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Suzuki GSX-8R (2024) - Review

BikeSocial Web Editor. Content man - reviewer, road tester, video presenter, interviewer, commissioner, organiser. First ride was a 1979 Honda ST70 in the back garden aged 6. Not too shabby on track, loves a sportsbike, worries about helmet hair, occasionally plays golf and squash but enjoys being a father to a 6-year old the most.

Posted:

02.02.2024

2024 Suzuki GSX-8R Review Details Price Spec_504
2024 Suzuki GSX-8R Review Details Price Spec_18
2024 Suzuki GSX-8R Review Details Price Spec_633

Technical Review: Ben Purvis
Press launch review (road & track):
Michael Mann

 

Price: £8,899 | Power: 81.8bhp | Torque: 57.5lb-ft | Weight: 205kg (wet) | BikeSocial rating: 5/5

 

Affordable midi-sports bikes are all the rage for 2024 with a growing revolution in these practical sports-ish motorcycles that promises to bring the category back to the fore after years of declining sales of their more supersport-focused ancestors. Yes there are exceptions, just ask the likes of Honda (CBR600RR) and Kawasaki (ZX-6R), but their Japanese competitor, Suzuki, has halted all GSX-R machines above 125cc. The last crop of GSX-R600, 750 and 1000 models have all now gone from the European market in the face of strict emissions limits and declining sales, and instead a more versatile entrant for 2024 with the GSX-8R which aims to be a one-bike solution for riders who want something that’s as happy on the daily commute as it is on the occasional track day.

It bears more than just a passing resemblance with its own stablemate, the naked GSX-8S. That’s because other than the new fairing, uprated suspension, and riding position, they are identical. That’s right, the frame, engine, electronics, and all other components are from the same production line, and therefore you’d expect the 776cc parallel twin-powered R to behave just like the S.

But just how adaptable is this sub-£9k bike? Off we went to the press launch in South-West Spain to try it on track at Circuito Monteblanco followed by a 100-mile mixture of fast/open and tighter/twisty roads, some of which were claimed by Suzuki’s PR man to be “the best road I’ve ever ridden”.

 

pros
  • Improved Showa suspension delivers impressive handling and comfort

  • Strong torque in the low-to-mid range

  • Sharp, smooth steering and a quality ride

  • Cracking blend of sport, style, comfort, and affordability

cons
  • Quickshifter is a little unrefined

  • Runs out of puff at the top-end

  • Thirsty despite high mpg claims

  • Seat is a little short in length

2024 Suzuki GSX-8R Review

Michael Mann heads to Spain for half a day on track and 100-miles of stunning Spanish slalom-like roads

 

2024 Suzuki GSX-8R Price

The UK price of the 2024 Suzuki GSX-8R is confirmed as £8899 and it's available in dealerships right now – putting it at loggerheads with the likes of the Yamaha R7, Honda CBR650R and Triumph Daytona 660 in the burgeoning battle for middleweight, sub-100hp sports bike twins. Though notably, the Suzuki is the only one fitted with a bi-directional quickshifter as standard.

Available in three colours: blue, matt silver or matt black, with grey, red or black wheels respectively. The tank colour remains the same for each, but I reckon a blue tank would have looked much nice on the blue bike.

An example PCP deal should look something like this:

Deposit

£2000

Term

36 months

Monthly repayments

£97.66

APR

9.9%

Total payable

£10,705.42

 

 

2024 Suzuki GSX-8R Engine & Performance

When we rode the GSX-8S we were impressed by the heavy-hitting torque of the all-new 776cc parallel twin – an engine that spent a decade in development as Suzuki perfected it before unleashing it on the public.

With no tech changes for the twin in its GSX-8R application, the same strong torque and smooth-running feel are its main traits, the latter thanks to Suzuki’s patented Cross Balancer system making it feel more like a V-twin than a parallel version, and the former giving punchy performance that belies the relatively tame peak power figure.

The outright max power is 81.8bhp (61kW) at 8,500rpm, the same as the GSX-8S, and torque peaks at 57.5 lb-ft (78Nm) and 6,800rpm. The torque graph tells a more complete story than the outright peak, though, revealing the bulging midrange that’s felt the moment you open the throttle. That’s thanks largely to the engine’s relatively long-stroke dimensions – 84mm bore, 70mm stroke – and the well-tuned electronic throttle maps. You might not win the cafe bragging rights when it comes to peak power, but the engine’s off-the-line response means you might well be first away from the lights nonetheless.

As on the GSX-8S, there’s a standard-fit up/down quickshifter to help you through the six-speed box, and Suzuki’s Drive Mode Selector (SDMS) and Traction Control System (STSC), the company’s one-touch ‘Easy Start’ system and Low RPM Assist to help prevent stalls.

Three power modes give a range of throttle response settings, and similarly there’s a trio of traction control presets to alter the amount of wheelspin before the system kicks in. You can even turn it off for some added entertainment. All of which can be done on the fly with a closed throttle.

On track, the quickshifter is a little hesitant when faster downshifts are required though I understand this is not its natural hunting ground, and I didn’t once notice any shortcomings on the road section of the test. The engine though, phwoar – it has lashings of torque through the low-to-mid range, enough to make you second-guess your natural judgement of which gear to take the next turn in. I tended to run a gear higher in most because the grunt was there to pull away without compromising the handling or pace in the middle of the corners. And that goes for road as well as circuit making gear changes less and less frequent. Accelerating from stand-still or at low revs is enjoyable given the state of the that torque chart. Yes, I spent 98% of the day in the bike’s sportiest ‘A’ mode which isn’t too aggressive. B and C affect the throttle mapping and will get you to the same peak power and torque figures but with less urgency. On the flip side, under full throttle acceleration the tendency to allow the bike to rev high won’t be rewarding, so changing up sooner than you think will be beneficial. The fast, flowing, and occasionally bumpy section of twisty Spanish test route suited the bike well. Transitioning from acceleration to braking and then back on the power, both uphill and down, all while shifting your body weight around to enhance the road ride didn’t once upset the balance of the machine. You could argue that a peak power just a smidge north of 80bhp isn’t enough to frighten but the 8R allows the rider to manage momentum well. It’s certainly an easy engine to gel with – it makes the bike feel lighter than its 205kg weight, it’s user-friendly and obedient yet eager enough not to bore. It doesn’t require too much nurturing or encouragement to get going either, that torque curve from low down gives it more than enough off the bottom end.

 The clutch lever isn’t span adjustable though its light operation is ideal for the less experienced, or just plain lazy.

Of course, if you have an A2 licence, then the Suzuki dealership will restrict the bike which can be undone if you attain the relevant licence. At a cost, obviously.

 

 

2024 Suzuki GSX-8R Handling & Suspension (inc. Weight & Brakes)

Given the rest of the GSX-8R’s similarity to the GSX-8S you won’t be surprised to hear it also shares the same steel tube frame and subframe, but here there are some key differences that promise to give the faired bike a noticeably different feel.

For a start, the LED headlight is solidly mounted in the fairing rather than onto the steerable part, reducing the mass on the moving section and promising sharper responses as a result. The handlebars are aluminium, again to save weight, and mounted lower and further forward than on the GSX-8S, albeit without being race-style clip-ons. Some might wish them to be a little lower for that more aggressive riding position but that’d add weight to the wrists and isn’t the bike’s intended purpose. The footpegs are straight from the GSX-8S, so haven’t been raised or shifted rearwards – after all, this is still meant to be an all-rounder, not a track bike. The heroblobs didn’t last long on track though. And that adds up to a very welcoming riding position with enough weight over the front to direct the steering end into the corners with even more accuracy than the S. During the first track session I found myself having to readjust because I’d tipped in too early.

The brakes are also carry-overs, with 310mm discs at the front and Nissin four-pot calipers, allied to a 240mm rotor at the rear with a single-pot caliper and treat the rider to a lovely feel, nice and progressive without feeling too harsh at their initial bite, nor does the ABS interfere too quickly. On track at the end of the long start/finish straight, the bike was reaching 132mph yet I could trust the brakes from the 200 metre board to get my into a tight right-hander with enough composure. On the road I just about noticed a slight clunk at the initial grab but it really was quite trivial, and might have related to the start of the front forks compressing.

Get to the actual forks and rear strut, and things start to depart from the GSX-8S’s spec. Gone are the naked bike’s KYB parts, replaced with Showa kit. The forks are SFF-BP (Separate Function Fork – Big Piston) upside-downers, although they’re still non-adjustable. At the rear, there’s adjustment for preload only, as on the GSX-8S. We had dialled in at 6/7 for track and 4/7 for the road, and I didn’t need one tweak for either. It handled beautifully, combining its power with quick, direct steering, thanks also in part to a 180-section rear tyre. I’ve ridden plenty of more expensive machines with seemingly fancier suspension that haven’t coped as well. The 8R offers a dynamic pose yet is very forgiving allowing the rider to look and feel the part without needing to work too hard, which puts it right up my street.

All-in, the GSX-8R measures 205kg, just 3 kilos more than the unfaired GSX-8S, though behaves like a bike with 15-20kg less mass.

 

 

2024 Suzuki GSX-8R Comfort & Economy

With the same tail section as the GSX-8S, the same footpeg position and the same low, 810mm seat height the GSX-8R is as easy to handle as its unfaired cousin and while the lower, further forward bars put a bit more pressure on your wrists it’s not the sort of racing crouch that will buy your chiropractor his next family holiday. In fact, Suzuki could have been a little bolder with the riding position by lowering the aluminium bolt-on ‘bars a little more. It does make for a very comfortable riding position with the footpeg, seat, handlebar triangle in mind, but even though this is no GSXR-750, I can’t help but feel that the sportier-side of the 8R would lend itself to a slightly more streamlined riding position.

Indeed, the addition of a fairing and screen on the R over the S, along with aero-designed mirrors that further help push the airflow around the rider, means that despite its sportier look the GSX-8R offers enough versatility to be a comfortable bike for long rides and high speeds.

It’s spacious, too, with a long, 1465mm wheelbase – again unchanged from the GSX-8S – that aids cornering stability.

A sure-fire way of telling how important a new model is to a manufacturer is to witness the amount of engineering staff invited to the press launch to present their individual responsibilities. Eight was the count here, we learned about the aerodynamics and wiring harness as well as, importantly, the fairing fixings. I jest but they’re all-important details to note, especially how the wind deflects around the screen and fairing, only then did I note a) how short the screen seems, yet b) despite my 6ft frame and added post-Xmas bulk, I was unaffected by the wind noise. Thanks in part to Shoei too. Some may find it a little low, and the same goes for the seat length. If you fancy getting tucked in should there’s not a lot of room to slide back.

A tangible ignition key is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Except here. The key sticks out of the barrel too far and sits slap bang in the middle of the top yoke, and while it doesn’t prohibit the view of the TFT screen, it does look a little clumsy, and if you have any other keys attached on the same keyring, they’re likely to scratch and/or distract.

A set of wide, nicely angular mirrors are easy enough to adjust but I did find a little too much of my shoulders in the inside ¼ of each.

Dunlop’s Sportmax Roadsport 2 tyres are the OE fitment and I found them ideal for the job in hand. Being just a 103-mile gallop, the test ride didn’t give me enough time to judge their longevity or wet weather performance, but they were swapped out for a set of Dunlop Sportsmart TT tyres for the track element. Again, they were perfectly suited for the 8R’s capabilities, even with the traction control turned off – just half a lap was all that it took to get them warm enough.

A 14-litre tank is the popular size for this sector yet even though Suzuki claims an economy figure of 67.23mpg which would offer a range north of 200-miles, the trip indicated 47.5mpg having covered 103-miles of the usual press launch pace (about as uneconomical as you can get), and that left 22-miles in the tank. Not ideal but this figure offers a base level at least.

 

 

2024 Suzuki GSX-8R Equipment

These days a 5-inch colour TFT display is pretty much an industry standard for everything from scooters to superbikes and the GSX-8R conforms – using the same dash that’s already on the GSX-8S. And there’s nothing wrong with that, as it’s a good unit with a clear layout and display, including different modes for day and night riding which can be overridden if you prefer one to the other.

There’s all the info you’d hope for, including a trip computer and service reminder, and of course indications of riding modes and traction control settings, all accessible via the left-hand bar pod.

It does, however, lack the smartphone connectivity, navigation and media controls that are increasingly becoming the norm on today’s bikes.

As mentioned, an up/down quickshifter is standard, and Suzuki is sure to add a range of accessories once the GSX-8R reaches the market, with the usual array of luggage options and protective parts. Much has been said about the rear end profile of the bike, and because the sub-frame is identical to the S there’s already plenty of after-market tail tidy retailers ready for orders.

 

 

2024 Suzuki GSX-8R Rivals

The market for lower-league sports bikes is getting increasingly busy and unlike the traditional 600cc and 1000cc arenas there’s no ‘standard’ engine size or layout. For instance, Kawasaki’s screaming Ninja ZX-4RR four-cylinder has half the GSX-8R’s capacity but offers a similar power and price balance. Yamaha’s R7, Triumph’s Daytona 660 and Honda’s CBR650R are arguably the closest competitors and offer alternative two, three, and four-cylinder options, again with very different characters but similar performance and cost. As you’ll notice, there’s just £315 between the base cost for each of these:

 

Kawasaki Ninja ZX-4RR | Price: £8,699
Power/Torque: 76.4bhp @ 14,500rpm / 28.8lb-ft @ 13,000rpm
Weight: 189kg
Seat height: 800mm
Fuel tank: 15 litres

 

Yamaha R7 | Price: £8,910
Power/Torque: 72.4bhp @ 8700rpm / 49.4lb-ft @ 6500rpm
Weight: 188kg
Seat height: 835mm
Fuel tank: 13 litres

 

Honda CBR650R | Price: £8,499 (2023 model)
Power/Torque: 93.9bhp @ 12,000rpm / 46.5lb-ft @ 9500rpm
Weight: 209kg
Seat height: 810mm
Fuel tank: 15.4 litres

 

Triumph Daytona 660 | Price: £8,595
Power/Torque: 93.9bhp @ 11,250rpm / 51lb-ft @ 8250rpm
Weight: 201kg
Seat height: 810mm
Fuel tank: 14 litres

 

 

2024 Suzuki GSX-8R Verdict

For those who are solely influenced by the spec sheet war, the Suzuki appears to lack the top end peak performance figures of some rivals, but look at where the Honda and Triumph make that figure in the rev range… then try riding around north of 10,000rpm for it to have any impact.

Suzuki’s focus with this beautifully versatile engine was low-mid range torque which is also where it shines on the specification vs. competitors – it really does pull well, so much so that you’ll be saving wear and tear on the gearbox. Stylish and affordable with a quality finish, the GSX-8R also contains a punchy yet smooth engine character mixed with a chassis promoting speedy-yet-stable steering which makes for a perfectly blended all-around package – it has the potential to be the modern-day VFR800. Niggles include its thirst for fuel, limited ground clearance, notchy quickshifter, and some may find the seat length too short, handlebars not low enough, and a limited screen height. Not this rider though.

It's an affordable do-it-all machine, a one-bike solution for many riders who want something that’s as happy on the daily commute as it is on the occasional track day. Touring might be tough because you won’t fit more than a pair of Y-fronts and a toothbrush under the pillion seat.

We’ll get a group test sorted to pitch the Suzuki against rivals from Triumph, Honda, and Yamaha, maybe Kawasaki too.

 

Fancy racing one?

The model is eligible for the new-for-2024 Pirelli National Sportbike Championship which supports the Bennetts British Superbike series. With a power cap of 96hp which could well be achieved with the Suzuki, in-line with the allowances in the regulations, the engine’s torque could be its secret weapon.

 Powerslide Motorcycles from Stoke-on-Trent will be running a bike in the series and Director, Brad Clarke, told us, “As soon as we knew the bike would be eligible and was not too different from the GSX 8S we set to work straight away. We’ve taken a bike to Brands and put it on the dyno with both an Akrapovic exhaust and Arrow. This was to check the power and ground clearance and to give the technical guys the parts required to work on the electronics. The engine was next, and we have used Paul at Moto 46 to develop cams and look at cam timing, as well as work with K-Tech on the suspension. Del at Sublime was also instrumental in this relationship and the development. We have also started working on rear sets, clip-ons. The series is capped at 96bhp, and we are confident with that but what the 8R has over its rivals is sensational torque as standard and a tremendous mid-range.” The team are looking at offering full race spec packages c.£25k.

 

If you’d like to chat about this article or anything else biking related, join us and thousands of other riders at the Bennetts BikeSocial Facebook page.

 

 

2024 Suzuki GSX-8R - Technical Specification

New price

£8899

Capacity

776cc

Bore x Stroke

84mm x 70mm

Engine layout

Parallel twin

Engine details

DOHC, 8-valve, dual balancer shafts, liquid-cooled

Power

81.8bhp (61kW) @ 8,500rpm

Torque

57.5lb-ft (78Nm) @ 6,800rpm

Transmission

6 speed, chain final drive, up/down quickshifter

Average fuel consumption

67.23mpg claimed

Tank size

15 litres

Max range to empty

207 miles (claimed)

Rider aids

Riding modes, traction control, ABS, quickshifter

Frame

Steel tube

Front suspension

Showa SFF-BP USD forks

Front suspension adjustment

None

Rear suspension

Showa monoshock

Rear suspension adjustment

Preload only

Front brake

2x 310mm discs, four-piston Nissin radial calipers

Rear brake

240mm disc, single-piston Nissin caliper

Front wheel / tyre

120/70ZR17M/C (58W) tubeless

Rear wheel / tyre

180/55ZR17M/C (73W) tubeless

Dimensions (LxWxH)

2155mm x 770mm x 1135mm

Wheelbase

1465mm

Seat height

810mm

Weight

205kg (kerb)

Warranty

3 years, unlimited miles

Servicing

600 miles first service, then 7500 or annually. Valve clearances at 15000.

MCIA Secured Rating

Not yet rated

Website

bikes.suzuki.co.uk

 

Looking for motorcycle insurance? Get a quote for this motorbike with Bennetts bike insurance

 

 

What is MCIA Secured?

MCIA Secured gives bike buyers the chance to see just how much work a manufacturer has put into making their new investment as resistant to theft as possible.

As we all know, the more security you use, the less chance there is of your bike being stolen. In fact, based on research by Bennetts, using a disc lock makes your machine three times less likely to be stolen, while heavy duty kit can make it less likely to be stolen than a car. For reviews of the best security products, click here.

MCIA Secured gives motorcycles a rating out of five stars (three stars for bikes of 125cc or less), based on the following being fitted to a new bike as standard:

  • A steering lock that meets the UNECE 62 standard

  • An ignition immobiliser system

  • A vehicle marking system

  • An alarm system

  • A vehicle tracking system with subscription

The higher the star rating, the better the security, so always ask your dealer what rating your bike has and compare it to other machines on your shortlist.