Suzuki GSX650F (2007 - present) review

Details
Manufacturer:
Suzuki
Category:
Sports Tourers
Price:
£ 4999
Overall
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

The Suzuki is pulling an act. Like the harmless Milk snake of the Canadian bush which looks like a lethal coral snake, thus scaring away potential predators, so the GSX650F is pretending for all the world that it’s a slightly dumpy GSX-R. And it jolly nearly gets away with it. “A sheep in wolf’s clothing,” says style-orientated Henry, although he then admitted that the GSX pressed his buttons. “It’s a bit like getting a Boxster instead of a 911, but the Suzuki is nice to ride. And it’s actually got some power, which is a surprise amongst this lot.” It certainly looks the fastest of this bunch by a country mile, although in reality it’s only a little faster right across the range. Loose and revvy after the Honda and Yamaha, the extra 50ccs packed by the 650 make all the difference. Gone are the miserable memories of the GSX600F ‘teapot’ and it’s hideous bodywork (Jon Urry reckons the back end resembled a dog’s dick, I reckon it was more a clitoris) replaced instead with this punchy, frisky little fellow.

The GSX is vintage Suzuki. Narrow handlebar grip, confined cockpit area, wide fuel tank, comfortable footpeg position, full fairing and loads of blue and white paint. The engine is the same as used in the 650 Bandit although its geared up, but that means 80bhp and plenty of pulling power. In this company, it feels like a sportsbike. Which it clearly isn’t, it just looks like one. In fact the GSX owes more to the Bandit range than any GSX-R, with its trellis frame and conventional forks. Look closer and you realise that it’s little more than a Bandit with a full fairing strapped on board, but this is no bad thing. Bandits have always been great bikes.

On the move, the GSX cuts just the right dash between sporting and useful. It makes the right kind of noises, raspy and revving and the complete antithesis of the Honda and Yamaha’s completely silent power units. Indeed some commuters might almost find it a little bit too…racy. Suzuki have always excelled at cheap speed, it’s what they’ve built their company on, and the 650F is no exception. Like the Kawasaki, the full fairing does a grand job of keeping the elements off but unlike the ER-6F the Suzuki is full size, it’s not an especially small bike. “Like getting on a real motorcycle after the others,” says my notes. It’ll even pull wheelies of a not-embarrassing size or magnitude with a bit of coaxing.

In town, the Suzuki is the fattest and not as lithe as the others at squeezing through the thinnest of gaps. The wider bars of the Yamaha and Honda certainly tip them the nod when it comes to swish-swashing through lines of stationary traffic. But the mini-GSX-R comes into its own on fast A-roads, by far the most enjoyable to hold to the limiter in each gear and play at being proper racer. It responds to a damn good thrashing in an exciting way; where the others just get faster (a bit) the Suzuki spins up nicely and you find yourself hunting corners and gears, in that order. Naturally, being a Suzuki the gearbox is in a different league to the others, while the brakes and suspension fall into the ‘satisfactory’ category. In this class, that’s as good as you’re going to get.

The Suzuki is pulling an act. Like the harmless Milk snake of the Canadian bush which looks like a lethal coral snake, thus scaring away potential predators, so the GSX650F is pretending for all the world that it’s a slightly dumpy GSX-R. And it jolly nearly gets away with it. “A sheep in wolf’s clothing,” says style-orientated Henry, although he then admitted that the GSX pressed his buttons. “It’s a bit like getting a Boxster instead of a 911, but the Suzuki is nice to ride. And it’s actually got some power, which is a surprise amongst this lot.” It certainly looks the fastest of this bunch by a country mile, although in reality it’s only a little faster right across the range. Loose and revvy after the Honda and Yamaha, the extra 50ccs packed by the 650 make all the difference. Gone are the miserable memories of the GSX600F ‘teapot’ and it’s hideous bodywork (Jon Urry reckons the back end resembled a dog’s dick, I reckon it was more a clitoris) replaced instead with this punchy, frisky little fellow.

The GSX is vintage Suzuki. Narrow handlebar grip, confined cockpit area, wide fuel tank, comfortable footpeg position, full fairing and loads of blue and white paint. The engine is the same as used in the 650 Bandit although its geared up, but that means 80bhp and plenty of pulling power. In this company, it feels like a sportsbike. Which it clearly isn’t, it just looks like one. In fact the GSX owes more to the Bandit range than any GSX-R, with its trellis frame and conventional forks. Look closer and you realise that it’s little more than a Bandit with a full fairing strapped on board, but this is no bad thing. Bandits have always been great bikes.

On the move, the GSX cuts just the right dash between sporting and useful. It makes the right kind of noises, raspy and revving and the complete antithesis of the Honda and Yamaha’s completely silent power units. Indeed some commuters might almost find it a little bit too…racy. Suzuki have always excelled at cheap speed, it’s what they’ve built their company on, and the 650F is no exception. Like the Kawasaki, the full fairing does a grand job of keeping the elements off but unlike the ER-6F the Suzuki is full size, it’s not an especially small bike. “Like getting on a real motorcycle after the others,” says my notes. It’ll even pull wheelies of a not-embarrassing size or magnitude with a bit of coaxing.

In town, the Suzuki is the fattest and not as lithe as the others at squeezing through the thinnest of gaps. The wider bars of the Yamaha and Honda certainly tip them the nod when it comes to swish-swashing through lines of stationary traffic. But the mini-GSX-R comes into its own on fast A-roads, by far the most enjoyable to hold to the limiter in each gear and play at being proper racer. It responds to a damn good thrashing in an exciting way; where the others just get faster (a bit) the Suzuki spins up nicely and you find yourself hunting corners and gears, in that order. Naturally, being a Suzuki the gearbox is in a different league to the others, while the brakes and suspension fall into the ‘satisfactory’ category. In this class, that’s as good as you’re going to get.