In the six years since we first saw the B-King it has been the subject of heated discussion in Japan. Should it be dumbed down for mass market or a full-blown radical bike? Find out who won the argument...
IF, like me, you can't stop associating the Suzuki's name with the burger joint, then let me put you straight. Suzuki wanted this bike to 'Be The King'. The letter 'B' is the key. Boost is the big powerful engine, Block Beauty is the various 'blocks' of styling that add up to complete this extraordinary machine, Brutal and Beast are also on the list, but strangely 'Bizarre', was missed out. The B-King will polarise opinions. You'll either love it or hate it, but don't make any decisions until you've ridden one, as it's unquestionably a special bike.
It may have the size and shape of a behemoth but looks are deceiving as this bike has some of the best manners I've encountered on a road bike to date. Firstly it has a low seat height, which makes starting, stopping and maneuvering a doddle. Providing you are on a flat surface. Needless to say pulling 240kg backwards up an incline is not an option so turning round on narrow roads requires some planning. And try before you buy. Although the riding position was fine for my 31" inside leg as my knees tucked nicely behind the side cowls, some of the taller riders on the launch felt this area was quite cramped.
Now comes the big talking point: styling. Extending from the rear of GSX-R style seat unit are two Scud Missile launcher tubes. I tried to get them to grow on me over my two days with the B-King, but it seems I need more time. And while the instrument cluster is cute with the 'B-King' logo appearing every time you switch on, it's let down by the cheap plastic chrome rim around the tacho. It has all the normal functions including gear position and a handy average speed indicator controlled with buttons on the left side of the tank, but the rim ruins the effect.
Sit on the bike and to your right side you'll notice there are buttons controlling the 'A' and 'B' mode power selector. The power setting can be changed when neutral is selected with 'A' giving you the full 180bhp and B giving you a 30% reduction. Suzuki 's idea behind the SDMS was two-fold. Firstly they didn't want to intimidate, and therefore eliminate, any potential customers with the immense power and secondly, apparently it's always handy to have this function when the weather turns dodgy.
Hit the starter button, ride off and you could be on a K7 GSX-R1000 with wide bars. The handling is surprisingly light with a very planted feel from the big forks. As with the front suspension the rear shock is multi adjustable, but it lacked the refined feel of a sports bike, especially under acceleration.
The engine feels effortless in every gear and has a really nice throttle connection that means a light and precise throttle at all speeds. Round town and along country roads the B-King is a pussy cat with perfect manners but lurking underneath is the wildest caged lion you have ever met. Pull onto a motorway, turn the throttle and you'll see 155mph in 4th gear. Change up and she'll keep pulling until your bottle runs out, and all this while sitting bolt up right!
The rigid aluminium chassis gave good high speed straight-line and cornering stability, but you have to be careful accelerating hard out of corners. A massive 1,352cc coupled with titanium valves and GSX-R developed pistons gives gargantuan midrange grunt, generated much further down the rev range than any sports bike and can lead to potential grip issues.
Despite having a 200-section Dunlop Qualifier RR on the back I was nearly spat half way up Snowdonia twice during our day out in the Welsh valleys. Both times it was my own fault for not giving this bike the respect it deserves. I will in future. Big capacity bikes normally tend to run out of revs quite early but this doesn't happen here as decent acceleration will commence at 2,000rpm so you are more than ready to shift up before the 10,500 red line.
Wheelies and stoppies are possible but not inevitable due to its 240kg bulk and excellent weight balance. The B-King behaves relatively well on standing starts and heavy braking providing you remain aware of the bulk you are dealing with, but while the radial brakes work well I wouldn't want to have any less braking power for this beast.
During our track sessions round the brilliant Anglesey Circuit I found a false neutral while braking and immediately locked the front wheel as my braking became imbalanced. This was yet another reminder of how quickly this bike will bite back should you let your guard down. The general handling around the track was pretty faultless providing you didn't push the front too hard and even ground clearance was better than many other sportier bikes I've track tested. Track days would be a blast on a B-King, as you might not-out ride everyone in the corners but you'd definitely pass everything along the straights!
There are two colour choices, all black and silver, with colour coordinated detail including the swingarm. Both options also have some nice chrome detailing on the clutch casing and coolant pipes. Mostly the ergonomics work well, but no matter how you admire all these touches you will always be drawn back to the Apollo 13 tail pipes and there only you can decide.
I like the B-King mainly because it can be anything you want it to be when it comes to enjoyable riding. This is a bike that delivers mass enjoyment on the road and is even surprisingly capable on the track. But you must always remain respectful to the power lurking inside, because like a lion keeper with one arm you may never be in total control...
TYPE - STREETBIKE
PRODUCTION DATE - 2007
PRICE NEW - £8999
ENGINE CAPACITY - 1340cc
POWER - 181bhp@9500rpm
TORQUE - 108lb.ft@7200rpm
WEIGHT - 240kg
SEAT HEIGHT - 805mm
FUEL CAPACITY - 16.5L
TOP SPEED - 160mph
0-60 - n/a
TANK RANGE - N/A
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