As an all-new model in Suzuki’s 2008 line, the GSX650F has a pair of Shaquille O’Neal-size shoes to fill, replacing the ultra-competent Katana 600 and 750 that have been retired following two decades of faithful service.
While thoroughly modern, the GSX650F upholds Katana tradition as a versatile, fully faired and affordable standard. True to its predecessors, the GSX offers plenty of performance to satisfy expert riders, yet this middleweight’s user-friendly nature also makes it a viable choice for riders new to the sport. Unlike many smaller entry-level machines, however, the GSX is not a bike that is outgrown as one’s riding skills mature. Based on the Euro-market Bandit 650, the GSX adopts that sporty naked’s proven 656cc, liquid-cooled inline-Four and chassis, adding full-coverage bodywork for broader appeal.
We were very pleased with the engine’s power characteristics when run on the CW dyno. Its 73.6 peak horsepower makes it the heavy hitter in this group, but the linear nature in which the motor produces power and maintains a broad spread of torque spanning much of its 12,000-rpm rev range will be appreciated by riders of any skill level.
You realize the quality of this power the first time you ride the GSX. Suzuki’s dual-throttle-valve electronic fuel-injection provides crisp throttle response and seamless delivery that is as good as we’ve ever experienced. Starts are a snap, and the engine maintains a relaxed, 1100-rpm idle that’s so steady it seems uncanny. Pulling smoothly away from a stop doesn’t get any easier, as only the slightest application of throttle is required. Performing upshifts at about 5000 rpm feels perfect when riding the GSX in a casual manner, its slick-shifting gearbox and minimal drivetrain lash making for very fluid operation. If you desire more excitement, simply spin the engine up. Heck, the GSX will even lug along contently at idle rpm in sixth gear, offering an unreal demonstration of its low-rev prowess. It’s smooth, too, with only light vibration perceptible at higher rpm.
Handling is equally refined, with light and neutral steering characteristics backed by sure-footed stability. The GSX is a solid chunk in its class, weighing 507 pounds without fuel. While intimidating for some, the weight plays a role in the GSX’s exceptional bump compliance–and you soon learn to use the passenger grab handle as an aid when maneuvering the 650 around the garage and out of parking stalls. Roomy ergonomics, comfortable single-piece saddle, mid-height handlebar and tall windscreen are the positive traits of a full-sized machine.
At $6999, the GSX650F represents a real value. Whether it’s your first purchase or just your most recent, it’s such a well-sorted and refined motorcycle it may be the last bike you’ll need for years to come. As was the case with the Katana, we suspect Suzuki will not be replacing the GSX650F anytime soon.
|Dry weight:||507 lb.|
|Seat height:||31.6 in.|
|Fuel mileage:||56.0 mpg|
|0–60 mph:||3.8 sec|
|1/4-mile:||12.05 sec. @ 109.65 mph|
|Horsepower:||73.6 hp @ 10,070 rpm|
|Torque:||42.2 ft.-lb. @ 7730 rpm|
|Top speed:||131 mph|