Suzuki’s objective of nurturing racing talent in India through the Gixxer Cup is taking a big step forward in 2016. Season 2 of Suzuki’s Gixxer Cup is a familiar proposition. Book yourself a seat for the Novice or Open class and get the best out of the race-track readied Gixxer SF bike.
However, for 2016 there is a big twist in the proceedings, because under a new classification, ten competitors will be vying to get to the Red Bull Rookies Cup! For those who haven’t heard of the Red Bull Rookies Cup, it is a support race to the MotoGP races where the best of upcoming racing talent slugs it out on near Moto3-spec bikes!
To earn a spot, riders in the age group of 13-17 years of will compete in the 20- strong Novice category of the Gixxer Cup. After being trained, mentored and evaluated over three race weekends, two of the most promising competitors will be sent to the Red Bull Rookies Cup Selection camp in Spain. Once in Spain, the riders will have to showcase their skills and abilities over three days while facing some of the best upcoming talent from around the globe. So what will our Indian riders have to hone their skills on? We headed to Kari Motor Speedway to get a taste of the Gixxer Cup bike before Season 2 started in full swing.
The 2016 Gixxer Cup bike is essentially an updated version of the 2015 bike. To be fair, the 2015 bike had been revised extensively over the racing season and featured several updates which weren’t seen at the start of the season. For instance, steel braided hoses for the brakes and an hydroformed exhaust were some of the improvements that were carried out over the season. The 155cc engine although, unchanged from 2015, has been rebuilt completely for 2016. Breathing through K&N air filter, fed via a retuned carburettor and a free flow exhaust to speed it all up, the engine is more responsive here than on the road- going bike. Suzuki also have changed the final drive gearing to help the Gixxer get better top speed.
As before, the Cup bike is significantly lighter than the street-going SF. It sports the sharper steering geometry as the front forks ride higher in the steering triple clamp. While the suspension settings are unchanged from street, the Cup bike now features a fork brace for greater feel and stability. The footpegs too have been moved even further back and up for greater cornering clearance.
Out on the track, even a novice will admit that although the engine is more peppy than the street bike, it certainly isn’t intimidating. The simple air-cooled two-valve motor has stronger power, torque and revs better than the street bike, but getting to the 10,000rpm limiter takes time. On the straights we got an indicated 118kph and since this has altered gearing, it is actually 15 percent higher in terms of the actual speed.
So to make the most of the performance the Cup bike has to offer, you have to learn to carry speed through the corners. Even a short stint in the saddle of the Gixxer Cup bike tells you that it is a great bike to learn this craft on. First and foremost, it inspires a lot of confidence in the rider. The chassis and suspension setup along with the race-spec MRF tyres give the Cup bike a very sure-footed feel. At the same time, it is a light, flickable motorcycle so you can attack corners with gusto.
I could complain that I was too heavy for this bike, and the track was largely unknown to me. But the Gixxer Cup bike did a great job of making me feel confident to push on. At the end the result was a quite satisfying – 3rd fastest lap time! It's easy to see how the Gixxer Cup is the perfect springboard for future racers from India. And hopefully, we’ll see one in the Rookies Cup real soon.