One problem with leaving bike tests until the back end of the riding season is that sometimes reviewers can get caught out by a ticking clock and… a new bike reveal, almost making a preparatory review of the outgoing iteration obsolete.
Somewhat akin to surgery waiting lists these days, I had been hanging on for ages to ride Suzuki’s GSX-8S, which, incidentally, had already been receiving rave reviews as the months slipped by.
And then came my turn. Hugely impressed by the bigger brother, the GSX-S1000GT (I rode that one both this and last year), the GSX-8S was on my list of wannabe bikes to weave around the gorgeous Lincolnshire countryside. Then it arrived. And I rode it. And I loved it. And then the EICMA show in Milan came round. And, yep, you guessed it, Suzuki pulled the covers off yet two more new models for 2024. Time to turn the spotlight on the GSX-S1000GX crossover and GSX-8R middleweight sports bike.
I will tell you about the 8S, but first let’s get into the new GSX-8R, because I guess that’s more important at the moment. This is the fourth new model to be launched on Suzuki’s gorgeous new 776cc parallel twin platform, with its long stroke and 270° crankshaft design providing an abundance of low-down torque, usability and flexibility, while a free-revving nature comes from a DOHC and four valves per cylinder. Peak torque is 78Nm, delivered at 6,800rpm, with peak power of 82.9PS coming at 8,500rpm.
So what’s changed, then? Well, lower handlebars contribute to a sportier riding position, with more of the rider’s weight over the front end. To be honest, the ‘bar position of the 8S was fine for me, so it will be interesting to see how much more comfortable the new bike purportedly is. The package is wrapped in new, angular, GSX-R-inspired bodywork. There are selectable power modes, traction control, and a bi-directional quickshifter as standard, with all information displayed on a 5-inch colour TFT dash. Back to the 8S, and I loved the smooth-as-silk quickshifter and plenty of torque to punch me from other road users.
Immediately highlighting the R element of the new GSX-8R is its full fairing, which has been wind tunnel-tested to increase aerodynamic performance and provide weather protection for the rider. Bold 8R logos adorn the side panels, while fairing-mounted mirrors also aid in reducing drag.
Perched in the middle of the angular face is the recognisably GSX series stacked LED headlight, topped by an LED position light. The rear combination light is also full LED, as are the indicators.
The 270° crankshaft provides a power delivery, character and rumble reminiscent of Suzuki’s much-lauded V-twin ranges, while a patented cross balancer design ensures a smoothness, as well as aiding in a compact, lightweight engine design.
You’ve got a two-into-one exhaust system with dual-stage catalytic converter, keeping the 8R conforming to Euro 5 emissions standards, and ends in a short, underslung silencer further enhancing the compact, slimline look.
All of that is housed in a steel frame engineered for direct handling characteristics, the latter further enhanced by those low, forged aluminium handlebars that provide positive control and that sporty riding position, as I say, placing more of the rider’s weight over the front wheel. Bolted into the rear of the steel frame is a lightweight aluminium subframe and lightweight aluminium swingarm.
Dealing with the increased weight bias towards the front, suspension comes courtesy of Showa, with SFF-BP* (Separate Function Fork – Big Piston) inverted forks and monoshock in the rear. Mounted radially to the forks are Nissin four-piston calipers, providing stopping power by biting 310mm discs. Tyres are Dunlop Roadsport 2s.
If you are into modern rider electrickery, then you won’t be disappointed, as the suite of electronic systems also includes Suzuki’s low RPM assist and easy-start function. According to Suzuki the GSX-8R’s settings are easy to navigate via a single rocker switch on the left-hand handlebar, with the information displayed clearly on the neat colour 5-inch TFT screen.
You’ve also got a choice of three colours when the GSX-8R arrives in dealerships in early February 2024: Metallic Triton Blue, Metallic Matt Sword Silver and Metallic Matt Black No.2.
So, just a brief on the GSX-S1000GX Suzuki, which steps into a new segment for the first time, offering a new sports crossover machine with a comprehensive suite of electronics. Electronic suspension from Showa tops a spec sheet that also includes IMU-governed ABS and other braking systems; anti-wheelie; a new Roll Torque Control system; traction control; cruise control; selectable power modes; a bi-directional quickshifter; and smartphone connectivity, accessed via a 6.5-inch colour TFT screen.
The 999cc inline four-cylinder delivers an abundance of power and torque throughout the rev range, peaking at 152PS and 106Nm. If you fancy one and have £14,499 burning a hole in your pocket, first customers can have their bikes by Christmas. It will come in Suzuki’s trademark Metallic Triton Blue, Glass Sparkle Black and a new Pearl Matt Shadow Green. Nice.
Now back to the GSX-8S, and certainly one of my favourite bikes I have been fortunate enough to have ridden this year. Really. It’s stylish, versatile, stable, comfortable, punchy, wow is it punchy, and without doubt, one of the best bangs for your buck you could look at right now. If you like all your eggs in one basket; all your ducks in a row; a bike that ticks all those boxes; then this middleweight delivers.
Propelled by the all-new 776cc DOHC 270° crank parallel twin engine, the amount of low-to-mid-range torque blew me away, and that quickshifter is to die for, being as smooth as silk. Designed around the engine and made from steel tube sections, the frame has been engineered to provide straight-line stability and contribute to the agile handling. Also, the new exposed subframe has been designed to support the rider, and contribute to the GSX-8S’s slim appearance and stripped-down look. Yes, it’s lovely to look at… one of those bikes, even if it’s not yours, that as you walk by you glance back at it.
The balance is one of the great aspects of this bike, being excellent whilst crawling through city traffic, and once out on the open road, a blip of the throttle and I was off, twisting the day away on fast stretches and sweeping countryside B-roads. Fun, fun, and more fun…
MCN got it right when it named the Suzuki GSX-8S Naked Bike of the Year at its 2023 awards. A new one will set you back a mere £8,199. Seriously, how Suzuki does it I have no idea.
Riding the GSX-8S certainly had me grinning and reminded me of the songline, Smile though your heart is aching. Yep, my heart in this case, ‘cos I would love one…