In 2009 when Suzuki replaced the original round-headlight SV650 with the new Gladius (SFV650) the general public wasn’t happy at all. People still dislike the looks of the Gladius and want the old SV650 back (they got what they wanted, Suzuki brought back the round headlight). As an owner of 2 different Gladius’ I agree with the view of bike being ugly to some extent. Let me explain myself.
Nothing in the world comes perfect. When I bought my first Suzuki Gladius ( also the first bike I actually owned) it was factory white and blue with ugly tall mirrors and even uglier huge fender. Only aftermarket part it had was the IXIL exhaust which I will come back to later. The first few weeks I was so impressed by the bike engine wise that I wasn’t paying attention to the looks. However, once the getting to know each other period was over, I started to see the reality; bike did not look very nice. Here is how it looked (except the exhaust) :
Tall ugly (yet very effective) mirrors, way too big of a fender and a non-harmonized color duo (for me at least) so I started think what could be done.
Aftermarket mirrors was where I started. Got a pair of bar end mirrors from eBay for around $20. It was a nightmare the first few days, going to such small mirrors after the OEM ones took some time to get used to. Since I had the IXIL exhaust which in my opinion is the best looking one for this particular bike, I went after the fender like a kid goes after chocolate . For that one I didn’t have a cheap option and had to buy R&G fender eliminator kit for $189 but boy was it worth it. Bike looked really good from the back. Last thing and the major one was a new color. I was dreaming a black and blue Gladius and followed my dream. Here is the final product:
Enough with the looks.
As I mentioned earlier, the moment I rode this thing I fell in love with. As a learner rider and my bike being unrestricted to its full power, I felt a force that I had never felt until that moment. The 71 HP V-twin engine produces more than enough torque to get the bike off the line like a bullet. I mean, how can it not? In production now for well over a decade it has earned a place in modern motorcycling folklore.
Shifting is very smooth and precise although the engine braking is not shying away from the rider. Clutch isn’t as light as previous 300cc bikes I have ridden but it is nothing to complain about.
Brakes have never been the proud aspect of the SV series and the Gladius is no different. Such a legendary engine deserves better brakes. Don’t get me wrong though, it still has decent stopping power but could be better.
Bike’s suspension is enough for an average rider whether it is twisties or long commuting stretches. The OEM seat however makes you feel like the bike has no suspension at all. Hence the $300 I spent on upholstering the seat with more padding and it is so much comfier !
The dash is very nice to my taste as it has a conventional tachometer, gear indicator and digital speedometer. A fuel gauge wouldn’t be bad but I don’t mind as I fill the tank whenever the fuel light comes up.
Ergonomics of the Gladius is also great. I could commute all day and feel just as comfortable as I started the day. When I got the bike it had the aftermarket Renthal bars so cannot comment on the OEM bars but shouldn’t be very different.
And the sound.. The rumbling sound of the V-twin engine is my favorite thing about the bike. Even though I only have a slip-on IXIL exhaust and not a decat full system, it sounds amazing. I am planning to go for a midpipe and get ride of that heavy cat, can’t wait to see how much louder and better it will sound then. Loud pipes save lives, remember?