IT WAS a proper no-brainer for Suzuki of course – and one look at the success of Kawasaki’s Z900 RS roadster would have confirmed the wisdom of a retro Suzuki. And what better legendary machine to ape than the mighty Katana from 1981?
The GS1000-based machine was wildly ahead of its time in terms of design and style, and even though it wasn’t the best bike around (Kawasaki’s Z and GPz range killed it on most fronts), it had an impact that’s stuck through the decades.
Like the original then, this new version is based on a current roadster – the GSX-S1000. That’s a pretty decent base of course: a GSX-R1000 K5 motor serves as the foundation for the 150bhp powerplant, and the GSX-S chassis is more than solid enough: twin-spar beam alloy frame, GSX-R swingarm, USD forks, radial Brembo front calipers. It’s a little on the porky side – and the Katana has actually added mass (up 6kg to 215kg). But we’ve spent plenty of time on the GSX-S1000 and it’s a very capable naked beastie to build upon.
Much of the Katana story centres around the styling and design then. And it does pay homage to the old bike in a pretty decent manner. The Katana logo is on show, on the dash as well as on the graphics, and the fairing/tank cover do a great job of echoing the old style, while staying on the modern side. We like the dual tone stepped seat too.
In tech terms, its hard to see what will feel much different from the GSX-S. There’s a slower-opening throttle linkage, which we’re not sure is a good thing. What’s definitely sub-optimal is the teeny 12 litre fuel tank. The GSX-S motor is good on fuel, but with such a small tank, you’ll be stopping for fuel every 90 miles. We expect there's a good reason for the small capacity, but it does seem like an obvious handicap. Hmmm.
The riding position looks a tad more upright, so the Katana could be a bit of a wheelie tool, and more usable/comfy round town.
We’ll be riding the new bike as soon as we can: more when we get it.