MOTOR MATTERS 2-WHEELING TODAY BY ARV VOSS
Sportbikes provide a kind of unparalleled excitement offered by any other two-wheeled ride, but they are not necessarily the most comfortable bikes to jockey around on for extended periods of time or traveling long distances. In today’s bike world, there is an emerging dimension — one of user-friendly motorcycles that generate sportbike excitement while riding, but also a greater level of comfort, with riding positions that have been altered just enough to add comfort along with the adrenaline rush.
Suzuki’s new GSX650F is one of the new breed of sportbike that virtually allows the rider to “have it all”. The GSX650F is essentially a sportbike that ups the ante with ergonomics that are more street-bike focused. For one thing, the riding position is considerably more upright than your basic hardcore, traditional sportbike. It’s a versatile performer, featuring balanced handling characteristics in a wide variety of riding scenarios, from ripping over back road mountain twisties to more docile urban cruising surroundings and high-speed freeway travel.
The GSX650F draws its power from an all-new, compact 656cc, DOHC 16-valve, liquid-cooled four-stroke, fuel-Injected, inline four-cylinder engine that’s tuned to provide strong low-end torque, as well as midrange power covering a wide band. The driving force is delivered through a six-speed constant mesh manual gearbox with an easy-to-operate hydraulic clutch, to the rear wheel via a chain final drive.
The bike’s frame is a lightweight, rigid double-cradle tubular steel structure that ensures chassis stability.
The suspension consists of 44mm telescopic, oil damp, preload adjustable forks in the front while the rear is a Link-type, single shock with adjustable preload and rebound. Reining in the Suzuki GSX650F presents no problem with the new Tokico four piston front calipers clamping down on dual front 310mm floating discs, combined with a pin-slide rear caliper on the single 240mm disc aft. There is no ABS. The bike rides on Bridgestone Battleaxe BT011-120/70 ZR17 M/C 58W radials, forward and Bridgestone Bateaux BT020R-160/60 ZR17 M/C 69W in the rear, mounted on three-spoke alloy wheels fore and aft.
The full fairing design is all new, with inspiration taken from Suzuki’s high-performance GSX-R series, giving the new GSX650F rider protection from the elements, while creating a pure sporting image. The seat height is 30.3 inches, and is of a one-piece design that will accommodate both a rider and a passenger.
My test Suzuki GSX650F was finished in a Blue metallic with White, featuring Red graphics. An alternate theme is offered in Black and Silver metallic. The base price was set at $6,999 with an estimated final total, allowing for dealer prep and handling, coming to $7,249.
SUMMARY: The GSX650 is both smooth and fast, with a pleasing tone coming from both the engine and the exhaust.
The instrument panel, also inspired by the GSX-R incorporates a step motor driven tachometer, a multi-function LCD for dual trip meters, a reserve trip meter, a digital clock, a bar graph fuel gauge, a useful gear position indicator with a shift light, also taken from the GSX-R.
The compact fuel tank holds 5.0 gallons (except for California where the capacity is reduced to 4.9 gallons). The tank is sculpted to afford an easy reach to the rubber-mount handlebars that reduces vibration. The mid section is narrowed and cut out for the rider’s knees, but not enough for a perfect fit for those 6’4″ or more.
A quick twist of the throttle translates into rapid and linear acceleration though the smooth gear transitions. The ride quality is compliant and adjustable, while the handling characteristics are precise and predictable, inspiring enhanced rider confidence.
The Suzuki GSX650F is a lot of bike for the money, and it strikes a balance between full sportbikes and sport tourers, easily making it an easy rider.
Copyright, Motor Matters, 2009