SUZUKI GSX-8S (2023 - on) Review

Highlights

  • All-new 776cc parallel-twin with a chunky midrange
  • Forgiving, stable handling that lets you ride hard too
  • User-friendly digital interface and rider aids
MCN AWARDS
Naked of the Year 2023
WINNER

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Annual servicing cost: £200
Power: 82 bhp
Seat height: Medium (31.9 in / 810 mm)
Weight: Medium (445 lbs / 202 kg)

Prices

New £8,199
Used £6,400 - £6,900

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The 2023 Suzuki GSX-8S is a naked motorbike that's a big deal for the Japanese firm – it’s their first true all-new, big bike platform since the SV650 in 1999, entering a hotly-contested class where you’re splitting hairs over value, performance, features and usability.

The ante in the budget middleweight class has already been upped by the Honda CB750 Hornet – all-new, just like the Suzuki, with similar specifications in broad terms. Both are 750cc-ish parallel twin motors with a 270° firing pattern that mimics V-twin delivery, both have a steel frame shared with an adventure bike, both have upside-down forks and the same Nissin brake calipers.

Where they differ is the development priorities and ultimate results. On paper, the 10kg weight disadvantage, 10bhp power deficit and less aggressive geometry would suggest the Suzuki is the lesser machine, especially given the GSX-8S’s RRP at launch is £1000 higher than the Hornet.

Cornering right on the 2023 Suzuki GSX-8S

The Suzuki does come with an up/down quickshifter as standard, but the option on the Honda is only £250, so it’s still much cheaper like-for-like, if Honda sustain such near-unbelievable value. Even the long-running Yamaha MT-07 is £400 more than the Hornet 750.

The spec sheet is a hint at Suzuki’s aims for the bike – it has been designed to be smooth, torquey and manageable in day-to-day riding for riders of all experience levels, as well as being able to step up and handle a thrashing on your favourite back roads.

Midrange, confidence and feel are the hallmarks of the GSX-8S: while it lacks the snappy steering and buzzing top end of the Hornet, it makes up for it with suspension that provides more control on harder rides, with less propensity to get frisky over bumps and smooth drive from 2000rpm, with decent midrange torque available from 3500rpm.

2023 Suzuki GSX-8S pillion seat logo

It's a more balanced, considered package with no significant criticisms – everything from comfort to suspension performance contributes to an overall feeling of harmony, and is up to (or beyond) the standards you expect from bikes in this category, at this price.

The GSX-8S ticks all the boxes – novice friendly, suited to daily commuting, good value and offers performance that will satisfy experienced riders too. But so does the Hornet and Triumph Trident 660, in different ways. Your preferences when it comes to engine character may be the deciding factor.

WATCH: Suzuki GSX-8S vs Honda Hornet CB750 twin test

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
4 out of 5 (4/5)

Unadjustable cartridge forks and a basic monoshock with preload adjustment only is typical for the class: aside from altering the spring preload depending on rider/pillion/luggage weight, you’re stuck with Suzuki’s settings.

They have opted for firmer settings than most bikes in this class, which gives it more feel and stability in a variety of situations, and the support you need for harder rides too. They aren’t perfect – the price of the components and the need to compromise makes that a given.

The shock is firm on the compression stroke, but more loosely damped on the rebound side. High-speed bumps and ripples tend to give you a double-hit to the backside, as it responds slowly to the hit and then springs back quickly.

2023 Suzuki GSX-8S front brake set-up

On smoother roads and twistier sections you’ll appreciate the balanced feel and support from both ends, especially in comparison with the Hornet and MT-07 which are softer in broad terms, and get overwhelmed sooner.

The Suzuki has the longest wheelbase and the highest weight in its class too, which also assists in making it feel more stable. The extra mass doesn’t really feel like a penalty, as it’s carried low, with great control afforded by the riding position too.

2023 Suzuki GSX-8S being ridden in a sporting manner

Radial Nissin four-pot brakes are the same as the Hornet, and they’re just as good on the Suzuki. Initial bite is gentle, allowing fine control at slow speed or on wet roads, with good feel and strong power the more you pull the lever.

Damp roads and slippery surfaces on the launch in southern France weren’t enough to invoke an ABS response: testament to the suspension action as well as the control afforded to the rider. And that’s on OE Dunlop Roadsmart 2 tyres, which lack feel (especially when cold), and never instil real confidence. The rest of the chassis is good enough to exploit better rubber.

Engine

Next up: Reliability
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The 776cc engine is designed very specifically for this application (and the V-Strom 800DE): there’s no carryover from the GSX-R family, no talk of ‘MotoGP technology’, as with others.

It’s comparatively long-stroke, with smaller-bore throttle bodies and longer intakes than you may expect to see on an engine of this size, and details like the side-draft inlets appear to be an anachronism, when you consider down-draft inlets have been the norm from the mid-1990s on most semi-sporty engines.

Those atypical design choices give it a unique feel and quality among similar parallel-twin engines, which are revvy with a flatter power delivery. The GSX-8S behaves more like a V-twin than any other parallel with the same crankshaft phasing – it feels gutsy from as low as 2000rpm, with strong drive from around 3500rpm through to 7500rpm, before tailing off.

2023 Suzuki GSX-8S engine

Well-chosen gear ratios mean you usually have a choice of gears in most circumstances, able to drive out of bends or pick-off traffic without too many changes.

Suzuki developed a twin balance shaft layout for this engine, with one for each cylinder running at 90° to each other in front and below the crankshaft, where other parallel twins have a single shaft with the counterweights for both piston assemblies on it.

Suzuki claim this layout counteracts primary/secondary balance issues inherent in parallel twins with this firing pattern, but the separate shafts positioned as such offer an extra degree of vibe reduction they believe is worth the sacrifice in weight, complexity and mechanical drag.

But this engine hasn’t been designed for applications where peak performance is critical, and those factors would be limiting. Instead, the smoother running allows you to better exploit the flexibility – you can leave it in sixth gear, and let it drop as low as 2000rpm and 30mph or so, without any shuddering or stalling – it’ll pick up and drive nicely.

It's well-mannered and unintimidating for inexperienced riders, but the impressive punch also makes it entertaining for motorcyclists with a few more miles under their wheels, and makes it a strong performer at sensible speeds… or nearly sensible, anyway.

2023 Suzuki GSX-8S exhaust

The performance is underpinned with good manners – it has a choice of three torque maps, which amount to wet/slippery conditions (C), general riding (B) and sportier/fun use (A).

C-mode is almost redundant – while it does soften torque delivery for most of the rev range, the throttle response in B-mode is manages to be more direct without being snatchy or unmanageable. The motor’s natural connection and traction still allowed us to proceed in confidence on cold, greasy roads without invoking the traction control.

A-mode is a pleasant surprise – it’s the most urgent and feels of particular benefit on spirited rides using fourth to sixth gear, where thrust is naturally tailing off and you most feel the benefit of more direct reaction to the twistgrip. But unlike many ‘full’ power modes it doesn’t come with snatchy, unpleasant response, even from a closed throttle. It’s a further indication of the thought that has gone into the whole package.

Fuel economy is good – the launch involved a lot of empty, winding mountain roads and riding generally not conducive to economy, yet it still showed 46mpg on the dash. We didn’t fuel the bike ourselves, so we couldn’t verify the accuracy, but it’s a good indication that the GSX-8S isn’t thirsty.

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
3 out of 5 (3/5)

The Suzuki GSX-8S engine is all new, and shares nothing with any models that went before. Only the V-Strom 800DE developed and released in parallel uses the same engine, main frame and other minor fittings.

Given the engine is not in a high-revving, high-stress state of tune, it seems unlikely that it will be prone to failure. Detail and design is good – some of the metal finishes and casting quality is best described as basic, but it’s not unexpected in this part of the market.

To find out what its reliability is really like, we're running a Suzuki GSX-8S on the MCN long-term fleet in 2023. Dan Sutherland is its custodian and so far he's done all sorts, from track days, to visiting the Isle of Man, to fitting a new (louder) exhaust.

Riding around a bend on the 2023 Suzuki GSX-8S

The Honda Hornet, MT-07 and KTM 790 Duke have similar visible signs of how the manufacturers have achieved a combination of moderately-high specification and an attractive price.

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
4 out of 5 (4/5)

At launch, the Suzuki had the same £7999 RRP as KTM’s reintroduced Duke 790, which offers a sportier tune but doesn’t have a quickshifter at that price.

Yamaha’s MT-07 was £400 cheaper, but the Suzuki’s more sophisticated, higher-performing package fully justified the extra. Triumph’s Trident 660 began at £7895, offering a higher standard of build, though no more features or performance.

Riding the 2023 Suzuki GSX-8S on a straight road

The Suzuki faced the greatest competition from Honda’s Hornet, which was £6999 (plus £250 for a quickshifter to level the equipment sheets. The GSX’s more assured handing and torquey motor are compelling, but the Honda’s significant price advantage was almost impossible to ignore.

But it’s common for dealers to offer attractive deals on Suzukis, and the Honda’s price is so good, it may not be sustainable in the longer run – time will tell if the Hornet will continue to make a strong case for itself based on value.

The Suzuki's price rose a little to £8199 later in 2023.

WATCH: Spending 2023 with the Suzuki GSX-8S

Equipment

4 out of 5 (4/5)

An up/down quickshifter is standard fit, as are upside-down forks, an easy-to-read five-inch TFT instrument panel and radial calipers. That’s really as far it goes in terms of standard-fit goodies – the nature of the class means fully-adjustable suspension, highly-sophisticated electronics and the like simply aren’t feasible.

The GSX-8S doesn’t instantly feel lacking, or cut-price in any area: by that measure, you could consider it relatively well-equipped.

2023 Suzuki GSX-8S TFT dash

There are myriad aftermarket accessories available for it too.

During his long-term test, Dan fitted an Akrapovic exhaust to his bike to make it sound a little more interesting and lot louder...

Specs

Engine size 776cc
Engine type Liquid-cooled, 8v DOHC parallel-twin
Frame type Tubular steel
Fuel capacity 14 litres
Seat height 810mm
Bike weight 202kg
Front suspension Non-adjustable upside down forks
Rear suspension Mono shock, preload-adjustable
Front brake Dual 310mm discs, with four-piston radial Nissin calipers
Rear brake 240mm disc, single-piston Nissin caliper
Front tyre size 120/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 180/55 x 17

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption -
Annual road tax £117
Annual service cost £200
New price £8,199
Used price £6,400 - £6,900
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term Three years

Top speed & performance

Max power 82 bhp
Max torque 57.5 ft-lb
Top speed -
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 206 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

  • 2023: Suzuki launch the GSX-8S at £7999, later hiked to £8199

Other versions

There is only one version of the Suzuki GSX-8S. However, for 2024 Suzuki are bringing out the racier GSX-8R to add some sportiness to the platform.

And don't forget, the 2024 V-Strom 800 RE and 2023 V-Strom 800 DE use the same engine and chassis.

Watch MCN's 2023 Suzuki V-Strom 800 video below:

Owners' reviews for the SUZUKI GSX-8S (2023 - on)

2 owners have reviewed their SUZUKI GSX-8S (2023 - on) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your SUZUKI GSX-8S (2023 - on)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Engine: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Reliability & build quality: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Value vs rivals: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Equipment: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Annual servicing cost: £200
5 out of 5 You'll be surprised how good the GSX8S is
22 May 2023 by Brad Hollywood

Year: 2023

Annual servicing cost: £200

I've had numerous bikes over the years and was initially thinking of an MT09, however I was able to ride both and the GSX8S demo, wow what a surprise, in A mode acceleration is urgent from low down, really torque rich motor, the handling is amazing and tall this for the price is really impressive.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Bit stiff, but really good when you want to boogy, as well so super comfortable low seat height and well placed wide bars. I manage well over 2 hrs before needing a break. This is an excellent all round bike, commuting, fun and looks awesome too.

Engine 5 out of 5

I was starting to worry about Suzuki, they showcased the Recursion several years ago, and nothing! The SV 650 was an awesome bike, snd Suzuki seem to gave list their spark. Then they bring out this engine, wow. 270 degree crank, V twin sound, but smooth and torque rich creamy motor. Yes it's not a 100 bhp, or 4 cylinder smooth, but the low down punch and broad midrange power band means you can just roll on and off the throttle. Typical suzuki gearbox smooth precise and light action.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

Suzuki have come a long way since the old GS500, the attention to detail, paint and fasteners are all top quality. I haven't used through a winter yet, and to be honest not likely to, but it seems very well put together, and Suzuki reliability is some of the best.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

£7995.00 May sound like a lot if money, but the prices of sportsbikes and adventure bikes nowadays is astronomical!! You get decent kit, decent warranty and at the moment 55 to 60 mpg, insurance was really cheap to, although I am almost 50....

Equipment 5 out of 5

Traction control, rider modes, full decent sized tft, quickshufter, ABS, all amazing and adjustable. Not overly complicated, and I just want to get on and ride rather than have the massive amount of changes some bikes offer on their riding modes.

Buying experience: Orwell Motorcycles Ipswich. The best dealer in the UK, friendly staff, nothing is too much of a problem and the best deals around.

5 out of 5 appletreebounds@gmail.com
09 May 2023 by appletreebounds@gmail.com

Year: 2023

Cracking bike for money really stable and not snatchy like honda Hornet. Only downside USB port optional extra and no Bluetooth connection to dashboard

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5

USB port. Had screen for mine and rear seat cover.

Buying experience: Dealer price £8169 otr

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