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Well, I'm an expert on at least half of your question. I own a 2001 SVS, and of course, I think its the greatest bike in the world for 6 grand (actually got mine for 4 grand:). If you're looking for the best reliability and ease of maintainence, buy an SV. A monster is going to need frequent and expensive valve adjustments, is less powerful and its air cooled. The monster is also a little more expensive, but it will likely hold its resale value better than an SV, for no other reason than exclusivity compared to the very popular SV. Popularity is another thing you might want to consider, as there is a huge aftermarket and tons of tech.-advice support out there. Check out www.svrider.com to see the tip of the iceberg.
 

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Having been the proud owner of a Ducati 900SS for the past 7 years, and being a big fan of the Monsters, I would be tempted to suggest the 620 Monster. However, in several ways, the SV650 has advantages. Note that I have not actually ridden the smallest Monster, and the only SV650 I have ridden has upgraded suspension (Fox shock and Gold Valve -- or maybe it was Traxxion Dynamics -- fork rework).



I expect that the SV would run away from the little Monster in acceleration, although either should have enough to keep you entertained cutting through traffic or on a twisty rural backroad.



At least based on my own experience and that of my friends, both are pretty reliable, although parts and service will be more expensive for the Ducati. Unless you learn to do them yourself, those desmo valves will cost a bunch to have adjusted at the dealer.



If you leaning to the Ducati, it is more important to be sure you can trust the dealer's service department. With the Suzuki, you will have lots of alternative choices if you are not happy with your dealer's service, but you won't have as many choices of places to get service on a Ducati.



Both sound like really good choices for the kind of riding you describe -- bottom line, get the one that your guts tell you to get.



Good luck and let us know what you pick.



Regards

Bob
 

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I've never ridden the Monster 620, but I have ridden the M900 and SV650S. The SV is an absolute blast to ride, and it is much more versatile than just a beginner's bike. It serves that purpose admirably well, but the beauty of the Suzook as your first bike is that you absolutely will NOT outgrow it anytime soon. Sure, you may decide to upgrade, but it won't be because the SV just doesn't cut it anymore. Not only do they perform admirably well out of the box, but there are plenty of upgrades to be had, too.



The monster, on the other hand, is a Ducati. This means that while it looks great, it will cost you an arm and a leg in service costs. Without looking at specs, I assume that it is still a Desmo engine, which means lengthy and expensive valve adjustments at very short intervals. That aside, I know that the motor is likely to last a very long time. My friend's M900 saw upwards of 30,000 miles in its first year or so, and it is still running strong. It did need a new clutch, but he rides it pretty hard. I'd bet that parts for the Suzuki are a fair bit cheaper than parts on the Duc, too.



I am under the impression (again, without looking at specs) that the 650 makes more power than the Monster. I know that the 650 can be tuned up to provide many more horses than it comes with, too. Most clubs have lightweight twins race classes that race almost nothing besides SVs, and I've seen some for sale that claim in excess of 90bhp. If that doesn't convince you that the bike will grow with you, nothing will. I can't speak to the tunability of the Duc, but I doubt the aftermarket is getting that kind of power, if only because the thing is air cooled.



Living in similar price points, you can probably assume that they are similarly spec'd in the braking and suspension department. I imagine that either bike will need suspension work as you start to push its performance envelope. Other than that, I imagine that you'll have a blast riding either one.



Something to take into account is the theft rates for each bike in NYC. The Ducati name may hold a lot of allure for a thief, but I bet there are more SV owners out there shopping for cheap parts. Check with your insurance agent to find out for sure.



One other factor to consider, and one to which I cannot speak, is how well each bike holds up to inclement weather if you park the thing outside, ever. My buddy's Monster certainly shows the effects of outdoor parking, even in sunny california. There's a fair amount of fuzzy oxidation growing on many or all of the bolts. I wouldn't be surprised to hear that the Suzuki fares much the same, given their build quality reputation on other bikes.



Most importantly, however, welcome to the fold. You'll have a ton of fun on either bike, and don't be surprised when your recently acquired new hobby completely takes over your life, and even worse...your bank account.



My vote goes to the Suzuki. At least on paper, it seems the better deal, and I know that they are an absolute hoot to spend time on the back of. On the other hand, the M900 was a phenomenally easy bike to ride, and assuming that that trait made it into the littlest member of the Monster family, it could be a great platform for really polishing up your riding skills through that most important first year on a bike. It's probably a bit more comfy and easy to ride in traffic than the SV650s, due to the slightly more upright seating position.



--sam
 

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As the owner of a 900 Monster, I say don't get a Duc as your first bike. Parts are expensive when you drop it, and you will drop it. Unless you tackle your own maintenance it can get expensive there too. But since this is a weekend only bike, that may be less of an issue. Depending on how many miles you ride during that weekend of course.

Personally, I think they both suck as first bikes. Pick up a nice used GS500, available for around $1500, and ride it for 6 months to a year. Take decent care of it and you can probably sell it for what you paid. Parts are cheaper, the power delivery is friendlier, and the handling is still really good. Then decide whether you want the Ducati or the Suzuki.
 

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Mikey doesn't like it?

Good call, Mikey. The Suzuki is probably the better bike of the two, especially the new FI model, and it has sufficient power to get a new rider in trouble.

I think people who've been riding for a while forget what it's like to learn riding for the first time. I just talked to someone who rode an SV for a first bike, and it scared the peanuts out of him for a long, long time. He only avoided dumping it by being especially careful.
 

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I recently test-rode the Monster 620ie and was very impressed. It was extremely smooth and had nice power... I've been riding for about 15 years and I thought it was a blast, so I doubt that a new rider will seriously outgrow it too quicky. Though, to be fair, I'm not the biggest adrenaline junky in the world.



A couple of plusses and minuses to the Monster vs. the Suzuki from my limited exposure to both of them:



+ to the Monster:



Lower seat, thus easier to manage for new inseam-challenged riders.



Non-bikers think you're riding a $10k bike (ooooooh, a Ducati!)



I still think the Monster looks incredible after all these years.



+ to the Suzuki:



A passenger seat that can actually carry a human being.



A little bit of storage space beneath the rear seat.



Probably lower cost of ownership.



More power than the Monster, though this may be a negative for newer riders. i don't think the difference is really that huge, perhaps 70 hp vs. low 60s for the Duc.



More dealers, though not necessarily better dealers.



Experienced riders know it's a great buy and will know how affordable the 620ie is anyway.









 

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Give the man a prize. Probably the most logical suggestion.



I picked up my own SV back in '99 and still love it to death, but I'm glad I started on a CL360. I didn't just learn about dropping a bike, I learned to check and make sure all the bolts are tight (ask me which parts rattled off and when).
 

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Test ride both and then decide. You should also consider a low mileage preowned Duc or SV. The money you save will help pay for a garage space. Bikes parked on the street have a habit of disappearing in NYC.
 

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Cant speak to the Duc,but I concur as far as the SV...its too much bike for a beginner.My 26 year old nephew( a very mature kid and definitely not a reckless type)started out on an sv650 S and went down 3months later.Luckily he wasnt hurt badly but the fairings,mirrors, pegs etc were banged up and the repair bill was ridiculous(luckily he was insured).The accident was directly attributable to going too fast on an unfamiliar windy road in wet conditions-----the bike just is too easy to ride too fast and feels too smooth doing it.

its very easy for a beginner to get over his head on this bike.A used EX500 or GS500 are more reasonable first bikes---more forgiving.Its funny how bikes that have performance that would have made them a hot bike in the 80's are now considered beginner bikes.The SV650 would make a great second bike after a season riding the EX or GS.
 

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How can I say this politely... BUY THE SV!



Yes, the Ducati looks cool, but there is no comparison to its larger siblings. I've owned a couple of air-cooled Ducati 900s and they were great. But the 620 does not have THAT motor. Riding the 620 isn't that far removed from riding around on a lanmower-engined mini-bike. You just look cooler.



The SV, on the other hand, is a great all-around bike that will get you where you need to go. The 620 monster is an expensive toy by comparison. There are few times in life where less money gets you better stuff. This is one of of those times. Buy the SV and don't look back.
 

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I don't know the first thing about a Duc, but maybe I can put your mind to rest on the SV650 :

About two weeks ago I gained my leaners permit and have just purchased an SV650 here in Adelaide Australia.

Here there are limits on the engine size and power output of motorcycles that learners are allowed to ride for the first 18 months or so.

Being about 6'4, I was given an exemption from this limitation, and allowed to ride the SV, despite it being roughly 3 times more powerful than the average learner bike allowed by law.

I thought long and hard about the risks associated with learning on a powerful machine, vs. the risks with learning on a bike that was physically way too small for me. The I rode the SV650S and found it such a delight to ride, despite me having no idea about motorcycles.

I cannot tell you which of the two bikes re better, but I can tell you the SV is a top bike to learn on. The motor produces gradually increasing amounts of power as you increase the revs, so until you have developed some skills, just change up early. As I am learning to control the bike, I am finding more and more that the bike and I can do - they key thing is, the bike is not forcing me into situations I cannot predict or handle, but if I go looking to expand my skills the bike is ready to come with me.

Very occassionaly I will try somethign new on the bike to see what it can do, and come away both amazed and a little nervous about what a modern bike is capable of. But I guess this means there is some room for growth in what the machine and I can do as my skills grow.

My advice is not about which bike, but simply don't be put off by the size and power of the SV as a learners - as long as you can trust yourself to meticulaously learn each new riding skill in a controlled and gradual way, before applying it in earnest, the SV is a great bike to learn on, and I suspect also there is a lot more fun in it long after you have been riding for a while.

(I have been riding for a big 3 weeks now, and racked up only 60 hours in saddle, so I am no expert, but at least I can guys you a freshly experienced birds-eye on exactly what it is like to learn on an SV - possibly the best thing I have done in a decade!!!!)
 

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MO: Ttest 'S' version!

"...We were just talking about an SV-650 Vs. 620 Vs. Buell comparison, and we're picking up the SV shortly..."

Make that the SV650S please. Both MO (and everybody else) has tested the regular SV in the past. I realize it's only a fairing, gearing, peg location and clip-ons that sepaate the two but.....those things do make a difference.

How's the Wind/Weather Protection? Headlight Performance/Viz? Comfort/handling Acceleration/Top Speed? All of these things would be different with the the 'S' version; and since you've already tested (and one of you owns) a regular SV, you could compare the two fairly. You can compare the engine changes (FI, ect) either way, so why not get the S and compare as mentioned above.

For either SV: How's the new ('02) front preload work/help? Comprehensive list of changes made in '03? As someone who is definetly getting an '03 SV, and leaning heavily towards the S version, I'd love to know how they compare. (If I could, I'd take a standard SV but with the S faring)

Reagular or S, I'm sure the test will be great!
 

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You make a very good point, When I first started riding, a bike with the performance of the sv650 would have been like one of the fastest bikes out there. better off starting out on something cheap.
 

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NYC Motorcycling

I lived in NYC for 6 years. Based on my experience I would recommend that you buy a beater. You are a new rider. You live in NYC. If your beater disappears you won't be too upset.

If you have access to secure storage then considering a new motorcycle is a little less foolhardy. I am not sure how tall you are, but with the large number of metal grates, cobblestones and pot holes in NYC you may want to consider a dual sport or some other type of bike with a cushier ride.

Between the two bikes that you are considering I would have to recommend the Suzuki. I have owned several Ducatis. I have been very happy with the bikes (Monster 750, MH 900e and ST4s), but I think that you will find the 620 Monster to be somewhat underpowered 6-12 months from now. The Suzuki will provide you with more room to grow your abilities. It's not as cool, but it's a better bike.

New York city is a challenging riding environment. Always wear your protective gear (Full face helmet, Jacket, Gloves and Boots at the very least.) Pay very close attention to the street conditions. Leaves, Newspapers, Cobblestones, Metal plates are all very slippery, especially when wet. Have Fun!
 

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Don't get either....

for around 5 grand buy a used 2001 Buell M2, Vtwin power plant, which is still the most usable street bike engine configuration (sorry KPaul!), more torque than you can shake a stick at, handles like it's on rails (the bike will make a good rider out of anyone), cheap and easy maintenance and totally linear power, (the SV650 is, IMHO, still a little peaky).

It'll ride all day long at 85 mph, and it's comfortable.

Finally, when you feel the need for more power (and you will), it's easy and cheap to make the thing scream.

But oweing to the rabid anti- Harley crowd that frequents this site, I'm sure this suggestion will be thoroughly ridiculed. I stand ready with fire extinguisher in hand!
 

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Re: Don't get either....

SV peaky? Have you looked at the dyno charts?

SV Dyno

M2 Dyno

The M2 has a flat torque curve from 3k to 5.5k RPM and then drops like a rock. The SV is flat from 3k to 6k and then bumps up by 10% over the next 1k RPM only to slowly decline after that.

The important part is the riding, of course. The M2 is an okay motor, but the tranny and clutch aren't as newbie friendly as the SV. Not a good starting point for riding.
 

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Shake, Rattle and Roll

The old Buells are known to shake themselves apart. Motorcyclist had a Thunderbolt that did that. I rode a Cyclone and I was not impressed. Fit and finish are not on par to the Ducati or Japanese. Yes it has a flat torque curve but the tranny and clutch SUCKS. Fo a newbie I think a Buell M2 is not the correct choice
 
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