iconimg Thursday, May 07, 2015


October 04, 2012
Attention magnet. That's what they call it, and no wonder. Even a casual passerby cannot help stopping for another dekko, and maybe striking up a conversation. This is the Suzuki Intruder M800. Not the fastest production bike, the Hayabusa. Not the leviathans from the Harley Davidson stable.

Not even the gargantuan, John Abraham-promoted Yamaha V-Max. Yet, it stands out, even though this is only the younger sibling, a modest 800-cc cruiser that is a full litre smaller - and a full mid-sized car cheaper - than its bruising big brother.

So does size matter? Or is the modest 800 cc good to go? Only one way to find out - astride the saddle.

Looks

Not for nothing is the M800 called attention magnet. The road-presence is significant, despite its muted exhaust note and a very staid posture.

Not like a BMW or a Harley, roaring  to attract attention. We get things done here, it seems to say.

At over 250 kg, it is a task pushing it around, too, though the low seat height makes it pretty well-grounded.

The handles, the footpegs, the clock, the broad-bottom seat, all ooze comfort. The pillion seat and footpegs are well-placed, though there is no backrest.

What one does miss, are floorboard footrests, Harley style. Unlike the H-D, though, it has a twin-seat as standard equipment.

Ride quality and performance

Put it in gear, and the 50BHP power V-twin engine takes the bike effortlessly through to the tonne-mark pretty much before you blink - about 5 seconds and a fraction.

Along straight lines - say a 100-km ride on the Delhi-Panipat highway - it is a dream. For a slow, song-humming ride in the rain, fantastic.

Plunge it into the hurly-burly of city traffic, however, and the poor beast finds itself out of sorts.

It tries gamely to keep things going, but you can clearly make out that this is not what it was born for, as one waddles among bumper-to-bumper going home commuters.

The left wrist is crying for relief, the feet scrabbling for purchase, and the V-twin engine getting hot under the collar, its radiator notwithstanding.

Bottleneck past, throttle unleashed, it races away in relief. Don't do this again, it begs, and one tends to agree with it.

Riding fast is not an issue, and on good roads the clock ticks along at 140-150 kph effortlessly. It does not demand the same 'hanging-on-for-dear-life' approach one experiences with other naked tourers, including the Harley, and a 100-km ride in an hour on a highway at 140-150 kph is stress-free. Braking is secure, and the absence of an ABS is not felt much.

Apart from traffic, one area where one can get into trouble with an Intruder is turning, especially at high speeds.

The low centre of gravity keeps the bike upright, which is a blessing most of the time, but when you try to cajole it to take a roundabout at 80 kph, and the beast keeps upright, the heart leaps into the mouth.

The mammoth turning radius means you can't throw it around corners. It needs long banking curves, and if you can offer a succession of these, the ride is exhilarating.

For roundabouts, slow down, or slip down the saddle to use body weight, sports-style.

What about competition? Apart from the Harley models, assembled locally, the only option in cruisers on the lower side of the price spectrum is the Korean Hyosung ST7, which is almost on par with the SuperLow, but the brand has been a big question mark in its short life in India so far.

With the global market in a bad way, any bike that comes in (Honda?) is bound to be fully imported, as the Suzuki is, and priced similarly.

Aside

Chap rolls down the window of his car, and comments: "Nice bike. Kitna deti hai (what's the mileage)?" That's the usual question when out testing big bikes. One gives a noncommittal reply and prepares to move on as the traffic light changes to green, but gets floored by the next question: "Is there a diesel option?"