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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.