REVIEW RIDE: Suzuki GSX-8S Streetfighter

The Model Year 2023 Suzuki GSX-8S Streetfighter is the successor to SV650 naked sports, which utilized a 90-degree V-Twin engine design. The SV650 had a massive following, with owners liking its smooth powerband, nice acceleration and midrange torque. However, the arrival of the new, DOHC 776cc parallel twin Suzuki GSX-8S was initially met with disdain.

As it goes, a V-Twin engine configuration will always feel better than a parallel twin design, just as the case of a bike utilizing a V4 engine would have more bites than an inline four alternative. Cynics everywhere had a busy time trying to discredit the abilities of the new Suzuki GSX-8S right after its official unveiling during EICMA Show 2022 at Milan last November.

The Suzuki GSX-8S made a brief stopover at a foggy/misty Genting Highlands

Granted, there's no such thing as a perfect motorcycle, and the Suzuki GSX-8S is no exception either. However, there's a few limitations with the new Suzy, and let's get those out of the way before concentrating on the positive aspects. First is the GSX-8S' weird QuickShifter, which is available as a standard feature, rather than an add-on accessory. It's Bi-Directional for clutchless upshift/downshift but operation is hardly smooth. Owner is better off using the clutch lever for smoother gears shifting.

Being a Streetfighter, the Suzuki GSX-8S suffers from the width of its handlebar, disallowing lane filtering (cilok-ing) when traffic congestion is quite bad, particularly during morning and evening rush hours. The Suzy is quite tall, with a seat height of 810mm, putting the rearview sidemirrors on the same level as those from vehicles like SUVs, MPVs, 4 x 4 pick-up trucks and small lorries during rush hour traffic. However, if the congestion isn't heavy, the ride is a breeze.

Very stylish side panels

With those limitations out of the way, the Suzuki GSX-8S is nice to ride. The higher seat height isn't an issue for tall riders, allowing them to have a similar handling to a Supermotard motorcycle when confronting multiple S-Curves on canyon roads. Despite the fears of the GSX-8S not having enough power when compared to the SV650, I find the 776cc parallel twin of having more than enough power to silence the cynics for this review. Its natural domain or territory is on any twisty roads, slippery or otherwise (Traction Control takes care of slips), roads in city & towns as well as some minor gravel surfaces!

Its acceleration and midrange torque are awesome, to say the least. I had subjected the GSX-8S to a variety of terrains during the period I had it with me. These included riding the Suzy up to Genting Highlands, reaching the top without its engine struggling, using only 3rd & 4th gears! It's only at the sharper/slower corners that necessitates use of 2nd gear to get it going!

When it's time to ride the GSX-8S down the spiraling Genting Road towards Goh Tong Jaya roundabout, all that is needed is set the gearing to 2nd and let it cruises downward. There's no need to resort to braking either as the GSX-8S was traveling at between 49-53km/h for the ride down, with selected gearing preventing it from going too fast. It was a smooth cruise riding down, passing all vehicles along the way, many of which had relied on using the brakes to slow down the momentum, emitting smell of overheated pads!

The Suzuki GSX-8S used similar Traction Control (TC) System and Riding modes as found in its cousins from the V-Strom side. The Traction Control System continuously monitors front and rear wheel speeds, throttle opening, engine speed, and transmission gear. It quickly reduces engine output when it detects wheel spin by adjusting ignition timing and air delivery. 

The rider can select one of four modes (1, 2, 3 and OFF). The three active modes differ in terms of rear wheel spin sensitivity. 

Mode 1 is the lowest sensitivity – it allows a certain degree of rear wheel spin and is best suited for good road conditions. 

Mode 2 is a moderate sensitivity level – the system engages traction control sooner than Mode 1 and is for average road conditions. 

Mode 3 is the highest sensitivity level – the system engages traction control sooner than the other modes to virtually eliminate wheel spin, and is for poor or slippery road conditions, like wet and cold gravel surfaces. 

As with the V-Strom 1050DE, the Suzuki GSX-8S also features the dual illuminated TFT screen that switches between daytime and nighttime period. During daytime riding, the TFT screen displays WHITE illumination; and at night or when riding inside condominiums and office buildings, the DARKER illumination would take over, as shown in these pictures below.

The Suzuki GSX-8S spots similar, dual LED headlights seen on its bigger sibling, the GSX-S1000 albeit a little compact. Still, those headlights did shine up brightly at night, making the road up front be seen clearly. Since the GSX-8S is a Streetfighter, it seems to have similar issues to its compatriot from rival makes, particularly Kawasaki's parallel twin Z650 and Yamaha's XJ-6 inline four. The issue concerns the top speed after releasing the clutch on 1st gear – the GSX-8S got off well at maximum acceleration, happily increasing its speed with subsequent upshifting. But the excitement freezes somewhat the moment the speed reaches 165km/h on 6th gear! From there, it struggles to its highest top speed of 195km/h! It takes quite a while for the Suzy to hit top speed after reaching 160km/h – this situation is evident at those afore-mentioned Japanese rivals, with them hitting 165km/h and 155km/h respectively, before slowly climbing up to their maximum top speeds.

While the GSX-8S is a charm to ride on twisty roads, outriding almost bigger capacity bikes that it came across on the way to The Gap at foothill of Fraser's Hill, it isn't that fast once it hits any 3-lane expressway with very little traffic, as the more powerful motorcycles would instantly overtaken the Suzy quite easily.

While there's no denying the Suzuki GSX-8S is unable to compete with bigger capacity bikes on expressways, it could enjoy cruising on them especially those that feature lots of fast corners such as the newly-opened extension segment of SUKE! The Suzy takes to the sweeping corners with ease!

Another aspect of the GSX-8S is its ability as a daily commuting motorcycle. It is surprisingly slim in its overall width (except for the handlebars), making it a versatile bike to run errands or go to work with. It has a curb weight of just 202kg, making it easy to manage, even for beginner riders who have just earned their Full B license!

Despite its 14-litre fuel tank capacity, the Suzuki GSX-8S is gives out economical mileage, consuming approximately 24km per litre; for a total of 240km before the reserve warning blinks to let the rider knows there's still 4-litre in the tank, which is good for another 96km mileage (via cruising speed), giving it enough fuel to look for a petrol station!

The Suzuki GSX-8S at Sang Lee ‘s iconic Durian sculpture

The Suzuki GSX-8S is available from any authorized Suzuki dealership nationwide at an RRP of RM50,800.

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