Our expectations of Suzuki and its motorcycles blew up dramatically with the arrival of the Gixxer. The naked 155cc motorcycle lived up to its name and gave its segment rivals a proper wake up call. Now, the fully faired Gixxer SF is taking the story forward. We got our first taste of the Gixxer SF on a very rainy day in Japan.
It didn’t strike me right away, but the front fairing is wrapped around the very same headlamp as on the Gixxer. Flanked by the angular mock air-intake slots on either side, it didn’t seem all that familiar. While it is being touted as a sportsbike when viewed head on, the SF looks more closely related to the Hayabusa sports-tourer. The SF’s best angle has to be its profile as the new fairing maintains the Gixxer’s characteristic light and athletic look.
Suzuki says that the fairing was designed in the same wind tunnel where the Hayabusa, GSX R and GSX RR were tested. The new fairing is said to improve aerodynamic efficiency for better downforce. The SF also has a more front weight bias as the new attire adds more weight to the front. Other changes include a geometric design for the end cap of the twin-port exhaust, a new single-piece clamp for the handlebar and chrome finish for the Suzuki logo on the key.
The Gixxer SF carries over the chassis and engine unchanged. Which means you have single-cylinger, air-cooled and carburetted engine. There’s no fuel injection, tweaking of gear ratios or ECU remapping here. For the record, the Gixxer SF develops 14.6bhp of power and 1.8kgm of torque. On the suspension front, the SF carries over the Gixxer’s beefy 41mm telescopic front forks, monoshock rear, 268mm Bybre front disc and MRF rubber. Even the suspension set-up is carried over unchanged.
Out on the track, the new aerodynamic package has clearly helped increase top speed. On one run down the lightly undulating 2.3km straight (yes, that’s longer than an entire lap of Kari Motor Speedway), the Gixxer clambered to an indicated 131kph as it nudged gently into the limiter in fifth. However, on most laps, the Gixxer stayed in the mid 20s and we expect that 110-115kph cruise shouldn’t be a problem. As the bikes were running on Japanese fuel and had been tuned to cope with that, we would like to see how it performs in Indian conditions.
The fairing seems to work as advertised, giving a better sense of what is happening at the front wheel. No doubt, the grip from the MRFs – even in the wet conditions – boosted confidence as well. On hairpins, despite a soaking wet (albeit, grippy) track, you could feel the purchase on offer and ride with confidence levels that aren’t expected in those conditions.
The SF could easily have been made more sporty to enthral keener riders. A quicker steering angle would have helped, especially since the front end has a bit more weight and downforce to maintain stability. Also, the upright stance, unchanged from the Gixxer, feels a bit jarring on the SF given its sporting overtures. It would have been an easy fix to switch the one-piece handlebar to a lower set unit for a more sporty seating posture. And, a louder exhaust wouldn’t have been amiss either.
So, although the SF improves on the Gixxer’s sporting manners, it isn’t a revolutionary new sports motorcycle. Nonetheless, the fairing is deserved as it is a keen handler. However, its calling card in the Indian market might be its price tag, which makes it, currently, the most affordable fully faired motorcycle on sale here. Crucially though, underneath the slightly bland fairing, sits a very sensible motorcycle that can mix weekday duties and weekend thrills with oodles of style and fluency. So, when you combine all of that into one package, like Suzuki’s Gixxer SF does, it is impossible to ignore the sense of it.