Suzuki Announces Plans for Next Five Years

Suzuki Motor Corporation, incorporating both its car, outboard motor and motorcycle divisions has announced its mid-term business plan, titled ‘Suzuki Next 100’ – a five year plan that starts now and is set out until 2019. The ‘Next 100’ moniker is to coincide with the company’s 100th anniversary of foundation in 2020.

Sadly, for those hoping that a resurgent Suzuki may be returning to the motorcycle space, their goals and aims seem extremely conservative. Suzuki were hardest hit of just about all the motorcycle manufacturers when the GFC came and they’ve not come close to recovering. Suzuki’s aim is to increase total motorcycles sales in North America from an estimated 50,000 units this year to 60,000 by 2019 – a paltry increase that still puts it way behind what it was selling back in 2008/09.

In Japan, Suzuki is even more conservative stating that their ambitions are to sell the same number of motorcycles in five years as it does now. And if you thought this was all because Suzuki was focusing on growth markets like Asia, you’d be wrong. Suzuki is forecasting that they will actually sell 70,000 less units in five years in that region.

The PowerPoint presentation released to investors showed the following items relating to the motorcycle division:

  • Departure from chronic deficits through selection and concentration.
  • Development of products which clearly define characteristics of Suzuki (150cc and up, backbone, sport)
  • Return to the origin of basic performances of “Running, Cornering, and Braking”
  • Pursue fun-to-ride and easy-to-ride
  • Feedback of MotoGP technologies

It’s all very pedestrian and doesn’t give us great hope that the Suzuki of old will be returning anytime soon. Given rumors of exciting new machines like the Recursion we would have expected the companies forward projections to be a little more ambitious – so perhaps instead we’ll be stuck with the same old machines that haven’t been updated for nearly a decade instead.

2016 Suzuki GSX-R1000 Rumor Round-Up

2016 Suzuki RM-Z250 Update Announced

Suzuki is the last of the big Japanese manufacturers to announce its off-road lineup for 2016, which includes some pretty decent upgrades to the RM-Z250. Also announced are minor updates to the RM-Z450 for 2016. Also in the announcement were 2016 versions of the RM-85 and DR-Z125L without any changes from 2015.

The biggest addition to the 2016 Suzuki RM-Z250 is the inclusion of Suzuki’s launch control platform called Suzuki Holeshot Assist Control (S-HAC). S-HAC is a selectable launch mode system derived straight from factory race bike. S-HAC helps rider in launching from starting gate for an early lead. It was introduced in 2014 with RM-Z450, now it is standard equipment on RM-Z250 with more advanced, detailed control.

The system boasts two selectable modes and alters the bike’s ignition map for a quicker launch. In A-mode – for use on hard surfaces or conditions with less grip – the system retards the bikes ignition for a smoother launch and reduces wheel spin when riding over the gate. Once out of the gate and into the ‘acceleration zone’ the ignition timing is advanced for stronger acceleration up to the first corner.

The 2016 RM-Z250 gets some nice love to the engine  with more than 80 engine internal parts being redesigned. This includes changes to the piston, piston pin and piston ring, redesigned camshafts, intake valves and many other modifications. With these engine changes, mid-range power & torque is enhanced while maximum output is maintained. According to Suzuki, power delivery is smoother and more linear for easier control.

The frame for the 2016 RM-Z250 has been overhauled as well, with the steering head pipe redesigned and frame weight reduced by 2.5% from previous model. Up front, the bike gets KYB’s latest Pneumatic Spring Fork.system which allows the rider to change spring rate with an air pump to find their desired setting. In addition to spring setting, rebound damping is now 2-way adjustable in high and low speed. The rear also gets an upgraded KYB shock.

The 2016 RM-Z250 will be available in Champion Yellow/Solid Black for a retail price of $7,699 in the USA. Pricing is yet to be announced for Australia although availability is slated for August this year.

 

Suzuki Working on Electric and Hydrogen Powered Motorcycles

While Suzuki’s current range certainly isn’t cutting edge when it comes to technological gadgetry, they appear to be very keen at being at the forefront of drive train technology. Not only are they well on their way to releasing a production version of the turbocharged Suzuki Recursion concept, but recent patent filings show that the smallest of the Japanese manufacturers is working on both an electric motorcycle and a hydrogen fuel cell powered dirt bike.

This isn’t the first patent registered by Suzuki for a fuel cell powered bike. Way back in 2007, Suzuki showed off their hydrogen powered concept called the Crosscage. Then, in 2010 Suzuki has actually produced a hydrogen powered Burgman for real world testing. The patent diagrams indicate that the fuel cell, motor and hydrogen tank are exactly the same as the Burgman proof of concept scooter. The configuration is slightly different with the hydrogen tank mounted vertically instead of horizontally and the electric motor beneath it.

The hydrogen powered Suzuki Burgman concept was good for an impressive 200 miles and could be refueled in five minutes – all without a drastic increase in weight from a conventional scooter.

The more recent patent filing pertains to a battery powered electric motorcycle that appears to be Honda Grom like in size. The patent details are fairly innocuous in that there’s no really radical new ideas here, but a small sized electric bike sounds like a great way to introduce a battery powered machine to the mass market.

Again, this isn’t a first for Suzuki. The patent images seem to be very closely related to their Extrigger concept from late 2013. The Extrigger’s electric drive train was actually borrowed from the earlier Suzuki e-Let electric scooter.

So if Suzuki are filing updated patents on a nearly two year old concept, does that mean the Extrigger concept is going into production? Given the popularity of the Honda Grom, we can only hope so.

 

2016 Suzuki GSX-R1000 Rumor Round-Up

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Suzuki GSX-R brand (see our article on the GSX-R750 here) and next year will be the 15th anniversary of Suzuki’s halo bike, the GSX-R1000. It’s almost certain that Suzuki will unveil a much needed update for the bike this year and we’ve collated all the rumors (both likely and perhaps not so likely) together in anticipation.

It’s a big year for the smallest of the Japanese brands. In addition to the above mentioned anniversaries, Suzuki has returned to full-time MotoGP racing and what better way to capitalize on that than to release a new bike from the publicity this brings. One thing that is clear from what we’ve heard is that Suzuki have no intention of competing with the likes of Ducati and Yamaha in the technology stakes. That’s not because Suzuki isn’t capable of doing so, but they’re making a conscious decision to make the next generation GSX-R1000 as pure as possible and leaving the expensive gadgets to the other brands.

That doesn’t mean it won’t have some new bells and whistles. Traction control and engine modes will be included as well as things like wheelie and stoppie control. Just don’t go expecting electronic suspension or sophisticated internal GPS units. This will please the purists but also keep the new GSX-R1000 affordable and only slightly more costly than the current model.

Here’s what we know so far:

  • The bike will get a completely new engine featuring variable valve timing and based off the MotoGP machine.
  • This engine is rumored to produce just a shade under 200 bhp.
  • Weight will be below the 200 kg mark and the aim is that the new GSX-R1000 will have a better power to weight ratio than the new Yamaha R1 (but only just).
  • Traction control based on the new MotoGP bike will be included
  • Like the Suzuki Recursion concept, the frame will go partially over the engine to make the bike narrower.
  • Bosch cornering ABS is likely.
  • Styling will also take cues from the MotoGP bike, but expect an appearance more conservative than that of the new R1.
  • There is unlikely to be a ‘normal’ version and a ‘premium’ version.

Any announcement is likely at Intermot later this year.

2016 Suzuki GSX-R1000 Rumor Round-Up

A Look Back At The Suzuki GSX-R750, 30 Years On

It seems hard to believe but 2015 marks the 30th anniversary of the Suzuki GSX-R750, a motorcycle that revolutionized the sportsbike market and brought to the public what was probably the first true race replica. It was fast, it was gorgeous and even today it stands out among the crowd as a unique bike.

The GSX-R750 was the brainchild of Etsuo Yokouchi who wanted to break out of the conservative mold that was dominating the Japanese sportsbike industry at the time. The market was dominated by the likes of Yamaha’s FZ750 and the Kawasaki GPz900r – machines better known for straight line speed rather than being a complete package and which were heavy and lacked real innovation.

At the same time, Yokouchi was hamstrung by a gentleman’s agreement between the big Japanese motorcycle brands at the time to not manufacture bikes with more than 100 hp. But as is so often the case, such restrictions create opportunities and to Yokouchi the solution was simple – design a motorcycle that produced 100 hp yet be as light as possible. His desire was that the GSX-R750 weigh at least 20 per cent less than the Yamaha FZ750 and the Honda VF750. That would mean a dry weight of no more than 176 kg – a massive ask at the time.

A Look Back At The Suzuki GSX-R750, 30 Years On

But they achieved it. With 100 hp and a weight of 176 kg, the Suzuki GSX-R750’s power to weight ratio destroyed the competition. To achieve that, Suzuki employed a number of novel (for the time) innovations that shed weight. Oil-cooling was used to reduce cylinder temperatures without the added weight of a water jacket. The cam cover was made from lightweight magnesium instead of aluminium. The aluminium frame (instead of steel) weighed just 18 pounds (8kg).

Despite being a streetbike, Yokouchi didn’t want to comprise on the bikes performance characteristics and he insisted the GSX-R750 match the ergonomics and dimensions of a track bike as closely as possible. “What works on the track will work on the street,” he said. “The motorcycle does not know where it is being ridden.”

Upon release in 1985, the bike was regarded as being nearly perfect. The only major changes in those initial years were a slightly extended swingarm  in 1986 and the inclusion of a steering damper in ’87.

Today, the current Suzuki GSX-R750 sits by itself in the market – no other manufacturer produces a 750 cc inline four anymore. Amazingly, the bore and stroke of the current bike (70 mm x 48.7 mm) matches that of the original of 30 years ago. And thankfully, despite so many new bikes putting on the pounds, the modern Suzuki GSX-R750 maintains the same spirit as its predecessors – power is 150 hp (110 kW) at 13,200 rpm with a dry weight of only 167 kg.

It’s a standout model in Suzuki’s lineup and shows that the smallest of the Japanese manufacturers still has plenty to offer.

A Look Back At The Suzuki GSX-R750, 30 Years On

 

Patents Reveal Production Turbocharged Suzuki Recursion

Just a few months ago, there was a flurry of news surrounding the turbocharged concept Suzuki showed off at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show. Firstly, Japanese magazine Young Machine claimed the bike had been confirmed for production. Days later, it was discovered that that Suzuki had re-registered the Katana brand name and logo in Europe and the United States. The Recursion has a passing resemblance to the original Katana, a bike which was the fastest production motorcycle in the world at the time.

Now, Suzuki has filed new patents for the Recursion, but with a change to its looks that brings it from concept to real world. There’s no reason for Suzuki to file new patent applications with such a change in appearance unless production was going ahead.

The biggest change in looks is at the front of the machine. Gone is the sleek, futuristic and no doubt expensive face and replaced with a more generic headlight and windscreen arrangement. No doubt part of that is to bring costs down and another is to do with the intercooler – it will need as much air as possible to suck down, and hence as big an inlet as possible is required – function over form.

From the patents, it appears that the air goes into a tube which splits in two, goes around the steering head and then onto the top of the engine. The turbocharger is positioned in front of the engine and connected closely to the exhaust headers. The engine itself is revealed as a single overhead cam unit, making it lighter and smaller than a double overhead cam power plant. That’s not because Suzuki is trying to be cheap, it’s because with the turbocharger added into the mix, high revs aren’t required for power delivery and therefore a second camshaft would be prove mostly unnecessary.

Like the concept, the patent shows that the aluminum frame goes over the engine instead of beside it, keeping the bike narrow. And if previously leaked documents still hold true, The Recursion/Katana will produce 100 hp @ 8,000 RPM and a massive 73 ft-lb @ at only 4,500 rpm – torque that bikes with twice the capacity make.

The other big advantage of a turbocharged arrangement is that it will supposedly have improved emissions and fuel economy over a similarly sized 600 cc bike by as much as 50 per cent. For this reason alone, we’ll see more and more brands returning to forced induction technology as emissions regulations in Europe and California become stricter.

We’re very excited for Suzuki this year. After years of languishing at the bottom of the Japanese pecking order, they’ve returned to MotoGP full-time and there are big rumors that an all new GSX-R1000 will debut before years end. 2015 could well herald the renaissance of Suzuki motorcycles.