Up-Close with the Suzuki Katana

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One of the highlights from the INTERMOT trade show in Germany was the new Suzuki Katana. Set to be an early 2020 model, the Suzuki Katana takes the GSX-S1000F platform, and brings a unique retro-modern look to its chassis.

This means that the heart of this sport bike comes from the 2005 Suzuki GSX-R1000, which has been re-tuned for street duty.

Though Suzuki is light on details, this should mean a 147hp sport bike, with basic electronic aids. This should also mean an attractive sport bike for under $12,000 here in the USA, if our math is correct.

The Suzuki GSX-S1000F isn’t our favorite sport bike on the market, but the bones of the machine are quite good – just unpolished. If Suzuki can improve upon the riding position, and calm some of the machine’s vibrations, then the Japanese brand could have a real winner on its hands with the Katana.

Our view is one of optimism, as it is clear from getting hands on the bike in Germany that Suzuki has done more than just add new bodywork to the equation.

The LCD dash is attractive, though not cutting-edge modern; the LED headlights are effective and up-spec; and overall the machine is quite the looker.

Closely resembling the Katana 3.0 concept that we saw at the EICMA show last year, Suzuki has done a good job of keeping this motorcycle in the same vein as the original, while polishing the design enough for modern tastes.

There will be some push-back from recycling the 2005 motor and chassis, but the K5 GSX-R is one of the best ever to come from the Japanese brand, and still makes sense for a street-focused liter-bike. Though not a streetfighter, the new Suzuki Katana will surely compete against bikes like the Honda CB1000R, Husqvarna Vitpilen 701, and Yamaha XSR900.

The reception of the Suzuki Katana at INTERMOT was to a packed house, perhaps the most highly attend unveiling at the show, but the response has been mixed bag from those in attendance.

However, I think the new Katana could surprise, once the first reviews come out. Is it cutting edge machine? Certainly, not. But it seems set to tick all the boxes when it comes to being a unique, fun, and affordable street bike to put in your garage.

Photos: © 2018 Jensen Beeler / Asphalt & Rubber – All Rights Reserved

Jensen Beeler

Despite his best efforts, Jensen is called one of the most influential bloggers in the motorcycle industry, and sometimes consults for motorcycle companies, whether they've solicited his expertise or not.