India has seen plenty of Suzuki motorcycles plying on the streets not just in the past decade, but as early as 1984. The company first came into play in 1982 when a technical collaboration with Sundaram Clayton Ltd. and Suzuki Motor Corporation was announced. Dubbed as Ind Suzuki Limited, the company began commercial production of motorcycles in 1984. Both the companies, Suzuki and Sundaram Clayton Ltd. (TVS) had a long standing 19 year relationship to manufacture India-specific motorcycles. Later, the company was rechristened as TVS Suzuki which gave some iconic motorcycles to the Indian market such as the Suzuki Samurai, Suzuki Shogun and Suzuki Fiero. With differences in opinion on how to take things forward, both companies parted ways in 2001 and the company was later named as TVS Motors. Suzuki then had to serve a moratium period and wait for 30 months before introducing motorcycles independently in the Indian market.
Ever since, Suzuki tried hard to make a cut in the Indian two wheeler space with multiple launches; most of which failed to gain momentum on the sales front. Remember the GS150R? Very rarely would you find one running on the streets. The Suzuki Slingshot… Apart from promotional activities involving Bollywood actor Salman Khan, the bike went almost unnoticed in the commuter segment. Strong foothold was found in the scooter market when the 125cc Access was well accepted and the company started looking at positive sales numbers. For the a couple of years, Suzuki focused on the scooter segment given the rate at which it was growing in India. Now, after a long time, and with a not so half-hearted attempt Suzuki came out with the 155cc Gixxer. Yes, it’s a handsome looking motorcycle, but Suzuki has played the game of getting an iconic name lower down the displacement scale to create a performance halo. And things are surely looking good for the Gixxer almost instantly since the launch as the bike has managed to bring in good sales numbers, which the previous 150cc offering failed miserably at. So the does 100% all-new Gixxer pack enough punch to be crowned the segment best? Let’s find out…
First things first, the Suzuki Gixxer is amongst the best looking, if not the best looking 150cc-class motorcycles available for sale in India. Edgy and sharp styling cues make it distinct from motorcycles from the competing brands.
The front is the only not-so-striking looking section of the Gixxer. The bike sports a very normal looking headlamp with a single pilot bulb placed at the chin of the headlamp unit. The small bikini fairing on the headlamp is also bare minimum. Attention to detail shows where the headlamp gets bolted on the the handlebar and that particular section is neatly covered in the body colour. Above the headlamp you have a small, black, plastic-finished wind deflector which also mounts your front number plate. Front mud guard is completely body coloured and ends slightly high at the back. This will result in a lot of dirt-spray on your feet while riding in the monsoons. A single disc brake is mounted on 3 bi-spoke black alloys at the front. The telescopic front fork is also finished in black. Pretty much no nonsense at the front end.
If we could only talk about the side profile in one word, we would call it ‘Striking’. This is where the Gixxer stands out from all the bikes seen on the streets today. The fuel tank made out of fibre is really well designed. It has the right amount of space to stick your knees in while cornering. The fuel tank actually has the most number of lines flowing across compared to any other motorcycle in this class. A Suzuki logo is the only thing seen on the tank. Below the fuel tank you have floating cowls, with Gixxer written on it. The panel which covers the frame below the rider seat is seen in grey (silver) and gets a small Suzuki sticker. Engine is painted in all-black. Seats are of the step-up type, but not split. The seat curves nicely and so does the rear panel aligning with the seats and the pillion grab rails matching this curve. Everything looks in sync. Another striking design feature on the Gixxer is the exhaust. A short, midship exhaust muffler on the Gixxer sports two outlets. Whats cheesy though is the use of excess chrome. Suzuki should have given the chrome on the muffler tip a miss we think.
At the back, you have LED tail lamps protruding out of the rear panel in a black plastic housing. The pillion grab rails look good when seen from the rear end as well. The rear mudguard gets a removable long extension for those monsoon rides, a thoughtful addition. We are glad Suzuki provided this extension and gave the ugly looking tyre hugger a miss. Turn indicators carry amber lens at the front and back. The 3 bi-spoke black alloy wheel at the back mounts on to a 130mm drum brake. If only Suzuki offered a rear disc brake, it could have rounded off the motorcycle well. A small saree guard is mounted on the LHS of the rear swingarm and is not too much of an eye-sore. One can live with it without having to rush to a mechanic to get it off. The rear tyre does get a small hugger on the inside to avoid dirt being sprayed on to the rear monoshock.
If you’re looking at form over function, the Suzuki Gixxer should easily be your pick in the segment.
Instrumentation and ergonomics
The Gixxer gets an all digital TFT screen as an instrument cluster. Backlit in red, it looks good at night. The digital tachometer runs horizontally on top with the redline starting at ~ 9,500 RPM. Digital speed is shown at the LHS lower corner. The digital cluster although looks good, is a bit cluttered. It displays speed, revv counter, fuel gauge, time, selected gear, trip meter and odometer which covers up the entire screen with no room for anything else. A couple of tell tale lights are placed on the 4 corners of the instrument cluster. You get a white backlit shift indicator which can be adjusted according to your needs. While the white light does its job well at night, we found that it is far less noticeable under direct sunlight.
The key is also unique and gets extensions at the right spot to help you twist it in the ignition mode, or switch the bike off. Switch gear is made of decent quality plastics and not too many would complaint about it. It is at par with segment standards. You get an engine kill switch on the right and a choke switch on the left which will come in handy. Clutch and brake levers also fall right in place and are painted in black. Rear view mirrors fell short to move outwards. We had to bend our elbows most of the times to have a good look at whats approaching us from behind. The backside of the rear view mirror sports a small carbon fibre like design element. Conventional tripe clamp handlebar is placed right to suit the shorter as well as taller riders.
Hop on to the Gixxer and you’ll notice that the seat has sufficient room for even the well-built riders. Seat compound is soft, yet reasonably supportive. Riding position is well balanced between sporty and comfortable. Rear set footpegs for the rider add to the confidence while entering corners and the handlebar height also doesn’t trouble much while crouching at high speeds. The overall upright seating position will not have you tired easily as compared to a committed seating position. For the pillion rider, the seat has ample room. Not the best, but not the worst either. Also, the aesthetically perfect grab rails even function well providing good support to the pillion when the rider is in a rather enthusiastic mood. Hopping on and off the bike is fairly easy for the pillion.
One thing which Suzuki has missed on the Gixxer, which a lot of customers will complaint about is the small extension of the side stand. You will find yourself fiddling with the footpeg and gear lever while getting the stand down.
Engine, performance and handling:
The Suzuki Gixxer is powered by a 155cc, 4-stroke, single-cylinder, air-cooled, SOHC, 2-valve petrol motor producing 14.8 BHP of power @ 8,000 RPM and 14 Nm of torque @ 6,000 RPM. Engine is mated to a 5-speed gearbox and the bike weighs 135 kg. The Gixxer has an average 12 litres of fuel tank capacity and the company claims that the motorcycle is equipped with the latest Suzuki Eco Performance (SEP) technology which reduces mechanical losses and enhances combustion leading to a fuel efficiency number of 63.2 kmpl.
The Gixxer has the largest engine capacity in its class and produces power figures which are second to Bajaj Pulsar’s 14.9 BHP. Other competitors such as Honda CB Trigger and Yamaha FZ V2.0 produce lower power figures of 14 BHP and 12.9 BHP respectively. Torque figures however are the best in class on the Gixxer.
To fire up the Gixxer, Suzuki provides an electric starter and a thoughtful kick starter as well. Start the bike you’ll notice the silky smooth nature of the engine. It is at par with the Yamaha FZ in terms of refinement and the vibrations are very well controlled. On idle, there is bare minimum vibration felt of the footpegs and on the handlebar. The exhaust note on idle is soft, but when hard on the throttle while riding, it is the perfect amount of gruff to add to the riding experience. Slot in first and wring the throttle… The engine comes to life smoothly and power is delivered in a very linear manner. The revv happy motor does not get nervous even around the redline and continues to pull without vibrations. Throttle response is crisp even though it lacks fuel injection, thanks to the generous torque figures for this.
When hard on the throttle, say on the highways, the bike pushes beyond 80 kmph effortlessly, even with a pillion. Low and mid-range punch is very good, but the power tapers of slightly towards the redline. We spent most of the time riding in the city and even with two-up, the bike managed to scoot around city traffic without any hesitation. Thanks to the availability of torque lower down the revv range, you don’t have to downshift frequently on the Gixxer. You can simply open the throttle even if the speed drops without the engine showing any signs of knocking. The gears slot in nicely and the bike did not false shift even once. Clutch is light and well weighted. At all times, there was a solid feeling of reliability from the Gixxer and the bike did not heat up too much when we were stuck in stop and go traffic for 15 minutes.
The Gixxer rides on a single downtube, steel tubular frame. Suspension duties are performed by a 41mm front telescopic fork and an adjustable rear monoshock. Coupled with fat radial tyres at the front and back and a light 135kg weight, the Gixxer is very nimble in its riding dynamics department. It is a clear winner amongst the competition when it comes to the handling department. Where the Pulsar doesn’t even come close, the only rival in the segment in terms of handling is the Yamaha FZ V2.0. The Gixxer was a very important product for Suzuki to prove its mettle in the performance motorcycle segment and the company has done a commendable job in delivering a dynamically rich motorcycle to the segment. Stability in the corners and even at high speeds is spot on and the rider can choose to either wring the throttle even more or push the brakes hard without a second thought. The front end is also well balanced and does not lighten up at high speeds.
The MRF tyres provide good grip while cornering and even on high speeds. Braking performance comes from a 266mm front disc brake and a 130mm rear drum brake. Brake bite is adequate and the bike stops without fishtailing under panic situations. The brake bite does not fade away either after continuous hard riding. If only Suzuki added a rear disc brake, it would have rounded off the Gixxer really well amongst competition. Only Honda as of now offers the Combi-brake system in the CB Trigger.
So if you’re in for a 150cc motorcycle in the near future, you must, we repeat, you must test ride the Gixxer. We haven’t had so much fun on a 150cc performance motorcycle in a long time with such a well balanced ride and handling package. Not just that, the bike even looks the part and justifies the price tag when compared to the rather conservative design language on the competing motorcycles. The Gixxer surely is a complete all rounder and should help Suzuki change its fortunes in India. And yes, it also oozes out reliability (typical of Japanese bikes) which the likes of a Bajaj Pulsar lack. The only downer for Suzuki will be their poor sales network compared to competition. The more the Gixxer is available, the more it will sell.