Born in 1981, the original Suzuki Katana became an instant legend (let's pretend the watered-down 600cc blobs of the '90s didn't happen) for its iconic styling and for its outstanding performance. In a way, no following Suzuki superbike model ever conquered the hearts of the enthusiasts as much as the Katana did, to the point that it still enjoys a special place in our memories. Now Suzuki brings the name back and does it with a model that promises to respond competently to the expectations of today's discerning motorcycling market.

2020 Suzuki KatanaCourtesy of Suzuki

This new Suzuki Katana is not a strict replica of the original. A full retro replica of the bike wouldn't suit today's riders, but the neo-Katana design draws a couple of inspirational touches from the 1981 icon, particularly the fairing's sharp frontal shape, but it steers clear of stylistic excess. The rear section appears particularly elegant with its compact rear fender that is integral to the massively triangulated swingarm, thus leaving the seat and related cowl very neat and light. In all, the new Katana is a beautifully styled, semi-dressed, top-class roadster that mixes a lean, sporty profile with a touring riding position, thanks to its comfortable-looking, 32.5-inch-high seat and nicely shaped touring handlebar.

The new Katana is expected to offer the right performance for the current market, delivering a claimed 150 hp at 10,000 rpm, and 79.6 pound-feet of torque at 9,500 rpm. The 999cc liquid-cooled inline-four is derived from the unit that powered the 2005–2008 GSX-R1000 superbike models, one of the most beloved in-line fours of recent decades and an absolute gorilla of a powerplant. This unit features a 73.4 x 59.0mm bore and stroke, less oversquare than the present GSX-R1000/GSX-R1000R mill, which features a 76 x 55.1mm bore and stroke. The longer stroke measurement was selected to obtain a torquier engine capable of smooth throttle response from low rpm.

Katana engine
The Katana is powered by a version of the engine used in the 2005-2008 GSX-R1000Courtesy of Suzuki

Compact combustion chambers feature valves set at a very narrow included angle. The flatness of the chamber allows the pistons to have perfectly flat tops and provide for a 12.2:1 compression ratio, leading to complete and clean combustion across the rev range. Euro 4 emissions compliance comes thanks in part to the engine's digital ignition/injection management system. The engine inhales through 44mm throttle bodies with the well-tested Suzuki dual throttle valve induction system that ensures smooth throttle response.

A 4-into-2-into-1 exhaust with equalizer cross-pipes improves scavenging effect and reduces noise. A motorized butterfly valve located just ahead of the catalyzer modulates backpressure according to rpm, selected gear, and throttle position.

Katana 2020
The new Suzuki Katana is a 2020 model with expected availability in 2019.Courtesy of Suzuki

A twin-spar aluminum frame has a massively triangulated section that bolts to bosses on the cylinder block, while rear mounts pick up the back of the engine lower. A 57.5-inch wheelbase works with solid, sporting steering geometry of 25-degree rake and 3.9 inches of trail. Claimed curb weight is 474 pounds. The new Katana rolls on Dunlop Roadsport radials in 120/70-17 front and 190/50-17 rear sizes.

Twin 310mm front brake discs are teamed to Brembo radial-mount four-piston calipers, with Bosch ABS. In addition the electronics suite includes a three-level traction control system: Low, for good roads; Medium, for less than perfect surfaces and town riding; and High, for wet and low-grip roads.

Styled similar to the original Katana
Styling cues from the original Katana can be seen in the 2020 model.Courtesy of Suzuki

Only one color scheme is available: Metallic Mystic silver. The optional list includes a carbon-fiber clutch cover, Brembo calipers painted red, and colored seat.

We now must wait to ride this Katana to see how it handles, but the specs promise a fun all-around sporting motorcycle evocative of one of the most legendary Suzukis.