To date, Suzuki’s performance in the Indian motorcycle market makes for a good barometer of just how tough it is to make a mark here. A bike maker as experienced as this Japanese giant, riding on so much success with cars, has failed to find firm footing in India so far. The truth is, our market is a ruthless playing field, where only exceptional motorcycles can cut any ice. And the previous bikes have all come across as half hearted, making the handsome new Gixxer seem like its first real two-wheeled try in India. Read on for all the answers.
Fresh and eye catching, the new bike makes for one of the better looking 150s we have today. Shapely and contemporary, the naked bike is a butch, macho machine, with sleek, angular cowls. There’s a typical Suzuki touch to the front bikini fairing, and the elegant alloy rims, chunky tyres and charcoal black highlights all add up to make this one purposeful looking bike. Other neat touches include tank extensions as well as a finely styled conical exhaust canister with chrome accents and dual outlets. Attention to detail is at a whole new level, relative to previous small capacity bikes from the company, seen in beautiful bar-end weights, the contoured saddle’s contrasting stitch sutures and top drawer alloy cast footrests and mounts.
The equipment cluster gets nifty digital instruments, including a cascading rev counter right on the top, a large and easy indicating speed, a bar type fuel-gauge, gear indicator, useful clock and even a rev redline warning flasher, all nicely fitted within a compact LCD display. Much of the feel-good factor comes from its grips and switches that offer a nice tactile feel. The mirrors are also cleverly shaped to offer good rear view.
An engine-kill switch is part of the package, as is a pass-light flasher. It comes with a meaty fuel-tank that has adequate thigh indents. There's a nicely finished alloy fuel-filler too, that, unfortunately, lacks a hinge, thereby making fueling up a touch more cumbersome. The motorcycle's grab-bars integrate well with its tail. However, all this form hasn’t come at the cost of function, as seen in broad protective mudguards over both wheels that we can confirm work to offer good wet weather protection. The drive-chain is exposed and looks sporty, while the bikemaker has done well to ensure really good overall quality; neat fit-and-finish is very apparent too.
Power comes from Suzuki's built four-stroke, 155cc, SOHC and CV carburettor fed powerplant. The air-cooled single-cylinder has long stroke dimensions, and fits its intended urban role well. The company has been stressing that good torque output was a consideration when tuning the bike's motor. On the go, the motorcycle clearly feels tuned to delight in the circus of urban Indian traffic. It puts out a healthy 14.6bhp at 8,000rpm, and 1.43kgm of peak torque that’s delivered nice and low in the powerband, at 6,000rpm.
The new bike also gets friction cutting measures, including roller cam followers and an inverted triangle piston skirt, all aimed at enhanced efficiency. Thumb-started, of course, it thoughtfully provides a kick-lever for emergency use too.
If you’ve ridden Yamaha’s older 150cc FZ, in its pre fuel-injection days, you already know exactly how it delivers power. It’s uncanny how similar the new bike feels to those Yamahas. The engines have similar character, of refined and silken smooth nature, while they sound a shade gruff when hard on the throttle - pushing the bike to unleash all its performance potential.
The engine is flexible - power builds up smoothly and a strong wave of acceleration is apparent from right after idle. Unlike the sweet revving Honda’s in the segment, it once again is more like the Yamaha bikes, providing good low and mid range grunt, but power tapers off rapidly after that - after that the top end of the rev band feels only mediocre. The good thing is that you don’t need any more than this when riding in city traffic, and there’s a feel of bullet-proof reliability.
Unlike the earlier 6-speed GS150R, the Gixxer comes with a 5-speed gearbox, shifting with precise, light feel in a one-down, four-up pattern. The gear ratios are well suited to this engine, and the Gixxer comes with a nicely weighted, light feeling clutch.
Performance is at par for the class - our tests prove that the Gixxer is good for a 60kph sprint in 5.61seconds from rest, thereon zipping past 100kph in 19.25secs. We achieved a true top speed of 115kph pushing the Gixxer to its limit, throttle pinned open to the stop in top gear.
The Gixxer uses a single downtube, steel tubular frame that bolts in its engine as a stressed member. A clear advantage for the new bike over all its 150cc rivals in India is that it offers the rigid benefit of fat 41mm front forks, working with a seven step adjustable single rear shock.
You sit ‘in’ the bike, with a nice feeling of control, thanks to wide handlebars that make for excellent leverage while changing directions. The upright riding position is comfortable, while our long hours in the saddle prove that the bike is well padded and roomy enough for even riders as tall as 6 feet.
Once again, taking a leaf from Yamaha, the Gixxer excels to provide excellent MRF tyres, tubeless front and rear - the rear also offers radial construction. There is lots of traction available on all surfaces, and the ride quality is just right as well. Our test bike felt nicely sprung, neither too soft nor too harsh when punching over potholes. The Gixxer rides with light, fleet footed feel, turning into corners with a confident and willing nature. Straight line stability is good, and so are the light high-speed cornering manners.
The large 266mm front disc brake and 130mm rear drum brake work well when used in tandem to haul the zippy bike down; they feeling powerful and provide strong bite.
The 135kg Gixxer is capable of reasonable efficiency for a 150cc bike, returning 41.7kpl in the city, and 44.2kpl when tested on the highways.
It’s unquestionable then - Suzuki has hit the nail smack on the head with the Gixxer. There’s nothing lacking on the motorcycle. In fact, the company is, on the contrary, offering more than most of their competition on this attractive new machine. This leaves just one question - just how good does the new Gixxer score on the value-for-money meter? At Rs. 72,199 (ex-showroom, Delhi) they clearly have this covered too, slotting the competent, high quality, soundly engineered motorcycle in with an edge.
We have long criticised the company and have frowned at all their previous commuter bikes, but the Gixxer overturns that, winning our approval as a well-rounded, overall good motorcycle. The Gixxer makes for a top class 150 that’s ready and able to take on the very best in its segment. There's no two ways about it.