Suzuki Katana cuts like a razorblade
Recently, characters from our childhoods have made a reappearance in movies, TV series, and other media, giving the impression that nostalgia is all the rage. Bike manufacturers have taken notice of the trend and are capitalizing on it by bringing back the iconic nameplates of the vehicles that first sparked our passion for two wheels. The Suzuki Katana is back, but is it still the racing machine of our childhood, or is it simply another blatant money grab?
Like a razorblade, it cuts
The 1980s were a crazy decade for bikes; the upright cruiser was quickly being replaced by sports bikes with a racing aesthetic. Sports bikes would become even more well-known thanks to films like TopGun, which gave us names that brought to mind the culture from whence they originated and legends like the GPZ.
The terms Ninja, Blade, and Shadow were frequently used, but there was one that made everyone shudder. Katana
The Suzuki Katana of the 1980s was a thing of beauty, with its sweeping back fairings, exposed 4-into-1 exhaust, and bold square headlight. The Katana could not have been mistaken for anything else, and several posters of it could be seen on bedroom walls all over the world.
A few decades later, Suzuki revived the Katana moniker and put it on a motorcycle that exhibits many of the same characteristics as its namesake and generates the same feelings in both young and old people, though for rather different reasons. We spent a week with this silent killer to determine if it still had the same cutting ability as the blade it was named for.
One thing the Katana excels at is blending its rough, stocky lines into fluid, flowing ones. The Katana appears blocky and square, yet from a distance, it all comes together to form a beautiful, modern, and retro-looking product.
Suzuki has molded a square LED headlight into the lovely flowing curves of the front fairing, which instantly identifies the Katana. This is really where the magic happens. I can't say that I like the way the number plate is mounted, despite the fact that the tail section is nice and orderly if not a little square and bland.
There isn't much that distinguishes this from a GSX besides the Katana kanji on the side and a set of gold wheels that look stunning against the matt blue paintwork.
Although the Katana may initially appear to be devoid of technology, Suzuki has very cunningly concealed everything that prevents this sword from cutting you. The LCD panel that displays all machine information and is positioned directly in front of the handlebars is the only indication of what is underneath.
Riders are kept upright and moving in the right way by Suzuki's SIRS (Suzuki Intelligent Rider System), which incorporates a ride-by-wire throttle and traction control with three levels of attack. Suzuki's One Touch Start and Low RPM Assist also keep the engine running. One issue is that the screen might be a little challenging to read in various lighting situations, making it challenging to quickly understand the information.
Drivetrain and Engine
Suzuki hasn't changed its tried-and-true K5 engine, which now produces 110kW and 108Nm after being slightly tweaked. With its up-and-down quickshifter and slipper clutch, the 1000cc engine's smooth-shifting 6-speed transmission makes fast riding a breeze.
Even when traveling two up, the KYB suspension manages to maintain its position in corners and busy city streets. The Katana is checked up gradually by Brembo brakes up front and Nissin brakes in back, while ABS and the previously stated traction control guarantee a controlled stop and confident handling every time.
Let's Go!
The real test of the Katana was when we chose to participate in the 2022 Toy Run, in addition to the usual runs to the workplace and throughout the city. With two people on board and thousands of other bikes all around us, we set off onto the highways and backroads.
The Katana performed admirably when carrying a passenger and engaging in low-speed activity for a vehicle that is actually intended for solo riding in urban areas. The lack of needing to pull the clutch lever every few seconds was made possible by the rapid shifter, which made maintaining the engine in the proper rev range while crawling along incredibly simple. The bike pulled the rider and passenger along at a slow speed thanks to its exceptional torque delivery. The Katana shone when the route became more open, effortlessly reaching highway speed and dipping into turns like a track bike. Simply put, it was an amazing sensation to ride and garnered attention everywhere we went.
Cons and Pros
retro aesthetic
Stunning painting
outstanding shifter
tight rev band
Uncomfortable LCD screen with poor visibility
Lack of wind shielding
The Decision
The Katana is a great piece of equipment that appeals to my inner 10-year-old, but it must be acknowledged that without the nostalgia associated with it, it is very similar to the other GSX-based products from the Japanese brand. It truly depends on if potential customers will buy into the romanticism and want a bit of their childhood back whether other companies at the price point can accomplish equivalent, ride-wise, even in-house. Although the Katana is a fantastic motorcycle, will it hold its own against competing models like the GSX R, GSX S, and GT? Time will only tell.