A friend of mine once mentioned that the Suzuki SV650 is the Toyota Corolla of motorcycles. It’s affordable, cheap on insurance, good on gas, but weak in terms of performance. After riding the SFV 650, I’d say he was about 70% correct. The 2015 Gladius 650 (SVF650) uses the same 90-degree 645cc v-twin employed by the classic SV650. I’ll tell you why my friend’s analogy was a little bit off.
Let’s start with appearance. The V-twin is cradled by an exposed steel trellis frame, which was bright red on the tester I was riding. I am a huge fan of the naked, rugged, yet polished look of the Ducati 696 Monster, a competitor to the Gladius. The trellis frame on the Monster is both subtle and eye-catching, and I believe it pulls that off much better than the Gladius. The frame on the Gladius looks a little bit chunkier, but still attractive. A piece of red plastic covers a section of the frame as well, which takes away from Suzuki’s adaptation of the trellis frame. A sort of wind buffer for the knees is located at the front end of the engine that does the job well. The overall styling of the bike is some form of rounded aggression; the beefiness is there, but it is dulled down.
Swinging a leg over, the bike is very narrow and the 14.5L tank fits quite comfortably and snugly between my knees. The seat height is a modest 30.9 inches, and the handlebars are placed at a decent length from the rider to allow for an upright seating position. That being said, the handlebars are a little narrow, which is a feature Suzuki decided to keep from the 2009 Gladius. See, the Gladius was originally marketed towards female riders, with a slew of paint schemes oriented towards women. That strategy, fortunately, has been eliminated. Still, the ergonomics of the bike have remained more suitable for a slimmer and shorter rider than I.
The suspension of the Gladius is nothing out of the ordinary; telescopic at the front and link type at the rear. It seemed a touch too soft for my friding style, and it was not quite s sporty as the bike’s design would suggest. Turning on the ignition brings the compact electronic dash to life. A gear indicator is located by the tachometer, increasing the bike’s new-rider friendliness. This bike does not have a fuel gauge, which seems like a feature that is not very difficult to include on an electronic dash. A reserve light is present, but instead of simply turning on, it constantly blinks when it is activated. In a way, it will help newer riders get used to the idea of gassing up as soon as the tank hits the reserve point. Yet still, the incessant flashing gets to be irritating.
Taking off is when the Gladius really shows its charm. The Gladius has the largest friction zone I have ever felt on a motorcycle. Combined with its smooth, effortless throttle, this makes the bike incredibly easy to ride. After tampering with the camshaft profiles from the ’09 engine, the new engine pulls even stronger in the higher rev-range. This is supplemented by the modification of intake- and exhaust-tract lengths, which resulted in an increase in the amount of torque available in the mid-range. Keeping all of this in mind, the bike still pulls strongly in the lower rev-range, giving it a broad and even power band. Vibrations are close to nil; a 10% increase in camshaft inertia is also present. On the move, the bike proves itself to be outstandingly nimble, keeping its 452 lb curb weight a dirty little secret. Tokico brakes adorn the front and rear, and they’re simply adequate. They’re enough to stop the Gladius in a hurry if you need to, and the bike will sweep splendidly through any curvy stretch of pavement.
The transmission is where I found a bit of a hiccup. Shifting beyond second gear was a breeze. Nevertheless, sometimes, when shifting up into second or down into first, the bike would slip into neutral. If it slipped straight into neutral, that would have been okay. Instead, the Gladius would ride in the destination gear, first or second, for a couple of seconds, then unexpectedly drop into neutral. This happened approximately eight times during my test.
The Gladius, equipped standard with ABS, comes in at an MSRP of $8299. If you’re looking to upgrade from a lower displacement bike without jumping to the more aggressive throttle of the Yamaha FZ-07, or dropping the extra cash necessary for the Monster 696, the Suzuki SFV650 Gladius is perfect.
2015 Suzuki Gladius 650 Gallery