The Reinterpreted “Samurai Sword” Heats Up The GSX-S Stable

Suzuki reaches back all the way to the early ’80s for the design inspiration behind the new 2020 Katana GSX-S1000SM. The reinterpreted “samurai sword” serves as a sportier alternative to Suzuki’s GSX-S1000 platform for those who are looking for an everyday ride with roots. Modernized looks pair with a modernized drivetrain in an attempt to revive the line, and of course, it rocks the expected ride-quality adjustments that are nearly ubiquitous at this point even if they aren’t quite guaranteed in this genre.

  • 2020 Suzuki Katana
  • Year:
    2020
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-4
  • Displacement:
    999 cc
  • Top Speed:
    160 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
    11399
  • Price:

2020 Suzuki Katana Design

It's easy to see shades of the original in the design in its cutting-edge styling and attention to aerodynamics.

The original Katana 1100 rolled off the assembly line and into pop-culture way back in 1981, and it quickly became a household name because of its cutting-edge design and attention to aerodynamics in an era dominated by relatively boxy designs. It’s easy to see shades of the original in the design in the 2020 Katana, especially since it arguably falls within the “naked” sub-genre even if the family eventually grew to include superbike-style body enclosures by the time it was retired in 2006. The radical design change brought with it improved aerodynamics that lowered drag and increased penetration to make it the fastest production bike in the 650 cc bracket, and the new version looks like it tries to emulate the earlier form.

A set of pointed cheek fairings brace the cyclops headlight with a short flyscreen to finish off the entry. The headlight itself is comprised of a quartet of LED emitters set in an over-under configuration to split the night while it keeps the front end looking fairly clean. Too bad the factory used standoff-style blinkers that look like they’ll carry away the first time you drop it in the parking lot.

Behind the short stock flyscreen is an all-in-one LCD instrument cluster to deliver all the pertinent metrics with a “Peak Hold” feature that tracks your high-rev events and marks the high points on the bar-graph tachometer readout. The handlebar carries some lift in its upright sections, and it’s clamped to the bike via short risers to put the pilot’s hands much closer to center than you’d get from clip-on bars.

Sure, you can still tuck in over the 3.17-gallon (U.S.) fuel tank if you want/need to, but the rider’s triangle allows for a fairly upright riding posture, and that’s one of the main points that turn this streetbike into a commuter that’s in direct competition with Suzuki’s own GSX-S “standard” family. The tank gives the Katana a range-per-fillup in the hundred-mile range, so you can probably go ahead and forget about any serious long-range work.

The scoop-shaped seat slings the rider’s butt at 32.5 inches off the deck – about right for a one-liter streetbike – and there’s an elevated p-pad with fold-up, subframe-mount passenger footpegs to finish off the passenger’s amenities. Also typical is how the taillight defines the terminus of the subframe, but that’s just the beginning. The plateholder and rear turn signals ride on a one-arm hugger with a second hugger-style fender mounted to the swingarm to complete the coverage, and you can go ahead and pencil me in as a fan ’cause I love a clean rear end like that.

2020 Suzuki Katana Chassis

2020 Suzuki Katana
- image 832144
The suspension is better than the GSX-S1000, but a lot of the bike feels the same.

An extruded-aluminum, twin-spar frame serves as the main structure for the 2020 Katana with a gull-wing swingarm to articulate for the rear wheel. Inverted, 43 mm KYB stems float the front end with the full trinity of adjustments and 4.7 inches of travel. Out back, the progressive-link monoshock delivers adjustable preload- and rebound-damping features with only 2.48 inches of travel, so you can probably go ahead and forget about jumping the tracks in town with this thing.

Curb weight measures in at 474 pounds and the engine means serious business as well, so the Katana comes with some solid anchors to deal with the potential energy. I’m talking about dual, 310 mm discs up front with Brembo Monobloc calipers that rock four 32 mm pots in an opposed-piston configuration, just like the Gixxer 1000. Bosch ABS comes standard to help you safely get the most out of the brakes. A pair of 17-inch cast wheels round out the rolling chassis with ZR-rated rubbers in a 120/70 up front and 190/50 out back.

Front suspension: Inverted telescopic, coil spring, oil damped
Rear suspension: Link type, coil spring, oil damped
Rake / trail: 25° / 3.9 in (100 mm)
Front brake: Disc, twin
Rear brake: Disc
Front tire size: 120/70ZR17M/C (58W), tubeless
Rear tire size: 190/50ZR17M/C (73W), tubeless

2020 Suzuki Katana Drivetrain

2020 Suzuki Katana
- image 832135
The factory borrowed the engine from the GSX-R1000K5 and tuned it for even better torque delivery, so you can come out of the hole like a boss.

The factory borrowed the engine from the GSX-R1000K5 and tuned it for even better torque delivery before sticking it into the new 2020 Katana. It runs with a 73.4 mm bore and 59 mm stroke for a total displacement of 999 cc and a smokin’ hot 12.2-to-1 compression ratio. It’s a water-cooled, inline-four cylinder engine with dual-overhead cams. The mill is a high-revving item with 148 horsepower at 10,000 rpm, and 79.66 pounds o’ grunt that cap out at 9,500 rpm; of which 50 pounds are available from 3,500 on up. In other words, you can come out of the hole like a boss.

A slipper clutch couples engine power to the six-speed, constant-mesh transmixxer and provides some anti-backtorque protection, plus there’s a traction control feature to help you manage the power. That’s particularly important here since the bottom third of the rpm range has a jerky response to throttle inputs, and the TC prevents you from breaking the rear wheel loose by accident.

A low-rpm assist feature helps stabilize the engine rpm when demand overcomes delivery, and Suzuki’s Easy-Start feature delivers one-touch starts through the ECM. As for the fandanglery, that’s ’bout it. You can count on the TC and ABS protection, just without the corner-sensitive aspect. I expect the factory left that stuff on the shelf in a bid to keep the price down.

Actual track times are still unavailable at this time, but if I had to take a guess at the performance based on that of its frame- and engine-mates, I’d put the top speed somewhere around the 160 mph mark.

Engine: 4-stroke, 4-cylinder, liquid-cooled, DOHC
Bore x Stroke: 73.4 mm x 59.0 mm (2.9 in x 2.3 in)
Displacement: 999 cc (61.0 cu. in)
Compression ratio: 12.2 : 1
Power: 147.5 hp (110 kW) @ 10,000 rpm
Torque: 79.66 lb-ft (108.0 Nm) @ 9,500 rpm
Fuel system: Fuel injection
Ignition system: Electronic ignition (transistorized)
Starter system: Electric
Lubrication system: Wet sump
Transmission: 6-speed constant mesh

2020 Suzuki Katana Pricing

2020 Suzuki Katana
- image 832149
Price is TBA for the U.S. market, but U.K. buyers are looking at £11.4k.

Honestly, we don’t even know if we’re going to see this ride on our side of the pond this year, but our British cousins can score one in Metallic Mystic Silver or Glass Sparkle Black for £11,399.

Model ID: GSX-S1000SM
Color: Metallic Mystic Silver, Glass Sparkle Black
Price: £11,399

2020 Suzuki Katana Competitors

2017 - 2019 Kawasaki Z900
- image 832131
2018 - 2019 Yamaha MT-10
- image 758219
2020 Suzuki Katana
- image 832150
It's kind of a toss-up on who wins the battle of electronics; it depends on what is important and how much you want to pay for it.

There’s no shortage of domestic competition for the new Katana, so I grabbed a Z900 ABS from Kawasaki and one of Yamaha’s newly-rebranded MT-10 models. First up, the Kawi carries itself with an ultra-modern look owing much to the Transformer-like headlight housing that carries dual beams in a side-by-side arrangement. Bodywork is kept to a minimum with very little left to the imagination as far as the frame and drivetrain are concerned. Sure, it looks cool and all, but it lacks the cool factor that the Katana’s bodywork brings to the table.

The MT-10 leads the way with a robot-like headlight housing more similar to the Kawi than the Suzuki, but the sideplates on the fuel tank make for a nice detail and I think that makes it more interesting to look at than the Kawi. In the suspension we find the Z900 just a skosh below the Kat with adjustable rebound-damping and spring preload all around; the MT-10 alone rocks the full trifecta front and rear. ABS is standard on the Katana and MT-10, but Kawasaki alone gives you a non-ABS option. Personally, I don’t know why you wouldn’t want ABS, but if it’s that important for you to not have it, then it’s something to consider.

Kinda the same with the traction control on both the MT-10 and Kat; Kawasaki offers nothing at all in the way of higher engine-control electronics. What it does offer is 123 horsepower and 73.1 pound-feet of torque from a 948 cc, four-banger mill. The MT-10 measures in with 160 horsepower and 81.8 pounds o’ grunt to bracket the Kat more or less in the middle. I won’t bother with prices until I see a U.S. release.

He Said

“Gotta’ give Suzuki its props; the new Katana has just the right amount of retro-tastic about it. The factory wasn’t as slavish to history as it was for, say, the TU250X for instance, but it still managed to give it the suggestion of the look of the early ’80s. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go feel old because the ’80s is now considered a ’classic’ era.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “I don’t usually go for that angular sportbike look, but the Katana has a sex appeal to it; kind of a future/retro look that I can’t really pin down. The suspension is better than the GSX-S1000, but a lot of the bike feels the same. Honestly, though, 148 horsepower and plenty of torque where you need it, I could almost wish for a bigger fuel tank so it has more range. As a commuter, I can see this being a fun ride to work.”

2020 Suzuki Katana Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: 4-stroke, 4-cylinder, liquid-cooled, DOHC
Bore x Stroke: 73.4 mm x 59.0 mm (2.9 in x 2.3 in)
Displacement: 999 cc (61.0 cu. in)
Compression ratio: 12.2 : 1
Power: 147.5 hp (110 kW) @ 10,000 rpm
Torque: 79.66 lb-ft (108.0 Nm) @ 9,500 rpm
Fuel system: Fuel injection
Ignition system: Electronic ignition (transistorized)
Starter system: Electric
Lubrication system: Wet sump
Transmission: 6-speed constant mesh
Chassis:
Front suspension: Inverted telescopic, coil spring, oil damped
Rear suspension: Link type, coil spring, oil damped
Rake / trail: 25° / 3.9 in (100 mm)
Front brake: Disc, twin
Rear brake: Disc
Front tire size: 120/70ZR17M/C (58W), tubeless
Rear tire size: 190/50ZR17M/C (73W), tubeless
Dimensions & Capacities:
Overall Length: 83.9 in (2,130 mm)
Overall width: 32.9 in (835 mm)
Overall height: 43.7 in (1,110 mm)
Wheelbase: 57.5 in (1,460 mm )
Ground clearance: 5.5 in (140 mm)
Seat height: 32.5 in (825 mm)
Curb weight: 474 lbs (215 kg)
Fuel tank capacity: 3.2 gal (12 L)
Fuel Economy: 53.3 mpg)
Details:
Model ID: GSX-S1000SM
Color: Metallic Mystic Silver, Glass Sparkle Black
Price: £11,399

Further Reading

Kawasaki Z900

2017 - 2019 Kawasaki Z900
- image 815526

See our review of the Kawasaki Z900.

Yamaha MT-10

2018 - 2019 Yamaha MT-10
- image 799900

See our review of the Yamaha MT-10.

Suzuki GSX-S1000

2018 - 2019 Suzuki GSX-S1000
- image 725856

See our review of the Suzuki GSX-S1000.

Suzuki GSX-R1000

2018 Suzuki GSX-R1000
- image 777414

See our review of the Suzuki GSX-R1000.

Suzuki TU250X

2009 - 2019 Suzuki TU250X
- image 807562

See our review of the Suzuki TU250X.

Suzuki

ALLYN IMAGES - DO NOT DELETE
- image 788898

Read more Suzuki news.

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: suzuki.co.uk, kawasaki.com, yamaha-motor.com

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