COMING ALONG NICELY SUZUKI Katana
Bike SA|February 2022
Last year April we bought a Suzuki Katana as a Long-Term test bike, so we could ride it for 12 months, report on it, try and improve it and give you the reader, constant feedback. The initial reporting was done in Superbike Magazine but with us now having merged that mag with Bike SA, we continue the story here. Without having seen a black one in the flesh, we took the plunge and ordered one from Suzuki Motorcycles South Africa. Although silver is the colour associated with the original Katana, we thought to be different and opt for the black one.

Rather than being a modern retake on an old classic, Suzuki has kept the recognisable Katana shape being the headlight fairing and fuel tank shape, and the bike is easily recognized as being a Katana, but that’s where the similarities with the original ends. When I went to collect the bike, I couldn’t believe how stunning it actually looked in the flesh. Black was now the new silver! And it’s not just plain black either, it has metallic flakes in which really comes alive in direct sunlight. The simple red SUZUKI logo on the tank stands out nicely in contrast to the black paint.

Instead of a long stretch to a set of clip-on handlebars on the original Katana, you are now faced with an upright streetfighter-type of seating position, courtesy of high handlebars. And in typical Suzuki parts bin repurposing, bits from previous/other models have been utilized to create the modern version of the Katana. Whilst the new version may have polarized opinions, and to a certain extent horrified the purists, we were intrigued by this bike, and decided to find out for ourselves what the story was.

So, in brief, if you don’t know already, the engine comes from the 2005 - 2008 GSXR1000 model range. Suspension is adjustable front and rear, there’s decent brakes with ABS, sticky tyres, 3 traction control modes and a multifunction instrument cluster.

As mentioned earlier, the riding position is now an upright one, aka streetfighter style. I suppose the new term is street-sports, or such like. And with no wind protection, coupled to the upright riding position, it takes me back to my 1981 Suzuki GSX750E. Just a lot faster. With better handling. And better brakes. I’m sure you get the picture. I’ve always liked bikes which were ‘different’, and the new Katana surely fits that description.

The list of things we wanted to change/add/improve was a long one, and included: taller screen, adjustable brake and clutch levers, rearsets, bar end mirrors, tank pad, other handlebars, heated grips (yes, for the colder winter months), tail tidy (yip, we’re not a fan of the scaffolding holding the number plate and rear indicators in place), performance exhaust, quickshifter, rim tape/decals, crash protectors, wavy brake discs, and so on. And of course we wanted to fiddle with the suspension as well.

After collecting the bike, I spent a number of days riding around town and a bit of highway cruising. Apart from the very firm suspension, the brakes lacked a bit of feel and I found the throttle to be extremely direct, dare I say snatchy. On the plus side though, the riding position is great, the handling good and it goes as you would expect, very fast.

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