TopSpeed’s 2020 Suzuki Buying Guide
Like so many manufacturers throughout history, Suzuki started out as something other than the engine and vehicle manufacturer we know today, and for founder Michio Suzuki, it was the Suzuki Loom Works that kicked things off in 1909. Initially a manufacturer of looms meant to supply the island nation’s silk trade with quality machinery, Mr. Suzuki invented and manufactured his own loom design in 1929 that would be exported around the world.
The factory had diversified into automobile production by 1937, but the onset of World War II saw the brand forced back solely into its textile role. Some measurable success was found in the post-war market, at least until the bottom fell out of the cotton market in 1951 when the decision was made to push into two-wheel territory to provide affordable, reliable transportation for the masses at home.
The first model was named the “Power Free” in 1952 after the 36 cc engine joined with the regular push-pedals to drive this powered bicycle. By 1955, the marque had used a federal subsidy to fuel production and was building up to 6,000 motorcycle units a month, plus it was revisiting the automobile sector once more.
Suzuki continued to expand with the completion of a modern new assembly line in 1960, and racing success on the worldwide stage that made the marque a permanent presence in two-wheeled racing circles. The seventies saw even more expansion and racing success, but Suzuki’s real moment arguably came in 1980 when the factory introduced the GS/GSX range that would birth the industry-changing GSX-R750 just 5 years later. Having established itself squarely as one of the Japanese Big Four by this point, the brand remains at the cutting edge of motorcycle design and engineering.
Finite Element Method analysis: (FEM) Computer-controlled engineering software that helps Suzuki strike a balance between strength and weight in the piston design.
Idle Speed Control: (ISC) A computer-controlled feature that aids in cold starts and provides smooth running at idle.
Low RPM Assist System: This feature prevents stalling when the engine is lugging under a heavy load such as during the holeshots.
Motion Track Brake System: An anti-lock brake system that takes cornering forces into consideration when braking in a corner.
Motion Track Traction Control System: (MT-TCS) Traction control that relies on info from the Inertial Measurement Unit to calculate the available traction, particularly in curves and corners.
Pulsed Secondary Air Injection: (PAIR) This feature injects fresh air into the exhaust to encourage burnoff of any remaining free hydrocarbons in the exhaust stream.
Physical Vapor Deposition: (PVD) A harder-than-chrome piston-ring treatment that works hand-in-glove with the SCEM cylinder plating to form a long-wearing seal.
Suzuki Clutch Assist System: (CAS) Suzuki’s proprietary slipper-clutch system that reduces backtorque on hard downshifts, thus preventing loss of traction due to rear wheel hop.
Suzuki Composite Electro-chemical Material: (SCEM) Nikasil is the trade name for the electrodeposited lipophilic nickel matrix silicon carbide coating used by Suzuki. The silicon carbide is a nickel-soluble, ceramic-like substance that is much harder than steel and eliminates the need for iron sleeve inserts in the aluminum bores.
Suzuki Drive Mode Selector: (S-DMS) A variable-output feature that lets you dial in the engine’s personality to suit.
Suzuki Dual Throttle Valve: (SDTV) An ECM-controlled secondary throttle valve that helps bridge the gap between rider demand and engine capability to deliver smooth throttle responses throughout the range.
Suzuki Exhaust Tuning: (SET) A secondary valve in the exhaust system that provides variable backpressure for the system. This gives it a wider powerband than a conventional setup with more control over the emissions as well.
Variable Valve Timing: (VVT) Changes the valve timing according to RPM to further expand the usable power range along with the actual powerband. The racebike version is known as the Suzuki Racing-Variable Valve Timing (SR-VVT).
Suzuki resurrected its Katana model ahead of MY20 after a 13-year hiatus. Like the original, the new Katana strikes a balance between power/performance and comfort/control. Power comes from a four-cylinder, 999 cc engine, and it is supported by top-shelf, ride-control electronics such as the Suzuki Advanced Traction Control, SDTV, and Easy Start System. Plus, it rocks the SCAS feature to make the connection between engine and transmission to mitigate the effects of backtorque in the drivetrain.
The factory remained fairly faithful to the look of the original Katana, yet it benefits from a certain amount of modernization for this, its second production run. To deliver long-distance comfort and precise but predictable cornering, the factory uses its GSX-S frame as the starting point. Power comes from a GSX-R inspired, four-cylinder mill, and its that combination of elements that makes the Katana what it is; which is a standard sportbike with racebike-like power.
You can tuck in for speed, but you can also push off for a more-upright riding position that relieves the pressure on your wrists, arms and shoulders. This combination of features and performance makes the Katana an all-around, on-road superbike.
The factory calls them “sportbikes,” but its superbikes and supersports are all lumped together under this banner. At the bottom of the range, the entry-level GSX250R and GSX250R ABS roll with full aerodynamic bodywork, a 248 cc parallel-twin engine, and an aggressive rider’s triangle. Next up in the pecking order is the GSX-R600, and its big brother, the GSX-R750. I’d call both of these the supersports of the group since they roll with mid-size engines that measure in at 599 cc and 750 cc, respectively.
Full fairings ensure low-drag penetration and ample cooling airflow for the radiator and engine pocket. The electronic suites are expanded a bit for this pair with the addition of the S-DMS feature and transistorized ignition control. At the top of the totem pole are the GSX-R1000 and GSX-R1000R that add VVT, IMU, and a quick-shifter to the package.
Showa’s Balance Free Front Forks deliver crisp handling, but the real star of the show is the 999.8 cc powerplant. There are two distinct outliers in this range; the GSX-S1000F that combines a more relaxed rider’s triangle with a windscreen for the sport-commuter crowd, and of course, the indelible Hayabusa with its Peregrine Falcon-inspired bodywork and drag-tastic nature.
|GSX250R ABS||$4,899||248 cc|
Suzuki’s cruiser line borrows heavily from the American style with relaxed, upright rider’s triangles and forward foot controls that are comfortable over the long haul. First up we have the Boulevard C50 and C50T that utilizes a triangular swingarm for the faux-hardtail effect. This allows the overall frame geometry to conform to those old-school lines that give this pair their antique panache and low seat height of 27.6 inches off the deck.
The C50 is the basic cruiser platform with the C50T outfitted as the tourer. Even the engine follows the U.S. pattern with an 805 cc, 45-degree V-twin and both-on-one-side exhaust pipes.
At the head of the table, the Boulevard M109R B.O.S.S. increase the displacement up to 1,783 cc for a marked performance boost, and it carries itself as a boulevard bruiser with lots of blackout treatment in place of the chrome that bedecks its siblings. Small fairings at the front and rear give the Blacked Out Special Suzuki a drag-track appeal to match its beating heart.
|Boulevard M109R B.O.S.S.||$15,199||1,783 cc|
|Boulevard C50||$8,299||805 cc|
|Boulevard C50T||$9,599||805 cc|
Built on the C50 with its 805 cc engine, the C50T sports a windshield and bags for some light touring capabilities and utility as a commuter/grocery-getter.
|Boulevard C50T||$9,599||805 cc|
The Standard bracket covers a range of looks that include superbikes, naked roadsters, and neo-UJMs. At the bottom of the range, the SV650, SV650 ABS and SV650X come with a sporty, 645 cc V-twin with SDTV support and an open design that leaves little to the imagination. The former two bikes are more or less vanilla, but the latter model carries a bullet fairing and a few other details that veers the look sharply into [café racer=>mot3530] territory. Electronic support is very limited on these three machines.
The GSX-S750 and GSX-S750Z ABS fills out the midrange with a slightly less-naked build that adds a chin fairing to the mix along with a 749 cc engine and the Suzuki Advanced Traction Control feature. Near the top of the range, the GSX-S1000 carries a liter-size engine in a semi-naked bike while the 1000F pushes full fairings complete with windscreens for rider protection.
At the apex, the newly-relaunched Katana bringing power and performance to the GSX-S stable.
|SV650 ABS||$7,499||645 cc|
The V-Strom line serves as Suzuki’s globetrotting family with half-a-dozen models over two engine sizes, the 650 and the 1050. At the bottom of the range, the V-Strom 650 serves as the base, entry-level model. It carries the DR-BIG look and runs a 645 cc V-twin engine with cast wheels to round out the chassis.
The 650XT swaps the mags for proper laced wheels that are sure to endear themselves to the experienced off-road rider base, as with the ride-quality controls that combine to make an impressive suite at this displacement break. At the top of the bottom bracket, the 650XT Adventure adds a pair of quick-release panniers and an engine guard for serious work.
The 1,037 cc “1050” more or less mirrors its smaller-displacement sibling in its base state, and again, the 1050XT and 1050XT Adventure come tuned for more serious work. Across the board, these machine feature impressive electronics suites, with the biggest packages reserved for the larger displacement machines, plus you can dial in the suspension to suit.
|V-Strom 1050||$13,399||1,037 cc|
|V-Strom 1050XT||$14,799||1,037 cc|
|V-Strom 1050XT Adventure||$16,999||1,037 cc|
|V-Strom 650XT||$9,299||645 cc|
|V-Strom 650XT Adventure||$10,399||645 cc|
|V-Strom 650||$8,799||645 cc|
Suzuki Dual Sport
Suzuki’s dual-sport lineup spans a range of displacements with the DR200S at the bottom of the foodchain. It sports a 199 cc engine and a very dirtbike-like look to match its 399 cc DR-Z400S big brother and 644 cc, DR650S bigger brother. Adjustable, long-stroke suspension buoys this trio to accommodate the roughest terrain, but they have nothing in the way of higher electronics; they even rely on carburetors for the induction control.
The hoops are built for dual-surface use, though they clearly have an off-road bent that performs well on soft surfaces. Laced wheels – ever the favorite of the off-road rider – round out the package.
At the top of the range, the DR650S can be adjusted for both suspension height and seat height via optional equipment from the accessories catalog.
Suzuki’s DR-Z400SM is its sole entry in the SuperMoto category. While it’s technically a race bike, it comes with everything it needs to be street legal and it carries itself with a typical, dirtbike-with-street tires look. This makes it appropriate as a stunt bike or even a commuter.
Power comes from a 398 cc thumper with lots of low-end torque, but little in the way of higher ride-quality electronics. The suspension, however, is off the top shelf so it comes with a range of adjustments that let you dial in your ride whether you’re a trickster, a racer, or just a fun chaser.
The Burgman is arguably one of the most recognized scooter designs in the world with its maxi-scoot chops and robust bodywork. Both the Burgman 200 and 400 run with tall windscreens above a wide fairing and deep footwells that provide decent protection for the pilot. As their names indicate, these scooters carry a 200 cc engine and 399 cc engine, respectively, and use a CVT gearbox for seamless, twist-and-go operation. Under the seat, both models have enough room to store two, full-face helmets which lends it some solid grocery-gettin’ capacity.
|Burgman 400||$8,299||399 cc|
|Burgman 200||$4,999||200 cc|
Read more Suzuki news.