Suzuki Katana review, first ride
Suzuki launched the iconic Katana in India which is a legend in its own right. But is it good enough to impress us?
The Suzuki Katana may look retro, but it performs like any other modern liter-class motorcycle.
By Rahul Ghosh: In the 1980s, wallpapers were still to be invented and ‘hot metal’ posters adorned the walls of our bedrooms. It was around this time that Suzuki launched the Katana. A motorcycle with a sharp look that immediately won over young enthusiasts. Back to the future and Suzuki has launched the 2022 iteration of the Katana in India much to the frenzy of us old school devotees. So is the Katana a motorcycle that deserves to be taken out of the realm of the poster or is it about never meeting their hero?
Suzuki Katana: design details
The Suzuki Katana is therefore unquestionably a Katana! By this we mean that the designers made sure that the bike’s iconic silhouette was retained. Simply put, the bike has gotten smoother over the years, but not much sharper. The square headlight has been retained, but inside is LED lighting technology. This is also the case for position lights and unique indicators. The front is dominated by those 17-inch alloys which are painted bright orange. 41mm adjustable forks and short fender complete the unique front end design.
The dashboard, meanwhile, is an all-LCD affair. A lot of information is transmitted to the pilot but the display is not very readable. It’s more like a dot-matrix printer in the laser world! The switchgear is easy to use and one can sift through all five levels of traction control and three driving maps on the go using it. In profile, we can see the gas tank which looks rather bulky. However, in reality, it can hold 12 liters of fuel, which also means frequent fuel stops given that the Katana is a liter class motorcycle. The saddle is perched at 825mm, meaning even shorter riders will be able to mount a horse with ease. The riding position is also comfortable and the handlebars are raised and fall easily into the hand. The position of the footpegs is rather neutral, which means that the rider’s triangle is designed to allow for long rides. The short rear section looks cool and the LED taillight completes the design package.
Suzuki Katana: Engine, gearbox
As for the mechanics, let’s say the Katana is powered by a 999cc liquid-cooled engine that’s basically a decade and a half old. However, it has undergone a complete overhaul and gets a whole host of upgrades including new cam profiles, new valve springs, electronic throttle bodies, a new clutch and a new exhaust system. Power has also increased from 150 hp to 152 hp. The Katana also benefits from five levels of traction control and three motor maps, which is surely something much needed on a bike in its class. A 6-speed manual gearbox sends power to the rear wheel.
Suzuki Katana: performance
Swing one leg and the Katana is very comfortable. The engine comes alive with the typical four-cylinder throb and the clutch is light and the gearbox smooth. Acceleration is much reduced as the bike takes off. This is the case when selecting the two more docile driving maps that dampen throttle response for everyday use. Navigating the streets of the city, it will be difficult to realize that this is a fat bike to ride. The engine remains calm under the 3,500 rpm mark and the Katana sails happily at 50 km/h in 5e equipment. This is where the bike’s 217kg curb weight is felt and it’s also not very maneuverable in traffic thanks to the heavy steering.
But the fun begins when the road opens up and the driver switches to mode A on the driving map. Throttle response stiffens and acceleration becomes ballistic. Past the 3,500 to 4,000 rpm mark, the engine note changes radically and we realize that the Katana is ready to go to war. It picks up speed quickly and 100 km/h is no big deal as the speedo easily exceeds the 140 km/h mark. The engine feels happy as it easily hits the redline numbers which are around 11,000 rpm. It will also be adept at sending heaps of congratulations to the designers. God knows what voodoo they did, but even at high speeds there is literally no tremor felt. It also helps to trust the rider to go fast. Needless to say, the Katana stays planted in the road as you chase the horizon. Another game changer on the Katana is the traction control system. The five levels of it provide a wide safety net and that inspires confidence on wet surfaces.
Suzuki Katana: Handling
When it comes to maneuverability, the Katana isn’t as smooth as its cousins. You feel the weight at low speeds and the bike isn’t very flickable in traffic. In turns too, the Katana feels a bit stiff and doesn’t like to dance much unless pushed. But what will really improve the Katana is a new set of stickier tires. This should improve the confidence one needs when cornering and especially on wet roads. When it comes to ride quality, the Katana surely impressed. With the first round of heavy rain hitting the NCR, the roads experienced an overflow of the top layer. In these conditions, the ride quality felt pretty good, and the suspension soaked up those potholes and bumpy roads with ease. Last but not least, the Katana offers a generous 140mm of ground clearance. While that might not seem like much, especially when you spot the low-slung exhaust pipes, it’s certainly capable of tackling the nasty speed bumps found on Indian roads.
The Katana’s braking service is provided by dual 310mm discs from Brembo up front and a single 220mm disc from Nissin. The brakes offer good front-end bite and do a magnificent job of bringing the bike down at a brisk speed. The same goes for the rear brakes. ABS works well and doesn’t feel very intrusive.
Suzuki Katana: Verdict
The Suzuki Katana is one of those motorcycles that we want more than we need! But the Katana also makes a solid case for itself. It looks just amazing and especially in this matte blue shade. It offers a very comfortable driving position that allows you to ride for long hours. The motor is smooth and delivers excellent mid-range and top-end performance. The ride quality is also excellent and well suited to Indian conditions. At Rs 13.61 lakh, the Katana sits in the middle of its competitors. The downsides, on the other hand, include an old-fashioned LCD dashboard and tires that definitely need an upgrade. So to answer the question posed at the very beginning, the Katana deserves to be freed from the kingdom of the poster and released on the roads.
Technical specifications: Suzuki Katana
999cc, four-cylinder, liquid-cooled engine
Power 152 hp at 1,100 rpm
Maximum torque 106 Nm at 9,250 rpm
LxWxH 2,130x820x1,100 mm
Empty weight 217 kg
Fuel capacity 12 liters
Price: 13.61 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi)