Cheap and Dirty (Suzuki SV650) / by Andrew Fails

Cheap and dirty. Like that girl from college you don't talk about.

"I've known crackheads who were less twitchy than that thing."

That's how my brother described my 2006 Suzuki SV650 after doing a lap of a parking lot.  It's far from the fastest thing in the world, but it's torquey, and weighs just a bit over 400 lbs with fluids. The combination of low weight, v-twin torque, and an upright riding position makes for a snappy little machine. It has nowhere near the top end power of a GSX-R, or even an R6, but I maintain that off of the highway, it's faster.


The SV in its natural habitat.

The SV is the epitome of "jack of all trades". It's never going to outrun the other sportbikes, but it can certainly hang with them on backroads.  Well, as long as the speed stays out of the triple digits.  There is speed there if you want, but you had better work for it.  While on a GSX-R you can just leave it in one gear and wind it all the way out, the SV requires a bit more effort.  You're constantly banging up and down through the gears, and using the tall bars to snap it side to side.  It gets better and better the harder you work it.

Peek a boo...

It is not a precision instrument, it's a blunt tool. Stomp that gearshift down. Crank the throttle, and feel the suspension compress. Get hard on the brakes and feel the back end try to squirm past you. It is loud, bright, and unforgiving. While it's never going to outrun the liter bikes on the freeway, I maintain there is not much that is faster on the street when things get tight.


Make no mistake, a rowdy hooligan is not the only role that it can play.  If you're willing to fight it out with the wind, you can use it as a touring bike as well.  I've done a couple days of over 600 miles.  You have to sit at over 6,000 RPM for highway running, at least on stock gearing, but it will do that all day, every day, no problem.  Anyone can ride a Goldwing across the country.  That's the easy move. If you want it easy, drive a fucking car. Plus, when you roll to the top of the mountain, who do you want to be: the guy on the Goldwing with his latte in the cupholder or the lunatic who rode a bright orange sportbike with no fairings across two states in the middle of the night? To quote The Bloodhound Gang, "Life's short and hard, like a body-building elf." You'll die soon enough, earn some stories while you can.

I've ridden a handful of other bikes, from fully faired I4 sportbikes, to comfortable metric cruisers, to big thumping, "I'll beat yer ass" Harleys. They all have their purpose, but I always keep coming back to the cheap little SV. It's got scars. It's been dropped. The tail is chewed up and filthy from the rear wheel and chain chucking oil and gravel at it. The header is dented from going down over a curb. It's not the fastest, or the most fuel efficient, or the most comfortable, but it's mine. 


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