2023 Suzuki GSX-8S

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When was the last time you heard of a patented internal component hidden inside a motorcycle engine? Quite a while ago I’d imagine, if at all! And if the latter is your answer, well, you have now so give a commendable round of applause to Suzuki and its brand-new 776cc, DOHC, eight-valve, parallel twin.

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These unique patented parts are the Suzuki Cross Balancer System operating from the crankshaft. Sure we’ve all heard of balancer shafts, or the like before, to smooth out unwanted vibration (especially from a parallel twin motor), but this new engine has ONE for each cylinder operating at 90-degrees to each other. So there’re two of them to be more precise, making this the smoothest parallel twin motorcycle engine I’ve ever come across. It also has a 270-degree ‘offset’ crankshaft, which basically makes it mimic power delivery similar to a V-Twin.

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This equates to 83hp@8,500rpm and 78Nm@6,800rpm. But what does all of this newfound trickery mean in the ‘real’ world you may ask? Well, one superb and compact new engine from Suzuki in decades, that’s what.

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The first time I pulled away I was rewarded with quite an instant and dramatic thrust, which I most certainly didn’t expect, onto a healthy and meaty mid-range and a decent dose of top end performance from their punchy new twin. If you’re wondering about top speed, it’s well over 200km/h, which is more than enough for an ‘800’ naked bike, right?

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However there’s so much more to the new GSX-8S than its striking new power plant. Oh yes, from the ground up this feisty twin is completely new from the front tyre to the rear tyre, on all counts. The new steel frame is connected to an aluminium swing-arm and the detachable sub-frame is exposed, which looks rather splendid I think in a retro type manner. This taught chassis has a long-ish wheelbase of 1,465mm and a low-ish seat height of 810mm. Suzuki seem to have the ergonomics spot on here, because the moment you mount the 8S you instantly feel ready for action and it doesn’t disappoint.

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It’s obviously a great town bike for tearing around our congested streets and chasing bigger bikes, but the 8S also has a naughty side and wheelies without complaint, if you fancy that sort of tomfoolery, which I most certainly do! It’s so much fun and never fails to make you grin like a Cheshire cat that’s just won a year's supply of tuna. Combine this delightful attribute with a solid and ‘well built’ feel that some bikes costing twice the price don’t have and you can see why MCN UK made this funky new twin their Naked Bike of the Year. I must also add my accolades by saying the GSX-8S is also one of the best bikes I’ve ridden this year too.

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So, happy moments aside, let’s get technical for a few moments, with the usual wealth of electronics demanded on today’s motorbikes. Firstly we have the new 5-inch TFT screen to relay everything and it works wonderfully in direct sunlight, I’m happy to inform. You can choose between a black or white background display, or leave it in automatic mode so it decides itself. This new screen works in conjunction with the SIRS (Suzuki Intelligent Ride System). S-DMS (Suzuki Drive Mode Selector) offers three rider modes A, B, or C, with A being the most aggressive and C for the ‘girly’ rain mode option. Three Traction Control (STCS) options are there too and you can alter when the shift light activates/flashes on the rev-counter. All of this can be fiddled with in a refreshingly user-friendly interface using the left side switchgear. I really liked that simplicity compared to some of the over-complicated rubbish I ‘didn’t’ have the pleasure of using this year, no names mentioned due to impending Molotov cocktails arriving in my garden.

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There’s a Bi-directional (always a giggle to mention to people who listen to Erasure) quick-shifter working on the sweet six-speed gearbox, which selects perfectly on the way up but can be a little ‘stiff’ on the way back down (maybe have another giggle there too, sorry). It does make a pleasant, deep sound as well coming out of the stumpy silencer as you rasp through the gears – even better I’d imagine with a less restrictive version. Actually I did hear the new DL800 fitted with a race silencer and it did make a fantastic noise from Suzuki’s new middleweight twin, so I’d be excited to hear the 8S with the same treatment.

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Low rpm assist is a cool feature that slightly increases rpm when you let out the clutch to prevent embarrassing stalling, and to prevent rear wheel ‘chatter’ when braking hard there’s SCAS (Suzuki Clutch Assist System), or slipper-clutch to you, and that’s about it for rider aids.

Now let’s get in to the styling. Doesn’t it look fabulous, or both of them in this case, in all blue or blue/white colour options? And should these options not be to your taste,  there’s an all black one as well, if you fancy being mean and moody. The 14-litre tank blends well with the front side covers, and its face, with the stacked LED lights, is distinctive and a bit ‘Transformer’ like. A good looking bike for sure and I preferred the blue version, which was kitted out with genuine Suzuki soft panniers and a small fly-screen, available from your Suzuki dealer if you need those for shopping or covert weekend excursions.

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I know I’ve commented on how good a road bike the 8S is but I also had the pleasure of a spot of ‘knee-scraping’ around the Red Star circuit and the 8S and myself enjoyed every minute. The radial mounted Nissin brakes worked well and never complained, as did the KYB suspension. However the 43mm fork can’t be adjusted in any way and the rear shock pre-load only, probably to keep cost down. Still, it handles much better than I thought it would around a track and admirably hides its wet weight of 202kg (with fuel). On the road though the front forks are well set up for that scenario and the rear shock was a little soft on the rebound stroke for my liking, but that’s just my opinion.

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This bike is certainly for me though and makes for a great all-round motorcycle. It has a harmonic blend of stability, fun, comfort, power, build quality and price, which is a very competitive R165,950. Suzuki is certainly 'aiming high' with its new power plant and the forthcoming range using this new platform. So have Suzuki achieved these new heights? I believe so, so if you’re looking for something new, modern looking, and entertaining maybe the GSX-8S needs to be in your garage, I’d undoubtedly have one in mine.

Images: Big Stu.

Go to www.suzukimotorcycle.co.za to book a massively recommended test ride today.