I'm always excited whenever I get an opportunity to test ride the SFV 650
for a weekend. I never grow tired of this compact, naked-style bike that was designed as a genuine street fighter.
It may not look as aggressive and hardcore as the Ducati Monster
and Aprilia Shiver
, but the 2012 Suzuki SFV 650 Gladius definitely fits the naked bike mould. With sleek lines, two-tone colour schemes, and a superb trellis frame, this Japanese hero is quite a sight, especially in a Pearl Mirage White/Glass Sparkle Black combination.
The 2012 Suzuki SFV 650 Gladius shows its playful side and a bit of attitude the minute you straddle the seat. The riding position tilts your body forward so you can clearly feel the front wheel and fork at work. The perfectly shaped fuel tank and rounded front edges of the seat make it easier to throw your hips around upon attacking corners. This is one cool weapon to play with.
The flexible V-twin engine and sharp 6-speed transmission add to the pleasure of riding the 2012 Suzuki SFV 650 Gladius. The former explodes from as low as 4,500 rpm, and revs up all the way to the 10,000 rpm redline without ever showing signs of fading. Heck, there's enough explosive power in 2nd and 3rd gears to accelerate on a slight wheelie.
Mostly docile and civilized
|This is one cool weapon to play with.(Photo: Matthieu Lambert)
Despite a heavier steel frame than the old SV's and a fairly long wheelbase, the 2012 Suzuki SFV 650 Gladius proves lithe and lively when leaning from one side to the other. The nicely calibrated front fork is firm yet soft enough to prevent rough roads from turning into a nightmare. At full throttle, and when quickly changing directions, the bike gently shuffles along in true street fighter fashion.
The front brake is easy to modulate but lacks some bite during two-up riding. However, I must commend the 2012 Suzuki SFV 650 Gladius for its second-generation antilock braking system, which always seems to intervene at the right time (read: not too soon to spoil the fun). For optimum braking performance, feel free to use a 70/30 front/rear brake pressure distribution.
Oddly enough, there is no fuel gauge on the 2012 Suzuki SFV 650 Gladius. At around 5.9L/100km, though, fuel consumption is reasonable given the bike's potential.
The definition of ''rider-friendly''
|The former explodes from as low as 4,500 rpm, and revs up all the way to the 10,000 rpm redline without ever showing signs of fading. (Photo: Matthieu Lambert)
The 2012 Suzuki SFV 650 Gladius handles wonderfully in the city. The engine, transmission and clutch combine for exceptionally friendly riding dynamics -- thereby reducing frustration on the way back home during rush hour. I even managed to come out of stop-and-go traffic and less than favourable conditions with a smile on my face. For sure, I was glad not to be stuck in one those clumsy, cumbersome four-wheel boxes.
At the end of the day, the 2012 Suzuki SFV 650 Gladius is so much more than a great beginner's bike. It delivers surprising thrills and has a simple yet unique way of mixing easy riding with a healthy dose of character.
Efficient, charismatic engine
Stylish new colours
Playful chassis with just enough attitude
Friendly dynamics and ABS
Limited protection against the elements
No fuel gauge