Should you go for the bigger bike?

By George Tranos

Here we have two Suzuki twins with many similarities and some differences.

The SV650 is a lighter, more nimble bike, but it has less power than the 1000.

The SV650 is the smaller, more standard styled machine with upright bars that lean you into the wind slightly. Very maneuverable, it slices through traffic and handles twisty roads with aplomb. Its equally at home on city streets or rural two lanes. Its motor doesnt much care where in the rev range it is ridden as it always seems willing to rev and has sufficient power for all but the most demanding of riders. It can be used for commuting or sport touring. This is a nice bike that anyone but a true beginner could ride. It would make a great first sportbike or a great middleweight for someone looking for something light and easy handling. I guess if I had to describe the SV650 in one word, it would be versatile. It may not be the fastest 600-class bike out there, but it does everything well and is the most useful and comfortable bike in real-world situations.

The SV1000 is at home in the twisties.

The SV1000S, while closely related, is more narrowly focused as a sportbike. Its ergonomics are more severe with a racer-like crouch forward with its low clip-on handlebars, half-fairing and rearset pegs. With this setup and its abundant low and mid-range torque, it flat out just works in the curves and on the highway. It rewards expert riders with precision and stability. Fun-to-drive is more than just a saying when youre riding the SV1000S in any situation except stop-and-go traffic. But in city settings or at slow speeds where the wind cant hold you up, your hands and wrists will ache. This bike was made for track days or slicing up your nearest mountain switch back.

The SV1000 profile.

While both are great fun, if I had to choose only one it would be the SV1000S. It looks good, rides well and handles great. Itll chug around at low RPMs or lunge forward with more revs. Id add bar risers, a tank or seat bag and maybe the available fairing lowers for comfort and carrying space. Then Id hit the road and only follow the single black lines on the map searching out all the curves I could find.

George Tranos is a New York State and MSF certified instructor who regularly contributes to WRN. His email address is

19 thoughts on MOTORCYCLE REVIEW: Suzuki SV650 vs SV1000S

  1. I have a 2003 SV1000s, 4,000) miles on her. I’ve owned a Honda CBR600rr before it, and the Honda 600F4i, and let me tell you this SV is by far the fastest bike I have ever owned. Cat walking this thing you don’t even have to try. I race the 600’s all the time and there’s no way they can keep up, on the highway or the city. Now the 1000s on the other hand, I can hang with until third gear, then they pass me.

  2. The SV650 is a great bike, fun and agile, running cost are good. The 650S gives you more protection on long hauls and you don't end up feeling like a wind sock.
    The SV1000 and 1000S are more of a handful if your stepping up, but that thump from the motor and note from a good aftermarket pipe is just magical.
    Whatever model you choose, get a center stand; makes maintaning the bike so much easier.

  3. I've had an 05 SV1000S for three years. Few can keep up with me in the twisties or on back roads no matter what they are riding! I've raced back roads with all of today's fastest bikes and none beat the SV. I usually leave most in my dust! Don't get me wrong, my friends ZX14 flies past me in the straights!

    Many talked about riding position. Get a set of Heli Bars for $250 and the tired wrist issue is gone.

    Don't let Dave's comments fool you! The 1000 is perfectly balanced for real-world sport riding. It is about as good as it gets for a streetable supersport. The power is linear and usable. Great power range from 3500 to 9500. ALL of the I-4's 6's & 10's are way too high strung. Ever try going around a twisty road at 10 – 14k RPM's.

    The tranny nicely spaced, unlike the other tightly spaced supersports. Perfectly matched for the gutsy V-Twin. The handling is sure and stable. Put new oil in the front forks and they are amazingly better. Heavy? Very relative term. Means a lot on a track. Not so much on the street.

    Remember that the 600 and 1000cc supersports were designed from ground up for the track…not the street.

    The SV1000S and SV650S were designed for the street and excel there. You can't go wrong with either.

  4. Do not support your weight with your wrists. If you support your weight with your wrists you will complain about wrist pain as your wrists were just not intended to support your body weight in that way. Support your weight with your torso and legs such that your hands are light on the bars. Strengthen your core if it isn't strong enough. The rider in the pictures looks really tiny though, so any bike with a relatively sporting position is going to give him/her trouble.

  5. Recently bought a SV1000S K3 here in the UK, rode it 50 miles back home and immediately needed to to something about the plank of wood (standard riders seat) I had been sitting on. I fitted a gel pad (have done this before using gel pads designed to fit under horse saddles – 10mm thick) over the original foam and replaced the cover. Still not for me.

    After much searching I was really lucky to find one for sale on an SV forum site. Got it shipped over from the states and wow, what a difference. I cannot recommend this mod highly enough. I have never tried Sargent seats, nor Corbin for that matter but this simple mod has transformed my riding experience. Corbin seat. I guarantee you won't regret it!

  6. The first comment about the 1000 being to heavy and slow makes me laugh. That guy must not have much seat time on one because mine is plenty fast. I've had the inline fours and I love them but the SV1000S I have now is great. Very fast, more usable power on street and if you can ride it, it's really hard to stay up with.

  7. I own a 2005 SV1000s. It's actually my first street bike and I love it. I have riddem friends' bikes before, and grew up riding dirt bikes. My SV1000s is awesome; I love it. It has a lot more power than I first thought, and handles great. Will probably never get rid of it.

  8. I am looking at both bikes and will probably go with the SV 650 due to my age and type of riding. A friend of mine just purchased a used SV 650 and it is great overall except the seat — harder than a rock. I'd like the SV1000S with the riser kit and the pegs in a little more forward position but I can see the money if I purchased one of these so the 650 will do — and do it nicely.

    Enjoyed everyone's views.

  9. Well, I have had my 2004 SV1000S for two years and put about 12,000 miles on it. My wrists were sore for the first couple months, but I guess I grew into it. I'm totally comfortable on all but the longest rides. I opened up my airbox and installed a K&N filter, added Two Brothers exhaust and a Power Commander. It is a wheelie monster. I never feel the need for more power now.

    Folks can talk trash, but it is rare to find someone on another bike that can hang with me in the twisties or flat out. I think this bike is purrrfect!

  10. I currently own a 2007 SV650 and I love it. I'm one of the unfortunate people who suffers from carpal tunnel but loves riding motorcycles, and I refuse to quit. I originally started out on a 2001 CBR 600 F4i, but the constant leaning forward killed my hands which lead towards my moving on to my SV. I'll admit, I loved the acceleration my 600 had and I liked the top end, but I couldn't justify the suffering I went through to ride it.

    I originally looked into getting the SV 1000 but found it is equally uncomfortable as my 600 was and the “extra” power the SV 1000 has is not that substantial. Compare my CBR 600 to the CBR 1000 and you'll see a real difference. Don't get me wrong, the SV 1000 is a nice bike but don't be like Scott and call the 650 owners a wussy. Chances are I would own him any day of the week on a track with my 650, and with better gas mileage.

  11. I love to see people talk about the 650 and 1000. I own a 1000s but my buddy owns a 650. I have been riding for about 10 years and have put more than 20,000 miles on my 1000s in one year and have switched bikes with my buddy many times. The 1000s is great for the power and handling for an experienced rider, but the 650 is an awsome bike as well and I have found it is more agile on tighter corners with slower speeds than the 1000s. Don't get me wrong, I love my 1000s but both bikes are great for different reasons.

  12. I'm a new rider and I just bought an SV1000s. Yea, I know. What was I thinking? Anyway, someone previously mentioned their hands and wrists aching when riding the SV1000. I'm experiencing the same thing as well. Is there anything I can do about that?

  13. I purchased an SV650s earlier this year and I love it. Goes like hell. Handles superbly and is a great ride. Would be cool to have twin pipes, though, and get that nice exhaust note. It's a bit quiet in the standard two-into-one setup.

  14. I have an SV650 and my buddy rides an SV1000 and I can say from experiencing both machines that even though the 1000 is a larger engine and has a higher top end, the 650 is much more versatile and as a package is a better value.

  15. Has Suzuki stopped making the SV1000s for 2008? I'm getting ready to buy a bike and that's the one I want.

  16. Dave, Have you ever rode an SV1000S? If you think an SV650 is better, then you obviously have never ridden an SV1000S. I own one, and it has gobbs of torque, and plenty enough HP to get where you want. True, my bike even with the performance parts I have on it is not as fast as a GXR1000 top end — from light to light I kill 'em all day long.

    I mean who cares if you can only do 170 and not 200 whats the diff? Fast is fast. I say if you are looking for a V-Twin with a sport feel, then SV1000S Is the way to go. But if the SV1000S is too fast then be like Dave and get the SV650 and be a sissy.

  17. Wow! I couldn't disagree more! While I think the SV650 is one of the most usable bikes that's come out in the last 10 years – the SV1000 totally misses the mark.

    It's not quite a sportbike — too heavy and too slow — but it's as uncomfortable as one, only it doesn't handle near as well because of the weight distribution. What's more, the power is way down from it's much more exciting lineage (the TLS and TLR), and it has lackluster, craptastic forks.

    If shopping for a big twin, or a bike with lots of torque; check out Aprilia's, Triumphs, or even left-over Honda Superhawks. All are significantly better bikes – and better looking IMHO.

    Whereas the 650 is twice what it claims to be, it's a lot more than a budget starter, it's as capable and as the rider who owns it. Wanna commute? The 650 is ready. Want to race? Most every club has a lightweight twins class. A massive online community and scads of aftermarket and customizing opportunities will keep any tinker happy.

    It's as freindly as a puppy dog for new riders entering the sport, yet has enough ability to keep seasoned riders happy. No bike has been as capable and loved since the venerable Honda Hawk GT.

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