April 4, 2024

GSX-8S Reveal and First Ride

GSX-8S Reveal and First Ride

For the past few months, I've been looking for a new bike to fill a vacant spot in my garage. I'm keen on something obviously "not LAMS". The reason for this is that ever since I got my full license (apart from the bikes I have been privileged to ride for KR) I've only owned either LAMS bikes, or bikes that aren't too far off LAMS. For example the MT07 (655cc LAMS) and Tenere 700 (689CC not LAMS). So, when KR editor Ben called me up offering me a long-term Suzuki GSX-8S, it was a no-brainer. As a naked sports bike, the Suzuki GSX-8S is going up against the Yamaha MT09, Triumph's Street Triple, KTM's Duke 990, Honda's 750 Hornet, and the list goes on. There's a lot of muscle and a lot of tech in these bikes, So Suzuki has to pull something out of the hat to be competitive. I'm not too worried though, Ben came back from the AU/NZ launch of the GSX-8S last year raving about the bike. And he's not that easy to impress.

The Suzuki GSX-8S was released in 2023 and is powered by a brand-new liquid-cooled Parallel-twin 776cc engine which surprised a lot of people when it was released. It's got a bit of burble in the exhaust sound, characteristic of the 270-degree crank configuration, which also helps with the power output. It puts out 83hp at 8500rpm and 78 Nm at 6800rpm. Equipped with a 6-speed transmission and quick-shifter as standard, 3 rider modes, 4 levels of TC including off, and a colour TFT display, Suzuki has come to the party with the specs on this bike.
Front suspension is by way of non-adjustable 43mm KYB inverted forks with 130mm of wheel travel. At the rear is a KYB shock with preload adjustment only. Rolling on a set of cast-alloy 17-inch rims which are colour-matched to the frame and plastics, the GSX-8S is a looker. I think pictures and video don't do the bike justice. It's a lot more appealing in person.
With a seat height of 810mm, it's quite easy to stand over, and with a weight of only 202kg wet, the GSX-8S is very light compared to what I'm used to.

First impressions

The Suzuki GSX-8S is an easy bike to ride. It's light and user-friendly. Everything is exactly where I would expect to find it. Things like ergonomics don't stand out unless the manufacturer got it wrong. Suzuki nailed it. The levers are the perfect distance from the bars. The switches are located perfectly so my thumbs find them, the first time. And pulling away for the first time, I didn't even have to think about where the clutch engagement point was. It was like I had been riding this bike for years.
The TFT display is stunning. nicely laid out, and easy to read, with not too much information to complicate things, just what you need and nothing you don't.
The seat is a little firm. I think you could get away with maybe 1.5 hours in a stretch, but you would hate yourself after a full-day ride. That said, it's not a touring motorcycle, so I can forgive such things, and with only a 14L capacity in the tank, there's going to be plenty of time to stop and stretch while refueling.

Good bits
I love the brakes. Up front, we have twin 4-piston Nissin radial calipers, clamping on 310mm rotors, and wow, they hail the bike up beautifully. The brakes aren't brutal, but just inspiringly strong.
I like the swell of power that comes on around halfway up the rev range. if you are in too high gear, and you wind on the power, it's almost like being in a 90s turbo sedan. There's a slight lag before the power really comes on, and then you're doing illegal speeds in no time.

Not-so-good bits
Aesthetically, I'm not a fan of this stonking great tail section on a massive stick extending from where the tail light should be in the tail of the bike. this stalk extends out past the rear tyre and holds the number plate, rear indicators, and tail light, and looks like it might make things difficult if one wanted to install a tail tidy. I also wish it had cruise control. I know, I know, it's not a touring bike... but this feels like a missed trick from Suzuki to me.

I like the bike. It appeals to me, and sitting here in my garage now as I type this with thoughts of road trip destinations going through my head, I'm excited by what is in store. I'm looking forward to testing this bike out over the next 6 months. I plan on putting it through its paces in a few different disciplines, from commuting to roadtriping. But first, I have a few modifications I need to make, I'll share more next issue.