Suzuki has often been the bridesmaid of the Japanese Big Four, but it’s now come dancing up the aisle with the GT thanks to a glorious engine, point-and-shoot handling and the best quickshifter in the business
Thrilling news, devoted readers. I think I’ve cracked my entry for the Pun of the Year Awards.
At the launch of the new Suzuki GT in Scotland, UK head of marketing Ian Bland was talking about how at the last launch, he’d had a heart attack and had to have three stents and a fine mesh inserted through a vein in his wrist.
“Did you say to the surgeon afterwards, ‘This is another fine mesh you’ve gotten into me?’” I said.
Laugh? He was in stitches, although fortunately he got them out after the operation.
The good news is he was looking fit and well, and the other good news is that Suzuki has just produced what I reckon is the finest sports tourer out there, taking over from my previous favourite the BMW R 1250 RT, which is not only 14bhp less powerful than the Suzuki, but almost three grand more expensive.
Even walking up to the Suzuki reminds you of that old adage that if it looks good, it’ll ride good. The grammar may be awful, but the sentiment is true in any one of the three colour schemes – classic black, vibrant mid-blue or elegant dark blue.
It’s sleek, compact and seductive, and the matching 36-litre panniers add to rather than detracting from the look.
Climb aboard, and the seating position is both comfy and sporty, which used to be an oxymoron, but thankfully, gone are the days when fast bikes forced you into a head-down riding position which meant you needed a physio on speed dial.
The high, wide bars fall nicely to, er, hand, the mirrors are good, and the 6.5in TFT screen is a happy marriage of form and function, showing you everything you need to know at a glance, including which of the three riding modes you’re in, more of which later, plus the state of the separate five-stage traction control and the switchable quickshifter.
Mind you, why you’d want to switch it off is a mystery, since as I was to find, it’s a work of genius and the best out there, slick and effortless compared to the more clunky one on the aforementioned R 1250 R.
Of course, inline fours suit quickshifters better than V-twins or the boxer engine on the Beemer.
The screen also connects to your phone for maps, phone, music, calendar or talking to aliens.
All three riding modes deliver the maximum power of 150bhp, with A the most aggressive means of getting there and C the mildest, but they all share a delivery of power and torque which is as smooth and creamy as Mullin’s ice cream. If you haven’t tried Mullin’s ice cream, do so immediately.
All the electronic gubbins are controlled by a gathering of buttons on the left bar which look complicated, but quickly become intuitive.
Ignoring C mode as usual, I set off in B, and progress is gloriously lusty from that peach of an engine, while handling is point-and-shoot precise.
It’s always a good sign when you’re proceeding on a new bike at what you think is a gentlemanly pace and you glance at the speedo to see that you’re actually making progress at a rate which would have Dixon of Dock Green giving you a dig in the dongles with his manly truncheon.
I won’t reveal the figures involved, but there were three of them. Thankfully, Inverness city centre is pretty quiet at that time of day.
The Brembo brakes, with big 310mm discs up front, provide beautifully linear and progressive feel and bite, as does the rear for trail braking into downhill corners to keep the bike stable.
About the only sign that the bike is built to offer typical Suzuki value for money is that the suspension is only manually adjustable, but to be honest, it’s perfect in standard setting – firm enough for pinpoint handling, but not as twitchy and uncomfortable as that of the Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RS I’d been on the week before.
The standard screen does a perfectly fine job of keeping the wind at bay even at high speeds, but if needed, there’s an optional taller touring version.
Suzuki reckons the 19-litre tank will give a range of 190 miles at 46mpg, although I got between 40 and 42. Mind you, riding on press launches tends to be on the spirited side.
With conditions damp, up to now I’d been in B mode, but with a hint of sun breaking out, it was time for A, which added a whole new level of urgency to progress.
A would be perfect for spirited solo riding, B for smooth but equally swift progress, and C for comfortable two-up touring, although your better half will need a very pert bottom to fit onto the diminutive pillion seat.
The only slight niggles are that the firm seat means a break every couple of hours, but you usually need to stretch your legs then on any bike.
I also found myself accidentally switching on the main beam when I used the clutch on setting off, and the indicator switch is a bit small and fiddly, and slightly lost among the cluster of buttons on the left bar.
But those are very minor niggles on what’s the best sports tourer out there at the moment.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll finish off that entry form for the Pun of the Year Awards. Wish me luck.
Engine: 999cc liquid-cooled inline four
Power: 150bhp @ 11,000rpm
Torque: 78 ft lb @ 9,250rpm
Colours: Dark blue; mid blue; black