First off, I do not own this bike. I bet very few do quite yet.. This is a review based on a 30 minute test ride, and coming from a well experienced rider currently blasting around on a 2006 Yamaha FZ1. Obviously I cannot comment upon the Gladius' reliability.
I am simply submitting my impression of this neat little bike for those who are wondering about this new model. I have looked all over and can't find a review, so perhaps this will help anyone considering this bike.
OK,.. WOW, it's fun. Easy to ride. I test rode it for my girlfriend who's just secured a learner's permit and I have told her directly, GET THIS BIKE. It's fast enough not to become bored within 3 months like a Ninja 250, handles very well indeed, solidly, stably and reassuringly. My only concern was the front brakes, which must have been set up poorly, because I cannot imagine needing my whole hand to stop hard, as opposed to 1 or 2 fingers on my FZ1.
According to the salesman the engine is mildly "de-tuned" from an SV650 for more bottom end torque, but I have never tried an SV so.. take that for what it is. Coming from a larger displacement 4 cylinder-ed bike, I expected the motor to be weak feeling, but I was pleasantly surprised by it's fun torquey grunt. My girlfriend should be able to keep up fine.. Probably whip my behind in the tight stuff.. it handles very well indeed.
It felt very solid and looks pretty neato too, if a tad bit feminine, but she likes the way it looks. It's fairly obviously aimed at women, so.. good. In my opinion, it is an excellent starter bike. My first bike was a Yamaha 750 virago and the Gladius is MUCH easier to ride.
Regarding reliability, it's an SV-650 motor which has proven to be reliable, I believe, so I can't imagine anything coming up that way.
It's FUN.. light and flick-able and FUN.. I base that statement coming off of a high horsepower litre-bike that handles very well too, but the Glad is just so light and flick-able. I want one of my own for around town and mountain rides.. I'd still miss the wallop I get from 6-11 grand on mine, but the Gladius lets you twist the throttle in *almost* any gear at any speed without bogging. It's not so.. "shifty". But seriously, if those brakes really are that bad, it spoils an otherwise wickedly fun ride. As I said, they can't be.. it was obviously a bad set-up job. I hope.
When we take delivery I will write again and give a better review after spending more time in the saddle. Regarding the saddle.. hmm, it's firm.. could be an issue on longer rides.
That's all I have to say. :P.
** P.S. if anyone else has ridden one and had the same brake issues, it'd be good to know..
Would you buy another motorcycle from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 8th March, 2009