There were worrying rumours about Suzuki giving up on bikes altogether earlier this year, reinforced by its decision to dump its MotoGP race efforts, and a paucity of all-new machinery. But here’s some good news for fans of the smallest Japanese brand – a completely new engine platform.
The firm’s just launched a new parallel twin 776cc motor, with fresh modern design and decent performance, and it looks set to power a whole new range of bikes. That starts with two 2023 models – a new V-Strom 800 DE, and this Suzuki GSX-8S naked streetfighter machine.
Parallel twins are the current trendy layout for bike engine designers worldwide it seems. They offer a number of advantages over V-twins: shorter front-to-back, cheaper to make with only one cylinder head and block to manufacture, and easier to integrate into a chassis layout. Twins are obviously more compact than triples or fours, and with modern engine management, combustion chamber design and materials, they can be really economical, yet still make good power.
This is not your dad’s wheezy old budget commuting twin design! Suzuki’s given its new engine a novel balancer system, with a patented two-shaft balancer setup. This aims to reduce vibration on the new 270-degree firing order engine better than a single shaft setup would. There will be attendant costs in terms of space, mass and friction, but Suzuki engineers clearly reckon that’s worth the price. The 270 degree crank gives the parallel twin the same firing order as a 90° V-twin by the way – which is why it’s also such a common choice with current designs.
The rest of the motor is fairly conventional: four valves per cylinder, double overhead cams, ride-by-wire throttle and coated cylinders. The pistons are forged parts for extra strength without weight though.
Engine aside, the GSX-8S follows the path of Suzuki’s other GSX-S models, with a fairly standard roadster chassis package. There’s a new steel frame design, with an aluminium rear swingarm and 120/70 front and 180/55 rear tyre fitments. Brakes are radial-mount four-piston calipers up front with 310mm discs, and the suspension uses non-adjustable USD front forks and preload-adjustable rear monoshock.
Suzuki’s not been at the cutting edge of electronics in recent years – but the new GSX-8S makes a solid attempt here, with a typical 2023 roadster suite of kit. There’s a sweet full colour LCD TFT dashboard, up/down quickshifter, three rider power modes, four-way traction control, full LED lighting and Suzuki’s usual Easy Start and Low-RPM assist functions. There’s no IMU-assisted cornering ABS or traction or wheelie control, but if you ‘need’ all that stuff then you’ll probably be aiming towards the more premium European brands anyway.
Suzuki’s released a healthy set of accessories with the new GSX-S8S, from luggage and flyscreen to heated grips, single seat cover, crash protectors, USB socket and much more. With luggage and screen, the GSX-S might make a decent distance commuter and light tourer – although beware the fuel range. The new engine will be good on petrol no doubt, but the fuel tank holds just 14 litres.
The new GSX-8S will be in the dealers next spring – UK price is to be confirmed. More info: www.suzuki.co.uk