Pros – Gets smooth and potent engine, Offers good handling dynamics, Ergonomics are comfortable
Cons – Stiff ride quality, Poor headlamp illumination
It was the year 2014 when Suzuki’s watchful eye on the Indian market and the Yamaha FZ’s roaring success gave birth to the Gixxer. With its muscular streetfighter aesthetics and an engine developed with inputs from Suzuki’s MotoGP technicians, the motorcycle went on to become a massive hit among enthusiasts. So much that the bike even earned accolades for being the best-selling 150cc motorcycle for a while. However, no matter how good a product is, updates are of essence to keep it relevant in an ever-competitive market. And the lack of these updates started to show in the declining numbers on the sales charts of the ageing Gixxer.
Now, five years later, Suzuki has breathed new life into the Gixxer. And it’s not just a graphical update this time around, but a complete design makeover. The only mechanical revision, however, is the replacement of carburetor by a fuel-injection system. Last week, we had a short run on this 2019 edition, primarily to drool over its cosmetic transformation or cast disparaging looks at it if it doesn’t meet our aesthetic criteria. But it was also to understand how capable, if at all, the new Gixxer is.
The Gixxer is still a handsome looking motorcycle and it also retains the reasonably good build quality, fit and finish of its predecessor. Although the plastic panels around the bodywork don’t look very premium, they don’t feel flimsy either, and the fitment of bolts and welding portions have been executed with precision.
The bold triangular headlamp has been replaced by a more minimalistic LED unit surrounded by a plush-looking bezel. The switchgear integrates easy-to-access buttons which function with a tactile feel. While the fuel tank is still muscular, it blends with the longer and sharper extensions making the bodywork busier. Beyond this, the motorcycle is identical to its fully-faired sibling, the Gixxer SF. The underseat cowl and the tail have been redesigned to look meatier, complete with a petite LED tail lamp. Not to forget the signature dual exhaust cannister which gets a slightly longer chrome-finished shield now.
Although the new Gixxer boasts of good proportions overall, the flat headlamp makes it look like a brawny body-builder with a squashed face. However, as they say, beauty is subjective.
Despite the aggressive stance, the Gixxer is a fairly comfortable motorcycle. The handlebar is effortless to reach and requires you to crouch only slightly forward. This is coupled with low and centre-set footpegs which result in a perfect balance between an upright and commanding rider stance. Sitting on the scooped seat with a humpy tank between the knees evokes a feeling of sitting ‘in’ the bike, rather than on it. The seat cushioning is mildly soft which gets uncomfortable for the derriere after an hour of riding, but that is definitely not a deal-breaker.
Weighing in at 140kgs, the new Gixxer is 5kgs heavier than the previous model. However, it is still a fairly light motorcycle and tip-toeing on it in traffic or tight parking spaces is a seamless task. The wide handlebar gives ample leverage to move around which is essentially a boon while riding in the city. Given the state of Indian roads, potholes and undulations are inevitable and the Gixxer has a somewhat hard time tackling them. Since the suspension setup is on the stiffer side, the ride gets bumpy while going over sharp speed breakers, deep potholes, stones and road joints. Go fast over a big bump and you literally tend to be thrown off the seat. However, it seamlessly glides away while passing over minor undulations.
Let’s move on to the area where the Gixxer outshines most of its rivals. Propelled by a 155cc, air-cooled motor, the Gixxer is now aided by a fuel-injection setup which has increased its power by 0.6bhp at 14.6bhp, while the torque output remains unchanged at 14Nm. It gets a smooth-running engine which is exemplified by the pleasant thrum you hear after jabbing the starter. Rev it hard and the sound turns into a raspy exhaust note which lends the Gixxer a character of its own.
Slot it in the first gear and you are treated with a light clutch and a slick gearbox. The five-speed transmission unit has a short throw but the gears shift with an assurance. Now, scoot ahead and you’ll realize that the Gixxer may not be the quickest motorcycle off the line but it surges ahead with poise. While low-end acceleration is quick enough for easy overtakes in the city, the engine truly comes into its elements at 4,500rpm from where the Gixxer lunges ahead with vigour. Keep revving it and the same thrust could be experienced until 7,500rpm, after which the power band flattens out only to max out at 9,500rpm.
While the Gixxer feels enthusiastic in the city, it is equally swift on the highway. Munching miles between the speeds of 80-90kmph is a seamless affair and overtakes don’t always need a downshift. Although 100kmph-and-above is easily attainable, the gruffy nature of the engine at three-digit speeds gets quite strenuous. By keeping the throttle pinned on the highway, the bike can achieve a top speed of 120kmph.
The motorcycle’s handling also deserves a rightful mention. Owing to the great tuning of its chassis and suspension, the Gixxer handles like a charm. It is quick to filter through city traffic while also holding its line around sweeping corners and hairpins. The grippy MRF tyres further assist in spot on braking. The front disc brake has bite and feel in abundance while the ABS also works smartly by not being overly intrusive. The rear brake, however, could do with more bite, besides the great progression it delivers.
The fully-digital instrument cluster of the Gixxer was one of the talking points of the bike when it made its debut. Now, with most of the products, 150cc-and-above, being offered with such a display, Suzuki opted to improve it just a bit. The redesigned digital console features a simpler layout with bolder and clearer fonts for letters and numbers. However, it continues to show only the basic information such as speed, RPM, fuel level, clock, odometer, dual trip meters and gear position indicator. The bike also gets a fancy-looking LED headlamp which has a decent throw and spread on high beam but, the low beam lacks brightness severely.
With the inclusion of a fuel-injection system, the new Gixxer should have returned better fuel economy than the carb version. Strangely, the motorcycle returned a mileage of 42.2 kmpl which is around 5 kms lesser than the carb model. This translates to a range of 506 kms with its 12 litre fuel tank.
Fitness of Purpose
The Gixxer belongs to a segment which is about comfortable commuting with sufficient power on tap for the city. This should be topped by easy rideability and necessary modern features. Now, looking at the overall package, the Gixxer clearly fits the bill.
The motorcycle boasts of a refined engine which packs enough grunt for the city as well as highway. It scores high in the handling department as well courtesy the combination of a well-engineered chassis and rightly-tuned suspension setup. And then brownie points for its low kerb weight and impressive braking setup. In a nutshell, Suzuki has got most of the things right with the Gixxer which justifies the brand’s reluctance to give it a substantial mechanical update.
Suzuki has priced the new Gixxer at Rs 1,00,212 (ex-showroom, Delhi) which is a premium of Rs 12,000 over its predecessor. That makes it one of the most expensive bikes in its segment. To give you a perspective, the 2019 edition demands Rs 5,000 over the Honda CB Hornet 160R and Rs 7,000 over the Bajaj Pulsar NS160. However, these motorcycles are only available in carbureted form. Considering the Yamaha FZ S V3 and TVS Apache RTR 160 4V, which boast of FI technology, the Gixxer is still around Rs 1000 to Rs 2000 dearer. Nonetheless, considering the inclusion of fuel-injection along with fancy LED headlamps, tweaked instrument cluster and a contemporary design, the Gixxer still is an enticing proposition.
Photography by Kaustubh Gandhi and Kapil Angane