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2022 Suzuki Katana: First Ride Review

08 August 2022, 11:31 AM Abhishek Nigam

Introduction

Suzuki Katana Right Front Three Quarter

Why buy it?

- Fantastic design complemented by beautiful colour options

- Grunty engine with usable performance

- Excellent everyday usability

Why avoid it?

- Instrument console not to everyone’s liking 

- Expensive for what it offers

Retro seems to be the name of the game these days as far as motorcycles are concerned, and almost every manufacturer seems to be returning in time for inspiration for their new products. With Triumph already being masters at this game, Kawasaki jumped on the bandwagon, too, with the Z900RS. Then Suzuki decided to get in on the action with a modern take on its legendary Katana. Now the new Katana was originally launched in 2019, but recently it got a bunch of updates to meet emission norms and give it a fresher look, and the updated bike was recently launched in India too. So does this new blade really cut it? Let’s find out.

The Looks

Suzuki Katana Front View

For any motorcycle to be modern-retro, it has to be the perfect amalgamation of the past and the present. The original Katana was a breakthrough motorcycle for Suzuki, offering a revolutionary design and not to mention blistering performance. And it was going to be a task to replicate the original. So has Suzuki succeeded? 

Suzuki Katana Fuel Tank
Suzuki Katana

Suzuki Katana

  • Displacement999 cc
  • Max Power(bhp)150.19 bhp
  • Kerb Weight217 kg
  • ;

Avg. Ex-showroom price

₹ 13,66,893

Indeed they have. While the base bike is the GSX-S1000, elements carried over from the original Katana include the rectangular headlight, the sword cut across the tank and silver bodywork which India does not get. A significant change from the original was the handlebar. While the original has clip-ons, the current-gen Katana gets a flat-ish high-mounted handlebar. Now, that low-slung headlight fairing does not blend naturally with a high-rise handlebar but give it some time, and it sinks in. At the rear, the stubby tail looks great, and Suzuki, in a bid to keep the tail section tidy, has attached the number plate to a small fender which in turn is attached to the swingarm. Heck, even the saree guard, which is an ugly eyesore on most bikes, has been designed well.

Suzuki Katana Left Rear Three Quarter

Fit and finish feel good, the plastics are great, and so are the switches and controls. Overall, Suzuki has done a great job with the design. The retro bit is spot on, and it flows cohesively with the modern part of the motorcycle.

The Package

Suzuki Katana Instrument Cluster

The 2022 Katana gets quite a few updates now. Let’s start with the instrument console first. The Katana gets an LCD panel with orange backlighting but looks white during the day for better visibility. As far as info is considered, there’s plenty too. However, while the rev counter and the speedo are easy to read, the smaller information isn’t. Also, we would have preferred a full-colour TFT for a motorcycle in this price range.

Suzuki Katana Right Front Three Quarter

On the electronics front, the Katana gets the Suzuki Intelligent Ride System suite. That includes the Suzuki Drive mode selector, namely A, B and C, traction control with five settings, bi-directional quickshifter, Ride-By-Wire throttle, low rpm assist to avoid stalling, and the Suzuki easy start assist, which helps start the bike by just touching the ignition button once and not having to hold it all the way.

Suzuki Katana Front Suspension Preload Adjuster

On the suspension front, you get a fully adjustable front fork and a monoshock adjustable for preload and rebound damping, both supplied by Kayaba. To haul the powerful Katana down quickly, braking is taken care of by twin radially mounted Brembo calipers that bite down hard on 310mm discs up front and a single disc at the rear.

Suzuki Katana Front View

But there is still no cornering ABS or launch control, which we think would make sense in a naked bruiser like the Katana. 

The Ride

Suzuki Katana Right Front Three Quarter

When it came out, the original Katana was one of the fastest production motorcycles. That mantle is now handled by the mighty Hayabusa. The Katana in its present avatar is breaking no such speed records but is there to remind you of Suzuki’s glorious past. That said, it’s no slouch. In fact, it is the most potent naked out there with 152BHP and 106Nm of torque.

Suzuki Katana Fuel Tank

But before we get to the riding bit, let’s look at the ergonomics. Swing a leg over, and the first thing you notice is the wide upright handlebar. The seat is wide, and the cushioning is just right. Seat height is on the taller side at 825mm, and the wide seat base does not help either. Even with an average height of 5 feet 9 inches, I was tip-toeing. Also, weighing in at a portly 217kg, it isn’t exactly easy to push out of a tight parking spot.

Suzuki Katana Left Side View

But once on the move, all that weight disappears quickly. The seat is slightly inclined forward, and the rear-set footpegs give it an aggressive riding stance despite the high-mounted handlebar. But when not in attack mode, it’s also quite relaxed, as I found out during my 200km highway and city stint.

Suzuki Katana Engine From Right

Now, let’s get to the riding part. Nestled between the legs is the same GSX-R1000 K5 motor, which is now in its most updated and civilised avatar. This engine does not feel as refined as a Hayabusa and is a little buzzy in nature but far from being obtrusive. What is also brilliant is heat management. Even pottering around at 40-50kmph insecond or third gear, it gets a little warm but never ends up baking one’s legs. Also, the engine is extremely tractable and goes about easily in third gear. What also helps here is the low rpm assist, which avoids stalling in case the rider is new.

Suzuki Katana Rear Tyre

Switch into A mode when you want to experience the Katana in its full glory. With wet conditions, the Dunlop Sportmax’s struggled to put all the power down with the traction control light flickering in first and second gear. The Katana pulls hard but not enough to scare you. The thrust is strong but linear. It’s exciting enough for experienced riders and not too intimidating for those progressing to a litre motorcycle either. While the performance is fantastic, what isn’t is the range. With a meagre 12-litre fuel tank, I was already out of fuel with just 140 odd km on the trip meter.

Suzuki Katana Left Front Three Quarter

Handling is impressive, too, especially considering that the Katana isn’t a light motorcycle. It feels extremely stable on the long sweeping corners, and the wide handlebars give good leverage while transitioning from side to side. Ride quality, like in all Suzukis, is just phenomenal. One does not have to think about the consequences of hitting a bad patch because the Katana takes it in with aplomb. The Katana is just as much home in the city as it is on the highways and twisties, making it an ideal everyday motorcycle.

Should you buy it?

Suzuki Katana Left Side View

The Suzuki Katana comes across as an excellent retro motorcycle for those who want to tap into its glorious heritage but at the same time want a modern and practical motorcycle. However, with an expensive Rs 13.61 lakh price tag, the Katana isn’t really good value, considering there are cheaper options in the form of the Kawasaki Ninja 1000 and other offerings from Triumph. The Katana is also limited when it comes to capabilities, considering it’s not exactly sporty or tour-friendly. But what it brings to the table is an exceptionally stunning retro design and a friendly character that will be loved and appreciated by all.

Photography by Kaustubh Gandhi 

Gallery

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