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First Impression: 1997 Suzuki XF650 Freewind

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First Impression: 1997 Suzuki XF650 Freewind

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OK, I've now got one of these, a little old and a lot of miles (40k), but I like it. I wanted to trade in my little Yamaha 250 single, I was getting sick of cars passing me all the time, with the bike wobbling in high winds, which is pretty much all the time.

I tried a Kawasaki W650 - nice engine but not totally steady chassis, and cramped riding position. I had just tried the old XF650 Suzuki beforehand, just for kicks. Looking back, the Suzuki had been much more comfortable, handled better, and didn't seem any less powerful, for my needs, although it was a bit cruder and less flexible in the engine department. However, despite the lumpy power band, there was no tingling numbness in the handlebars as there was with the W650.

I should point out I have disabilities, with CFS/ME, so I don't get to ride very often, and I had a bad back, and was getting over the 'flu when I went for a test ride.

So I bought the Freewind, the dealer gave me a good trade in price. It was a cheap bike, the only one available at the time. I have since checked websites in Germany and France, where thousands of Freewinds were sold, and they can run for over 80k miles without too many problems, if well maintained. Everything works on my bike, and it runs fine, just a little popping on the overrun probably indicating the need for a carb clean.

I have ridden it several times since. I love the power band of a single, it is the most relaxing form of bike, especially along winding roads. Handling is phenomenal, very instinctive. Part of the CFS/ME is a problem with balance, and my attempts with larger, heavier bikes have not been a success. But with a light weight single requiring little or no effort to achieve good lean angles, things are working out. The soft, long travel suspension means I don't have to worry about a back ache intruding. The 18.5 litre gas tank gives me the option of longer rides, but maybe gas prices will have to reduce before that happens.

I now have a bike I feel comfortable with, that has just the right level of power, near perfect handling, and good comfort for any length of ride.

All at a bargain price. There were only 70 Freewinds sold new in New Zealand, not many imported from Japan direct on the second hand market, but for me, it was just what I want and what I need.

It'll do for me.

Martin Buck
New Zealand
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Wow...Zombie thread alert! Kill it with fire!
Welcome to the site Martin!

This one must be a record!

A "2007" submission of a 1997 Model review, dredged up almost four years later!

So Martin, did you really just buy a 'new' 14 year-old bike?
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