Suzuki GSX 1400 K2
My first impressions of a great motorcycle
|I finally got my bike! Here's
some pictures I took during the first 24 hours I owned the motorcycle.
And here's the story - My first thoughts of my brand new bike
and why I choose to buy it,
|I got tired of my old GSX750. It was a really fun bike to ride
when everything was working like it should. The fact that
it was leaking oil didnt bother me too much or the
fact that almost every day I had to fix some small details on
it, like the flasher unit, or floating carburetor, or
when the engine started to protest with a loud knocking sound
from the top, I got fed up. The exhaust cam and the lifters were
worn out and should be replaced. I had already spent some money
on this old bike and I decided not to buy new replacement parts
you never know what parts going to give up next?
The alternator? I didnt want to stay inside and repair my
motorcycle when I should be on the road and enjoying biking. I
started to look for a newer bike.
It didnt take a long time for me to realize that it wasnt
as easy task as I thought. I wanted a cool, naked bike that was
easy to handle but still had lots of horsepower. And I didnt
seem to find anything I liked to look at. Harleys and all the
custom replicas didnt move me. I loved the sound of the
Harley Davidson, but I didnt really want that kind of a
bike. Besides, the money I was willing to spend would give me
an old Harley and according to what Ive heard, the odds
were that I would end up repairing the Harley at least as often
as my GSX750. The Japanese Harley wanna-bes didnt
make my heart sing at all.
I was quite sure I wanted a Japanese bike, something like my old
Suzuki, yet better. I hadnt been following the market for
years and I didnt really know what kind of bikes there was
to offer. I went through every bike magazine I could get my hands
on, I wanted a new bike right away! The summer in Sweden isnt
that long and it was already august. I wasnt quite sure
what I was looking for, but I certainly didnt find it. The
new Honda VTX looked awesome in the pictures but buying a brand
new bike wasnt anything for me. Thats what I thought.
Quite soon I noticed that only a few years old bikes are
not that much cheaper that what and factory new bike are. And
there are bikes that arent as expensive than Harleys or
the new VTX1800. I started to look for a brand new bike instead.
But the bikes the general agents were taking in to Sweden in 2001
didnt move me either. I simply didnt fall in love
in any of the bikes I saw on the brochures. Yes, I found out that
Suzuki makes almost exactly the same kind of GSX750 as my 81.
The engine was black and theyve modernized some details
but the overall looks was still the same. Should I buy a new bike,
almost exactly like the old one? It was quite expensive
My heart didnt scream: Buy it! Buy it! Thats
why I decided not to.
What should I do? As I was looking for a new bike, I was trying
to find parts for my GSX750 for a reasonable price. No luck. So
I hadn't got a bike to ride with. But then I found it: Suzuki
GSX1400 it was beautiful, powerful and easy to handle.
It had everything I wanted. And surprisingly enough, it was not
unreasonable expensive either! I wanted that bike!
I sent e-mails to all the dealers I knew sold Suzuki and I found
out that not that many dealers in Sweden had a GSX1400. Many of
them didnt even bother to answer and one dealer answered
(much later) that they didnt have a GSX1100R (1400?)
at the moment, but they should get a 95 next week.
I didnt bother to thank him for the answer
had a dark blue GSX1400 but that bike I wanted had to be blue
and white, I didnt like the other colors at all.
But then I got lucky, a dealer in Jönköping, about 250
km from where I live, had a blue and white GSX1400 incoming. In
fact, they should have received the bike from the general agent
a day before. Should arrive any day now, maybe even the same day.
And the salesman was a reasonable fellow, too. After a little
persuading he agreed to give me a nice price. 7 000 Swedish crowns
off the asked price (95 000 SEK), 88 000 crowns (about 8 800 American
dollars) sounded like a fine price to me. It was a deal. My heart
And my bank was willing to finance the music.
But the general agent in Sweden couldnt deliver the bike
that soon. I found out that only 25 bikes were to be delivered
to Sweden this year and the promised bikes were all delayed. I
dont know if the Suzuki Corporation in Japan had problems
with their deliveries or what really happened, but I had to wait
about three weeks before I got my Suzuki GSX1400 K2. Two times
I thought my bike had arrived from Japan to Sweden but a few days
later I was told that it hadnt.
Damn. I hadnt even seen the bike in real life. And the winter
was coming. I joined a Suzuki GSX1400 owners club (two of them,
as a matter a fact) and gathered all the information of the bike
while I was waiting. I started this web site. I found an insurance
company with affordable pricing (Ansab). Contacting several companies
was really worth a while the rates varied between 18 000
SEK and 3844 SEK/year! Do I need to say chose the cheapest insurance
On Monday, September 17th, the same day Suzuki GSX1400 K2 was
officially revealed to the European market in Milano, I got a
phone call from the dealer in Jönköping. A young woman
said to me: Hi Jarmo. Im going to make you happy now...
What?! Your bike has finally arrived. You can fetch it today
if you want! the girl resumed. Now I knew what she was talking
A couple of hours later I was on my way to Jönköping,
in my brothers diesel Mercedes. And later on that afternoon
I finally met my love for the first time (the bike I mean, the
girl that called me by the phone was nice too, but the Suzuki
was what I had been waiting for).
My first reaction? I have to admit I was almost disappointed.
The bike was exactly as beautiful as in the pictures. Nothing
more, nothing less. You have to remember, at that point I had
been yearning for the bike for a long time and what I expected
was some kind of a religious experience or something like that.
Yes, its as beautiful as in the pictures I replied
and started to make business with the dealer. I just wanted to
gather the extra accessories I had decided to buy at the same
time and get on the road. I bought a colour-matching IXS tank
bag and a black Schuberth Concept helmet and a couple of other
things (I got a nice discount) and finally, after an hour or so,
I was ready to ride my new bike for the very first time.
Now, I had to admit another thing. I didnt ride my own bike
out of the shop. My friend, Esa, did it for me. I started to put
on my riding outfit when my friend asked me: Shall I drive
the bike out for you? Yeah, you do that, I replied.
The bike had 0 km on the meter while inside the shop. Now there
was 2 km on the meter when I got out to my new bike. I took
it for a little ride when you were changing your clothes,
my friend said. It seems like a marvelous bike. Its
not the end of the world, but it should have been me who took
the virginity of my new bike. Maybe its the last opportunity
(it should have been the first) for me to ride a brand new bike
with zero kilometers on the meter. Now that opportunity was gone.
What the hell, I can ride it all the way home, I thought
with a camera in my hand. I planned to take a couple of pictures
of my bike at the front of the dealers.
My friend had parked the Suzuki just a meter or two behind my
brothers old Mercedes. I didnt want the car be in
that photo. I jumped on the bike and decided to ride it just a
couple of meters forward so I could take a better picture. My
very first test ride of the bike was about five meters long.
And I felt it right away Im going to enjoy riding
whit this bike! With no effort what so ever I could easily hold
the balance of this enormous motorcycle. My GSX750 felt much heavier
and clumsier than the GSX1400. In fact, my first motorcycle, the
Jawa 250, felt much clumsier that the worlds largest straight-four
motorcycle. And when I released the clutch the bike just smoothly
advanced forward. No dramatics, no excitement. The bike just did
what I told it to do. So civilized.
Immediately I realized it wasnt anything like my old GSX750
that needed a touch (a fast grip) of a firm hand (both hands)
to manage the engines sheer power and keep the wobbly thing
on the road. The GSX1400 seemed to be a sophisticated bike. The
engine was humming nicely - singing in a soft manner - my GSX750
would have been playing hard rocknroll and screaming:
Watch out! Im not sure what is going to happen when
you release the clutch. You can survive the ride if youre
tough enough! The GSX1400 was nothing like that. The bike
was telling me: Ill be nice. But the overall
appearance of it revealed:
but I can be bad if you
say so. I take you wherever you want me to as fast as you
tell me to.
|Finally I could see my already beloved bike
in real life. My new bike is ready to take me anywhere. Photo:
Jarmo Haapamäki (there's more pictures on another page, see
the link at the end of the review)
|The girl who wanted to make me happy :-) came out from the store
and took a picture of my bike and me. She told me that they use
to take a picture of every new bike they sell. I posed for her.
Finally I took off. The bike was so easy to handle. I knew it
would take some time before the engine would deliver all of its
106 horsepower but there was already lots of muscle. Still, it
was obvious that I was in charge, not the bike. I started my way
back home, the bike was willing to go faster but I wanted to take
it easy before I knew how it behaved in my command.
Everything seemed OK and I increased the speed to see what happened.
Nothing extraordinary at all. The bike had no manners you had
to get used to. Unless to uncommon feeling that it was me, not
the bike that was setting the limits. I remembered the warning
of one guy on the GSX1400 mailing list who said that the model
wasnt anything for beginners. It is heavy, very powerful
beast (or something like that) that should be treated with respect.
What is my old GSX750 if GSX1400 is a beast? The chances of anybody
getting in trouble with this gentleman (or lady?) is far more
unlikely than hurting - or killing - himself on the road with
my ancient GSX750.
Obviously Im not the right person to compare Suzuki GSX1400
with other modern bikes. The bikes Ive tested or owned have
all been either designed for decades ago or otherwise differed
far too much from this retro-style but techically modern muscle
bike. But I dont need to try other bikes to be able to tell
everybody that Suzuki GSX1400 is really easy to ride. If you know
how to ride a bike, you dont need any instructions before
riding GSX1400. Everything is where it should be. You just jump
on the saddle and tell the bike where you want to go. Thats
what I did anyway - and I haven't owned a motorcycle that long.
Homewards! After a quick stop at a gas station I steered my bike
to the highway again. I even found the electric trip meters (theres
two of them, I was glad to find out) without any doubt. Nice.
I had about 250 kilometers to ride home, it looked like it was
going to rain and I didnt want to get wet. The mechanics
at the bike shop told me that I could ride just normally
and didnt see any need in running the engine the first 500
miles below 4500 rpm. Strange.
It had been raining for several days earlier but I didnt
get wet that day. Nevertheless the wind was blowing quite hard
on the freeway. The conditions of testing a new bike werent
the best possible. The airstreams were quite disturbing. Riding
the bike at 4000 rpm (about 140 km/h) seemed almost effortless.
Some guy claimed that GSX1400 has a sheltered spot at your head.
That seemed to be true. I dont know if the newly purchased
helmet made the difference or was it the bike. Nevertheless increasing
the speed didnt result in any sour neck muscles. At first
anyway. The legs and the whole under body were well sheltered
by the tank and the broad engine. But the airstreams were beating
my both shoulders. That was a new sensation to me. The whole me
was getting beaten up when I was riding fast with my GSX750. That
may be the reason why I never noticed any forces beating my shoulders.
Almost 200 kilometers on a straight freeway wasnt a very
challenging method of trying out a bike, nevertheless the hard
wind. After an hour or so the engine seemed to be more responding
to the slight movements of the gas handle. I decided it was time
to push the engine a bit more. It was so damn boring to ride the
bike only 140 km/h on a wide freeway. For a brief moment I tested
what the bike can deliver. You may call me crazy and accuse me
for abusing my new bike, but I wanted to feel the power, even
for a short while. I gave the bike a command and off we went!
The beating on the shoulders turned to a storm and I felt like
my neck was twice as thick than just a moment ago. I felt myself
like a bodybuilder trying to make a new world record. After a
few seconds the needle pointed at 210 km/h (max speed on the meter
is 260/h) when I gave it up. Damn, should I really have
bought a naked bike?, I wondered. It was really hard to
ride the bike at that speed. The airstreams wanted to break me
in half. Maybe its just the nasty weather.
Riding the rest of the freeway part of my journey at a cruising
speed of 120-150 kilometers per hour were much more relaxing
but still quite boring. This is not as fun as driving my
old GSX750 I thought. Certainly not as thrilling.
In Norrköping I could finally turn of the freeway to a smaller
and definitively more amusing road. Yes! At least there was something
happening! I enjoyed riding the bike through the curves without
feeling any anxiety. What seemed a bit risky with my old Suzuki
was a piece of cake with the GSX1400. I didnt have to push
the engine at all, didnt have to gear down or anything although
the road and the curves were getting narrower. It was simply FUN!
It was getting dark now but that didnt bother me at all.
On the contrary, I found out that the headlight did an excellent
job. I didnt like riding a bike at dark, I use glasses and
my eyes get easily strained when meeting other vehicles with their
headlights on. I was happy to find out that the other vehicles'
headlights didnt bother me at all. My own lights were so
bright that I hardly noticed the lights of the cars I met. Damn,
I wish the lights in my car were as good as Suzukis!
Despite of the cruising speed the bike needed to be
refueled before I got home. After riding just 210 kilometers the
bike seemed almost to be out fuel. Later I was told that almost
10 liters of gasoline per 100 kilometers with a brand new engine
is quite normal. The next gas stop (the day after) showed a lot
more pleasing mpg. 7,5 liters per 100 km sounded a lot better.
I wonder how long I can drive with a full tank when the engine
gives its best?
My neighbor back at home was waiting for me to arrive. He has
been riding bikes like Yamaha RD and Ducati, modern (well, sort
of anyway) bikes. He didnt want to test the new bike that
late at night, but he drove it once around the house. His reaction
was similar to mine first reaction when I moved the bike just
a few meters to get a nicer picture of it. It certainly
doesnt feel like a 1400 cc bike, he reported. It
feels more like a 500 cc, its so easy to handle! I
knew it was easy to handle but the only bike I can compare it
with is my old Suzuki. Its ten times as expensive
as my old motorcycle, but it is also ten times better - at least
I was pleased with my choice of a motorcycle. After all, I didnt
know that much of the model before I decided that I'd buy it.
I had red a couple of reviews and looked at the pictures I could
find on the Internet. Somehow I knew that any modern bike would
beat up my old bike in handling. But I still wasnt sure
if Id love riding it. Theres no way to tell it before
you try it. Dozens of people may tell you that its the best
bike theyve ever had - it is not sure that you agree them.
Numerous people wouldnt trade their Mercedes for any other
car but theres still thousands of people who dont
like the Mercedes at all.
Now Ive had my bike for a couple of days and I love it more
and more. There are no problems with turbulence when theres
no hard wind. The bike has only a few hundred kilometers on the
meter so I havent been able to push it to it's limit, but
the low revs are more than enough to get me smiling on the curvy
small roads, thanks to the enormous torque even at low revs.
The only thing Im not pleased with is the exhaust pipes.
The bike is simply too quiet. I thought my old bike was far too
loud when pushing it . It gave me a headache! But this bike is
almost ridiculously quiet. Im pretty sure Im going
to something about it after a while. Well see. Perhaps I
learn to enjoy the silence...
However, Im quite happy with everything else with it. One
of the rear mirrors needs to be moved a bit and I just found out
that the drive chain has way too much slack but thats only
small adjustments. The time will tell if the overall quality of
the bike is as excellent as it appears to be. The bike gives the
impression that the Suzuki engineers know what theyre doing.
The GSX1400 K2 is, in my opinion, a superb and beautiful bike.
I have no plans what so ever to sell it. Ever.
Never say never, a certain Mr. Bond said. Im planning to
save the brochures and everything about this bike for the next
generations or something. I reckon the GSX1400 K2 will always
be considered as a work of art. Beautiful things will always be
beautiful things, even after decades and decades.
September 20, 2001
A proud owner of a Suzuki GSX1400 K2, day three
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