SUZUKI M800 INTRUDER (1997 - 2012) Review
- Solid, mid-range, shaft-drive cruiser with hot rod style
- Agile handling for a big bike
- Strong, proven Suzuki engine
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£170|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
Suzuki’s Intruder family of V-twin cruisers dates back to the mid-1980s and are generally well regarded as solid, nicely finished, dependable and affordable Japanese interpretations of the breed, alongside Yamaha’s Viragos and Honda’s Shadows.
The shaft-drive V-twin engines were produced in mid-range 750/800 capacities and big bore 1400/1500/1600cc variants and from the late 1990s these powered three different styles of cruiser – the chopper style VS Intruder, the fat-wheeled, ‘50s retro style VL Intruder C (which in the US was also called the Volusia) and the more hot rod style VZ Marauder, which, to add further confusion, was in the UK called the M800 or M1600 Intruder.
In the UK, these latter version survived longest until being finally killed off by emissions laws in 2012 and are considered among the best ‘non-American’ examples of the hot rod breed thanks to their clean styling, proven, grunty performance, decent (for a cruiser) handling, reliability and durability and, best of all, impressive value.
Although the smaller of Suzuki’s two versions the M800 is still a substantial bike with more than sufficient performance; its handling and braking are among the best of any bikes of this type and age; there’s virtually no mechanical or cosmetic issues and it can be a great value used buy.
Although now aging compared to other classes such as sports or adventure bikes, the M800’s hot rod style hasn’t dated at all and its performance is still competitive. If the cosmetics are good (and the M800’s chrome and paint are as good as any), you like the style and experience and don’t mind the badge you’re unlikely to be disappointed.
Once you've read this review and our owners' reviews, you may want to join an online community to meet likeminded people. The Suzuki Intruder Owners' Club is a great place to start.
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
Being a hot rod means the M800 has more kicked out forks than a conventional cruiser, a fatter rear tyre and a long and low wheelbase – all to enhance stability and give the long and low stance that makes these drag bike style machines great performers in a straight line away from traffic lights and suchlike.
Many hot rods, as a result, aren’t the most nimble machines and can also suffer from a lack of ground clearance. The M800, however, is a better handling example than most. Though ‘kicked out’ the front forks are beefy, inverted items for added rigidity and with a smaller 16-inch front wheel it steers reasonably well.
The twin shocks at the rear have limited travel, again to give that low stance, but the ride is adequate, although it can jar and ‘bottom out’ over pot holds. And the semi-upright riding position, with feet forwad ‘highway’ pegs is less extreme than many and is decently comfortable, although less so over distance than Suzuki’s more touring VL variants.
If pushed hard, yes, eventiually the pegs ground out, but that’s to be expected and if it’s a problem you’re looking at the wrong kind of bike. Being the 800 version also means its lighter and less of a handful than its bigger 1500/1600 brothers and this is also an advantage when it comes to braking.
With big, twin front discs, the M800 has more stopping power than most cruisers, something again befitting its hot rod style and it’s also stable and controlled. Pillions should be wary, though. Only a small pillion pad is offered, you’re exposed to the wind and if ridden in the drag bike style intended you’ll be hanging on – a ‘sissy’ bar is recommended!
EngineNext up: Reliability
The Suzuki M800 Intruder V-twin engine dates back to the mid-1980s (although was constantly updated over the years), is well-proven with a deserved reputation for reliability and has the added benefit of maintenance-free shaft-drive – although this does have the downside of adding slightly to the bike’s overall weight.
Although its peak power figure of 50bhp is nothing to get too excited about, bikes like these are more about torque and low-down grunt and, with 48lb.ft the M800 is responsive enough compared to most of its mid-size competition and it cruises happily at 80mph – although if you want real hot rod excitement you’re much better of with its M1600 big brother, which produces 72bhp and an even more impressive 92ftlb of torque at just 2800rpm.
Even so, with electronic fuel injection, power delivery is smooth and the pipes let off a good, throaty burble, something many owners enhance by fitting aftermarket silencers. The transmission is also typically smooth in being slick and glitch free, much more so than most of its competitors, its throttle response is good and its clutch action impressively light. Overall, the M800’s performance is decent and its refinement up with the very best of this type of bike.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
Although Suzukis often traditionally occupy the more budget end of the market compared to their Japanese rivals, their Intruder series have always been well regarded for clean, impressive quality and general durability with paint and chrome that sits above most competitors and a solid simplicity to its ancilliaries that doesn’t date and stands the test of time.
That simplicity and quality, added to the Intruder family’s clean, understated style (you won’t see many Suzuki badges anywhere) and proven performance are a big reason behind the bike’s popularity and longevity.
All that said, the M800’s not perfect, either. The long established, contiunually updated V-twin engine is generally solid and reliable although there was an early recall on some models when faulty ignition wiring threatened to cause engine failure. Make sure it’s been seen to.
And although build quality and finishes are generally good, this is a bike that’s both at the budget end of its class, has been aimed more at California than a British winter and is now also at least a decade old.
With all that in mind make sure its been looked after and serviced properly (if bought on a budget it’s unlikely to have been); if it’s been regularly ridden through a British winter its paint and chrome will almost certainly have suffered, no matter how good it is (most Harley owners are unlikely to have done the same) and give it a thorough check over for age-related wear and tear.
On the plus side, most owners report that they are more than satisfied with their bikes’ reliability and durability; there are no commonly reported trouble spots and, if looked after and maintained reasonably well, you should have little to fear – especially as most owners of this sort of bike do far fewer milages than, say, adventure bike or sports tourer owners.
Our Suzuki Intruder M800 owners' reviews show mainly positive comments from owners on the reliability front, with the bike marked down for poor brakes.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
It’s easy to assume that most chrome-laden, big-engined, performance-packed hot rod-style cruisers are expensive not just to buy but to run as well. And, when considering high end premium examples such as Harley-Davidson’s FXDR or Yamaha’s 1900cc VMAX, that’s certainly the case.
Bikes like the M800, however, are significangly different both by being smaller capacity and more budget-orientated machines. By having less fearsome performance than 1000cc+ bikes such as the Harley and Yamaha, the M800 is not only cheaper to buy and insure in the first place, it also has lower running costs as its more frugal on fuel and has less of an appetitie for consumables such as tyres and brake pads.
This is all part of the M800’s appeal, after all. The Suzuki also has the added benefit of shaft drive meaning that there’s no costly chain to maintain or replace periodically, either.
At the same time the M800 was also not only a good value buy when new it remains so as a used buy today – even if this appeal actually inflates its used value more so than with some other types of bike.
Either way the M800 represents good value against more glamourous rivals such as the stalwart Harley-Davidson clan (although HD’s mid-range Sportsters can’t get close to the M800’s versatility and performance) or even offerings from Indian, Victory and Britain’s own Triumph, such as the Bonneville-based Speedmaster.
The M800 also rides well and looks the part. Instead, more direct Japanese rivals include Yamaha’s Drag Star 650 Classic, which is roughly the same price as the M800 but is down on power and hasn’t the Suzuki’s clean image, and Kawasaki’s VN900 Classic, which, while compentent and well regarded, can’t match the Suzuki’s drag bike style and in reality is a closer rival to Suzuki’s more retro VL version.
The Suzuki M800 is the smaller, cheaper variant of a slightly budget orientated version of a bare-bones style bike – a hot rod – so you shouldn’t expect much by way of lavish equipment or creature comforts, it’s simply not in the nature of the bike.
That said, the M800 is also better equipped than most might expect and delivers a comfortable, pleasant ride. There’s a soft seat and sensibly-placed bars and footpegs so you can cruise in reasonable comfort.
There’s also an LED tail light (novel when it first came out) and performance-orientated USD forks, decent brakes, a clean, simple, but ample and reasonably modern instrument display and lashings of quality chrome. As a result, the whole M800 plot adds up to an agreeable cruiser experience.
What’s more, when buying used, with this class of bike more than most, it’s also worth taking into consideration any accessories the bike you’re looking at may come with. Often alterations and custom parts can detract from a used bike’s value, but with customs – where ‘customising’ is in their very DNA – this is rarely the case.
As a result, there is a wide variety of equipment on used examples which can affect their appeal and value. So as long as any accessories are decent quality, correctly fitted and, ideally, come with any original part included (eg aftermarket silencers), they can actually add to a used bike’s appeal and value.
Extra chrome bolt-on goodies, a sissy bar, detachable screen, pillion pad, throwover panners and more should all be welcome as long as they are to your particular taste.
|Engine type||Steel cradle|
|Frame type||Steel cradle|
|Fuel capacity||15.5 litres|
|Front brake||Twin 300mm discs|
|Rear brake||180mm drum|
|Front tyre size||130/90 x 16|
|Rear tyre size||170/80 x 15|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||42 mpg|
|Annual road tax||£101|
|Annual service cost||£170|
9 of 17
How much to insure?
|Warranty term||Two year unlimited mileage|
Top speed & performance
|Max power||52 bhp|
|Max torque||49 ft-lb|
|Top speed||110 mph|
|1/4 mile acceleration||-|
|Tank range||145 miles|
Model history & versions
- 2005: Suzuki VZ800 Intruder launched.
- 2012: Suzuki Intruder M800 goes off sale.
- Suzuki C800 Intruder: Available alongside the M800, the C is a bit wider, fatter and lower, with traditional forks, wire spoked wheels and a larger tank. Slightly cheaper, looks just like the old Volusia.
- Suzuki VL800 Intruder Volusia: Ran from 2001 to 2004, the Volusia had flashier bodywork (valanced mudguards etc) but was otherwise virtually identical to the VZ800 Marauder.
- Suzuki VZ800 Marauder: Ran from 1996 to 2001, it had more traditional, chunky styling, USD forks and weighed 207kg. Same engine as the others.
Owners' reviews for the SUZUKI M800 INTRUDER (1997 - 2012)
5 owners have reviewed their SUZUKI M800 INTRUDER (1997 - 2012) 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:||£170|
Heavy old barge. Great ride height for 30 in leg. Cracking exhaust note. Does not like dipping down for cornering as sits low on the road.
Really needs double disks at front and disk back brakes. Front brake adequate but could be better.
Great noise, great power delivery from 1200 to 6000 range. Plenty of torque but no grin factor top end as it's a lumbering cruiser.
Had a suspension link break on the bike. Was quoted £1200 to fix it. Stripped it down, e bay the parts guaranteed 3 day delivery. Total cost of fix £80. Dont like being ripped off by £40.per hour rates.
Buying experience: 3 years ago paid £2200 Private sale. Full history. All Bill's mot to date and good to go.
Version: Bought new in 2015
Annual servicing cost: £200
Comfy bike to go distance on. Let down by a lack of luggage hooks and the exhaust pitting while the rest of the chrome does astoundingly well. I'd suggest this bike to other people if they want to travel a little (once they've fitted a few extras)
Brakes give a feeling of being outdated. Drum rear needs plenty of pressure to get much out of it and the single disc up front doesn't do much. No ABS option either but I reckon you'd be hard pushed to lock this bike up. This is one of the comfiest bikes ever, unless you're riding a tourer. I can do six hours without feeling like I need medical assistance at the other end. In fact I can get up and walk round without a problem. Side winds aren't as bad as other people say but if you get caught by one the bike is slower to respond to you which takes some getting used to. No fairing either so that can take it's toll.
It's an 800cc push rod V-Twin so I didn't expect much from this. The engine is slow revving and relaxed in character. Acceleration is ok and sustaining speeds up steep slopes, without changing gear, is easy. Put the bike in 5th gear once you hit 30 mph and it'll just keep pulling till about 90 mph and this suits me fine (I know sports bikes will do it in first but there's too much technology and I'm a luddite). Torque is mostly available from very low down the rev range.
This bike has done well seeing as it's been my all year round transport. Exhaust is prone to pitting and a couple of the stainless steel parts have shown signs of rust. This is despite plenty of ACF50 being used. The chrome has done very well (except the pitting on the exhaust like I said). No problems at all with reliability in the first 4000 miles.
Insurance is ok. I pay a bit more than I would have liked but that's more to do with business use than anything. Fuel costs are ok with an average of 55 mpg. Servicing by a dealer is £200 a time so neither good or bad.
Clocks are easy to read but the idiot lights are just below your eye line when you're riding so you've got take your eyes off the road to look down to make sure your indicators are off on a bright day. Not much of a complaint but noticeable. Tyres that came with the bike have been good in all weathers and worn well. Might be my style of riding that's made them last or the fact that I do a lot of motorway riding. There is no luggage space on the bike and nowhere to hook a set of panniers on to. A set of pannier rails are useful along with a pillion backrest and rack if you want to travel at all, otherwise it's just looking pretty and not much else.
Annual servicing cost: £135
easy comfortable riding positing i really can't think of any thing bad.
Buying experience: easy finance got bike on the road in 2 weeks
This is my first cruiser, Most recently i've had BMW R1100S and a kawasaki GTR. The M800 has plenty of low down grunt. there's now frantic changing gears. Handling is good and sure footed, but it does ground easily. It takes time to change your style to a cruiser, and cornering has to be relearnt. It's a smooth bike, and rewards a smooth riding style. In terms of power, it is tame, but in terms of style, it's a stunner being less state side. It's a street fighter in its smart clothing. It attracts attention, and looks the part. The suspension works well. The engine is very smooth. Passengers will need a sissybar if they are going to be a regular feature. The exhaust note with the standard exhaust is tame. These are relatively cheap but hugely stylish bikes and impress the non-biking fraternity. They represent excellent value for money and in many ways lead the way in this sector. Cheap insurance and good economy are plus points. It's styling makes it slightly easier to clean than bigger cruisers. Accessories are not that easy to come by. A screen is a good purchase, but the cop style ones spoil the looks, so a minimalist flyscreen does the job. If you're looking to ease your pace and chill out, then this is a good bike to make the change with. It dosen't look fussy, does what you want it to, is comfy, and is pretty quick too, once you're used to it. Just chill!
High Speed, power wheelies, stoppies... look elsewhere but if you want to try a cruiser and know what sort of performance to expect then this is a good place start looking. I've got the M800 (last photo don't be fooled by the pictures of the M1600 being ridden) and I'm really pleased with it. When it came trading my 1200 Bandit I looked at the type of riding I'd been doing and this fitted the bill perfectly. It works well as commuter, good size bike can carry wife at weekends (added a suzuki original sissy bar) and I imagine luggage if need be. It's not best on motorways with no wind protection and stretched out riding position but on single lane roads it chugs along very nicely, looks great and with jardine rumble exhausts sound good too. Riding is stable, can ground out in corners but handling otherwise fine, engine just enough grunt and in cruiser terms it's a bargin. The finish is also a million times better than my Bandit. After one year (5000 miles) the black foot rest supports are starting to look ruff but with a lot of plastic instead of metal + deep paint the rest if fine. Added Bonus - cheap insurance, 50-60MPG, non bikers still think it a harley (it's physically bigger than the sportster)