A friend and I ended up riding a set of these from Nashville, TN to San Jose, CA (2800 miles in 7 days). For a cruiser, the seats were not very comfortable, requiring additional padding, and there were no additional footrests for the rider to change positions to. The single down tube makes it difficult to attach any kind of highway pegs, so we ended up crafting something from rebar just to give us some options.
Mileage varied a bit, but 50mpg was not uncommon, helping to offset the 2.8 gallon tank (0.6 of that being for reserve). I was surprised how the engine even had a little pulling power left while going over a 10k pass in Colorado (loaded with gear no less). Engine vibration makes the mirrors virtually unusable at higher speeds.
Acceleration is moderate, so I'd consider this a very good starter bike that won't tempt you to go too fast, but has just enough power to get you out of many problematic situations. The cost is low enough so you wouldn't worry about devaluation due to the scrapes that may accompany learning. But once you've gotten used to it, you will likely be looking for the next bike that you'll want to keep for awhile.
I wouldn't expect too many people to keep this bike for more than a year or two, depending on how often and far you like to ride. If you're just scooting around town, you might find this to be a perfect choice for much longer.
My wife used this one as a learner and has clung on to it after she got the mc driving licence, since she really loves this little thing. To me, it's too small and too slow being 6' and 210 pounds. They actually say I look really silly riding this little bike, and that I look better driving my 1400 Intruder.
But I can really understand why people are so in love with them. 100% reliable, durable, easy to maintain, cheap, cheap, cheap ($2000 will get you one in good condition and maintenance cost will be ultra low, mpg is in the fifties) and it's easy to drive for a small person, it's like a moped.
Just change your oil once in a while and you'll be fine. It's just like my old B&S lawn mover, and it actually sounds a little bit like it.
I have a 2001 Savage. It is my first motorcycle and I have found it to be just right for me. Big enough to have good power, and small enough that is isn't heavy or hard to handle. It was inexpensive to buy used, and has been very reliable and economical.
Others have mentioned the seat being uncomfortable. I haven't noticed that, but I only take short trips on it.
It sounds and looks good, and I like the upright riding position.
The single cylinder engine has a little more vibration than a multicylinder would, but not enough to be bothersome. It is a very simple design and is a bit old fashioned. For example, it has a carburetor and manual choke.
Definitely an old school, low maintenance, and fun ride. I rode an old GS450L for years before getting my '98 Savage (today!) and there are many similarities, although the Savage's controls actually feel a little more compact. I agree that for longer cruises, foot comfort/placement is an issue without highway pegs to shift to.
I could have gone with a bigger bike, but as I will be using this mostly for my short 3-mile commute and around-town errands, it's perfect for my needs, and having ridden my GS for years without getting bored, I will probably feel the same way with this bike. It's a matter of choosing what you know will suit you, IMO.
I'm fixing to trade my 1998 Chevy Cavalier for a 2004 Suzuki 650 Savage with only 2000 miles on it. It looks and runs like brand new, hopefully I will be happy with my swap. I love Thumpers; I had a Honda Ascot 1984 single back when I was younger. Hopefully I won't regret the trade.
Steve in Arkansas.
Love the 650 Savage! I am a small person and have owned four 250 Hondas. I bought a 1995 650 Savage several years ago from a guy who had it garaged for 7 years. After cleaning the little darling up, it ran like a top and has continued.
I've packed the bags and a cloth trunk full and ridden from Ohio to North Carolina and Ohio to Kentucky. The engine hums and the gas mileage is terrific.
A larger gas tank would be nice.
Fast and happy riding to any who wants or owns a 650 Savage! Great bike and easy handling for small persons.
I had a LS650 back in the 90s and it was a great bike. It will definitely have a lot more power if you have the stock pipe replaced with something a bit less restrictive, plus it's a bit louder and safer 'cause folks in cars will hear you more.
I have a hard time finding bikes that I can ride due to my short legs, all of the standards and ninja types are out of the question for me, even some of the cruisers are too big, but the Savage has the right seat height for me (27") and has enough power for the interstate.
I had mine customized with the aforementioned pipe, a tinted windshield, a custom seat with a gel pad and leather trim, permanently mounted saddlebags and a carb rejetting because of the pipe. It was quite the bike! I sold it cause I got a job in Montana. I still miss it.
I bought my 2000 LS650 Savage a couple of years ago from a pawn shop. I had never heard of this bike until then, in fact I had to look up pictures on the Internet to find out what kind of Suzuki it was.
However, after getting it home, flushing the tank, replacing the battery, and tires. (it sat at the pawn shop for two years) I have only had minor trouble with it which has since been remedied.
I have done a lot of modifications to it such as adding a Road King tank and Girder front end, as well as home made forward controls and ten inch mini ape handle bars. (I am 6 ft 240 lbs). This bike performs very well and I am loving it more every time I straddle it and take off down the road.
My next mod will be to do something with the seat and put on a throttle lock.
This bike is perfect for the bike customizer on a budget.
The Suzuki Savage should be on anyone's short list if they are looking for a motorcycle that provides great fuel economy (55-65 mpg is easily achievable), plenty of power, lightweight & easy handling, low maintenance cost and sheer fun. This cruiser style bike combines classic looks and bulletproof reliability at a great price. Excellent choice for a new rider, or someone returning to motorcycling.
Another benefit of ownership is the highly supportive and knowledgeable folks on the suzukisavage com forums. You'll find lots of ideas for very inexpensive mods you can do to improve the seat, the fuel mixture, etc. Lots of parts are interchangeable with Harleys, too.
Some *may* outgrow this bike, but unlike the little 250cc entry level bikes, there is no reason to have to trade up to drive on the Interstate, or to haul a passenger. The Savage can do it all, and the fuel savings at nearly $4/gallon will give you a fast payback.