It hasn’t been easy to compile a list of the best Suzuki bikes ever made. There have been some fantastic models to come out of the Hamamatsu factory over the last century but we’ve tried to whittle the list down to a top 10. Since the company released their first ever motorcycle back in 1952 (the “Power Free” motorized bicycle) the firm has been going from strength to strength competing with the likes of Honda, Yamaha, and Kawasaki for two-wheeled supremacy.
Over the last 60 years, Suzuki has made a name for itself in the motorcycling world, developing a reputation for building exciting and quality motorcycles, winning countless races and titles, and consistently pushing two-wheeled technology. Some of the best Suzuki bikes include the legendary two-stroke RG500, the iconic GS Series, and of course, the world famous GSX-R family.
There are plenty of amazing Suzuki bikes to fill a list, but which ones do we like best? Considering that we’re talking about Suzukis here, we could easily fill a list with GSX-Rs alone but for the sake of diversity we’ve decided to broaden our horizons a little and include the best Suzuki bikes from a whole range of segments.
There’s no scientific method to this either. We’ve just looked at the most iconic and enduring Suzuki models, tallied them against their sales figures and well they were received all over the world, and mixed the results with a good dose of personal preference.
One rider’s favorite Suzuki might be the GSX-R600, but another rider may well prefer the Burgman maxi-scooter…and if you were to factor in global sales, overall practicality, and measured consumer reviews, then the Burgman would almost certainly beat the GSX-R…so that’s why a little bit of personal opinion matters here – but don’t hold it against us if we don’t include one of your favorite Suzuki bikes. Just let us know and we’ll add it next time! Until then, here are our top 10 favorite Suzuki bikes of the last 60 years.
10 Of The Greatest Suzuki Bikes To Roll Out Of Hamamatsu!
#10. The Suzuki SV650
While it may not have the instant sex-appeal of a GSX-R or the effortless cool of a Boulevard, the SV650 is one of the greatest Suzuki bikes ever built. Why? Because it a straightforward, no nonsense, astonishingly reliable, easy-to-ride, middleweight machine. Ever-popular with new and inexperienced riders because of its forgiving nature, the SV650 is also a force to be reckoned with when put in the hands of track day veterans and those who know a thing or two about making the most of what they’ve got.
Powered by a bulletproof 645cc liquid cooled, v-twin engine that produces a respectable 69 horsepower, 44.2 lb-ft of torque, and can hit 60 mph in about 3.2 seconds. All that in an easy access package that’s good at pretty much any task you set it too. But that’s not what makes the SV so good – it’s defining feature is that there is always one for sale at a good price, and save for a statistical anomaly, you’re always going to get a lot for your money.
The SV650: one of the most versatile Suzuki bikes ever made, and possibly one of the most practical all-rounders in the entire industry! It’s easy to see why Suzuki have been producing the SV650 in one form or another since 1999.
#09. The Suzuki Boulevard
While there was nothing intrinsically wrong with the Suzuki Boulevard C90’s predecessor, we can all agree that Boulevard is a far better word to have written on the side of a motorcycle that Intruder, surely? Well, the change happened, and since 2005 Suzuki’s cruiser class has been represented by the numerous Boulevard models, but it’s the C90 that we like here.
Long, low, reliable and stylish, the Boulevard C90 is a cruiser that ticks all of the classic cruiser boxes but retains a few nice surprises to keep the rider interested. Boasting a solid 1,462cc v-twin engine that borrows the fuel-injection system more commonly found in the GSX-R family, and produces a very impressive 67 hp and 84 lb-ft of torque, putting it on par with the likes of Kawasaki’s Vulcan 1500 series that ran between ’87 and ’08.
For riders looking for a cruiser with American styling but equipped with Japanese reliability and modern technology, the Boulevard series has long been an acceptable compromise.
#08. The Suzuki V-Strom 650
But isn’t this essentially the same bike as the SV650? Well, the engine is the same, and both bikes certainly are versatile but one is better suited towards every day commuting while the other is definitely geared towards no-nonsense utilitarian touring and relentless mile munching. If you didn’t guess, the V-Strom is the functional tourer, but it’s also great at whatever task you put before it be it stop and start city riding, intercontinental cruising, and even scrambling up the odd dirt track or dry river bed – should you feel the need.
The V-Strom is certainly not one of the most beautiful Suzuki bikes ever made, but it’s easily one of the most useful. Powered by the aforementioned 645cc V-twin engine but tuned slightly different for a few more horsepower, the V-Strom is one of the most versatile motorcycles on the market and has been a consistent best seller since it rolled onto the scene in 2004.
If you’re a fan of the SV put good do with a little more practicality then the V-Strom should be the ideal replacement. Maybe even in its 1000cc form, should you need a power boost. Or even in a smaller 250 form if you think less is more.
#07. The Suzuki DR-Z400SM
If the V-Strom’s dual nature isn’t quite up to standard then you should definitely investigate the DR-Z series of Suzuki bike. While there are plenty of worth DR-Z labelled motorcycles in the Suzuki dirt bike line up to satisfy even the most relentless of trail riders, we’ve decided to choose the newer DR-Z400SM for this list.
The “SM” stands for SuperMoto, and if you’ve been keeping half an eye on the motorcycle industry over the past decade, you’ll have noticed that SuperMoto motorcycles are making a big impression. Designed for on-road and off-road racing, these street-legal equivalents come with street tires, long travel inverted forks, and an interesting 398cc single-cylinder engine that only produces a mere 34 hp…but feels like a lot more.
According to Suzuki, the DR-Z400SM is “80% dirt bike” and we’d like to agree with them there, because it’s enormous fun to ride. And while there are certainly more dirt-focused Suzuki bikes in the lineup, the DR-Z400SM gets our seal of approval because it’s good both on and off-road. It was a blast to ride.
#05. The Suzuki Bandit GSF600
The humble GSF600 Bandit is one of those bikes that changed the very landscape of the industry. It wasn’t pushing any performance barriers, it wasn’t riding on a crest of innovation either, it simply filled a gap that long needed filling and gave birth to a whole new class of its own: the budget middleweight roadster.
The recipe was simple. All Suzuki did was take one of their already successful engines, the oil-cooled 600cc four-cylinder lump more commonly found on the GSX600F, and drop it into a ridiculously simple roadster chassis. The result was an unprecedented success. Essentially, the GSF600 Bandit was easy to ride, relied on simple mechanics, wasn’t intimidatingly powerful for beginner riders, and provided enough of a thrill for those in search of sensible kicks.
But the real reason that makes the Bandit one of the greatest Suzuki bikes ever made was the fact that it was really quite well made and came with a very affordable price tag. And what’s more, you pick them up today for next to nothing – and that includes the more advanced 650cc versions and the half-faired models too. It’s easy to see why these were instant best sellers from day one.
#05. The Suzuki Katana
The Suzuki Katana is another one of those incredible game changing motorcycles that revolutionized the motorcycle industry. Just take a look at it in its original form and compare it with the models that preceded it. The late seventies provided undoubtedly beautiful motorcycles with gentle curves and gorgeous shapes…but they all looked the same.
To help break the monotony, Suzuki Germany hired a company called Target Design, which was headed up by former BMW Styling Chief Hans Muth. Orders from Suzuki HQ in Japan asked for something radical and shocking to inject some excitement back into the motorcycle industry – and with Suzuki generally lagging behind the likes of Honda, Yamaha and Kawasaki in the innovation department, they needed a game changer. And Target Design delivered.
The 1982 GS1000S Katana (an 1100cc machine everywhere else apart from the US) was an opinion divider from the off, but the overall radical design, sharp angles and futuristic thinking pulled Suzuki into center stage, proving that the company weren’t just followers: they could be edgy trend setters too.
#04. The Suzuki TL1000R
Between the years of 1998 and 2004 Suzuki decided to unleash something rather special in to the world: The TL1000R. With its sights squarely aimed at the Ducati 916, Suzuki’s TL1000R boasted a fantastic 1000cc V-Twin engine transported into a frame based on the contemporary GSX-R750.
The engine itself was a solid unit that could take as much punishment as you could throw at it, and still deliver sweet power through the whole rev range. Suzuki give it a claimed power figure at around the 135 hp marker and those who have taken it to the extreme will tell you that it can do just that – however, they’ll also tell you that the TL1000R can get a little unwieldy at speed but not as badly as the TL1000S, thanks to a revised rear shock.
The fully faired TL1000R was designed specifically for Suzuki to compete against the Ducati 916 in the WSBK Championship and you can feel its racing lineage when you take one for a ride. Unfortunately it wasn’t a great seller in its day, due to bad timing, its opinion dividing front end, and for the fact that it had a habit of throwing off inexperienced riders. While not the greatest, it’s definitely one of the more interesting Suzuki bikes ever made. And certainly one of the more unexpected V-Twin sport bikes to ever roll onto the scene.
#03. The Suzuki RG500
A list of the best Suzuki bikes wouldn’t be complete without a mention of the two-stroke legend that is the RG500. At a time when two-stroke motorcycles were on the way out, Suzuki developed what many consider to be the ultimate two-stroke machine from eighties era racing.
The RG500 Gamma was a two-stroke, twin-crank square-four beast that battled against Yamaha’s RZ500 for two-strokin’ two-smokin’ supremacy. Boasting 94 horsepower and a top speed somewhere around the 150 mph marker, Suzuki were letting two-wheeled madness loose, and they knew it. Not only was it fast, it was beautifully light and nimble weighing in at a manageable 340 lbs dry and sprung using adjustable forks up front with an innovative Anti-Dive system, paired with an advanced rear monoshock.
In terms of aesthetics, it doesn’t look like much, but underneath that plastic exterior is a ferocious monster ready to tear up the roads. Is it practical? Not at all. But while Suzuki have made some practical and versatile machines, they’ve also made some incredible racing motorcycles that buck the trend – and that’s exactly what makes the RG500 so special.
#02. The Suzuki GSX-R750
The Suzuki GSX-R750 is over thirty years old, having been in constant production since it first emerged in 1985 – a feat that few sportsbikes can boast. Originally an endurance racer themed road-legal replica, the GSX-R750 has continually proved that you can have a modern motorcycle with incredible performance specs, a light and nimble riding experience, peppered with contemporary technology, and built with high-quality parts, for a very affordable price.
Any GSX-R750 is worthy of this list, as they really are the most instantly recognized Suzuki bikes, but we’re going to focus on the most modern version. The latest generation has lasted from 2011 to the present day, making it the longest run of GSX-R750s ever made. Featuring a a powerful engine capable of 127.9 horses at 12,600 rpm, with 55.7 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheel, modern lightweight Big Piston Forks from Showa, Brembo brakes up front (Nissin at the rear) all wrapped into a lightweight and sleek body that weighs in at 428 lbs wet, it’s easy to see why the GSX-R750 is one of our favorite Suzuki bikes ever made.
Agile like a 600, but with grunt more akin a liter bike – that’s the Suzuki GSX-R750.
#01. The Suzuki Hayabusa
And while the Suzuki Hayabusa might be an opinion dividing number one choice, on account of its bulbous size and odd aesthetic, there’s no denying that it is one of the most iconic motorcycles ever made. Designed to be like its namesake, the Peregrine Falcon, the Suzuki Hayabusa is fast and will fly at ridiculously high speeds in whichever direction you point it.
When the legendary Suzuki GSX1300R Hayabusa was unleashed back in 1999, the game suddenly changed. And pretty much ended, actually. Let’s not forget that this is the motorcycle that forced the Gentlemen’s Agreement: an agreement between the top motorcycle manufacturers not to breach an agreed upon power figure ceiling of 200 horsepower for the sake of propriety (and sanity). Starting off at 176 hp at the rear wheel the Hayabusa was already set for great things.
Then Suzuki had the wisdom to equip it with aerodynamically designed bodywork, allowing it to make speeds that make mere mortals quiver in fear. And even for those who could few who can genuinely push the Hayabusa to its capped limit, with the addition of clever modifications, custom parts, and a bucket load of enthusiasm, the Hayabusa can produce outrageous performance statistics and can be modified into fantastic race machines. As one of the most customized motorcycles on the planet, it’s only fair that the Suzuki Hayabusa gets the number one slot, as it’s one of the world’s most favorite Suzuki bikes.
These are our favorite Suzuki motorbikes, but there are plenty of other Suzuki bike models that could’ve made the cut. What about the Suzuki Intruder? The small buy economical Suzuki Hayate? The world famous Suzuki Burgman Street Maxi Scooter? Or the many variations of Suzuki Gixxer? And of course, what about all the new and upcoming Suzuki bikes in the future? With such a great legacy, the future of Suzuki looks even more promising than its illustrious past.