If you were around in the ’80’s you’ll remember that Rocky fought Ivan Drago in Russia and won the hearts of the Soviets, despite the cold war raging on around them. Doc brown made a time machine out of a Delorean, ET phoned home, the Russian nuclear plant Chernobyl blew up and so did a space shuttle, the world discovered crack but most significantly, Suzuki unveiled the fastest production motorcycle ever. The GSX1100S Katana.
The Katana was a sign of virility and masculinity. You just couldn’t buy anything faster, end of.
Katana has been around in various guises for a long time. Introduced in ‘80 in 1100 trim (Aircooled 1075cc 16v), (they had a 750cc version in Japan only), but was gone in Europe by ‘85.
Fast forward to 2019 and the beast is back.
Suzuki have resurrected the Katana name. In the same way the original Katana was based on the GSX1100, Suzuki have based the Katana on the GSX-S1000 a very competent bike in it’s own right.
This means the Katana is powered by the street-tuned version of the four-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, 999cc, inline-four engine that became a legend in the 2005 GSX-R1000. This engine is a masterpiece. 150ps (148bhp) and 108 Nm torque means this is a very strong engine, with a wealth of torque low down and a strong rush of power higher up the rev range.
Suzuki’s new Katana is equipped with some of the most advanced rider technology available, including an Advanced Traction Control System², Low RPM Assist, Suzuki Easy Start System and Suzuki Clutch Assist System (SCAS) (slipper clutch) and ABS.
Front brakes are superb 4 piston radial mount monobloc Brembo calipers, working on 310mm floating discs. Forks are 43mm KYB inverted and are fully adjustable for damping, rebound, compression and spring preload. Rear suspension has adjustable rebound damping and spring preload.
We were fortunate enough to be invited along to the UK press launch of Katana.
Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t kind to us, it poured with rain all day.
After a short presentation and some breakfast, we were allocated our bike (mine was no.7) and set off in convoy.
Our day was spent touring the cotswolds, getting to know the Katana on a variety of roads, with some cool people. The rain was relentless but didn’t dampen the mood. By lunch we were all soaked through. Even my boxers were wet.
Arguably the rain was a good way to test the manners of the Katana. She’s a big bike with a lot of power, on wet roads. Katana’s engine and power delivery is sublime. Tiptoeing around, looking for trouble, the throttle response proved to be excellent. There was no snatchy, jerky throttle openings and the bike proved to be very user friendly. For the last half hour of the day, the rain stopped, the roads dried and the pace picked up.
The Brembo brakes are excellent and the front end is very confidence inspiring. It turns quickly and is easy to throw around.
The Katana is such a great package. It’s fast, very well balanced, well equipped, brakes are excellent, the engine is a masterpiece and those looks!
Echoes of a legend, a reflection of a icon or maybe a tribute to an infamous motorcycle from bygone era. Whatever you call it, the 2019 Katana is unforgettable.
The styling is as individual and as unique as you will find on a modern motorcycle. Everywhere you go, people stop and look. Some have no knowledge of the legend that is the Katana, they simply notice the futuristic looks. Some remember the original Katana and stand and stare as memories come flooding back.
If you’re in the market for a naked retro that radiates charisma like no other, i strongly urge you to arrange a test ride at your local dealer. You won’t be disappointed.