Suzuki Katana, 38 years later. It is a myth for returns: for the Suzuki brand and beyond. Compared to the past, the lines, the technique and even the intended use change a bit, but the DNA remains that of the iconic model that made the history of the Japanese brand. Sharp, sharp, just like a katana (Japanese sword), it’s not a sports sword, it’s not a naked or even a sport tourer: it’s a unique model, designed for those looking for something that perfectly combines past and future. It is already on sale in all official dealerships at the price of 13,690 euros. But let’s get to know it better.
Suzuki Katana: What it Looks Like
Born from the pencil of Italian designer Rodolfo Frascoli, good at reinterpreting in a modern way the shapes of the old model. The references to the past are evident: there is the square headlight, now strictly LED, the “double” saddle, the same gray of the old model and the semicarena. Once again, the 190-rubber rear seat, the low licence plate holder and the high tail are all eye-catching. All these elements make the Katana a sporty and vintage bike at the same time.
The technical basis is the GSX-S1000, with a light aluminium frame (perimeter) and swingarm and adjustable suspension (43 mm KYB upside-down fork). The braking system, equipped with ABS as standard, is signed Brembo and uses a double 310 mm disc at the front and a single 250 mm disc at the rear.
The beating heart is the four-cylinder 1000 of the GSX R 1000 K5, which has been revised for the occasion to offer a great boost even in the low and medium range, while maintaining the typical supersport extension. The power output is 150 hp at 10,000 rpm and 108 Nm at 9,500 rpm, held at bay by a traction control that can be adjusted to three levels (and excluded if necessary).
There is no ride by wire with maps for the engine and there are no inertial platforms to communicate with advanced electronic control units. Everything is reduced to the essentials: that’s how the Katana wants to be. As anticipated in the opening, the rear tyre is 190/50 ZR 17 M/C, while in front we find a classic 120/70 ZR 17 M/C.
Suzuki Katana: How it Goes
The saddle is not very low and the less high may have some difficulty, especially in the maneuvers from standstill, where you can feel the weight of 215 kg. In motion, those that might seem like important kilos magically disappear. There is a good perception of agility and manoeuvrability, even though the turning radius is not wide.
The Katana lets you drive and tame. It is stable, precise, eclectic. The trim tends to be rigid, favors sporty driving and only penalizes a little ‘comfort, especially in the city and on the paved. It gives its best in the most cheerful driving, in the paths full of curves, where you can take advantage of the perfect cycling, the great stability (also thanks to the rubber 190) and the great character of the engine derived from a supersport race.
The thrust is always vigorous, right from the low rpm. In the mid-range it became even stronger and then reached its peak in the typical four-cylinder Hamamatsu extension. The gearbox is not electronic, but it is always precise and fast, even if badly treated. We can’t talk about aerodynamic protection, because the half-mast has only an aesthetic function.
In any case, the Katana is not a bike designed for long journeys. Braking is also good, although I would have preferred it to be a little more aggressive. I really like the riding position, the attack position but not the extreme one. You’re gathered, with your torso slightly loaded forward but you don’t get tired. The evocative LCD display is also nice, but the backlighting can be improved in my opinion. Finally, someone could complain about the 12-litre tank: it’s small, it’s true, but it’s also true that such a bike is not designed to grind miles, precisely, nor for the Dakar.