With Suzuki's new 800 Volusia weighing in at just over five grand, one-armed banditos all over the country could be cracking open the piggybank. Or will they? Niall Mackenzie's not so convinced...
Click to read: Suzuki VL800 Intruder Volusia owners reviews, Suzuki VL800 Intruder Volusia specs and to see the Suzuki VL800 Intruder Volusia image gallery.I jumped on the Suzuki Volusia just days after riding the Moto Guzzi California, and the Suzuki is so much more refined than the Guzzi it's like it comes from another planet. The Volusia is a good-looking bike as far as custom bikes go, but I wish I didn't know that it had plastic mudguards before I started riding it! I copped them just before I set off, and I kept thinking about those while I was cruising along - and that just ruined it for me. A custom bike lavished in plastic? It destroys the whole purpose of the bike in the first place.
The 800 is dead comfy, for sure. The layout position of your arse in that big, fat seat relative to arms and legs is perfect for all-day riding. In fact, I almost fall asleep riding it, it's so comfortable, although the fact that I rode it during a beautiful summer's day in the middle New Forest certainly helped. The engine is really linear, not loads of midrange power there, but it's lovely just off the throttle. The gearbox is good for a cruiser, none of the clanking and clunking you'd get with a Harley-Davidson, and I found myself just clicking it into top as soon as possible, leaning back into the seat and leaving the V-twin motor to do all the work.
But talking of the motor, what the hell's going on with the exhaust note? Bikes like this are all about image, and the engine sounds a bit nautical to me, more like a four-stroke outboard motor than a motorcycle. Needs some baffles removing to restore a bit of V-twin honour.
There's no doubting the Volusia looks pretty good, but after the horror of the mudguard experience I started tapping all the chrome bits and they're all plastic too! You just think, oh, that's not what these kind of bikes are about. They're about chunky metal flake and workmanship, about looking good and feeling good. Plastic ain't cool. I pretty quickly fathomed that the Volusia's looks are only skin deep. Scratch beneath the surface and there isn't much there. At the price of just under £5,000 I suppose it's hard to knock, but as it stands it's pretending to be something it isn't. With that nice, refined engine it would be a winner if there was a bit more flesh on its bones
Well all is said and done, it is the riding of the Volusia which is the best bit about the whole motorcycle. Which in itself is certainly a good thing. The brakes are fine, the ride is good, the engine has enough grunt. But owning one of these is about polishing up the chrome, and heavy engineering that you can clean and love. With the Volusia all you'd have to do is wipe it with a damp cloth, and it'd be clean. Owning any custom bike is about loving it and looking after it, and I just couldn't be bothered to clean this thing, built the way it is. I'd sling it in the back of the shed and forget about it.
If I'm really honest I'd have to say that if I was going to buy a cruiser I would buy a Harley, the real deal, especially seeing as you could get an 883 Sportster for the same money. The Volusia works well enough, but it's not a Harley and it's never going to be with those plastic bloody mudguards! The Japanese bikes are smoother, more reliable and more refined than Harleys ever will be, but that's not really what this class of bike is all about.
Excellent price and good ride quality mostly out-weighed by cheap finish and lack of any real character. Bikes like this are as much about how they look and make you feel as how they are to ride
Kawasaki VN800 DrifterUnderpowered custom that can't hold a candle to the Volusia in terms of looks, power or handling. So that's that, then.Honda VT750DC ShadowExcellent build quality (as ever) from Honda, power not quite up to Volusia levels, but a genuine Harley-clone
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