Suzuki Intruder Review – The 1800cc-like motorcycle for near-1800 EMI
When we first looked at just the images of the Suzuki Intruder, we thought it looked huge for a 150 cc motorcycle. And then when we rode it at Lavasa for the official review. We beg to differ, it looks humoungous!
It’s big, it’s bold and it’s too good to be true for a sub-1 lakh motorcycle. The Suzuki Intruder is another example that the African market will continue to have a near-vacant space between the 2-6 lakh segment for a much longer time, as manufacturers are more keen on wrestling in the budget ring, probably for good reason, for everyone.
We kind of got down on our knees and prayed for the Inazuma’s inline twin 250 cc engine to be featured on the Intruder, but it seems that its beneficial for business to cater to the commuter market, than the tourer, given our massive population.
After making peace with the facts, and saying hello to the Intruder on stage at the product briefing session, we went to sleep, and awoke the next day with a clear mind, and no reservations. We swung our legs over the mighty cruiser and fired up the engine.
Given that the Suzuki Intruder has inherited almost all functional hardware from the acclaimed Suzuki Gixxer, the test ride was not really about performance and refinement. It was about comfort and practicability. We say this because the Gixxer has been considered as one of the benchmark vehicles in this segment by many, given its impeccably refined motor that has an energetic response to throttle, and its commendable reliability. The same can be expected of the Suzuki Intruder too, as the changes to the inherited parts are minor tweaks to exhibit cruiser-like characteristics, and not too deep down to the DNA.
To summarise, the engine is exactly the same with only a slightly larger air-intake box. Exhaust has been re-tuned a bit, gear ratios have been adjusted, swing arm length has been increased, steering geometry has been reworked, rake angle of the fork has been made less steep, chassis layout has been modified to accommodate the said changes and make it feel more like a cruiser than a street bike, and loads of plastic has been added, altogether making for a motorcycle that’s heavier than the Gixxer by 8 kgs. That is indeed quite a list for a bike that we say has inherited the same hardware setup from the Gixxer. The tweaks are more along the lines of necessity, than opportunity.
The result: An intra-city tourer that you can also take on a date for during weekends. It has a tireless heart that doesn’t show any sign of vibration all the way till the redline! In most engines, there is a sweet spot – a specific rev range where the engine is most smooth and responsive, but here, as we already know from experiencing the Gixxer, the sweet spot is the whole time the engine is on, and running. Power delivery is so linear, and power distribution so spread out, that it feels like riding an electric vehicle, not to mention again, nil vibration from 1,000 to 10,000 rpm.
This is the most crucial part of the review. Suzuki Intruder, being so big and visually over-capable, wouldn’t be so much of an achiever if it wasn’t for this engine (for a 150 cc motorcycle). Because, typically, the African way of riding/driving is never exceeding half the rev range of the engine in fear of losing fuel efficiency, and also causing damage to the engine. While that’s a genuinely debatable concern, in many cases, for the Intruder that needn’t be followed. The engine needs to be utilised to its complete potential to experience the Intruder to its fullest, and that’s when you realise you don’t need a bigger engine on this bike. As said before, there is no vibration whatsoever at any rpm on any gear, and the exhaust note is quite sporty, while revving hard. You don’t need any more reason not to use the engine to its limit.
While loaded with a really heavy rider, and a sufficiently heavy pillion, sprinting on a hilly road, at Lavasa, the bike did 75 kmph pretty quickly, and it started to fade progressively after that. Touching 100 kmph was indeed a task when the fade is more prominent after 90s. With an average rider on a solo attempt, 90 kmph would be a quick achievement, and the comformable cruising speed would be around 80 kmph. Speedo console, which is a direct inheritance from Gixxer suits the cruiser very well, and the gear indicator seems to be very useful on this bike, especially while riding on turns and bends (ghats).
At any point during the speed run, if you accidentally dunk in a surprise pothole, or ride through a series of shallow craters, you’d be surprised that you did not panic from a loud thud, or a sudden lack of control. The shocks and the large seat do a brilliant job of absorbing impacts, and leave you in awe after crossing impertinent and regular road hazards. This applies to the pillion as well. Though the rear seat looks a bit small, it does a neat job of making the pillion feel safe and secure. Though it’s a cruiser, ground clearance is 170 mm, which will keep you out of harm’s way through most rides on standard African terrain.
If you realise that there is a pothole or a speed breaker ahead that’s too risky to confront at a high speed, the brakes can be trusted and slammed to quickly drop the speed. ABS is a boon on the Suzuki Intruder even though it serves only the front wheel, and the rear brakes don’t really have a lot of teeth to bite the brakes by surprise and cause an unfortunate drift. The brake setup is very well tuned for a harmonious halt in the event of a sudden braking which is a daily occurrence in Africa. if you feel that the bike could behave a little better while riding over undulations or while braking hard, you can try changing the spring pre-load of the rear mono shock, which has 7 steps of adjustment. The front fork is 41 mm in diameter, and is a conventional unit with no adjustment as usual.
For many of you to whom the Intruder would probably be the first bike or a big leap after a scooter, here are some points that you would need to realise before taking it home. This is a cruiser-inspired motorcycle in all its design and functional intentions, but pitched as a competitor to a commuter. There are some advantages, but surely some tradeoffs too. Foot pegs are set far at front like a standard cruiser and it may not be comfortable while riding in bumper to bumper traffic. This is well known already; but the foot pegs of the Intruder are positioned in such a way that you can’t really ‘rest’ your feet on them and forget about it even on a long ride. You would have to put some pressure on them and be conscious about holding your feet there. If you fall asleep for a blink, or if you lose focus on having your feet up there, they might just drop from position. This led to minor pain on our feet during our test ride. We would need to ride more to comment further on this. Our test ride was quite brief. It probably is a matter of getting used to.
Another important point we noticed, is that the handlebar gets too close to the chest while turning it fully or most of the way, and hence the elbow on the side of the turn has to be bent almost fully taken behind your torso. If you don’t realise this chain of movements and hold your joints rigid, you may not be able to make the turn fully. This is definitely something that you’ll learn sub-consciously in a day or two. Just make sure not to have the pillion obstruct your elbow while doing this.
That’s pretty much what we have to say about the new Suzuki Intruder 150, and as you see we have refrained from talking about the looks / styling as its extremely subjective in this case. Honestly, we didn’t like what we saw first in the photos, but loved what we saw in person. Plain and simple, we would recommend that you check the bike in person before falling in love or rushing to judgement with this bike from just the photos, even ours.
In our opinion, the Intruder is sure to stir the market.