Suzuki offers great all-rounder
THE Suzuki GSX650F just may be the greatest all-rounder since Aussie cricket gun Shane Watson.
While Watto has been delighting Aussie cricket fans as he smashes tons with the bat and rips through batting line-ups with ball in hand, Suzuki's GSX650F will delight riding enthusiasts with its affordable price, brilliant rider comfort, excellent fuel economy, sexy sports bike presentation, impressive size and, of course, on-road performance.
This just may be the perfect bike for anyone with about 10G in their pockets, who is after a reliable, powerful commuter – that doesn't look like a dad bike.
Suzuki has nailed it with the GSX650F, delivering a beautiful road bike with gorgeous sports bike styling.
First impression is that the 650F is a delightfully big bike for a 650, measuring a generous 2130mm. It's beautifully balanced and offers one of the most comfortable riding positions I've ever enjoyed.
While the 650F would be an ideal commuter (even if your commute involves some serious highway riding), it's also a joy to ride – even if you're spending all day in the saddle.
The sitting position is more upright than a sports bike and I found, for my six-foot-two frame, that handle bar and leg positioning were about perfect.
After a day cruising the hinterland (and beyond) of the Sunshine Coast, I wasn't even the slightest bit saddle sore.
The dash display is clear, practical and perfectly positioned for maximum visibility. It has a nice red backlight and is easily read when riding at night.
This sweet Susie also comes in a learner-approved version (GSX650FU) and would be an excellent option for the learner rider – big enough to be comfortable on the highways, enough power to get out of trouble, but not so much that you'll lose control.
Its liquid-cooled four-cylinder engine has been tuned for strong low-end and midrange power, delivering and easy riding around town – and power aplenty on the open road.
It won't rip your arms off, but a casual twist of the throttle and you leave your four-wheeled neighbours miles behind. I was especially impressed at the 650F's power and handling when tackling hill climbs.
The compact, liquid-cooled, fuel injected, DOHC 656cc engine utilises a bore and stroke of 65.5 mm x 48.7 mm and features strong and easily accessible power and torque.
Gear changing is a breeze – even when crawling along in gridlock. The GSX650F's new six speed transmission works smoothly with a hydraulic clutch for crisp shifting in a variety of riding conditions. Its short gearing sees the mill turning 5500rpm at a steady 110km/h.
Cam profiles are chosen with an emphasis on low-to-mid range power output and help to deliver highly accessible performance that is well suited to an entry level rider.
Suzuki Dual Throttle Valve fuel injection system for smooth acceleration. Fuel injectors are compact and lightweight with four-hole injectors for optimum fuel atomization and greater power output.
The cylinder head achieves a narrow valve angle of 17 degrees intake and exhaust for high intake and exhaust efficiency.
A large capacity exhaust system utilises a high capacity catalyzer and an oxygen sensor to meet strict Euro 3 and Tier 2 emissions requirements while still providing strong performance throughout the rpm range. The exhaust is a trojan – fellow bikers even commented on the huge pipe – which keeps both emissions and noise to a minimum.
One rider reckoned the exhaust keeps the GS650F a little too quiet – but I thought it still had a beautiful baritone purr. Admittedly, it's not about to wake the neighbours, if you're into that sort of thing.
The GSX650F keeps cool with a high efficiency radiator combined with a 190mm electric cooling fan controlled by the ECM and a high output water pump with a bearing-less design for reduced weight. This Suzuki proved flawless when tackling the twists and turns of the Obi Obi Range. It offers crisp handling, making winding roads a pleasure, rather than the pain.
And, thanks to the Sunshine Coast's appalling weather of late, I got to see how the GSX650F handles riding in rain storms. Again, full marks to Suzuki. Even when gale-forced winds were almost ripping my helmet off my head, and rain reduced visibility to a wet blur, the Suzie was as solid as a rock. Rarely have I felt so safe when riding in appalling weather. It never planed, never choked on water even when passing cars were spraying waves over me and the windscreen and front fairing kept a lot of the water off me. Sure my wet weather gear eventually let the water through – but it took longer than usual to do so.
The front fairing keeps most wind off the rider – even the taller rider – and you can easily duck down below the windscreen line when conditions get really unpleasant.
Due to the GSX650F's generous size, impressive power and comfortable riding position, carrying a pillion passenger is effortless. That said, the back seat is, like most sports bikes, on the firm side and your passenger is going to be left saddle sore if they're on there for any serious touring.
Few bikes in this price range are going to be able to match the GSX650F for performance, presentation, economy, power and pure riding pleasure.
2010 Suzuki GSX650F
Engine: 656cc, four-stroke, 4-cylinder, DOHC 16 valve, liquid cooled
Transmission: 6-speed constant mesh
Front Suspension: Telescopic, coil spring, oil damped
Rear Suspension: Link type, coil spring, oil damped
Front Brakes: Disc brake, twin
Rear Brakes: Disc brake
Seat Height: 790mm
Curb Mass: 241kg
Fuel Capacity: 19 litres
Warranty: Two-year unlimited kilometre