Questions. How bad is the suspension stock, how much to "mod" it to make it ok/safer if it isn't already, and how is it in heavy (40mph) cross winds with big trucks around compared to other bikes.
I like to have fun as much as anyone but am much more concerned with safety at this point.
The SV650 is a budget bike. I got my brand new '03 as a leftover just as the '04's were hitting the showroom floor for $5300 out the door. $3000 will get you a really nice used one. Really, the only place they skimped on was the suspension though. It's not completely
non-adjustable as someone said... you can adjust preload front ('03-up) & rear... but that's it. How "bad" is it stock? Well, that depends on how hard you push it in the corners. It's really not going to be a problem unless you're riding at 10/10ths in a turn on the street (which is not smart to start with) and hit an unexpected bump or a chunk of debris. For 'sane" riding, it's prefectly fine. I've got about 12k miles on mine with the stock suspension and it's not THAT bad. I do plenty of aggressive riding in the western NC/TN mountains too. Deal's Gap, etc. The only time I've ever had a problem was when I was leaned way over in a sharp corner at about 45 MPH and target fixated on some debris in the road and headed right for it. It turned out to be a wedge of wood that someone had cut out of a tree (I assume when cutting it down) about two inches tall at the wide end - and I hit it. It upset the bike really bad, but I managed to ride it out. Had to change my underwear afterward though!
As for the forks, the springs are pretty soft (rumored to be correct for a 120 lb rider), so there's a considerable amount of dive when braking
if you weigh more than that (and who doesn't). Heavier springs are easy to drop in and only cost about $100. Most people are satisfied with just doing that - along with adding thicker fork oil for better damping. The next step up is to put in some Race Tech
Cartridge Emulators - which make the stock damper
rods work more like a cartridge fork. This requires some modification to you stock damper rod - OR - you can just buy these for $250 and drop them in: clicky
. It's the same thing as the RT Emulators + your modified stock damper rod, but all the extra work is already done for you - and it's easy to put back to stock if you sell/trade, and you can then sell the kit. I'm planning to go that route. For $1000, you can make them true cartridge forks with these clicky
- but I'd say that would be total overkill for anything less than racing. Another option many people take is to find a pair
of GSXR forks on eBay or a slavage yard for CHEAP and bolt them on. You'll need the front wheel
and brakes too.
As for the rear shock, there are several companies who make direct bolt-in replacement shocks specifically for the SV... like Penske
, Hagon, Ohlins
, etc. - but they're expensive ($500-up). You can also go the eBay route here and bolt on a shock from a higher-end bike. You can usually find a good GSXR, ZX-6, etc. shock for $30-$100. In some cases you'll have to modify the battery box to make room for the piggyback reservoir on the shock (since the stock shock doesn't have one.
So, to say "Don't buy an SV because the suspension is really bad" is a bit harsh. It's really not THAT bad stock (certainly not to the point of being "dangerous") - and can be made quite good for less than $500 - or as good as anything out there for a couple grand. It just depends on your needs.