Top 10 Suzuki Motorcycles

  • Suzuki is one manufacturer who used to be associated with groundbreaking motorcycle design and innovations.

  • Their bikes have left an indelible mark in motorcycling.

  • We take a look at ten out of the many.

Continuing our 10 Best Suzuki Motorcycles series, here are the Top 5. We’re picking them according to their significance in motorcycling.

5. DR650

This is the 1991 DR650

Why the DR, you ask? Well, it’s remained mostly unchanged and is still one of the best-selling bikes in many countries since 1990. It’s a bike built to be simple and reliable, with low running costs, so much so that anyone who can hold a wrench can fix it. As of 2020, it’s the best-seller in New Zealand and was so in Canada and Australia in previous years. It’s so reliable that we named it one of the bikes to have post-apocalypse.

4. GS series (1976 to 1992)

Suzuki’s GS series began a long time back and was developed through the years until 1992. It began with the GS400 and GS750, the latter patterned after the Kawasaki Z1. Engine size began to climb along with those developments. Suzuki’s reputation of building bikes with “bulletproof” engines began with the GS1000. The over-engineered engines could be tuned to much higher power outputs without detonating, and it’s what famed tuner Pops Yoshimura used to his advantage: One bike won the 1978 Daytona Superbike race, another in the 1979 Suzuka 8 Hour Endurance, and finally the AMA Superbike titles in 1980 and 1981 with Wes Cooley. Some tuners even achieved 300 hp with turbocharging. The architecture of these engines were further developed into the later GSX-R1100 series and survived into the recent Bandit GSF-1200.

3. GSX-R1100 (1986)

Suzuki was the last to move away from the UJM (Universal Motorcycle Motorcycle) type of design. The GSX-R1100 was the replacement of the famous but ageing GS lineup. The GSX-R1100 began with oil-cooling before being liquid-cooled in 1993 (the WP variant). The biggest changes from the GS series were the frame, engine and design. The GSX-R used an aluminium box section cradle frame; the WP’s engine saw 155 hp; and it took on the look of modern superbikes. The 16-valve, inline-Four engine built upon’s Suzuki’s bulletproof reputation and remains a favourite among drag racers, often seeing supercharging and more than 500 hp.

2. GSX-R750 (1985 to present)

1985 Suzuki GSX-R750

The GSX-R750 didn’t truly break new grounds in terms of innovations when it was introduced in 1984 (production began in 1985). It was however, considered to be the first affordable, modern, road-legal replica racer. It also brought along concepts in building lightweight motorcycles, and actually did that twice in its long lineage, with the 1996 model, better known as SRAD (Suzuki Ram Air Direct). That T-variant weighed only 179 kg with an engine that produced 125 hp.

1. GSX1100S Katana (1981)

No.1 had to be the original Katana. It broke the norms of motorcycle designs of the time and left a lasting impression until today. A typical bike prior to it had separate headlamp, seat and fuel tank, but it’s was the Katana that changed it all. The 1100cc was also powerful and Suzuki claimed it to be the world’s fastest production bike during its introduction. It’s only right that the manufacturer brought back the name in 2019.

  • Suzuki is one manufacturer who used to be associated with groundbreaking motorcycle design and innovations.

  • Their bikes have left an indelible mark in motorcycling.

  • We take a look at ten out of the many.

Suzuki is one manufacturer who used to be associated with groundbreaking motorcycle design and innovations. They may have lost their edge with the current crop of motorcycles but who knows if they would hit back with something jaw-dropping in the future.

Still, they’ve left an indelible mark on motorcycling. Let’s take a look at some of them as they celebrate their 100th anniversary this year.

10. TL1000S/TL1000R (1997-2001/1998-2003)

When Ducati turned out to be the pesky little Italian manufacturer who beat all the giant manufacturers with their lower powered and simpler V-Twin superbikes in World Superbike, Suzuki (and Honda) decided to build their own V-Twins to compete. The result was vis-à-vis Ducati’s 90-degree V-Twin format but tuned for more power. First came the naked TL1000S in 1997, while the full-faired TL1000R followed a year later. Neither had much success due to their wild character, but Bimota used the engine in their popular SB8K. The engine was further developed for the SV1000  and V-Strom 1000. The latter is still in production.

9. SV650/SFV650/Gladius (1999 to present)

The SV650 was the smaller SV1000 but it proved to be more popular than the latter. The reason is simple: The smaller bike is sweeter to ride due to its lower weight and non-threatening power output.

8. GSX-1300R Hayabusa (1999-2019)

The Hayabusa was Suzuki’s answer to the speed war between Honda and Kawasaki. And it was a thumb in the eyes of both rivals, as it broke past the 300 km/h barrier and hit 312 km/h. Designed in a windtunnel, the bike had an unconventional look which polarized opinion. As the “King Speed of Title” isn’t valid any longer, the Hayabusa holds the record as the fastest road legal production bike, ever. (The H2R doesn’t qualify as it’s not road legal.)

8. RG250 (1978-1982)/RG250 Gamma (1983-1987)/RGV250 Gamma (1988-1998)

Suzuki RGV250 Lucky Strike – Photo credit

No list is complete without these two-strokes. The smokers were having a battle royale during the time and it was the RG250 which broke new grounds with an aluminium cradle frame. Light, fast and looking like a proper race replica, it went like stink. But the RG series went better when the RG250 Gamma was introduced in 1983. It was the fastest quarter-litre two-stroke for years, which would embarrass even the big-cc superbikes. The most beautiful powerful iteration was the RGV250 Gamma in 1988. The new V-Twin engine started out with 50 hp (VJ21), then going to 62 hp (VJ22) and topped out at 70 hp in the 1997-1998 “SP” (VJ23) version. Aprilia purchased the VJ22 engines and modified it for their RS250.

6. RG500 Gamma (1984-1987)

The RG500 Gamma was actually the reply to Yamaha’s RD/RZ500, besides commemorating the GP victories in the 500cc GP class in 1981 with Marco Luchinelli and 1982 with Franco Uncini. Using the square four-cylinder (no, the cylinders and pistons are square in shape), twin-crank two-stroke, it made 94.9 hp, for a bike that weighed only 154 kg, dry. It was by far the most powerful 500cc two-stroke at the time and had an aluminium box section frame. Unfortunately, it was only produced for a short period of time. Collectors will pay big money for these.


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