Awesome - two weekends in a row I get
I got on the SV at Porangahau Beach and road it back up Route 52 to Waipuk. This is a primo ride with plenty of nice corners to throw a sportsbike at.
Getting on the SV, I noticed that the ride position is pretty similar to that of the VTR - the bars may be a little bit lower and also feel a little wider. Seat comfort was a much of a muchness and weather protection was also similar - the standard screen of the SV was pretty good compared to the Givi one on the VTR.
Riding off and naturally you know it is V-twin - the same lumpy sort of power delivery although the motor seems to smooth out a bit more than the VTR once there's some revs on. The fuel injection is very smooth and helps the quick response from engine even if in a high gear with not many revs on - to me this felt better than the VTR. Once steaming along the bike feels very relaxed just like the VTR and it is easy to speed - the standard pipes are a bit louder than the VTR's but definitely not noisy. As we were not riding hard and didn't try any top gear roll-on comparisons or anything it's hard to say which bike had more go (although the SV should win here), let's just say that the two twins offer similar performance and it's the kind that puts a big smile on the dial!
It took me quite a while to get used to the steering damper - especially in slower corners. I haven't ridden a bike with one for a long time and you forget that you need to put in a bit more effort to get the bike through the corners. I also felt (again because I'm not used to a damper) that it damped out some of the "feel" from the front wheel. It was good however, in the bumpier corners where the VTR would have been a bit twitchier, the SV held it's line a bit better. Dad had been playing with his suspension settings (softening them up) and it was in these bumpier corners where the bike felt a little soft in the rear. The brakes were fine although I never had to use them hard.
Looks: well, the SV has a more modern look to it and is nice in black but they're pretty similar in that they both have minimal fairing's so that the motor can go on show. The SV is perhaps the more aggressive looking and that probably fits as it is the "sportier" package of the two. Twins are fun!