Open wide and say 'R'
Leaning heavily on its heritage
It’s been a bit of a while since we heard anything from the team at Suzuki in the sports bike stakes. The end of the Gixxer 1000 was coincided with a V-Strom that felt a little dated, even though it was brand new. The most exciting thing of the last few years has been the ‘new’ Hayabusa, and that was first launched over two decades ago.
So when, in Milan at the EICMA show, I saw the all new GSX-8R I might have been just that little bit cynical. The bike borrows from the legend that was the bat-shit crazy GSX1000RR. However, we’ve come a long way from the glory days of living the dream while riding on the back wheel.
Now, instead, as with a lot of the newer bikes coming to the market, we have a parallel twin motor putting out an unintimidating 82 bhp. While the styling nods its head to the glory days of old, we have a bike with a taller screen, higher bars and significantly more comfortable ergonomics than the sports bike that it nods its ‘head’ to.
Less weight equals more fun
The new Suzuki is coming into a busy section of the market. Ducati’s new Scramblers look the part, Hondas new Hornet is selling in large numbers and the Tracer 700 from Yamaha is the standard to beat. All produce a similar amount of power, all are unintimidating, all are easy to ride and all are, or can be, A2 licence friendly.
What it does have is a full set of electronic toys. These include three power modes along with three traction control settings. Rather interestingly, Suzuki have made that last one with a mode that allows the rider to switch it off completely. The easy start and low rev assist are here as standard. There’s even a bi-directional quickshifter as part of the package.
Metallic Triton Blue
All of the electronics can be set from the left hand bar with an intuitive and easy to use menu. Everything is, of course, displayed on a TFT screen. The lighting, front, rear and even the indicators, are all LED affairs
The engine is quite clever. The 270 degree crankshaft, married to a longish stroke manages to create a decent amount of torque with 78Nm on tap. The exhaust end can lives under it and makes the bike look smaller than it actually is. Both the engine and the exhaust are designed and built to be compact as well as light. All of this lives in a simple steel frame with a swingarm and subframe made which are both made from aluminium.
Metallic Matt Sword Silver
Up the front suspension is a big piston affair with Showa magic living in the USD forks. Showa wizardry also makes an appearance on the rear wheel. Adding to the list of brands contributing to the bike are Nissan, with the radially mounted brake calipers, as well as Dunlop who are the exclusive partner for the GSX-8R with their Roadsport 2s.
It should be available from February in a choice of colours, Metallic Matt Black No.2, Metallic Matt Sword Silver or Metallic Triton Blue. That’s black, silver or blue to you and me.
Metallic Matt Black No.2