An afternoon’s riding around the swooping Silverstone countryside has revealed Suzuki’s GSX-S125 to be something of a revelation.
Offering genuine riding thrills, it’s the perfect companion for some low-capacity fun and is more than just a humble commuter. Here’s why.
It’s got a new engine
Launched at the same time as the fully faired GSX-R125, the naked GSX-S receives the same newly designed 124.4cc single-cylinder lump as its sportier brother and offers a similarly linear power delivery all the way to its 11,500rpm redline.
As well as being punchy, the DOHC motor is also incredibly free revving. Accelerating through the box, the bike will happily do a speedo-indicated 40mph in second gear, with revs to go and, flat out, the clocks will show an indicated 80mph – all the while returning an indicated 80+mpg.
Throttle response is also good. Coupled with an ultra-light clutch, the bike offers well-balanced, trouble-free slow speed control, as well as quick changes through the gearbox as you get up to speed. Like many low capacity Suzuki’s though, it can be stubborn when clunking into first and false neutrals can creep in between first and second gear if you’re particularly hand fisted.
There’s quality handling
Much like the R, the suspension on the naked S is well-damped and firm enough to be competent both in town and out in the twisties. We spent an afternoon on the bike exploring nadgery B-roads and it was a pleasure to ride – not once feeling too soft for the rutted countryside.
There is also plenty of ground clearance to inspire a good degree of lean, which is helped by the aggressively-placed foot pegs, which give the riding position a little added flair. Dressed in grippy Dunlop D102 rubber, it is more than capable of taking the punishment both in the dry and in rainy conditions at faster road-going speeds.
In town, it’s also brilliantly flickable, thanks to its lightweight steering. A 40-degree turning angle either way also means even the tightest of bends can be pulled off with ease.
Stopping power is good
The Bosch ABS system will kick in if you give it a big handful of front brake at low speed, but it is otherwise unobtrusive and ample for a bike of the size. The motor also offers a mild degree of engine braking as you shift down gears, which helps bring you to a standstill fractionally quicker.
A quality feel
The GSX-S feels like a quality product. Stacked up against its rivals, it looks just as aggressive and just as modern. Much like the faired bike, the conventional forks help drive down cost, but it would be good to see an upside down setup in place for some added bling.
The front end may not be to everyone’s tastes either - the assembly looks a bit squashed and compact and would really benefit from a larger fly screen to tidy up the area between the lights and clock stay.
Value for money
Even with the £100 more-expensive GP paint, the GSX-S is still £300 less than the standard KTM 125 Duke and a whole £500 less that Yamaha’s MT-125. This money saved could then go towards a wide-range of genuine accessories, including a colour-matched seat cowl, which really tidies up the back end of the bike.
As well as a brilliant optional extras catalogue, the GSX-S comes with a unique secure shutter-key lock system, which hides the ignition barrel until the separate receiver next to it has been triggered, using a unique magnetic fob found at the top of the key.
Having ridden the GSX-R125 variant the day before, I was convinced it would be the better of the two bikes, however the addition of upright bars makes the GSX-S that much better. You still get similar performance and handling to the R, only with more comfort and flickabilty at low speed, perfect for nipping around town or having fun in the twisties.
Price £3699 (£3799 for MotoGP colours)
Engine 124.4cc single cylinder DOHC
Frame Aluminium twin-spar
Seat height 785mm
Suspension Telescopic, coil spring, oil damped (front). Link type, coil spring, oil damped (rear). No adjustment.
Front brake Single wavy disc, dual-piston caliper
Colours red and black, black and MotoGP livery
Kerb weight 133kg
Tank capacity 11 litres
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