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MCN Fleet: Suzuki's big Kat shows its claws

Published: 19 June 2019

Updated: 19 June 2019

I couldn't wait to get to grips with Suzuki's new Katana and the day after I took ownership, I managed to get 120 or so miles under my belt.

My inital impressions were good. It's a comfy, natural riding position with an easy stretch to the bars and although you feel a little canted forwards, my six-foot frame was easily accommodated. There's power everywhere and it'll pull from 3000rpm in sixth without hesitation.

It was a bright day and I struggled to read some of the smaller readouts on the dash until I worked out how to dial up the brightness to its fiercest setting. Getting to grips with the informative dash is fairly intuitive and after about 10 minutes of fiddling about I was ready to go.

A lack of vibes

Vibes are minimal and the mirrors offer a clear rearward view at all times. Much has been said about the donor bike's low-down fuelling, but on my first 50 miles on lovely dry roads, I had no complaints. Suzuki claim to have adjusted the fuelling and I was happy with slow speed corners and fiddly turns. 

It was only later in the day when the rain hit, that I noticed a slightly glitchy throttle when tackling horribly moist roundabouts at very sedate speeds. Then it felt a little jerky and added to my nervousness.

There are no riding modes, but four levels of Traction Control (including off). I think it's a shame Suzuki could not stretch to riding modes on a bike costing nearly £11.5k.

The bike's no lightweight at 215kg (claimed kerb), but it flows through country lanes effortlessly and has plenty of punch coming out of corners thanks to its proven 148bhp motor. The low seat height (835mm) means getting both feet flat on the ground offers little effort and the wide bars make levering it about a doddle.

One of my main concerns about the bike before even slinging a leg over it was the meagre 12-litre fuel tank. There's a 'miles-to-go' readout which adjust as you ride and seemed to suggest I'd get 110-120 miles to the tankful. But I achieved just 41mpg, so anything over 100 miles would be a stretch. On the sort of riding I've done so far, that's not been an issue but on longer hauls it could become annoying.

Beyond that the Katana is a capable motorcyle with plenty of grunt. Styling is obviously subjective, but I like the sharp looks and echoes of the past. I've seen another 2019 Katana with the Samurai kit bolted on (£1000), but I was not too impressed with the aftermarket screen as it bolts over the old one and is only about an inch higher than the standard one.

The Samurai kit also provides a red and black pillion seat, a carbon effect front mudgaurd and engine covers, a tank pad, wheel rim tape and some red decals on the top fairing and seat unit. Think I'll hold fire on that for the moment.

Next steps are a trackday and taking the Katana around MCN's 250-mile road test route so there should be plenty more to talk about soon.

Introducing the Suzuki Katana

First published - 24.04.19

Suzuki Katana static shot

Suzuki’s Katana was big and brash when it first broke the mould in 1980 and the re-make looks almost as avant-garde, even if it is essentially a Suzuki GSX-S1000 beneath the 80s-aping angular bodywork.

I can’t wait to see if the GSX-R1000 K5 derived engine does the legend justice or whether it’s a powerplant that was better left viewed through rose-tinted spectacles.

I’m looking forward to taking it to a few race meetings to see what reception it gets from the old guard and younger riders alike, and I don’t doubt that the odd trackday may prove too tempting to resist.

And, of course, I’d love to find an owner of an original model and go for a blast together, swapping bikes to see if Suzuki have achieved something deeper than a simple lookalike.

  • Key stats: • £11,399 • 147.5bhp • 80ftlb • 825mm seat • 215kg (kerb)
  • Rider: Andy Calton (50, 6ft, 95kg)
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