Making an efficient motorcycle that's fun to ride and comes at an affordable price were all goals Suzuki hoped to reach with the 2009 Gladius.
Noteworthy news out of the Suzuki
camp is that the SV650 will not be back in 2009. This is not to say that it has abandoned the smaller displacement standard platform altogether. In its stead, Suzuki introduces its newest naked bike, the 2009 SFV650 Gladius.
While the SV650 was sharp and angular, the Gladius is smooth and rounded. Suzuki eliminated the front mini-fairing and did away with the round headlight for an angled multi-reflector headlamp. The sharp lines of the SV's body have been replaced by a streamlined tank and seat and the round chrome exhaust has been switched out for a short, stout upswept muffler.
Aesthetically, the Gladius is strikingly similar to a little bike that Ducati just released, the Monster 696
. And Suzuki openly states that it features European styling. Both sport an irregularly-shaped headlight, have a compact trellis frame with the engine suspended below the framework.
The liquid-cooled 645cc V-Twin of the Gladius is sourced from the SV650 but has new hot-burning iridium spark plugs.
The 2009 Gladius sources the engine from the SV650. The 645cc fuel-Injected powerplant remains a 90-degree V-Twin with DOHC. It sports the same 81 X 62.6mm bore and stroke as before, but utilizes iridium spark plugs for a hotter spark and better combustion. The engine is equipped with Suzuki's signature Dual Valve throttle bodies as two 31mm intake valves squirt the good stuff in and two 25.5 exhaust valves suck it out. Compression ratio remains at 11.5:1, but new valve springs are claimed to reduce inertia weight and minimize mechanical losses.
In an effort to boost its low- to midrange torque, changes have been made to the cam profiles, valve lift, and crankshaft inertia has been boosted by a claimed 10%. The staggered intake and exhaust track lengths have been lengthened and the overall volume of the exhaust system has been boosted to give it more pop down low as well.
On the handling side, the front end is tucked in tight and has 25-degrees of rake and 104mm of trail. The telescopic front fork is mated to a 17-inch cast aluminum five-spoke wheel fitted with a 120mm Dunlop Qualifier. Dual, floating 290mm discs with dual-piston calipers will provide stopping power.
On the tail end, a single rear shock connects to a steel swingarm through progressive linkage. The rear is preload adjustable over a seven-step range and has 130mm of travel. Anchoring the back end is a 160mm Dunlop Qualifier on a 17-inch cast alloy wheel teamed with a single, 240mm rear disc and a single-piston caliper that should be more than up to the task of bringing the *446-lb Gladius to a halt. ABS is optional. (*claimed curb weight)
Suzuki has set up ergos, seat height, and curb appeal of the 2009 Gladius to appeal to women riders.
The tank is very narrow where it meets the seat, which sits 30.9 inches off the ground. The compact 56.9-inch wheelbase, trim profile, and easy reach to the ground make it a sensible starter bike. The video shown during its introduction featured a sportily-clad female rider zipping around town on the new Gladius, and advertising literature also features women riders and emphasizes the market Suzuki is trying to attract with its newest standard motorcycle. If there was any doubt about this, one of the four colors it is available in is Candy Red Magenta. Yes, I said magenta. Most guys don't even know what color magenta is.
Suzuki is aiming to stake a claim in the under 800cc category. In doing so, it wants to keep its motorcycles affordable and efficient. With an MSRP of $6,499, the 2009 SFV650 Gladius fits the bill.