Details: Suzuki Gladius

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The Gladius is Suzuki’s attempt to further develop a design language that appeals to a wider audience. You’d never never guess the bike is built with a sleek purposeful stance, as its qualities are very difficult to capture on camera, ultimately making it look bulky and overweight. These photos of the bike’s details fail as well. However, in the round, the Suzuki has a dimensionality and character that is similar in feel to sparse design qualities associated with private jets. We know that sounds crazy and is contradictive with all the Gladius’
compartmentalization, but somehow it still works. >

Several of the design elements on the Gladius are sure to be controversial, and we go back and forth ourselves. While not sure of the
taillight that looks like jelly, the sculpted passenger grips feel very polished. We’re also particularly fond of the organic steel swingarm and
headlight assembly, but the added plastic forms on the trellis chassis are tacky and detract from the litheness of the machine. The flowing paneled tank, while superfluous, hearkens back to the clean graphics of the Golden Era two-tone UJM.

An evolution of the direction we saw hints of in the GSX-R1000, the Gladius may not be a home run, but it has ideas that are very refreshing. Hopefully Suzuki can take some of the bike’s better features and move away from the oragami-like, hard edges of the fighter plane aesthetic we’re all sick of seeing.

  • robotribe

    I appreciate the effort on Suzuki’s part, but all of those plastic covers seemingly made to resemble metal and parts just makes it look cheap to me; kind of like those plastic wheel covers on cars. I’ll reserve final judgement till I see on in person.

  • Shawn

    So I wonder why they kept the SV650 if they’re going to make this. Its the same motorcycle with a different look.

    • Shawn

      Nevermind…. I wasn’t thinking.

  • marshall

    Your image gallery is messing up. If you keep scrolling through it it will go to the AGV Rossi helmet, ducati streetfighter, and more. just fyi

    • Grant Ray

      Thanks, Marshall. I’ll check on that.

  • SJY


    Why so focused on the looks of the gladius? Didn’t you get a chance to ride it?

    • Grant Ray

      I did get to ride it, SJY. The feature is almost done. The elements of a Vs. feature, the graph. map, etc., are built bespoke per bike, so my apologies for the feature taking time to build. I promise it’ll be up as soon as possible.

      That said, Vs. by nature, focuses on the experience of riding a particular machine at a given time and geography. Whereas a Details article is strictly about design.

  • Cynic

    This bike was the winner at the Winter Motorcycle Show among my friends looking for a first bike to ride. They liked the new looks over the old SV, and it has the same lowish seat height and good riding position. I think Suzuki have done well with this one.

    • Grant Ray

      I’m not surprised, Cynic. In the round, the Gladius is really nice. I think Suzuki’s growing pains to define a new brand aesthetic have the possibility to lead to a distinct design language for them. One that is both timeless and strongly contemporary.

  • Mitch

    Good news; that plastic cover over the junction on the frame can simply be unbolted and taken off (at least on the right side.)

  • DoctorNine

    I know a lot of folks are grooving on it, but to me, this is one of the worst recent examples of style getting in the way of substance that I can think of. It is the antithesis of what naked bike should be, and yet it seeks that market. They should have left it alone, and used the development funds on more mid-range standards. The SV650 was one of the best bikes out there.. But what do I know… I have never studied marketing.

    • Ben

      Going for a look that appeals to naked enthusiasts isn’t necessarily the most marketable idea, especially at the budget end of the scale. I think it’s a good idea and, in the black color, not quite as irritating as it appears otherwise. With this range of bikes (mid-size nakeds) thrown in the “beginner bike” write-off bin, better to go with a look that will give some style and less aggressive appeal for those that aren’t satisfied by the rocket or cruiser extremes.

  • drjohndee

    It’s not that easy to take chances with design and get it right first time. Expect a stylistically evolved Gladius in two years or less, à la Kawasaki’s ER-6n, which showed how a few barely identifiable cosmetic tweaks can alter the whole look and stance of a bike. Very nice work by Kawasaki.

    People who don’t particularly love the Gladius’s looks will still buy it for the engine, I reckon. I can’t think of a 4-cylinder sub-litre bike in this price range that really grabs me.

  • Matthew

    They have a lot of potential if you have good modification skills. The problem is I wouldn’t sink the cash it would require into that bike to make it look better. I just want that engine in the SV650SF.

    • SJY

      I have ridden both and you don’t want that much mid range torque on the SV650S, it would take away the sport bike qualities about the SV that everyone loves so much. These are not the same motorcycle; AT ALL. The Gladius has completely different chassis and the engine is merely BASED on the SV650. The Gladius isn’t exactly a track bike like the SV650 is famous for. Stop comparing the two; the Gladius is not a SV650 replacement.

      Although the Gladius engine does feature new technology over the SV which provide great torque and smooth engine breaking, that doesn’t make it better.

  • Stacy

    I like the Gladius.

    But I love my SV650. Even if it’s obsolete hardware.

    However, the marketing campaign for the Gladius needs some serious help if they want any men to buy it.

  • skadamo

    I really enjoyed this analysis of the Gladius design! Please do more articles like this.

    I own a ’99 sv650 and can’t get myself to sell it. Love it.

  • Peter Lombardi

    i’m sticking with not saying anything at all, because i’ve got nothing nice to say. ;)

  • Peter Lombardi

    p.s. i ride an ’03 sv650

  • ISellMotorcycles

    I had a 2004 SV650 and I miss it dearly, but the reality is that these bikes aren’t very good sellers. I do like the new style, but how about an engine update? Will we ever see another naked 1000 from Suzuki? Quit spending money on R & D and offer some reasonable financing. Customers buy what they get approved on. Hello FZ6.