serious bike and if you are not heavy handed on the throttle and can handle the shifting the bike should be fun and a learning experience. the main reason i bought is the comfort for longer rides and touring. the 250 just wasnt made for that. i am planning to do more rides to vermont, new england and the delaware/maryland area. i know the torque and horsepower are totally different from the 250 but i can appreciate the difference. it also have benefited from chatting in the forums. i almost bought a zzr but realized i was way out of my league! OK...I think I made a point :thumbsup:
hungryhungry said:
figure I'll throw in my 2cents from my own experience. I picked up the SV650 as my first bike last year. I had not been on a bike thats not pedal powered before, however I used to live on my bicycle, did lengthy tours on it, commute on it, modded it, did all the work on it myself. My point being I knew I loved the feeling of being on two wheels, riding. And I was very experienced with being a bike in traffic. so that was going to be a non-issue. I picked up a book called "How to Ride a Motorcycle" by Pat Hahn. In there he says In the authors opinion Suzuki can claim to offer the best all around beginner bike in the SV650. Light, nimble, quick, adaptable, fun, and cheap, its easy to ride - which means you'll learn very quickly - yet versatile enough to keep you entertained for a while. Great I thought, but he also stressed the importance of the MSF beginners course. So I got myself into a class and practiced in my apartment complex on my sv while I waited. When I took the class I was amazed at how much I learned so quickly on the nighthawk 250. I left feeling very confident having received a perfect score on my test (in fact the instructor said that if all his students had my kind of background on bicycles he'd have a class full of perfect scores, pretty cool I thought) After that riding the SV became easier and my learning has continued full boar.

The point of this rambling is that the SV was an acceptable beginners bike for me and apparently for many. But if I was forced to spend a year on the nighthawk 250, I'd surely learn more faster.
 

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Having just picked up my somewhat used naked '06, and spending my first time today on a real motorcycle (outside of the Honda 90 trail bike I had in high school - 25 years ago), I'll certainly concur on the following point:

EddieSV said:
The biggest issue with the SV is the nature of its twitchy sudden acceleration response, followed by a fair amount engine brake when not on the throttle.
I've really had to concentrate on being light on the throttle during upshifts, and being very subtle with throttle modulation. In some ways, that little Honda 90 way back when may have been part of the problem - it had so little power, you basically treated the throttle like an on-off switch, and you just went as fast as it could carry you. There was a small part of me that was slightly nervous about hopping on a "real" bike with little experience with one, but for the most part, I was expecting a relatively brief period of getting acclimated, followed by complete comfort. I do feel now that the learning curve may be a little longer than I expected. Not that it was a bad experience... I actually had a blast today, and I'm confident that I'll do just fine. But I'm a bit more realistic now on my learning curve expectations, and a lot more respectful for how much power this "middleweight" (or even underpowered, based on some of the opinions I've read here), has.

So after my slight attitude adjustment today, do I think it's a good beginner's bike? I guess it's all a matter of perspective. I certainly understand and agree that something that would more safely let you explore and understand the limits of a motorcycle's response would be a much better beginner's bike, and I'm sure there are plenty of better choices in that regard to the SV650. The reality for ME, however, is those options just weren't very attractive to me. For one thing, I just don't like buying and selling big items. I tend to do an extensive amount of research before I buy something, then once I figure out which product has the combination of traits that I like the best, I tend to get dead set on that being the one for me. The concept of getting something that I've already learned to not be as good as what I really want, then a year later selling it and buying the better product, is just hard to swallow. That might be the smarter approach, but I bet I'm not the only one having a hard time doing the smart thing here.

That being said, I think the SV650 can be a beginner's bike, even if not the ideal one. I just think it's important for those who choose that route to realize the bike isn't quite as tame as some of the more experienced riders might feel it is. That means you need to be a little more careful, and the learning curve may be a little bit longer. Outside of the somewhat twitchy throttle response, and having more power on tap than someone really needs to be learning on, it has a lot going for it. I found it very easy to handle, responsive, and just feels good. I really like it - it's pretty much everything I hoped it would be, and a little more. ;) So for all the inexperienced idiots out there who, like me, just can't resist... just take it slow. :)
 

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I got a Suzuki LS650 (the single-cylinder Savage, or Boulevard S40 now) as my first bike, and I'm glad that I did. It had decent torque, but nothing that would surprise a beginner too badly. I ran it for 3,500 miles before I upgraded to my '03 SV650. I might still be riding it if it could merge and keep up with highway traffic. I live in Baltimore, and the highways are pretty busy.

As a rank beginner, the SV would have been too much. Either an LS650 or one of those awful Buell Blasts makes a much more forgiving choice.
 

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Let me say, I'm a beginner that took an MSF course for the heck of it, had fun and wanted to ride. I looked around for any used bikes I could find, but not wanting to trust the local used classifieds for something that would be ridden 60+mph on the freeway, I decided to go relatively new. The best thing I could find for the money was a 2006 SV650S from a local dealer. The first ride was entertaining to say the least. It does have one hell of a twitchy throttle, which makes for a steep learning curve, unless you took a class and know how a bike operates, you can get used to it. I really don't know about riding it for the first time without any experience, but I can imagine it'd be as scary as hell. I'm not saying I'm an expert now, but I think I've gotten a hang of it. But riding this bike, you do get the point a lot of people make. Although it is powerful, its not too powerful. My brother's 1200cc Harley is just as twitchy, big, bulky, and even worse to ride. But its fun. So I think it fits in an interesting niche market, for those with a little experience, who feel confident enough about riding after taking the MSF class, and after that learning curve, then they can proceed to learn how to ride even better. Thats because it has the potential to be fast, powerful, and can handle. So when you're up to it, you can push it to its limit.

So, its a beginner bike for beginners that aren't novices. And its something you can keep for when you're confident and are willing to push it to its limits (which seem to be very high, almost expert-ish).
 

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The SV650 - not too much, or too little. It's just all around all right.

I started out a few years ago on a 1994 Suzuki Katana, and was that one of the worst mistakes ever. But like many mistakes in life, I came to appreciate the pro's and con's of the decision: with such a heavy frame and thick-torquey motor, it was a beast to handle in the traffic of the SF Bay Area; but at the same time, as many bikers will probably concur, true learning happens when you have handicaps and when you're under pressure. Thus, the nearly 500-lbs (wet) bike was a weight handicap for my size and strenght (5'6", 150 lbs), but that's what got me to learn how to really handle a bike.

Even when it came down the simple stuff...True, no one's really supposed to take more than 5-min in parking a motorcycle, but when it came to the ol' beast of the Katana not sweating when backing up while parking was a natural signal that I was learning how to balance my weight in controlling the heavy bike, whether it was running or not.

But mind you, a handicap isn't always the safest way to improve your skills. I've had many close calls: sliding in the rain, overshooting corners (with my poor roomate sh(*&'ing himself on the back), even doing an inadvertent power-drift in a corner - all because I was a little bit too curious (and maybe presumptuous) about the bike's limits.

What does that all have to do with the SV? In my opinion, the SV has very few handicaps....relatively speaking. It's easy to get accustomed to thing. You can have a lot of fun on this bike, but you'll need to really push it to find where it's absolute limits are. The job of any beginner is to KNOW the LIMITS, but the hard part is doing so without hurting yourself, and then practicing that self-control to stay within those limits. For the beginner, the true strength of the SV is that it's consistent and unassuming. There's very little hiding inside the thing, once you've tried it out. That no-frills, no-spills quality of the SV is what'll help you stay right-side-up when you need it most...in circumstances when a lot of other 600-bikes can let you down by suprising you with some sort of quirkiness...
 

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I have to say that I do not feel that the SV650 is a good starter bike. Way to much tourqe for anyone saddling up for the first time. My first bike, aside from that little honda 75cc I was graced to play with in my pre-teen years, was a 1977 Honda 500 Supersport. Probably a bit much even still for my eighteen year old mindset.
After many years of not riding at all I picked it up again. What was my choice? Well, I swallowed my testosterone induced pride and sulked my way onto a tiny Ninja250. I'm 5'10, 210lbs. Not your lightest fella, but the baby Ninja taught me more than a few things after my long rideless period. How to orient myself to a forward riding position, be more aware of potential traffic hazards, " you can't rocket your way out of situations on the baby Ninja", work a bikes powerband, " which I really appreiciate now owning the SV" , and just feel the road, and wind, and what a less than stable bike can tell your senses about the machine beneath you.
I believe it would take a very new rider of extreme self control and patience not to get into trouble on a machine like the SV. I think most of us remember the first few months of riding and how we pitted our developing skills against the machine we chose only to have that near high side slap us on the tank or the taste of iron rush into our mouths when we realized we just did something really stupid. A stupid mistake on the something as stable, nimble, confidence inducing, and powerful as the SV, could leave many a new rider wishing he could still pick up a spoon.
A newbie need forget the glitz, hp, and impressing their friends. Learn first, get something managable, stay alive and riding with all your skin.
 

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I don't think that there are good beginner bikes and bad beginner bikes.

I think that there are good beginners and bad beginners

Good beginners:
  • Understand their skills and limits and the characteristics of their bikes and how to make the two work together safely

Bad beginners:
  • Decide between a CBR600RR and a ZX-10 based on the color and/or how the seat feels in the dealer showroom
  • Think that their choice of a lower-powered or lighter "beginner bike" will keep them safe
  • MUST have an R1 because they want to ride with their buddies who say that an R6 won't be able to keep up


I'm over-generalizing a bit, but within reason, the choice of bike is a lot less significant than the attitude and approach of the rider. I was in a shop last night and I felt SICK hearing 2 of the guys who were looking for new bikes - just NO IDEA what they were getting into, how capable the machines they were looking at were, and how incapable they were themselves.

I think you can make a good case that an SV650 is a good beginner bike, or a good case that it's not. Same for one of the 600SS machines. Same for a dual-sport, same for a budget naked middleweight, same for a cruiser, etc.

In beginners as at the expert level, it's not the bike, it's the rider.
 

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Just got my '05 sv650 from a noobie who found out the moto life
was not for him, the bike only has 1700 miles.

This noobie (me) hopes to multiply those miles by 50, and in order for me to do that, I need to respect it, and practice practice practice.
It does fall on the rider huh? (no pun...)

And when i'm no longer a noob, I can first handedly say that yeah the SV650 was a great beginer bike for me :D

according to the original poster circa 70s super bikes are as powerful or less powerful than the sv650...which tells you that humankind needs to catch up to technology evolution---

Ride safe everyone
--BRB
 

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Yes, here's hoping it works out. I rode for years in the dirt on smaller bikes. I've ridden a couple of street bikes once or twice. I'm taking MSF and then plan to ride with friends out in the country to get comfortable. No highway or traffic for awhile.
I ride bicycles on road and mountain, and track cars, but I'm far from cocky about the whole thing.
 

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Popsrcr said:
I ride bicycles on road and mountain, and track cars, but I'm far from cocky about the whole thing.
The dirt bike, bicycle, and track car experience will all help a lot. But it's the non-cocky attitude and respect for the machine that's the critical part. You should do just fine. :)

Boy, I hope I didn't just jinx ya! :eek:
 
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