He wrote to me one day saying he was looking at changing bikes. I was surprised, because he’d done quite a bit of riding on the big Suzuki and I thought he was happy with it. He explained that he hadn’t been considering a new bike until a ride we did together with a couple of other people. Among some big-bore bikes (his Suzuki, my XJR1300, and an FJR1300) were a couple of smaller bikes – a Triumph Street-Triple and a Suzuki GS500. He explains. "They were doing everything we could legally do on the bigger bikes. Then I was browsing your site again and re-read the mid size bike article. I thought you made a lot of sense, so I went test riding." I'll let him continue the story.
I rode the Suzuki GSX650 first and hated the gearing and the lean forward style. Then I rode a new V-Strom and it was comfortable but I was disappointed with the performance. Then onto the Kawasaki ER6. Nice bike but the parallel twin didn’t do it for me, as well as the terrible diamond shaped mirrors. (These were all bikes I had tested, and compared in my Mid Size Comparison. Elwyn). I also took a KLR 650 for a run...I could barely touch the ground and the single cylinder performance without thrashing it was hopeless. The salesman then said, “What about the Gladius?” As you know, this is basically a modern stylised SV650, a bike I have always admired but because of the sporty riding position I never considered it. Anyway off on the Gladius, a Lams restricted version; and what a great unit. The restriction only comes in after 6000rpm. Low (but hard) seating, great engine, very nippy, slips around corners, sweet 6-speed gearbox, upright riding position, 202kg wet weight and an incredible fun factor. Negatives are the hard seat (cheap to fix) small tank, at 14.9l, and an incredibly short front mudguard, exposing the exhaust and front of the motor to all road crap but that seems to be the current fashion. I don't know how it would handle a long-distance trip, but I do know the usual rides I do will be lot of fun. (The bike comes standard with Dunlop Qualifier tyres fitted, which is a good feature. Elwyn). As to the gearing, I can’t quote any figures but it never seemed to be working hard at all, although I only got to 110kph; and that was the restricted version with the V-twin making a lovely bark. It’s very easy to ride, but of course not as comfy as big Suzi. But it’s much easier to push and move around at home. So, from a GSX1400 to a SFV 650 – as easy as that. Thanks for the story, Russ. An interesting comparison with the other bikes, and I have added a link to this article on the bottom of the Mid-Size Comparison I did. Russ is a regular reader of the site, and since moving to my part of the world, has become a riding friend. He’s owned a few different bikes over the years. When he first contacted me through the web-site he owned a Honda Deauville. After that came a Suzuki V-Strom. Then he became bike-less after moving house and needing some cash for home-improvements etc. An old-ish Honda CB750 filled the need to get back on two wheels again, until he was able to trade-up to something newer. And a late-model Suzuki GSX1400 found a home in his garage.
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