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2016 Suzuki Gixxer SF Fi review, road test

29th Nov 2016 5:00 pm

We take to the streets once again with the Suzuki Gixxer SF. This time, however, it's in a fuel-injected guise.

  • Make : Suzuki
  • Model : Gixxer

To be honest, we’re always looking for an excuse to ride the Suzuki Gixxer in one form or another, and the recent launch of a new version of the SF, featuring fuel-injection and a rear disc brake was a good enough reason to take it out for a spin. The Gixxer, and by extension its fully faired version, the Gixxer SF, have been game-changing motorcycles in the 150cc segment. They’ve not just cemented the company’s position in this segment, but also set a new benchmark against which all other 150cc street bikes will be judged going forward. Without a doubt, the Gixxer is one of the best 150cc bikes you can buy today. So, does the inclusion of fuel injection in the SF variant make it even better?

On a visual front, almost nothing has changed from the standard carburetted version of the Gixxer SF. You have to look really hard to spot the differences. And barring the tiny badge on the fairing that indicates this bike is running with fuel injection, the only other dissimilarity is a noticeable gap on the left side of the fairing, which houses the fuel cock on the carbed bike. Almost as an afterthought, this FI version gets a clear lens tail-light. Looking at the overall design, while fully faired bikes are usually much loved in India, the Gixxer SF’s design is a bit of a hit or miss. Some enthusiasts find the upright ergonomics at odds with the sporty fairing. But for those who just care about having a bike that looks like a sportbike without its awkward seating position, the Gixxer SF is just right. However, the MotoGP-inspired livery with its factory blue paint scheme and racebike graphics does look pretty neat and has the ability to draw attention on the road.

Other design elements such as the stubby exhaust and the grab rails that integrate into the tail section look quite attractive as well, and honestly, if this bike came equipped with low-slung clip-on handlebars and rear-set footpegs, it would look like a proper little sportbike. But, as the bike stands, this sportiness is sacrificed for a comfortable and upright road-friendly riding stance that doesn’t differ at all from the naked Gixxer's. The sculpted fuel tank is comfortable to grip with your thighs, and the low 780mm seat height combined with the bike’s slender waistline really makes it unintimidating. If we had to nitpick, then we’d say that the instrument cluster is a bit on the smaller side and feels a bit cluttered. However, it is more informative than the displays on other bikes in this class, and you’ll get used to its compact size fairly quickly. Our biggest grouse though, and this is a real one, is about the lack of a position lock on the rear-view mirror stalks. As soon the nuts keeping the stalks attached get loose, the mirrors falls (folds) forward and end up looking like two stabby weapons attached to the front of the bike. And nothing short of retightening these nuts solves the issue.

Apart from FI, this engine is identical to the regular Gixxer SF's. It is the 155cc, air-cooled, single-cylinder unit. Even with the fuel-injection system, the power and torque figures of 14.8hp at 8,000rpm and 14Nm at 6,000rpm respectively are unchanged. What has changed, however, is the throttle response, which feels much crisper, especially at low rpms. In fact, the motor’s tractability seems to have increased a bit, and the bike can easily pull from speeds as low as 35kph in top gear, without any judder. The engine does retain its slightly gruff-sounding nature though, but overall vibrations have been reduced significantly, and even when you rev the motor all the way up to its redline of 10,000rpm, all you get is a very mild buzz through the footpegs.

In terms of outright acceleration figures, there’s no real difference as the bike can make the run from 0 to 60kph in 5.54sec, with the 100kph mark coming up in 17.51sec. While we didn’t test out what actual top speed the bike could achieve, the maximum we saw was an indicated 120kph. However, this Gixxer SF Fi is the most comfortable cruising at about 90kph, with its aerodynamic front fairing making short work of any wind blast.

The Gixxer SF's engine is mated to a five-speed gearbox, each gear slotting with a precise feel in a one-down, four-up pattern. Its clutch is well-weighted and operates with a light feel that helps keep the bike easy to ride in crowded city traffic. One area where the FI has been vastly improved is roll-on acceleration. In third gear, 40 to 60kph takes just 3.69sec, while the same run in fourth gear takes just 5.54sec.

As with most aspects of this fuel-injected version, the mechanical bits that make up this bike remain unchanged. It uses a single downtube, steel tubular frame with the engine as a stressed member. At the front, it gets beefy 41mm forks and the back gets a seven-step adjustable monoshock. The ride is well-damped for the most part, especially at the front. However, the rear setup seems to be a tad too stiff even with the preload setting set to the middle. Decreasing the rear preload did make a noticeable difference in the ride quality, but it did make the rear wallow a tad bit under quick changes of direction. With the rear spring on its original setting, the handling on this Gixxer SF Fi, just like on the standard SF is remarkable. It’s quick to turn in, holds the line through corners very well and there’s no hint of drama at any point. In fact, the slightly weighted front end feel that the SF has compared to the naked Gixxer does wonders in terms inspiring confidence through the corners. The tubeless MRF rubber at both ends do an excellent job of providing grip and plenty of feedback, making the handling feel very intuitive and effortless, regardless of speed. We’d go so far as to say that barring the specialised mini-sportbikes such as the Yamaha YZF-R15 and the Honda CBR150R, this is the best handling 150cc bike in the Indian market.

Even when it comes to the brakes, the Gixxer SF does a great job with its 266mm front disc providing sharp bite and good feel. This new model ditches the drum for a disc brake setup at the rear. While on loose surfaces, the rear disc brake does tend to lock up the rear wheel more easily than the drum, when you’re on tarmac, you’ll appreciate the improved braking it provides. From 80kph, this bike can come to a standstill in 36.71 metres, taking 3.47sec to cover that distance. Not the most phenomenal braking, but the lack of drama when dropping the anchors is certainly appreciated.

One big change that the addition of fuel injection has brought on is an improvement in fuel efficiency, especially when cruising on the highway. So, while the Gixxer SF Fi managed to eke out 39.52kpl through the congested roads of Pune, that figure shot up to a massive 62.71kpl on the open highway. This brings the overall fuel efficiency of the bike to a whopping 51.1kpl! So with a full tank of petrol, you can expect to travel well over 600km before running out.

The Gixxer SF isn't a sportbike by any means; it is more of a street bike with a full fairing. And it fulfils this role better than pretty much any other bike in this segment. The addition of fuel injection has brought about a few improvements in what was already a rather impressive package. However, this does come at a cost. At an ex-showroom price of Rs 93,499 (Delhi), this fuel-injected model is a little over Rs 6,000 costlier than the carburetted model with a rear disc brake. But with improved refinement levels and fantastic mileage, that extra cost is certainly worth it if you're someone who puts a fair number of kilometres on your bike each year.

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