SUZUKI RF900 (1995-1999) Review

Published: 24 November 2006

"It's not often that you get quality and style along with 'budget'"

Suzuki RF900R motorcycle review - Riding

"It's not often that you get quality and style along with 'budget'"

  • At a glance
  • 937cc  -  125 bhp
  • 44 mpg  -  200 miles range
  • Medium seat height (805mm)

Overall Rating 4 out of 5

It’s not often that you get quality and style along with 'budget'. But Suzuki delivered just that when it produced the RF900R in the late 90s. A sporty sports-tourer, the Suzuki RF900R delivered plenty of punch, decent handling, comfortable versatility and, er, odd styling. Old hat today, but the Suzuki RF900R is still excellent value.

Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5

Steel perimeter frame helped keep costs of the Suzuki RF900R down, used the engine as a stressed member and provided taut and surefooted handling with a short wheelbase and quick steering geometry. Over-hard suspension springs and damping rates can cause some jarring, but once loaded up with a pillion and some luggage the rear of the Suzuki RF900R starts to work much better. At 203kg (447lb) dry the RF900R is flickable and competent and leans much more to the sporting side of its sports tourer personality than first appearances might suggest.

Engine 4 out of 5

The Suzuki RF900R's 937cc, GSX-R1100-derived engine is powerlifter-strong, pulling from just above tickover to the 12,000rpm red line without a dip, cough or stumble, and at 125bhp it is right in the horsepower ballpark. The Suzuki RF900R's fast, flexible and solid as old nails

Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5

Understressed engine based on proven oil-cooled design adds up to mechanical durability with the Suzuki RF900R. And as for the rest of the RF900R, steel predominates instead of aluminium and there’s a distinct lack of finiskity, cutting edge technology. If looked after, Suzuki RF900R's stand up weel, but watch out for hard and winter use…

Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5

When new, the Suzuki RF900R was closer to 600-class prices than 1000cc ones and thius was excellent value. The RF900R was popular, too, despite it’s Alien looks, er, alienating some. As a result, used values hold up well. But find a good Suzuki RF900R and it’s still going to be a value purchase. Find a Suzuki RF900R for sale.

Insurance group: 15 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.

Equipment 4 out of 5

The Suzuki RF900R is better than the lowly price suggests. Ferrari Testarossa-like fairing side louvres hint at high rolling supercar style (an irony of fake Rolex proportions given the penny-pinching price) while the broad, flat, seat and grabrail provide comfortable accommodation if you've got a pillion on the back of the RF900R. The flared-out rear might endear the RF900R to pillions, but the taillight cluster and bodywork are wider than a pre-diet Vanessa Feltz while the plethora of bulbs and reflectors would rival Blackpool illuminations.

Owners' Reviews

14 owners have reviewed their SUZUKI RF900 (1995-1999) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

We’re currently improving the way this section works, which means we’ve had to suspend the submission of new owners’ reviews for a short period. Please check back soon.

Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 4.6 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4.6 out of 5
Engine 4.9 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4.6 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4.7 out of 5
Equipment 3.8 out of 5
5 out of 5

Big Bang Little Buck

03 September 2013 by hawkwinder

OK So I am 42 years old and still want to enjoy a bike that has some grunt (preferably 150 MPH+) but at the same time is comfortable enough to allow for my geriatric back and knees… Oh and also it cannot cosy more that £1500, Finally I want something... Read more a little “out of the box” and “different from the crowd”! I had a good look on bike trader and slowly the list of bikes that matched this wants list shrank smaller and smaller. Anything that was one or more of these was not the other. To be frank the biggest problem was finding anything that was not rotten and\or just another old Suzuki bandit at this price point, (nothing against Bandits as a bike but they are a bit like the two version of a clitoris, in that every c**t has got one… and the connotations of being a bandit in my era are most certainly not the same as they are now) pardon my French. Finally I accepted that the price had to go up and the speed requirement had to go down… Or did it? Literally just before changing my search criteria to add another £500 (and include the moon and inner solar system as locations in my search) I saw an add for a Suzuki RF900…. For £999. Now I remember seeing one of these back in the day and thinking “my god it looks like a cross between one of the thunderbirds and a wedgewood sideboard, from the rear anyway” but on seeing this one something clicked in my mind. Yes it does have an arse only a mother could love. And yes those vented grills do make it look like a 70’s doctor who robot… but wow its actually quite pleasing on the eye. This one was fettled in the silver, purple and orange (reminds me of the 1995 urban tiger Fireblade). The advert said it had 22,000 miles on the clock and also the photos were showing a pretty tidy bike. I rang the owner in anticipation and sure enough it was still available. The owner was happy to talk through the plusses and minuses of the bike and I got the feeling he was being straight. On arriving to test ride the owner (lets call him Ken, as that was his name) struck me as loving the bike and really would have rather kept it. Also very honest and fair-minded. He was at the senior end of the biking spectrum in age terms and had owned the bike for 15,000 of its 22,000 miles so no need to worry about the owner not knowing the bike well. Clean and tidy ticked over well, minor leaks from the fork seals and a back brake that had too much travel meant that we finally settled on £880. Now up to this point I had broken my golden rule about giving the bike a full test ride and had only ridden it round the local roads close to his house so had not really had a chance to go above 3rd. Money paid I left and spent the next 20 mins getting comfortable with the bike. Now at this point I discovered something rather interesting. This is no soggy old hector pretending to be a bit sporty. I has a massive and gargantuan, torque filled powerband that runs pretty much from 1500 revs in first to 9-10,000 revs in 5th… OH BTW that’s 5th… no 6th gear (mind you don’t need a 6th because your face will be ripped off way before then when you hit the quoted 162 miles an hour top speed, I of course did not do that but I know a bloke that did… AHEM) This bike is very, very VERY quick. But that’s the odd thing. Its not quick as in “Jayyyyyyssssuuuussss Keeeeeeeeeeeriiiiiiiissssssssssssst “ , its much more “good god did I really get home that quickly?” Its never going to really trouble any true sports bikes from its own era too much though I noted its stock torque numbers wee’s like a puppy all over the 96 Fireblades numbers so if you put it on a diet I expect they would not be too far apart. The comfort is OK and the 3 hour blast I took it on left me only a little tired. One thing to note on this bike. Its big and quite heavy so when you get to twisty roads you will feel it and although it’s essentially a sports tourer I did notice my wrists had begun to get that “loaded” feeling near to the end of the ride. Generally speaking the ride comfort is good with the suspension coping with most of the things the UK roads could throw at it. But on one occasion I did feel it begin to fall behind on the most severe C roads. The stock seat is horrible though, if you have a bus ticket in your back pocket you will feel it. I am going to have a Corbin fitted as soon as humanly possible. The whole shebang gets a bit vibey and buzzy around 4-5000 revs but nothing that cant be sorted out I am sure. Also take note. The carbs were way out of balance on mine when I bought it and the buzzing has dropped markedly since these have been synced. Handling. This is where the real and most obvious difference is between a bike like the RF900 and say a Gixxer or Blade from the same era. Nowhere near as flickable and responsive but by no means a slouch. It feels great on long flowing corners but does feel a little punch drunk on quick and tight corners. Mind you a big plus was no scary diving in feeling on the corners and once you get used to the slightly Rocky Balboa feeling nothing that cant be planned for at all but the most extreme speeds. Build quality seems OK. The plastics are all in good order on this example but I can see where little things in general were used to shave cost. The still frame (using the engine as a stressed member) is OK but I feel that a strip down and powder coat is required on mine. Brakes… Hmmm again OK but nothing spectacular. The pots are basic Nissin clunkers so I would suspect an aftermarket upgrade of these will be next (after a Corbin seat). In conclusion the bike is surprisingly fast, very different from the run of the mill, comfortable for extended periods and only cost me £880 (p.s the insurance is hilariously cheap £110 per year fully comp). All in all an awful lot of bike for very little money. If you see one and it has been looked after I would strongly recommend a test ride you might be surprised

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 3 out of 5
4 out of 5

Bikes Like This Should Still Be Made!

21 July 2013 by edster71

Had mine about a fortnight now, after many Kwakkers. So far, VERY impressed - plenty quick, build quality, contrary to opinions, seems to be quite good; and it's easy to work on - you can't say that about many modern bikes, can you! For the money, I... Read more don't think much will come close... True, a 6th gear would be nice, but you get used to it. MUCH more comfortable than the current stock of litre bikes, needless to say. Looking forward to using mine for the remainder of the Summer, and then lavishing some TLC on it. Some better tyres, fettling of the springy bits, heated grips, and MRA Vario screen, will all help make a great bike even better! Mine's a '96, with 20,500 miles on at the time of purchase. I didn't set out with the intention of getting an RF9, but I'm more than happy with my decision - if you can find a good one snap it up, sharpish! Underrated? Definitely! A really great bike! :-)

Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
5 out of 5

love the RF

21 February 2011 by madsod

well what can i say iv had the rf 900 for a year now and the wife also has a 900 rs2 , and the 600rf , i also ride a gsxr 1000 k3 , but the rf is one hell of a bike it will do it all super fast goes round corners well , once you set it all up right ,... Read more i put a gsxr wn shock on the back , suzuki should make this bike again , if you have not rode one then try it ,

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
5 out of 5

Smooth and wicked fast

28 May 2009 by Yesugi

It's getting to be an old bike now, but it still turns heads (and snaps necks). Smooth power delivery from under 2000rpm in top, to -- well, nobody knows -- and it pulls from a stop at idle. Great fuel mileage; eats road miles at a prodigious rate,... Read more or rewards hard-core attention by blowing a surprising number of other bikes onto the shoulder. I have had one for over three years now (see avatar), and just got a "parts bike" running. It's so pretty, in original purple and yellow, and its controls and bodywork -- everything is so nice, it looks like it's about 2 years old. I'm keeping it together! After 40+ years riding, plus racing, long distance touring, etc., on over 40 bikes, I must say that the RF900R has the best feel and balance of all of them, for what it's supposed to do. There simply isn't any other bike that can deliver the miles so comfortably, so stinking fast, with so little effort and on so little gas, and still be so much fun! Oh -- I have made a few mods: Corbin seat, Heli-bars, one tooth less in rear sprocket, Yoshimura can, Road Attacks, faired turn signals, car horns, LED lights, lots of powder coating and custom candy apple paint, and Hayabusa (Tokico) 3-pot front calipers. I'll never want another bike, 'cuz I'll never be able to outride this one. (Don't snicker, young 'un -- I'll bet you can't, either.)

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
4 out of 5

RF900r..liked it so much I bought it back!

28 May 2009 by h489agf

Originally traded in my 1999 vfr800fi for the 1996 RF900R. Mistake? no!! the RF is faster handles just as well and the turbine like engine noise is addictive.. I must admit I prefered the noise of the V4 on full chat..but thats all I missed in... Read more terms of riding performance on the worlds best bike? The RF is fast enough and handles well enough..I just wish it had more aluminium parts (frame) and a clock and fuel guage..not too much to ask, I think.. Sold it to a mate..then 5 years later when I was in the market for a new bike, my heart said buy something different, my head said buy the RF back...and so I did...only thing I need to do is fit some decent tyres... huge fun..even the wife likes it!!

Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 3 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5
Equipment 2 out of 5
5 out of 5

Love it

19 March 2009 by son_of_smidsy

Have had the RF9 for about a month now, it is my first big bike since losing my restriction an upgrade from a gpz5 and my god is it an upgrade. At first glance it looks like a bus but it handles fantastic, having kitted it out with a set of BT021's... Read more it handles in the wet and the dry and doesnt skip a beat. the power delivery is so smooth and easy, very confidence inspiring and forgiving bike. Very happy with it and have grown to love its huge arse. however have been told that riding behind it under braking is like riding into the gates of hell. Cant fault the bike, only thing it really needs is a race can.

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
5 out of 5

under rated

23 November 2008 by dghackett

Smooth, powerfull,comfortable Oh! and I almost forgot, It is a good looking motorcycle and ideal for knocking up miles in one day. Just for reference MCN has it wrong as the RF900 only has FIVE gears Read more

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
5 out of 5

Excellent, a real beast. Only 5 gears though

25 July 2006 by waynedl

Best bike I've ever ridden in my life. Quick, powerfull (although u've gotta rev it), Strong and nice looking. Strengths: Speed, feel, strength. Weaknesses: 5 gears, lack of torque below 5000rpm, fat arse, handling. Read more

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
5 out of 5

RF900R

12 March 2006 by M0JFK

Having owned the Hayabusa and the ZX12R I was wondering what the hell I was doing buying this heap...well I can say the moment I sat on it to drive it out of the sellers garage I thought Mmmm I like the riding position and after another 20 minutes... Read more putting it down the country bends on the way home I could not get over the way it handled it was smooth, went like hell, and never even twitched through the bends giving me loads of fun and confidence of ride I never got with the Busa or 12 or even my Blade. Strengths: Its great on the Juice too and I found the brakes no worse or better than my previous bikes. Weaknesses: Only cosmetic looks realy...just the frame would of been better if it was made of aluminum.

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
5 out of 5

So good, I bought another

12 February 2006 by brandobiker

I allways wanted an RF900 , but up in Scotland they were quite rare. When I finally found one, the handling was terrible it had Conti Continentals fitted, I put Bridgestone 020's on and it was like a new bike with confident roadhoalding and... Read more cornering, next the headlight not too bright, fitted a Philips H4 VisionPlus bulb and that lights up the night. Braided steel hoses improve the brakes. Fitted new chain & sprockets with one extra tooth on gearbox sprocket don't lift front so easy but touring 50ml to the gallon at 3figure speeds is good. This bike is so good that I bought a '99 model. I would reccomend it to anyone wanting a big bike that is cheap to run considering its performance. Strengths: Cost effective performance. Weaknesses: Needs a few improvements to bring out the best.

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
Read all 14 owners' reviews in full

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 1995
Year discontinued 1999
Original price -
Warranty term (when new) Two year unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group 15 of 17
Annual road tax £80
Annual service cost -
Performance
Max power 125 bhp
Max torque 70 ft-lb
Top speed 162 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 10.8 secs
Average fuel consumption 44 mpg
Tank range 200 miles
Specification
Engine size 937cc
Engine type 16v transverse four, 6 gears
Frame type Steel twin spar
Fuel capacity 21 litres
Seat height 805mm
Bike weight 203kg
Front suspension None (preload post 1995)
Rear suspension Preload and rebound
Front brake 2 x 310mm discs
Rear brake 240mm disc
Front tyre size 120/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 170/60 x 17

History & Versions

Model history

1994: Suzuki RF900R launched.
1995: Suzuki RF900R now fitted with preload adjustable forks.
1999: Suzuki RF900R discontinued.

Other versions

None.

Photo Gallery

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  • Suzuki RF900R motorcycle review - Side view
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  • Suzuki RF900R motorcycle review - Riding
  • Suzuki RF900R motorcycle review - Riding
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  • Suzuki RF900R motorcycle review - Top view
  • Suzuki RF900R motorcycle review - Side view
  • Suzuki RF900R motorcycle review - Engine
  • Suzuki RF900R motorcycle review - Riding
  • Suzuki RF900R motorcycle review - Side view
  • Suzuki RF900R motorcycle review - Brakes
  • Suzuki RF900R motorcycle review - Brakes
  • Suzuki RF900R motorcycle review - Brakes
  • Suzuki RF900R motorcycle review - Riding
  • Suzuki RF900R motorcycle review - Side view
  • Suzuki RF900R motorcycle review - Riding
  • Suzuki RF900R motorcycle review - Brakes
  • Suzuki RF900R motorcycle review - Riding
  • Suzuki RF900R motorcycle review - Riding
  • Suzuki RF900R motorcycle review - Side view
  • Suzuki RF900R motorcycle review - Top view
  • Suzuki RF900R motorcycle review - Side view
  • Suzuki RF900R motorcycle review - Engine