MCN's News Editor, Dan Sutherland reflects on 7690 miles with the Suzuki GSX-8S long-term test bike

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Coming into 2023, Suzuki’s GSX-8S naked middleweight was one bike I couldn’t wait to ride. After spending the previous year with a crazy fast KTM 1290 Super Duke R Evo, I wanted a street bike that I could use on a daily basis that was fun and wouldn’t land me at risk of jail every time I wanted to let my hair down. 

The parallel-twin Suzuki GSX-8S did this in abundance, delivering an affordable and easy-going package that proved perfect for the daily commute, comfy over distance, and even surprisingly capable around a race track. I’ll be sad to see it go.  

Add to that build quality which successfully stood up to a particularly wet British winter, and I am happy to recommend the upright Suzuki to anyone willing to listen. It’s good on fuel, has a stack of optional extras available to it, and would suit a novice or experienced rider alike.

Suzuki GSX-8S pros

A pair of Suzuki GSX-8Ss on track

I first met the plucky GSX-8S at the Eicma show 2022 and was immediately hooked. I’ve always had a soft spot for Suzukis, so when they revealed their 776cc parallel-twin engine (the first all-new large capacity motor from the brand since the 2017 GSX-R1000 range) I jumped at the chance. 

Lucky enough to bag the keys from early May 2023, I’ve since enjoyed over 7600 miles of commuting, weekend fun, a trip to the Isle of Man TT, and even a weekend on track at the annual Suzuki Live event at Cadwell Park. 

In that time, there have been no real faults, and the bike has returned a tested 66.4mpg. Interestingly, I’ve only had to break out the tools once to adjust the chain during that period.

Continental RoadAttack 4 tyre

It did suffer a few stone chips up the front end, but that could happen to any bike. What you will need, though, is a tank pad because the black finish can scratch easily. 

You’ll also want to invest in a new set of tyres sharpish, thanks to the hard standard OEM fitment Dunlop Roadsmart 2s lacking feel and squaring off at the rear in around 2500 miles. 

Suzuki GSX-8S cons

Away from the middling tyres, it’s quite hard to find fault with the GSX-8S. It’s a superb bike, and I’ve really enjoyed my time with it. 

Dan Sutherland takes his mum for a spin on the Suzuki GSX-8S

That said, after around an hour at 70mph in top gear, the tingle through the pegs generated by the engine can become annoying – detracting from its otherwise impressive distance capability.

It’s also not the biggest of bikes, and you’ll only want to take a pillion passenger for short bursts. A two-up journey of just under 20 miles with my five-foot-nothing mother on the back saw me already getting uncomfortable – with the passenger feeling more like an oversized rucksack. 

Suzuki GSX-8S modifications

To enhance the Suzuki further, I added a number of mods over my time with the bike. Among the best had to be the £357 Suzuki heated grips, and £99, 270mm flyscreen from Powerbronze. The grips were a game changer in winter, and I could still feel them working right down to the small single digits. 

Suzuki GSX-8S long-term test bike aftermarket screen

The small screen neatened up the back of the TFT dash and removed a decent chunk of the windblast from my shoulders. It’s another must-buy for owners. 

The other top mod was fitting Continental’s latest ContiSportAttack 4 tyres, which provided superb wet and dry summertime grip, and an impressive lifespan. Around Cadwell, there was heaps of feel too, but their performance began to drop off noticeably during colder conditions. Still, for a leisure rider, they were top class. 

The Suzuki GSX-8S’s range predictor is frustratingly cautious, but that’s the way I’d rather have it

Published 28.03.24

Suzuki GSX-8S tested long-term by Dan Sutherland

I love the real-world performance of the Suzuki GSX-8S. I love its comfort, its admirable ability to fend off the aggressive winter grit, and the way it makes me feel. I’ll be very sad to see it go. 

However, one thing I have noticed over our time together is how eager the fuel gauge is to tell me I’m running out of juice – sometimes forcing me into a petrol station, only to find over three litres still sloshing around in the 14-litre tank.

Even with a full Akrapovič exhaust system in place during the summer months, the 8S delivered a tested 63.5mpg during normal riding – enough for a theoretical (and highly respectable) 195.4 miles from a single tank. 

Suzuki GSX-8S fuel tank

However, the TFT dash often tells me it’s time to fill up much earlier than that, regularly dropping onto the second to lowest bar on the fuel gauge surprisingly early, with far more range still available than the pessimistic readout would suggest. 

This has become quite a predictable pattern – especially on my commute where I fill up at the same places repeatedly – and while I’d normally feel a pang of panic on a bike when things reach this end of the dial, I know I’ve got plenty of wiggle room before needing to stop. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’d much rather it was cautious than deceptively optimistic, but I was keen to know just how much petrol is actually left when the predicted range reaches zero. 

Suzuki GSX-8S front left static

To do this, I needed to run the bike to zero miles on the dash before darting into a petrol station to see how much I could squeeze back in. As someone who would rather stop early and play it safe, this was unfamiliar territory and not something my nerves would recommend making a habit of!

With the now flashing gauge dropping into single figures, I began riding a loop around my village – taking in a mixture of 30mph town tarmac and open 60mph country lanes until the decreasing numbers were replaced with three dashes and – supposedly – nothing left in the tank.

Even if I had run out of fuel there and then, it would’ve only ever been a 10-minute walk to fetch a jerry can, but I still didn’t fancy the walk of petroleum shame.

Suzuki GSX-8S ridden on the road

Pulling up to the pumps, the bike was able to swallow 12.93 litres – even when upright and off the sidestand. Using the mpg figure calculated earlier in the year, and presuming an accurate 14-litre tank capacity, this would leave a theoretical 14.93 miles until I had actually run out of gas. 

So, not a great deal, but enough to know there’s still some hope of salvation once the gauge tells you all hope is lost. Still, I won’t be doing it again – not intentionally, anyway.

Dan becomes the mod-father in an effort to beat the chill

Published 14.02.24

Suzuki GSX-8S long-term test bike right front

If you read my last update back in early December, you’ll know that I’ve been mightily impressed with the Suzuki GSX-8S naked bike‘s ability to combat the winter grit.

Still used on a weekly basis for commuting, it’s remained largely rust and fur free (barring a few chain links) and continues to run without fault, despite the wet, cold, and generally miserable conditions.

Alongside regular washing, it’s had a spritz of Oxford General Protectant once dry, and I’ve taken to drying it down with a powerful plug-in Brühl dryer to eliminate hidden water after every wet ride (full review coming soon).

Suzuki GSX-8S long-term test bike tyres

To take this further (and also improve the experience for myself) I’ve now added a few modifications, whilst also ditching the rather beautiful aftermarket £1325 Akrapovič full system I had for the summer, which was far too nice to expose to an English winter. 

First on my list was a set of new tyres. After almost 4000 miles, the brilliant Continental ContiSport
Attack4s I’d added for summer riding were past their best – with the rear squaring and both ends warming too slowly in the cooler climate. 

They have now made way for a set of ContiRoadAttack4 sports-touring tyres (circa £309 per pair), which have so far proved a worthy investment. While the flatter profile means you can’t tip in as quickly, they offer oodles more feel in the colder temperatures and damp conditions and I’m much happier now. 

Suzuki GSX-8S long-term test bike heated grips

Another winter essential for me is warm hands. My mitts never get particularly warm even in the summer months, and so some kind of electronic assistance is vital when the cold sets in. 

Cue Suzuki’s official accessory heated grips, which are available as a free extra on new bikes bought between now and the end of January 2024 (usually £357). Offering three settings and a warming sensation around the entire grip, they have been a welcome addition, helping maintain feel for the controls. 

Around town and below 50mph, the middle setting should be all you need; however I’d recommend max power at motorway pace. Although a worthwhile add-on, their effectiveness during single figure days does start to fade after around 30 miles – leaving my fingertips numb. 

Suzuki GSX-8S fairing lowers

Another extra from the official Suzuki catalogue are a pair of black fairing lowers, which flank the twin exhaust headers and shroud some of the exposed engine from road crud.

I had hoped that this would make bike cleaning a little easier, with the fling from the front wheel baking onto the hot engine on every wet ride. Whilst it has helped a little, it also makes reaching some areas with the sponge that bit harder. Priced at £225.50, there are better things to spend your money on. 

By far the best add-on is a £99 fly screen from Powerbronze. One of three sizes available (mine’s the 270mm option) it neatens up the look behind the clocks and does just enough to take the wind off my shoulders. 

Suzuki GSX-8S long-term test bike aftermarket screen

The bike is hardly a fully dressed tourer, but the new screen helps tackle fatigue and was very easy to install. A must have for GSX-8S owners. Be warned though, the mounting arms will restrict your ability to close Suzuki’s optional USB-C port cover, should you plan to also have that installed. 

Update seven: Suzuki GSX-8S shows no signs of corrosion as cold snap takes hold

Published 15.12.2023

MCN fleet Suzuki GSX-8S with tester Dan Sutherland

If you can stomach frosty mornings, early sunsets, and endless drizzle, riding through the colder months is a great way of keeping your skills sharp – even on a naked bike like the Suzuki GSX-8S. 

But using a motorcycle on salt sprinkled roads can see the finish on your pride and joy take a turn for the worse. 

Despite our recent cold snap, I’m pleased to report that this hasn’t happened (so far) with the MCN fleet GSX-8S – the bike returning to an impressively sparkly state with every wash, and exhibiting next to no signs of corrosion. 

Suzuki GSX-8S on the road

Sure, there’s some discolouration on the exhaust headers, given the fact they are continuously exposed to fling from the front wheel, and I have seen the odd pin-sized fleck of orange on the chain. However, the fairing fasteners and other exposed metal remains fur free, thanks to a weekly clean, plus an all-over spray of Oxford Products’ £8.99 minty General Protectant

These cleans are made more difficult in the colder, wetter months thanks to the exposed 776cc parallel twin, which bakes on dirt like a thick crust, as well as water pooling in awkward, finger-cutting crevices behind the exhaust. 

I should add this exhaust is once again the original system, rather than the Akrapovic you see here with the bike back in standard mode for winter riding

MCN fleet Suzuki GSX-8S header pipes

Although standing up well to the weather, there are a couple of questionable omissions on the Suzuki GSX-8S – given so many of them are likely to be purchased by year-round riders and commuters. 

The first of these is a lack of ambient temperature gauge, which spoils an otherwise impressively specced full-colour TFT dash. It’s no problem on a warm day, but when the weather drops to the smallest of single digits, it would be nice to have to help judge the conditions around you, and the chances of black ice. 

I’ve taken to nipping the traction control up to its second level on these days for some additional support should I start to slide. 

MCN fleet Suzuki GSX-8S right side

With just shy of 82bhp on tap, I’m not entirely sure it needs TC at all, and I never really feel it getting involved, but it helps make you feel that little bit more secure when the conditions are going against you.

It would also be nice have heated grips as standard. It’s something Suzuki are currently doing as a sales incentive – offering them and free fitting on a range of bikes registered before the end of January. 

A £357 option, it’s something I’ll aim to add soon. I’ll also be looking to add the £225.44 under cowl at some stage too, to help combat the cleaning frustration of muck solidifying on the engine. 

Update six: Turn up the volume! Our Suzuki GSX-8S gets more grunt with an aftermarket exhaust

Published 08.11.23

Akrapovic exhaust for the Suzuki GSX-8S

Back in the day, when I was a 20-year-old racing wannabe, I’d opt for the shortest, loudest exhausts for my bikes. I thought I was the best thing since sliced bread, but on reflection I probably just looked like I was compensating for something…

As I’ve got older, my lust for loud pipes has died down. I love them on race bikes and a tasteful aftermarket end can is totally fine on the road, but I’ve begun to enjoy slipping under the radar now – taking on my favourite country roads without causing offence to wildlife and locals, nor causing lay-by dwelling law enforcement operatives to drop their doughnuts. 

Suzuki exhaust close-up

However, one thing I have struggled with on the Suzuki GSX-8S this year is the underslung standard system. It makes a nice enough noise, but it’s hardly what you’d call sexy, and I thought a proper side-mounted exhaust would’ve looked much nicer. 

Imagine my delight then, when a press release dropped into my inbox from the team at Performance Parts ( showing a £1325 two-into-one full system from Akrapovič. Finished with a gorgeous side-mounted carbon end can, stainless steel pipework and not requiring a remap, it shaves a measured 4.375kg from the bike and completes the look I’ve always longed for.

Fitted by our resident mechanic Bruce Dunn, the most noticeable initial gain is in the throttle response. It was never bad, but now it feels so much crisper and more direct – blipping instantaneously like a little supertwin race bike. 

I was also reassured to find it wasn’t too antisocial at tick over, idling at a similar volume to the standard system – barking into life once you twist the noise tube. 

Akrapovic exhaust system

Nervous that I was about to become public enemy number one, I was again relieved to find it calms down to a gentle burble in high gears – only clearing its throat on full throttle and banging between cogs on the quickshifter.

Akrapovič claim 95.7dB at 4250rpm with the baffle in, which is an increase of 7.1dB compared to standard. There are no pops, or bangs on the way down the gears, and still achieves a measured 63.5mpg during regular riding to and from the office. It’s very much the gentleman’s performance mod. 

I’ve been running it for around 1500 miles now and the metalwork has survived autumnal weather conditions without discolouring. I treat it to a squirt of Oxford’s £8.99 Mint General Protectant after each wash, but the bike will be back to stock before the grit gets spread. 

I’d be lying if I said I could feel the weight saving during day-to-day riding, but it’s been a welcome benefit nonetheless. The system means you can’t use Suzuki’s side-mounted soft cases, but that has been no issue for me, and I find the extra noise has weirdly slowed me down on my commute as I’m conscious of irritating locals as I whizz past early in the morning. 

Akrapovic exhaust system hero shot

On top of weight saving, the other claimed advantage of this system is a boost in power and torque. Akrapovič say you get a gain of 6.4bhp at 9200rpm and 3.5lb.ft at 7650rpm and to test those claims, I popped to BSD Performance in Peterborough for a dyno session 

According to their systems, the standard Suzuki GSX-8S makes 76.41bhp and 53.68lb.ft measured at the rear wheel. With the new pipework installed, this jumps to 82.04bhp, 58.11lb.ft – an impressive leap over standard that would give you a noticeable win on track and a competitive edge if racing. 

So, is it worth installing then? Well, that depends on what you want to achieve. If you’re riding on track, then it’s a no brainer. If you’re a road rider after a little extra pep, I’d save some cash and buy an end can rather than a full system.

Update five: Dan assesses the GSX-8S’ two-up ability with a trip to the British Superbikes

Published 03.11.23

I absolutely love taking passengers on the back of a motorcycle. I’ve carried pillions on bikes of all shapes and sizes and couldn’t wait to find out how the Suzuki GSX-8S stacks up.

My two-up opportunity came during the late August bank holiday weekend, when my mum Nicki asked if we could ride over to the British Superbikes at Cadwell Park together and dodge the notoriously bad race day traffic. 

Having perched on the back seat of everything from a 2008 Honda Fireblade to Triumph’s first generation Daytona 675R, and Suzuki’s current SV650X to an early Kawasaki ZZR1400, she has sampled plenty of machinery and was the perfect person to provide feedback on the 8S. 

“The smoothness of the engine was lovely, and the bike is really quiet,” she said at the end of the day over a cuppa. “Honestly, I couldn’t really hear it unless you were revving it.

“It was probably on a par with the Fireblade for comfort, but the Kawasaki ZZR was far roomier and more padded.”

Slipping seamlessly past the lines of traffic into the Lincolnshire circuit, the Suzuki is easily controlled at slow speed with a passenger. There’s a light clutch and soft initial throttle action, with the rear brake lever easily accessed – perfect for filtering with precious cargo.

What’s more, the torquey motor pulls cleanly – with enough grunt in reserve to make overtakes without dropping more than a single gear and ample poke to provide a thrill for both parties when exiting a corner. 

Away from the engine though, even with the preload adjustable shock wound up to its stiffest setting, the rear end will sometimes squat under hard acceleration. What’s more, under braking it’s easy to eat through much of the front travel too – occasionally leading to you running further into a corner than initially anticipated. 

It’s also quite cramped together, with a small perch for the passenger that positions them like a giant rucksack around the rider.

“It’s quite snug, and I was sitting as far back as I could,” mum added. “It’s also quite hard on your bum, and I’d rather you avoid any bump. It’s comfortable for a short distance, but I wouldn’t want to go a long way.” 

Update four: Party in the parkDan soaks up two days of trackday action at Cadwell Park at Suzuki Live

Published 23.08.23

Knee down on the Suzuki GSX-8S

When it was announced that the Suzuki Live event would return for 2023 as a weekend-long trackday celebration at Cadwell Park, I knew I had to be a part of it.

With the gathering open to both modern and classic Suzuki machinery, and me living just a stone’s throw from the circuit, it was the perfect chance to let the Suzuki GSX-8S off the leash and discover whether it’s capable of cutting loose and cracking a smile on the challenging 2.2-mile course.

Perfect preparation

With the 8S now having covered more than 2500 miles, the standard fitment Dunlop Roadsmart 2 tyres had begun to square noticeably. They’re also very hard and lack feel in the cold and wet – not what you want for a two-day on-track extravaganza.

A pair of Suzuki GSX-8S' on track

To combat this, I decided to make an upgrade – opting for a set of Continental’s latest ContiSportAttack 4 tyres, which are designed for sporty road riding and the occasional trackday. With just shy of 82bhp being fed to the back wheel, I felt they’d be more than up to the task of providing confidence-inspiring grip around Cadwell.

Alongside changing the tyres, I also fitted a £42.79 black plastic brake lever guard from R&G (guards are mandatory on track these days). The bulky hero blobs were also removed for a touch more ground clearance and the seven-stage rear shock preload was wound round to the firmest setting.

All of this was a piece of cake, but I did have to unscrew the rear brake fluid reservoir to allow more purchase on the rear shock, which is hard to access for adjustment with a C-spanner.  

The big day

Cornering left at Cadwell Park on a Suzuki GSX-8S

Breezing the noise test with its Euro5 friendly standard exhaust system, the GSX-8S felt at home on the undulating twists of Cadwell Park. It’s not the fastest, firmest, or most focused bike I’ve ever ridden there, but the easy ergonomics and circa 125mph top speed made it refreshingly fun to ride – with the bike never feeling out of shape or intimidating across the weekend.

It also continued to be impressively frugal, drinking less than one full tank of fuel on the Saturday. Annoyingly, the fuel gauge was a little bit eager – claiming that it had zero miles range remaining and forcing me to leave a session early, only to find plenty of E10 still sloshing when I opened the tank in the paddock.

Stopping power

I must’ve covered around 200 miles across the weekend without a hint cramp, aches, or arm pump. Across that time, the stand-out element was definitely the front brakes.

Riding the Suzuki GSX-8S at Cadwell Park

Unlike so many Japanese bikes, the four-piston radial Nissin calipers provided a consistently strong, progressive feel – giving me the confidence to brake later before corner entry, with next to no fade at all. Occasionally the ABS got involved when I didn’t want it to and it would’ve been nice to be able to turn it off, but it would be unfair to criticise a bike of this kind for that.

Grinding away

Despite me having whipped away the hero blobs, the pegs would still occasionally touch down – reminding me I needed to hang off further on the next lap around.

However, for a circa £8000 parallel twin naked, the 8S delivered a performance far more enjoyable than you’d expect. The tyres wore well, and I will try my best to return to the track soon.

Update two: Island adventure – Suzuki’s GSX-8S takes a trip to the Isle of Man TT races

Published 19.07.23

Suzuki GSX-8S parked in the Isle of Man TT pitlane

Having taken delivery of the Suzuki GSX-8S just under two weeks before my crossing to the Isle of Man for TT 2023, and with just 870 miles under my belt, I wasn’t sure how it would cope with the 190-mile motorway run to Heysham ferry port.

There’s no wind protection, a modest 14-litre fuel tank, and minimal space at the rear to mount any luggage – leaving me concerned that it would fail to live up to the benchmark set by my KTM 1290 Super Duke R Evo, which I lived with last year.

But as has been the case with everything on the GSX-8S so far, however, I needn’t have worried. It was good as gold.

The peppy 81.7bhp parallel twin has more than enough oomph to stay ahead of motorway traffic and, despite being naked, there’s minimal buffeting at road legal speeds – with the streamlined front end and exposed TFT dash going some way to keeping the wind off. It’s been frugal too, delivering 66.4mpg during the most spirited of rides.

Vibration station

Waiting for the ferry home from the Isle of Man TT races

Unfortunately, there were a few niggles – chief among which was the vibration through the footpegs at motorway speeds. During the bike’s reveal, Suzuki spoke at length about the new ‘Cross Balancer’ technology in the engine, said to contribute to a smoother ride.

However, at 70mph in top gear, the tingle through the pegs can become annoying and after 100 miles in the saddle you want to get off and give your feet a rest.

What’s more, I used the excellent £144.99 Oxford T30R Tail Pack (review coming soon) on the rear seat to carry my clothes, and when used with a rucksack it forces you forwards onto the thin part of the seat – giving you a numb bum after 20 miles or so. That’s not a fault of the bike of course, just something to consider if you’re thinking of touring on one.

Island bound

Once on the Isle of Man, the Suzuki was fabulous – with the upright bars, torquey motor, and frugal nature making it ideal for navigating the bike-clogged streets and offering more than enough grunt to have fun on coast roads.

It also turned heads wherever it went. I didn’t see another in the week that I was there and was inundated by riders asking questions about what exactly it was.

I remain very impressed with the bike, with work now underway to make it a tad sportier – ready for a hot date with Cadwell Park later on in July. More on that next time.

Update one: Usable power and solid road holding has Dan hooked on the Suzuki GSX-8S

Published 26.06.23

Cornering left on a Suzuki GSX-8S

I first clapped eyes on the Suzuki GSX-8S just over six months ago just ahead of its public reveal at the 2022 Eicma trade show and I’ve been hooked on the idea of living with one ever since.

Back in 2018 I spent 12 months and 15,000 magical miles aboard the firm’s V-twin SV650X and wanted another slice of mid-sized, manageable naked fun that I could use on the road without having to worry about dash cams, and jail time.

Flash forward to the back end of May 2023 and I’m picking up the keys for a GSX-8S, ready to spend the next year putting it through its paces on my favourite Lincolnshire roads, along my dull as dishwater A16 commute, on a couple of cheeky track sessions, and a few days on tour. I’m a lucky so-and-so and I can’t wait to get stuck in.

Suzuki GSX-8S parked up

So far so good

As I write this after 872 miles and just shy of two weeks in the saddle my thoughts so far are overwhelmingly positive. I rode the latest Honda CB750 Hornet just weeks prior to picking this bike up and I was quite worried that the 8S would struggle to live up to it. I needn’t have worried.

Compared to Yamaha’s MT-07 and the aforementioned Hornet, the Suzuki feels surer footed – with firmer springs and a fatter 180-section rear tyre helping it to hold an impressive line at speed when you’re banked into a corner.

It also comes with the best dash of the trio – a full colour TFT affair that I would say is Suzuki’s best attempt yet, with all of the information you need sitting right where you want it to be. That is, of course, everything but an ambient temperature gauge, which is conspicuous by its absence and an odd decision – given many of these will be snapped up as affordable year round commuters.

Cornering right on the Suzuki GSX-8S

Away from the tech, the new motor is a peach. The first properly fresh big bike engine from the brand since the 2017 GSX-R1000 superbike, it had a lot riding on it, and I’m really pleased to say Suzuki have done a top job.

Complete with a 270-degree crank, it makes all the right rumbles as you ride along, with an impressible dollop of midrange that allows you to skate round traffic without stamping down on the shifter like a drummer’s bass pedal. It’s not bad on fuel either, returning a measured 66.08mpg across a day of riding.

When you do need to change gear though, the standard fitment up and down quickshifter is a gem – snicking up and down the box without fault and really adding to the rider engagement on a technical backroad.

Suzuki GSX-8S rear light unit

Going numb

It can’t all be 10/10 though and after 100 miles in the saddle you’ll want to get off and give your bum a rest from the seat, which isn’t the most padded cushion I’ve ever sampled. At a constant motorway speed, the engine also generates a mildly irritating vibration through the foot pegs.

Finally – and I know it’s subjective – I just can’t warm to the design of the rear light. I like the front end and the side profile, but I cannot fathom why the designers opted for the rear lighting in the number plate bracket.

Not only will this make fitting a tail tidy nigh on impossible, but it also leaves the rear plastics beneath the pillion seat looking decidedly unfinished. Who knows, perhaps I’ll warm to it over time.

About the tester

I spent 2018 covering 15,000 miles on Suzuki’s SV650X and loved every second. The Suzuki GSX-8S lines up to replace the SV in my affections. I plan to tackle a tour and modify it lightly to enjoy the bends without getting into trouble. 


Video: Suzuki GSX-8S vs Honda CB750 Hornet