SUZUKI GSX-S950 (2021 - on) Review

Highlights

  • Suzuki’s power-restricted super naked
  • 93.7bhp inline four
  • Can be made A2-legal if required

At a glance

Power: 94 bhp
Seat height: Medium (31.9 in / 810 mm)
Weight: Medium (472 lbs / 214 kg)

Prices

New £9,999
Used £8,500

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
3 out of 5 (3/5)

While I get the point in Suzuki building the GSX-S950, I struggle to see many new riders wanting to spend that amount of cash on their first bike and it only works for a very small niche of the market.

Basically, Suzuki are hoping someone aged 19 to 24 wants one and this rider isn’t fussed about riding a machine with over 100bhp when they gain their full licence, which could be in two years or when they turn 24.

Cornering on the Suzuki GSX-S950 on UK roads

That said, taller or heavier riders may appreciate the 'big bike' size of the GSX-S and it is also cool to be riding a machine that looks identical to its full-power sibling, despite being A2-legal.

Also, as it can be derestricted, it is far more a longterm investment than a pure A2-legal bike, which goes some way to help justify the initial investment. The main problem, however, is that rival 94bhp bikes are lighter and simply more fun to ride.

Ride quality & brakes

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

As with the tech, cost savings have been made on the GSX-S950’s chassis, not that you really notice them. While lacking the brand name, the Tokico radial calipers have all of the stopping power of the 1000’s Brembos and are also monoblock and radial in their design, so look the part as well as performing perfectly acceptably on the road.

Like so many of Suzuki’s stoppers, they are a bit weak in initial bite but on a bike aimed at newer riders this isn’t really an issue – if it is, upgrading the pads usually does the trick.

A static view of the Suzuki GSX-S950

The KYB forks are a lower spec and lack any adjustment compared to the GSX-S1000’s items (the shock is identical) but again they are more than up to the job for road riding, delivering a good ride quality.

The overriding problem, however, is that the GSX-S feels like a solid and secure super naked minus its power, not an agile and light fun middleweight to match its 100bhp rivals such as the Ducati Monster or Aprilia Tuono 660, which both are about 30kg lighter.

Riding the Suzuki GSX-S950

Engine

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

The GSX-R1000 K5-derived inline four is identical to the updated 2021 GSX-S1000’s engine, so ignore the misleading 950 part of its name.

However where the 1000 kicks out 149.9bhp and 78.2ftlb, the 950 makes 93.7bhp and 67.9ftlb. Why? The rules are that to make an A2-legal bike, the original machine can’t have more than twice the restricted power threshold, hence the reduction in peak power.

In A2-legal mode, which is how MCN tested the bike, the GSX-S makes the required 46.6bhp, which is achieved through an ECU remap with no physical modifications to the bike itself, meaning getting it back to full power is a simple 'plug and play' reflash from a dealer.

Suzuki GSX-S950 four-cylinder engine

Only peak power is measured so the 67.9ftlb of torque is unaffected by the restriction, which is great news. Even in A2-legal 46.6bhp mode the GSX-S sounds like it will rip your head off with a proper super naked snarling exhaust note, which is fantastic, but to ride it is a bit like a small dog with a big bark.

The power is initially impressive but by the time you pass 6000rpm it tails off and the engine just makes more noise rather than actual performance.

Far from a slow bike, you can easily hit 70mph and the torque is good in the low and mid-range, so if you are restricted to an A2 licence, you won’t feel too short-changed and the throttle response is good.

Reliability & build quality

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

The inline four engine is used to running close to 150bhp, so in lower-power form it is highly unlikely to have any reliability issues.

The GSX-S is a solid bike and aside from a few grumbles about corrosion on the fasteners, all seems well. As the GSX-S1000 and GSX-S950 share an identical chassis, it is fair to assume the build quality will be equally as robust.

Suzuki GSX-S950 graphics

Value vs rivals

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

Suzuki claim the GSX-S950 can deliver 46mpg, which is probably a bit optimistic however does mean low 40mpg figures are realistic, and the service intervals are the same 4000-miles (ish, technically every 6000km, which is averaged to 4000 miles and 3500 miles) with valve-clearances at 14,500 miles.

Costing £10,150 on the road and making 93.7bhp puts the Suzuki up against the likes of the excellent Triumph Trident 660 (£7395, 78.9bhp), Honda CB650R (£7399, 92bhp), Yamaha MT-07 (£6902, 72.4bhp), Aprilia Tuono 660 (£9700, 93.7bhp) and Ducati Monster (£10,896, 109.4bhp), all of which can also be restricted to A2-legal.

Riding the Suzuki GSX-S950 on UK roads

In this company it (on paper) tops the performance tree in full-power mode (the Ducati is technically 94bhp on paper before restriction, in reality its 109.4bhp).

It is also the second most expensive with only the higher-spec Tuono close to its price point and Ducati Monster above it – both of which are, arguably depending on your preference for Japanese or Italian bikes, more desirable.

Equipment

Suzuki have removed a bit of the GSX-S1000’s tech to meet the GSX-S950’s more budget-friendly price point, which is £1000 less than its sibling at £10,150 OTR.

Instead of the 1000’s five non-angle-sensitive traction control modes the 950 has three, it also lacks power modes and there is no up/down shifter. You still get ABS (non-angle-sensitive on both bikes) as well as Low RPM Assist and an LCD dash.

Do you miss any of the tech? Admittedly it is a shame the 950 doesn’t even have the option of adding an accessory shifter, which is a glaring omission, but power modes are pretty irrelevant on a sub-100bhp bike (even more so on an A2-legal one...) and the ABS and TC systems are effective and welcome to have.

Suzuki GSX-S950 LCD dash

So overall, no, in isolation you don’t really miss the tech. Compared to its rivals, however, it is left a bit lacking.

Even some cheaper machines have connectivity in their instruments while rivals that match the Suzuki’s price point such as the Ducati Monster and Aprilia Tuono 660 have IMUs bringing angle-sensitivity to their safety assists as well up/down shifters as standard fitment (or an accessory, depending on the deal). And Brembo brakes, which are good bling...

Suzuki GSX-S950 switchgear

In terms of accessories, the GSX-S1000 and GSX-S950 are basically identical. Suzuki have a fairly well-established accessories range with bolt-on bits such as wheel rim tape, a pillion seat cover, carbon parts and crash protection all covered as well as two tank bag options.

Loads of aftermarket firms make exhaust cans, screens and other parts for the GSX-S1000, so you have quite a range of options if you want to change its look or up its practicality levels.

Specs

Engine size 999cc
Engine type Liquid-cooled, 16v, inline four
Frame type Aluminium twin spar
Fuel capacity 19 litres
Seat height 810mm
Bike weight 214kg
Front suspension 43mm, inverted KYB forks, non-adjustable
Rear suspension Single rear shock, preload and rebound adjustable
Front brake 2 x 310mm discs with four-piston radial monoblock Tokico calipers. ABS
Rear brake 240mm single disc with single-piston caliper. ABS
Front tyre size 120/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 190/50 x 17

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 46 mpg
Annual road tax £101
Annual service cost -
New price £9,999
Used price £8,500
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two years

Top speed & performance

Max power 94 bhp
Max torque 67.9 ft-lb
Top speed 120 mph
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 230 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

  • 2015 Suzuki GSX-S1000 – The GSX-S1000 is released. Powered by a re-tuned version of the GSX-R1000 K5 motor, it is Suzuki’s entry into the super naked class.
  • 2015 Suzuki GSX-S1000F – Taking the streetfighter as a base, Suzuki add a fairing to create the 'useable sportsbike' F model. Not a sports tourer or a naked bike, it falls into an awkward middle ground and fails to hit the mark.
  • 2017 Suzuki GSX-S750 – Suzuki release the smaller-capacity GSX-S model to replace the GSR750. With updated styling, a GSX-R750 K5-derived motor and a sporty chassis, it’s a decent entry but a bit behind the game compared to its middleweight rivals.
  • 2018 Suzuki GSX-S1000 and GSX-S1000F – Small updates see the GSX-S models’ fuelling improved and power upped.
  • 2019 Suzuki Katana – Based around the GSX-S1000 platform, the Katana adds modern retro styling with a smaller capacity fuel tank as a homage to the iconic 1980s machine.
  • 2021 Suzuki GSX-S1000 – The GSX-S1000 is substantially updated with a new look, enhanced tech and revised engine. It’s a cracker!
  • 2022 Suzuki GSX-S1000GT – Suzuki see the light and replace the F with the GT. Now a proper sports tourer based on the new 2021 GSX-S platform, it’s a good, solid, bike with a tempting price tag and improved tech.

Other versions

There is only one Suzuki GSX-S950, however it shares much of its parts with the larger Suzuki GSX-S1000.

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