First off, there’s no “wrong” choice to be made in this value-conscious group of bikes. As explained in the main text, each machine offers a distinct personality and its own set of strengths, and that will appeal to the particular taste of an individual.
A re-entry or novice rider should choose between the SV and the FZ6. The 599 would be a great bike at the SV’s price. But if you’re a guy like me – a cheapskate who still wants a reliable, fun to ride and sophisticated machine for track days, commuting and weekend “honing,” the Speed Four’s performance, great handling and expensive features make it the clear choice. The choice will probably be clearer when you shop around and find that Triumph still has a ton of leftover ’03’s that are being discounted to way below the already cheap price of $6499. I’ve seen them listed for as low as $5495, so it’s a bargain which will interest even the guy on your Sunday ride who still rides the same ratty FZR600 he’s had since the President’s dad was president. If you could only get him to buy a new helmet…
– Gabe Ets-Hokin
I would put the Speed Four in my garage. It shines with style and strength. I like its smooth lines and dark motor, and the unique look of the bike separates it from the other three. The bike makes me look cooler than I really am. It gives me a style and personality on the road. I could tour the unknown coast or haul ass in the twisties. The aggressive riding position and quick power make it a thrill to ride around the canyons. When I reach the top of the mountain, with everyone taking a second look, the bike speaks for itself. It is more than capable to get me to the top ahead of the pack and we arrive with style and mystery. The Triumph holds an attitude and power that the other three bikes do not. It is a fun, quick, hot motorcycle that gives more than it takes.
I’d choose the Speed Four because it’s such a cool bike to ride. The thing handles like it is on rails whether on small tight twisties or long sweepers. It’s very stable no matter the road conditions, and is easy to ride and very comfortable. The clip-ons are close together but feel natural, as do all the easy-to-apply controls on the bike. The comfy seat allows you to sit where you like and provides good comfort and support, even for riders six-feet tall.
I’d spend the $6299 on the SV650S and spend the $800 I saved over the 599 on a handlebar conversion and lower footpegs, and it would still sticker in at less than the Honda. There’s no denying the incredible value of the Speed Four or the FZ6, in many ways they are “more” bike than the Suzuki, but I ride for fun, whether I’m tooling in traffic or strafing my favorite backroads. I can go faster on the Speed Four, but few bikes I’ve ridden have put as many smiles on my face as the SV. I’d be surprised if I don’t have one of my own someday.
Return to the 2004 Reality Bike Shootout.