Tag Archives: Suzuki SV1000S

60 Shades Of Black, will the passion last?

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There are only two other pursuits that a motorcyclist enjoys almost as much as riding motorcycles, and that is modifying them and talking about them. So I hope to now combine the latter two pursuits with an update on my 2006 Suzuki SV1000S.

Having owned a number of heavy air-cooled Japanese four-cylinder motorcycles (Kawasaki Z1A, Honda 750 F1, Honda 900 Bol d’Or, Honda CB1100RC), it was a conscious decision to go for something more compact and light that handled well. It was also important that it was easy to ride in my renewed acquaintance with large capacity motorcycles. Price was also a factor, so after scanning the bike adds the SV looked like it fulfilled all the criteria. The clincher though was I had never owned a big V-twin before.

In the two and a half years and 10,000km I’ve owned the Suzuki I haven’t been disappointed. The previous owner had embellished the SV with some tasteful modifications and also retained all the original parts, which also came with the Suzuki. I’ve also added on to this, and I’m pretty pleased with the results.

BLING.

Machined billet clutch and brake reservoir with SV logo.

Machined billet clutch and brake reservoir with SV logo.

The previous owner had cleaned up the rear of the bike with a tail tidy, which gives the rear end a much neater look. He also fitted a chrome radiator guard, and oil-cooler guard with an SV logo cut into each. A Puig carbon fibre looks double bubble windscreen replaced the clear original, which not only looks good but also gives quite effective protection for the rider. The black paint of the SV has a small blue metal flake in it, and a blue Keiti SV Series tank pad enhances this, which is something I’ve carried over to other mods on the bike. I changed the petrol cap bolts to blue anodised replacements from Pro-bolt, and I also replaced the clutch and front brake reservoir with machined billet ones with an SV logo. These were procured from eBay. Reflective blue rim tape was attached to the wheels and is available at most motorcycle shops. The air caps on the wheels were replaced with blue anodised units from Cheap as Chips ($4 for a pack of four). To carry the carbon fibre look a bit further a pair of Bestem side covers were purchased from the States and fitted. Another small touch was the fitment of a pair of chrome Suzuki “S” logo rear number plate bolts also bought on eBay.

PRACTICALITY.

Blue anodised Pro Bolt.s

Blue anodised Pro-Bolt’s

The original SV clip-on handlebars put a lot of pressure on the rider’s wrists, lower back and neck, so I replaced these with a pair of American HeliBars which make the riding position much more comfortable. Doing minor maintenance on the motorcycle was made easier with the purchase of a Suzuki rear paddock stand which came with blue anodised spindles for the swing-arm (Kessner Suzuki) and an Alchemy front stand (Third Gear).

PERFORMANCE.

The previous owner had also fitted Hel blue braided steel brake lines, which not only look good but also increase initial brake bite and also “feel”. Australian made Staintune polished stainless steel slip-on mufflers had been fitted, and apart from being lighter than stock, they bring some horsepower gains and fantastic exhaust note. I replaced the standard paper air filter with a K&N hi-flow unit, which should also help the engine breath better giving some small power/torque gains. A timing retard eliminator was bought from R rated parts which stop the bikes ECU from retarding the ignition in the first four gears until 4500rpm is reached. Suzuki (and other Japanese manufacturers) use this as a safety feature in case too much throttle is applied in the lower gears. The T.R.E. has made acceleration crisper and the engine smoother at lower revs. I can now comfortably use the lower revs in, the lower gears instead trying to keep the engine feeling more responsive by staying above 4,500rpm.

SUSPENSION.

Blue Hel braided steel brake lines.

Blue Hel braided steel brake lines.

The suspension settings on the SV were too soft at the front and also firm on the rear when I took ownership. I returned the fully adjustable front and rear suspension to the manufacturer’s settings, which I found for my weight, was spot on. The bike feels planted on the road and tracks beautifully through fast sweeping bends and handles the tight stuff pretty well. My only reservation is the oversized 190/50/17 rear tyre, which was fitted to the bike. It does look great, exposed in all its glory by the tail tidy, but a standard size 180/55/17 should enhance the low-speed handling in the tight stuff.

WHAT NEXT?

The consensus is the standard SV1000S puts out about 105-106 rear wheel horsepower. Taking into account the slip on Staintune mufflers and the hi-flow air filter, I guestimate the SV is making 107 to 108bhp. I hope to have the bike put on the dyno later this year and have a power commander fitted to take any minor wrinkles out of the powerband. I’m hoping to see around 110bhp, which for the type of riding I do, should be more than adequate. There is still the removal of the airbox snorkel to experiment with which could also help engine breathing.

DOWNSIDES?

Keiti SV Series tank pad.

Keiti SV Series tank pad.

Some earlier models in the SV’s lifespan (2003 to 2007) suffered from a green electric connector failure, which did cause, naturally enough, electrical problems. All models do suffer from a clutch noise affectionately known as “chudder” which pervades itself while riding with low revs at low speed and is also noticeable with the SV in neutral at traffic lights. Its severity varies from bike to bike and to be honest I hardly notice it as I ride mostly on country roads. There is a fix, which involves a modified clutch basket and spring retainers but at the moment it really is not an issue. The SV1000S is suited to sports touring with its effective half fairing but is limited to a degree by its fuel capacity of 17lt. This translates to around 225km-230km before the fuel light comes on, so forward planning is needed to ensure the availability of service stations on long interstate rides.

THE LAST WORD.

Although its predecessors, the notorious TL1000s and the more desirable TL1000R have overshadowed the SV1000, during its time, it was probably a superior package to the Ducati’s of the day and more reliable. It was also more than a match for the Honda Firestorm. I have been told by a Suzuki technician that valve adjustment is rarely called for at major service interval’s (every 24,0000km) and I was informed by a fellow owner whose SV had covered 75,00km that he was yet to need a valve adjustment. This was backed up by the first major service performed on my own SV at 24,000km. Pretty remarkable for a V-twin that pulls an 11,000rpm redline.

And although I will not rule out buying another motorcycle, I know for sure I will not part with my SV1000S.

Words Geoff Dawes © 2015. Images Geoff Dawes © 2015.

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60 Shades Of Black

 

Black lithe and beautiful…

Nine thousand one hundred and twenty-five days had passed since we parted. The affair had lasted almost five years. It had been exciting, all-consuming, and at times even torrid. She had taken me to places I had never been before. My 1982 Honda CB1100RC, my first true love, was exotic, rare, and many sought after her. Maybe it was inevitable that we would part.But I would never forget her.

My first true love.

My first true love.

I sort solace in an arranged union with a Honda CT110, courtesy of Australia Post. It was a relationship that could never fill the void, never satisfy. She was stout and robust, even fun at times, but reliability cannot replace passion, monotony cannot restore desire.

The time had come to find another, and the computer age gave me opportunity. I found her locally, a 2006 Suzuki SV1000s. She was magnificent, black, lithe and beautiful. I nervously arranged a meeting. Then panic struck. Would I be man enough for her? Could I take her to the edge and back again?

I brought her back to my place. A good foundation for any lasting relationship is the slow ritual of “becoming acquainted”. My eyes and hands travelled leisurely over her taking in the small details and nuances that could only become privy to a lover. On that warm balmy night on the patio, she offered me things I had never before experienced…

Mono-shock rear suspension, precision die-cast alloy frame, my god – she has fuel injection and liquid cooling! Her suspension front and rear are fully adjustable – preload, compression and rebound damping. She boasts a hydraulically operated rear torque limiting clutch, steering damper, adjustable brake and clutch lever, magnesium camshaft and ignition covers, hollow cast alloy wheels and L.E.D. tail and instrument lights! What had seemed a long time between loves suddenly felt like an eternity.

When I took her out for that first time, it was as if we had known each other all our lives. Our frames melded together, a perfect fit for my 1.7-metre stature, both feet planted firmly on the ground thanks to her 800mm seat height. I pressed her button and could feel her pulsating 996cc V-twin heart beating heavily beneath me.

she offered me things I had never before experienced...

…she offered me things I had never before experienced…

As we prepared to depart a torrent of thoughts flooded my mind. I had learnt during my internet quest that madness lurked in her blood-line. Her forebear the TL1000s suffered “dissociative identity disorder”, a combination of a more highly strung personality and an innovative but inadequate rotary rear damper. Too much throttle from the light switch like fuel injection system gave a propensity for the TL to wheel stand out of slow corners and shake her head viciously in fast ones. Suzuki retrospectively fitted a steering damper to early models and made it mandatory for those made after that. There were also whispers of cracks appearing in her alloy tube trellis frame.

Like so many with these deep-rooted problems, it brought about a short life expectancy, a brief but tumultuous five years (1997 – 2001). How much of the TL1000s DNA did my SV1000s possess? Was it Oscar Levant that said, “There is a fine line between genius and insanity”?

It was time. I slipped my black beauty into first and slowly pulled away.  Her ‘box was smooth and slick as she jumped forward – so much grunt from so low down! Although her beating heart was of the same lineage as her mad older cousin, Suzuki claimed over 300 detail changes to her V-twin, aimed specifically at improving midrange torque and ride-ability. Yet she still gives 87kw (118bhp) against the TL1000s’ 92kw (125bhp) and 104nm of torque at 7000rpm compared to 105nm at 8000rpm. And she weighs 5kg less.

We were moving together as one now...

We were moving together as one now…

I tried to clear my head of all this nonsense as our pace increased. A slow turn approached. I squeezed her brakes and snicked down through her gears slowing ridiculously short of the bend. My inexperience with a big V-twin did not take into account her pronounced engine braking or the quality of her stoppers. We kissed the apex together as I rolled my right hand back making her rear squat down as she thrust forward. I gripped her with my thighs as my torso lay atop of her holding on tightly. The world rushed by. We were moving together as one now rolling from side to side, scything through the faster turns with aplomb. The sound emitted from her two big lungs through the Staintune slip-ons brought a wondrous crescendo as each gear hit 9000rpm (I know I could have pushed harder, like the mad one, she redlines at 11000rpm). But we had reached the climax of our trip together, slowing gradually for one of the small townships scattered through the Adelaide Hills.

The liaison had been sweet and short, as these days my endurance is not what it once was. But she had handled herself with poise and grace, a true lady. A soft drink and a cigarette gave time to relieve the pressure that had been placed on my wrists and thighs and occasion to take in the perfection of her parts as she waited by the road. The journey home was a relaxing one, keeping her between 4000 and 6500rpm, just riding the torque and enjoying the scenery. Oh and that glorious exhaust note!

a soft drink and a cigarette..

…a soft drink and a cigarette.

There are some that might say she is nothing more than an ageing model. But she has retained her youthful looks and has so much to offer any partner. Why did Suzuki cast out her kind? Was a short-lived life span, (again) of five years (2003 to 2007) due to death by association to the insane TL1000s? Yes, her transplanted heart lives on in her second cousin the V-Strom, but why was one so beautiful given up for a homely farm girl? Ducati has shown what can be achieved with a sports V-twin, yet their early ancestors were hardly easy to live with.

They say a gentleman never compares loves, but my CB1100RC produced 2.21kw (3bhp) less, weighed 47kg more and redlined at 1500rpm below my SV1000s. No matter, if my CB1100RC was my first true love, then my SV1000s is not only the love of my life but my soul mate.

Words Geoff Dawes (C) 2013. Photographs Geoff and Harrison Dawes (C) 2013.
Published in Australian Motorcyclist  August 2013