Suzuki Gladius SVF650 (ABS) – 2012

31 Mar 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Suzuki Gladius SVF650 (ABS) – 2012
Suzuki Gladius 400 ABS

Easy to handle even when you are not in Milan

WHEN a team of designers sat around a table at the Suzuki HQ in Japan, they came up with a novel idea.

They needed a bike that wouldn’t be intimidating or threatening at first glance yet sporty enough to make the rider want to ride more.

The problem was that this team of designers were predominantly Japanese and they needed to get into the mindset of the European and American markets.

After a few visits to various cities, and especially the busy early morning markets in Milan, the design team knew exactly what they needed to produce a bike suitable for the daily commuter which is easy to handle yet with a relatively high power output for open stretches of road.

The designers knew on paper what they wanted and the engineers built the Gladius did they achieve their aim?

Without question, the Gladius is an easy bike to handle and an easy bike to ride.

My two-week test run incorporated very much the same road conditions as the design team were used to studying busy town centre commuter routes mixed with open stretches of road where you can power the 650cc V-twin into life. Sadly, I wasn’t riding the Gladius in Milan.

The bike handles beautifully partly due to its low seat height (785mm), its lightweight construction (205kg) and nicely devised centre of gravity.

What makes the Gladius even more suited to town riding is the upright riding position the bike forces you to adopt and the ability to stand at ease.

The seat height and angled edges of the seat allow the rider to firmly flat foot the bike if you hate having to tiptoe to reach the floor, the Gladius is certainly a bike to consider.

The downside to the Gladius’ seating position falls on the pillion passenger. With quite a short seat (the designers wanted to keep the length of the bike short) and rather high foot pegs, I wouldn’t want to be a passenger on the Gladius for any length of time.

My test bike had the standard grab rails removed to accommodate a rear pannier bracket which would be a good investment to keep your passenger in position if you wanted the Gladius as a frequent two-person bike.

The instrument cluster is a nice mix of dials, displays and colourful LED lights. The main dial is the rev counter with a hefty 10,500 r/min before you reach the red line which sits alongside the digital speedo.

A small cut-out within the rev counter houses a useful LED gear indicator and the speedo display also incorporates the trip computer, clock and fuel reserve function.

A selection of brightly-coloured warning lights sits to the left of the displays and the entire console takes on an orange glow for night-time riding.

Sadly lacking from the instrument cluster is a fuel gauge so you will soon have to learn to master the synchronisation of the low-fuel warning light and the fuel reserve trip metre.

Suzuki Gladius 400 ABS

The official name for the Gladius is the SFV650 prompting many to assume that the Gladius is simply the predecessor to the SV650. The designers will argue that this assumption is partly right because the Gladius is based on the engine unit of the SV650 while they add that the SFV acronyms in this instance refer to ‘stylish’, ‘friendly’ and ‘V-twin’.

I have to agree with the designers on this one. The bike is certainly eye-catching and stylish yet not as sporty as the SV650. It is certainly friendly and easy to ride and there’s no question that it houses a V-twin engine.

The Gladius is what many would describe as a natural step-up for a new rider. The 650 engine is what many will be used to after their training and the bike is easy to handle.

From my experience, the Gladius is far easier to ride and manoeuvre than the BMW GS650 I used during my training. The Gladius is easier to ride at slow speeds and I can only assume the higher rev count makes the Suzuki almost impossible to stall.

Off the bike is probably where the Gladius gets slightly more complicated. The suspension is adjustable with five front pre-load settings and seven to the rear. Neither adjuster is particularly easy to access thanks to the routing of the front brake fluid tubes and the workings for the ABS system making the rear a stretch.

The rear brake fluid level is also difficult to check as the sight glass is positioned within the fairing of the bike.

A useful addition on the Gladius is the removable seat cover. Admittedly, space is extremely limited with perhaps just enough room for the handbook, tools and maybe some small personal possessions. This key-lockable cover also reveals helmet holding hooks on both sides and luggage straps to fasten a load to the passenger seat.

There’s no doubt that the planning and design which went into the Gladius has paid off. The bike is pleasing to the eye and even better to ride.

Suzuki Gladius SFV650 (ABS)

650cc, V-Twin, £6,230

Suzuki Gladius 400 ABS
Suzuki Gladius 400 ABS
Suzuki Gladius 400 ABS

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