SUZUKI KATANA 1000 (2019 - on) Review
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£250|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
A more upright seating position aside, the new Katana basically rides the same as the cheaper GSX-S1000 donor bike and has a worse fuel range, so it’s hard to justify the extra cost. Its looks are as divisive as they were all those years ago, it lacks the sophisticated refinement of some of its rivals and its low speed throttle manners still aren’t perfect.
- Related: We're running a Suzuki Katana on the MCN long-term test fleet
- Related: Team Classic Suzuki Katana's final ride
But it’s still hugely capable, rapid, easy to ride, a riot in the corners and has an air of specialness about it that makes it more than just the sum of its parts.
Read on for the full Suzuki Katana review, and see the latest news here.
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
New bodywork is a modern take on the Hans Muth-designed 1982 GSXS1100 Katana and is striking in the flesh. Those old Kats are having something of a resurgence at the moment – restorations are rife and they prowl classic racing grids, tuned to the hilt, turning in incredible lap times.
It’s fitting, then, that Suzuki should revive the Katana now with a mixture of old and new detail touches, from the aluminium front mudguard strut, which apes the original, to modern LED lights and a swingarm-mounted number plate hanger (a first for a Suzuki), which leaves the tail unit, my favourite feature, looking uncluttered and racy.
A new narrow-hipped, 25mm taller seat and upright bars give the Suzuki a more streetfighter-like riding position and the KYB suspension has been tweaked to suit the revised weight distribution – firmer on the front, softer at the rear. New Dunlop Roadsmart 2 tyres (half way between sports touring and sports rubber) make their debut appearance on a production bike.
Suzuki didn’t hang around building the Katana. They clocked the Italian-penned ‘Katana 3.0 Concept’ at the Milan international show in 2017 and loved it so much they produced their own and revealed it in Cologne a year later.
Does that mean the Suzuki is a rush job, or is it the Samurai sword it’s named after? Its more upright riding position gives the Katana a shorter, squatter feel than the 6kg lighter GSX-S1000, but the way it rides and handles is basically the same.
There’s nothing the Katana won’t do. Steering, grip and general handling are sharp and it cuts through corners in a way that the 80s Kat could have only dreamed, but it lacks the refinement and composure of something like a Kawasaki Z900RS, Triumph Speed Triple, Yamaha MT-10 and any given European super naked.
Tyres take a while to warm up and in the cold and wet and you wish the Suzuki would hold a line that little bit tighter and change direction faster. Ride quality could be plusher and the rear shock bounces that smidgeon too much when you push-on over undulations.
Brembos are pinched from the current GSX-R1000, but with their more basic ABS control and different pads they actually have more bite on the road than the superbike’s. A dab of the powerful, progressive rear keeps a bouncing rear shock in check and back-braking against the throttle in slow corners irons out the throttle’s harshness.
Wind protection is what you’d expect from a naked, the riding position is comfy and the mirrors work well, but the new 12-litre tank could be a problem for big mileage lovers – you’ll be lucky to see 100 miles before the reserve light starts blinking at you.
The Katana is pretty much there out of the crate, but whack on some sticky tyres, quality aftermarket suspension and a gentler fuel map to flatter its monster K5 engine and the Suzuki would become a Kat with serious claws.
How does the Katana cope with the UK?
Despite the wet conditions on our 85-mile ride around Stratford-Upon-Avon, the occasional slither of dry tarmac revealed the Katana to be a true back road blaster, which is what Suzuki maintain the bike is for.
Firm without being uncomfortable and equipped with superb radial calipers derived from the current GSX-R1000 range, the bike feels planted and well balanced, dispatching with our pothole-laden tarmac with gusto.
Although softer than some more focussed super-nakeds, the bike is firm enough for real-world riding and coupled with its powerful-yet-progressive radial calipers, inspires you to chuck the bike into corners with a grab of last minute two-finger braking.
EngineNext up: Reliability
The Katana’s 999cc long stroke, inline four cylinder motor is lifted from the GSX-R1000K5 (the best one), retuned for more torque and wrapped in a lightweight cast aluminium chassis.
Suzuki have gone some way to cure the GSX-S1000’s snatchy low down power delivery since its 2015 launch and the Katana’s more progressive new throttle cam improves things further, but they’re still not there. Once past 30mph picking up a closed throttle through town or mid corner is as smooth as the best of them, but any slower and it’s a jerk fest.
You adapt to it in the end, with a steadier hand, but it’s a glitch on a motor that’s as flexible as a yoga teacher with a clear diary and would make the old 89bhp Katana cry in its wake.
It’ll scream out of slow corners in second with the front wheel skimming the Japanese tarmac or grunt through in third, surging to the next corner like a bullet train, snicking through its (slightly stiff and quickshifterless) gearbox. GSX-R fans will recognise its bloody-spitting exhaust note and deep airbox growl.
Back in the UK, the torquey four-cylinder lump offers plenty of linear drive throughout the rev range, as well as enough grunt to lazily cruise in top gear, should you so wish. This was especially useful on corner exit on our sodden test route, with the traction control still allowing the rear wheel to spin up with large handfuls of revs in its highest setting.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
A check of our online owners’ reviews section reveals nothing but praise for the bombproof GSX-S1000, so the mechanically identical Katana should be the same. It’s being built in Suzuki’s new Hamamatsu factory (opened in September 2018), where quality control is even stricter.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
More complex bodywork and an improved dash goes some way to justify the extra price over the GSX-S1000 and it’s slightly cheaper than its closest rival: Honda’s CB1000R.
That aside, the CB1000R offers more of a roadster feel, differing from the streetfighter-inspired Katana, which feels much more aggressive. The Honda also boasts traction control and four rider modes for just £100 more, derived from the über-exotic RC213V-S MotoGP replica.
For over a grand less the smaller-engined Kawasaki Z900RS is more refined and for a few quid more the more modern-styled Triumph Speed Triple and Yamaha MT-10 are more involving and offer a whole lot more sophistication.
The Katana wears big Brembos from the 2017 GSX-R1000, has ABS, four-stage traction control (including ‘off’), a one-push starter button, an anti-stall system and a new throttle grip cam.
There was never any mistaking the original Katana with its then futuristic nose fairing and sulky bottom lip. Suzuki pays homage to its distinctive looks with the new one with a sprinkling of 21st century practicality, including LED headlights.
Weedy twin piston calipers took care of stopping duties back in 1982, but the new Katana comes with ABS-assisted, radially mounted Brembo monoblocs. They’re taken from the current GSX-R1000 and have more bite on the road.
White on black digital LCD clocks and left switchgear button are redesigned GSX-R1000 items, but they already look dated compared to the current crop of colour displays. Maybe they should have gone full Katana analogue retro instead?
What's more, they are also slightly cluttered, with smaller details like your trip and live MPG readout being lost in a sea of numbers, drawing your attention away from the road in front of you.
|Engine type||Liquid-cooled, 16v inline four|
|Frame type||Aluminium twin spar|
|Fuel capacity||12 litres|
|Front suspension||KYB fully adjustable 43mm forks|
|Rear suspension||KYB single shock adjustable for preload and rebound damping|
|Front brake||2 x 310mm discs with four-piston radial monobloc Brembo calipers. ABS|
|Rear brake||250mm rear 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||-|
|Annual road tax||£93|
|Annual service cost||£250|
|Used price||£7,500 - £10,700|
How much to insure?
Top speed & performance
|Max power||148 bhp|
|Max torque||80 ft-lb|
|Top speed||145 mph|
|1/4 mile acceleration||-|
Model history & versions
2019: GSX-S1000-based Suzuki Katana in dealers with styling to mimic the original 1982 GSX1100S Katana.
MCN Long term test reports
MCN Fleet: A grand off the Suzuki Katana could prove tempting
Suzuki somewhat jumped on the bandwagon with the 2019 Katana having no doubt seen the success of the Kawasaki Z900RS. Take a tried and tested road bike, in this case the Suzuki GSX-S1000, give it a restyle and a name that taps into fond memories of the 'good old days' and away we go. Only many feare…
Owners' reviews for the SUZUKI KATANA 1000 (2019 - on)
8 owners have reviewed their SUZUKI KATANA 1000 (2019 - 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.
Summary of owners' reviews
|Ride quality & brakes:|
|Reliability & build quality:|
|Value vs rivals:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£250|
Fantastic engine and usability but 120 mile tank. Overall better than all the other 'retro' bikes
Annual servicing cost: £250
Everything and more I expected from the new Katana. I also have the original Katana GSX 750. But this one is a different world. With all Samurai pack and other options (exhaust, red callipers, etc. it just looks awesome and it is not a common bike on the streets.
Not too stiff and suspension works well. Very good feeling for the road, brakes are a dream!
K5 engine, nothing more to say, probably one of the best 4-cylinders ever build. If you also enjoy the touring part this engine is best as it pulls in 6 gear from 30mph like a turbine - and the sound is just great
Very good build quality for the price and after 3000 miles no issues at all.
Great value compared to other bikes and with this dream engine worth the price. Very low running cost and can run at 50mpg easily if you are not in the race mode.
Black version with Samurai pack, black LSL levers and handlebar mirrors from Rizoma it looks the part. Standard tires are absolutely fine for me.
Buying experience: Great used price from a dealer with more than £2000 savings vs. new and just 1000 miles
If it had a bigger fuel tank it would get 5 out of 5. Easy to ride, great brakes and power to spare
Great acceleration and I haven't found it a problem around town to handle. I have the Samurai kit so a slightly higher screen does offer a bit of protection on motorways and at 6'3" I do notice a little buffeting. Great on twisty roads with brakes that have a really progressive feel. Suspension has needed a bit of tweaking to make me feel more comfortable with different road surfaces and it has a very comfortable seat/riding position.
Great, what else is there to say , oh and wonderful exhaust note when opened up
Just over 1500 miles so still too soon to comment but build quality looks good so far. Love the looks but I'm of that age that I remember with fondness the original
when I bought it I checked out future servicing costs and they are around average for this size of bike. Frequent stops for fuel are its downside
Still not convinced the tires are right for the bike or it could be me. The display is good but can be a little difficult to see in certain light conditions, I would like a little less on the main display and the option to scroll between information screens. The bike for me looks great and I love the concept.
Buying experience: Dealer, Street Bike
Annual servicing cost: £250
Great Fun to ride a real hooligans bike, With induction roar and a great exhaust note as standard. Don’t like the stock suspension though too harsh even when fully adjusted. Fuel range can be a pain, but I keep a can of fuel in my garage. Love the way people crowd round the bike when i’m parked, However Suzuki have struggled to sell Katanas, not to everyone’s taste.
Hard to adjust the stock suspension for my size, I’m 6 ft 4ins and weigh 18 stone in my kit. Suspension is too harsh / choppy for a sporty type bike, but the chassis handles and steers well.Comfort on the new seat is ok but fuel range limits your riding, rather than a numb bum.
Brilliant Engine, with short gearing, loads of torque and has a manic top end punch , just like the K5 engine is was designed from. Because it’s a naked bike you cannot maintain silly speeds for long, isn’t that an advantage? You can pull strongly from almost any gear and the engine will provide loads of torque, or dance on the gear lever and have some real fun.
Impressive Nothing broken or failed, typical Japanese. See comments ref OEM tyres. Suzuki Build quality has improved over the years, but it still appears very fragile underneath the surface.
Low service costs with no nastys after 1 year
Compared to some European competition the Katana is pretty basic for an 11k bike. I got rid of the Standard Dunlop Roadsmarts after running in, and fitted Pirelli Rossi Corsa 2 , much better warm up and feel, from these replacements. I’m going to fit a tail,tidy as the original no plate holder is the worst feature. Most of the Dashboard Figures are too small and cannot be seen clearly when you are moving or in bright sunlight. However You can see the Speed and fuel tank contents, very useful!
Buying experience: Bought from a dealer, great deal but had to bargain hard. Suzuki started to give 0% finance with this model 1 month after I bought it. Bugger!!
a mighty fine package
a very comfortable ride can ride all day without a numb bum mine has a lovely intake whistle that sounds like a turbo spinning up when driven hard.
plenty of power
no faults as yet but have had many Suzuki's and had very few problems
had to pay for first service it may have been nice if Suzuki had contributed somewhat.
dash is very hard to read when on the move I wear glasses for reading and cannot see the traction settings or the fuel level without stopping and putting on the glasses.
Buying experience: there was a very long delay when I bought the bike it was supposed to have been released in march I eventually got mine June 1st after putting a deposit down in January.
I owned and loved a Katana in the 80's and fell for this new one as soon as I saw it. Not everyones choice of course but then I dont like the old fashioned 60's look of the Triumph Speed & Street twins.A lot more comortable than I thought it was going to be. Short range on the tank but I am never going to tour.
Brakes are awesome, ride a bit harsh on the back but I haven't played around with the settings yet. Handling is sure and confidence inspiring. This is Katana proving to be the allround choice I hoped for.
Magnificent engine. The reported snatchy throttle has not appeared for me but I don't ride like Schwantz on the road (showing my age) This feels very light and responsive on the road when moving.
This Katana is as well built as any Japenese motorcycle I have ever owned (a lot) As yet no corrosion but I use my bikes all year round so we will see later in the year. Plastics are top quality and its nicely put together.
Servicing every 6000 so costs are going to be about average.
Not a lot of the modern electronics found nowadays but I assume that's what Suzuki were intending as this is not that sort of bike. I like the LED lights and the tyres seem fine. Switchgear is very good, horn pathetic, seat very good as is the seating position.
Buying experience: Got this Katana at a good price from R&C Motorcycles in Mildenhall and Callum was helpful and friendly throughout the process.
This is everything I want from a motorcycle minus the small capacity tank. Great build quality, easy to ride, plenty of power in ever gear my cup of tea in the looks department.
If you're taking it easy and gentle with the throttle I'm not getting the snatchy-ness most reviews are claiming in lower gears as I find my ducati far worse in that department. Brakes are progressive with great stopping power.
K5 engine is a dream
With an air-cooled ducati monster and a triumph bonneville in the garage the katana's build just seems to be better in quality maybe due to being a newer bike or what the Japanese are renowned for.
Where I live the katana is 1.5k GBP (equivalent) cheaper than the likes of the cb1000r and 800 GBP cheaper than the z900rs cafe which was both on my list of bikes to consider. With the specs, the katana seemed a no-brainer.
Everything you need, no fly-by-wire or riding modes which I think is better for it. LCD screen although cool is difficult to read.
Buying experience: Excellent. B&B in Lincoln are fantastic.