Suzuki Katana: The Samurai Sword Is Sharper Than Ever
The Suzuki Katana is back and looking better than ever. It is true that the Japanese giant continued to develop motorcycle models to satisfy their global market. Although that was the case, their racing flagship bike was something fans missed around the globe. The motorcycle company took the best elements of their best-selling models, and the new Suzuki Katana is sharper than ever. Read on to find out about the history, models, tradition and future of Japan´s best racing bike: the Suzuki Katana.
Introduced in 1981, the Suzuki Katana was the effort of this Japanese giant to change history. Not only they achieved their goal with it, but also influenced almost all racing bikes to come afterwards. You can see some of the specs of the original design today, nearly forty years after it was planned.
The year was 1979 and Suzuki hired a team of three experts to change the face of the company. One of the intentions was to gain the racing-friendly market. They put together a team under the name of Target Design, its leader was Hans Muth. This expert came directly from Germany and was the former chief of the styling of BMW, one of Suzuki´s competitors. The team also featured Hans-Georg Kasten and Jan Fellstrom.
This dream team of designers came up with two initial models, the ED1 and the ED2. They sported 650cc with an 8-valve engine and 1100cc with a 16-valve one. The philosophy for the design and building of the bike, though, was the same. They went for the “less is more approach” and reduced weight, amount of components and production costs. All elements were compact, and the bike was tested thoroughly in wind tunnels in Italy.
Suzuki advertising of the bike as for 1980 was that they were releasing “The fastest mass-production motorcycle in the world”. The design was radical, and the performance matched it every bit. The bike went really fast to become a best-seller and a worldwide hit for Suzuki.
Although it gave its place to the Suzuki line of tourers GSX-F, the Suzuki Katana is back in 2019 to reclaim its throne. The flagship samurai weapon of the Japanese monster industry promises to be better than ever.
Suzuki Katana 1100
When it first came out in 1981, this bike revolutionised the motorcycle world. It was indeed, the most powerful mass-production motorcycle available in the world at the time. If you are lucky enough to test an original 1982 model right now, it would be close to a horrifying experience. It is a cult bike, but if you go past the 200km/h mark, it feels as if it was going out of control all the time. I am one of those lucky people to have done the test, and comparatively, new incarnations are more stable and safe.
That being said, the design, weight, comfort and overall feel of this 1074cc, 232kg cult-vehicle are superb. Sold in Japan until 1987 it reappeared to commemorate Suzuki´s 70 years in 1990. It was then replaced by the GSX-F series. If you are lucky to test one of those as well as the original, you will understand everything immediately.
It was a smart move by Suzuki to replace it with some new and fresh incarnations ready for long distances. The pureblood approach of the original bike revolutionised the market, but the fantastic improvements introduced later on are game-changers. The new version of the Katana is a 1100cc model too, and it incorporates all innovations. Read on to find out my impressions about the ground-breaking Suzuki Katana 2019 model.
Suzuki Katana 750
For starters let´s say that this version of the Suzuki Katana has gone well over 25,000 units sold worldwide. In fact, between the significant 1998 makeover and 2009, it was in 17,000. Which is the strong point of this fairly-powered ride with standard specs? That it has a very attractive price for the package and a long tradition supporting the design and performance.
There are very few bikes by big brands still going for that price range in which the Suzuki Katana 750 is the queen. The aerodynamics are flawless, and the 16-valve motor based on the long-stroke GSX-R750 from 1985 is still killer. Suzuki Katana 750 is a very silent yet powerful bike. It is not as fun as some of its competitors like the Ducati Monster 797, but also way cheaper.
It is an excellent combo for occasional open-road driving and heavy commuting. In fact, I enjoyed driving in the peak hours of transit. It is good to have a lot of power in your wrist while you can make your way among cars at ease. Also, the upright riding position is very comfortable and can assure you hours of fun. There is a buzzing sense of instability at 100km/h (65mph) that makes you wish for a seventh gear. Don´t worry about it, by the time you hit 120km/h the bike becomes stable again. The footpeg mounts and rubber handlebars absorb the vibration and make travelling much more joyous.
The Suzuki Katana 750 is a great commuter and occasional open road ride for the price.
Suzuki Katana 600
While the name might make you want to speed as much as you can and hit the road, this version is the grown-up one. For those of us who used to be big speed demons and had children and lowered a few gears, this is the perfect ride. Also, if you happen to be entering this amazing world of motorcycle riding, this is an awesome ride.
The Suzuki Katana 600 is what many would call a sport touring bike. The rider position is comfortable and your back held straight, but the feel of speed is amazing. This motorcycle has enough power to be a track-demon and make you the highway king. The thing that sets it apart from its bigger incarnations is that its primary focus is the comfort, not speed.
It features a four-cylinder, four-stroke engine that is not for the faint of heart but sitting over a different suspension. The bike is put together and tuned for everyday life and open-road touring. It is a perfect mix of balance, control, speed, and power that will make the end of the day come along with your back in perfect conditions. Also, it is a lighter, more agile bike in terms of feel than other cruisers which are much bigger and heavier.
For long trips at moderate speed, excellent comfort and everyday use, the Suzuki Katana 600 is an excellent choice.
Suzuki Katana 2019
As we said in the beginning, the Suzuki Katana is back and sharper than ever. It comes in two fabulous colours: silver and black. You will see the complete makeover of the bike in terms of looks and specs. Some of the remaining specs from other eras are the rectangular headlight, sharp lines, stepped seat in two tones and that beautiful black exhaust. Starting with the trademark headlight, it has turned to LED. The addition of an adjustable remote black fender is also very welcome.
To me, the best change was, that it has gone through are the straight bars instead of the clip-on which make it ergonomically much friendlier to ride. If you have been on one of these before, you know that long rides weren´t exactly comfortable. Adding to this comfort, the three-mode traction control and the tubeless tires specially design for it, make riding a silky experience.
The Suzuki Katana 2019 sports a big engine from the well-known GSX-R1000. Also, it has new technology additions that the Japanese giant has implemented successfully on other models throughout the years. For example, the very modern all-digital LCD display for the commands. Also, the Easy Start System and the Three-position traction system are useful and welcome additions. The adjustable inverted KYB fork at 43mm is also great for added comfort.
Ergonomics are perhaps the most updated aspects of this bike. The location of the seat is at 825mm off the floor to fit all sizes. Also, the wide handlebar slightly higher than usual makes the riding position very comfortable. Breaks sport a double frontal disk with Brembo brackets and a great ABS system. One last amazing comfort spec is that Dunlop developed the Sportmax Roadsport 2, especially for the Katana. Even the composition of the tires is specific for the speed and weight of the bike.
The bike is not heavy for its power, with only 215kg of dry weight. Suzuki said that they tuned the bike for street use too. The company spokesperson spoke wonders of a “smoother throttle”. If you have driven a 1000cc bike, you know that acceleration control is not easy. According to Suzuki, riders will be able to control the 150 horsepower available in street situations at ease. Also, the Traction Control System will have a “City” mode.
With these additions, Suzuki expects to deliver a powerful bike to have tons of fun on the open road. Also, they want their customers to be able to use it for every-day commuting and city errands. According to Suzuki´s platform, the Suzuki Katana 2019 is the best version yet of their cult, flagship bike.
Suzuki Katana 2019 Specs
- The four-cylinder in-line, liquid-cooled engine
- Electric Starter
- 6-Speed transmission with a back-torque-limiting clutch
- 310mm discs and ABS front breaks with Brembo Radial-mount monoblock callipers
- Nissin Single Piston Caliper with ABS rear Brakes
- Fully adjustable 43mm KYB inverted forks front suspension
- Adjustable rebound & spring preload link-type shock rear suspension
- Fuel tank with 12 litres of capacity
- Available in metallic mystic silver and glass sparkle black
Recommended Accessories For Improved Safety
Safety technology has moved really fast in the last two decades, especially for motorcycle riders. I am always looking for better ways of taking care of myself while on the bike as I intend to continue riding for many more years. There is one thing that will keep me there, doing it right. Last time I was at a common hangout with some rider friends I came across something new. You should really install these accessories I am about to describe in any (or all) bike you own. I thought they were fine when a friend of mine described them to me. It wasn´t until I tried them by myself on his bike that I realised just how useful they are. Let me share this brand new knowledge with you.
Suzuki Katana aftermarket accessories
Smart Break Module (SBM) – The first thing that this little upgrade generated in me was envy. How come I didn´t come up with this idea? The way it works is straightforward: it detects your speed is decreasing and engages the stop light. Has it ever happened to you that instead of hitting the breaks you simply close the throttle? I do it all the time, especially on the highway. Well, this little device senses that, and engages the stop light of your bike. It is awesome, I feel more secure with it. In fact, I had it installed in all my six motorcycles.
Smart Turn System (STS) – Well, if the previous gadget made me envy, this one made me mad. How come no motorcycle manufacturer offers this as a standard on their production models? It works much like a car does, if you happen to drive one, you know that indicator lights disengage by themselves. Well if you didn´t know, now you do. If you drive both vehicles, it can often happen that you forget to cancel the ones on your bike. This can lead to a dangerous situation, especially on the open road. This little gadget senses when your bike has done the turn and disengages turning lights immediately. I also installed it on all my bikes. Safety always comes first.
Vigo Smart Track – Vigo is the motorcycle buddy, which will have your back on every curve. Imagine you’re riding solo on a forest road, and no one is around. You have a crash and need help. Vigo will sense the crash and automatically call for help. With that, your life can be saved. Besides this essential function, Vigo will also record every ride and provide anti-theft protection of your two-wheeled beauty.
Combining all the comfort improvements as mentioned earlier, and the power, the Suzuki Katana 2019 is ready to revolutionize the market. Forty years have gone by since the moment it was first designed in 1979, this flagship bike can do it again. If you are a long-time rider like myself, you know that each bike has its application. Very few are the cases in which you can use a bike successfully in different situations. For example, if you buy a racing bike and take a long trip, your back will know. If you buy a touring bike and go on a long trip, you will have to sacrifice some speed. Well, this seems to be Suzuki´s goal when they made the decision of using the Katana name again.
I am a lucky rider in the sense that I got to sit on each incarnation of this bike. Although I love Suzuki´s touring models, they lacked that edge. This is a one-of-a-kind cult bike, and the throne was awaiting. All of us fans are anxious to put our leather jacket and take that Japanese sword for a ride.