It was affordable and did everything it needed to. But it did it better than its rivals, with nimble, agile handling more akin to more expensive, sportier machines, and an engine that has gone down in motorcycle folklore. MCN referred to it as a ‘straightforward middleweight V-twin all-rounder which proves you don’t have to be boring to be practical’. It found a niche and it excelled.
It was comfortable as well, with a plush seat and easy-going ergonomics – especially the naked version. It could take a pillion too. And there was a great range of accessories, which meant the SV could be taken touring across the continent, or, with the fitment of fairing lowers, a pillion seat cowl, and a racy exhaust, become a mini V-twin weapon between the hedges.
Such a weapon in fact, that in club racing, the SV650 was the bike to be on when it came to the twin classes. As people sought more affordable ways of going racing, the SV filled Minitwin grids up and down the country, which boasted tighter regulations than other classes of racing. Frames couldn’t be modified, nothing could be done to the engine, and even things like the forks had to remain standard. However, the basic package from Hamamatsu was far greater than the sum of its parts, and the bikes posted impressive lap times around circuits like Donington Park, Brands Hatch, and Cadwell Park.