REVIEW | The 2020 Suzuki Katana is a double-edged sword

Gugu Masuku experiences a two-wheeled legend reborn

23 October 2019 - 14:36 By Gugu Masuku
The re-imagined Suzuki Katana.
The re-imagined Suzuki Katana.
Image: Supplied

The original Suzuki Katana rose to fame long before my time. Entering the world of motorcycling over three decades ago, it unsettled the community – etching a lasting memory in everyone who cared to know anything about motorcycles.

And even those who did not. Before now, I had only heard the tales of the prominent model from seasoned elders. I gathered it was a seriously quick machine and a desirable addition to the garage. When Suzuki released the second iteration this year, based on the Suzuki GSX-S1000, I thought was my duty as a motoring journalist to investigate the merits of the Katana legend for myself.

I must admit that despite my research, I went in ill-prepared for the practical experience of what the Katana legend stands for.

With a muscular body and notable definition, the Katana looks like a seasoned weightlifter: a perfect blend of mass and athletic form. This modern version comes fitted with an LED headlamp and a simple but functional LCD display screen with all the essential information. 

The Katana's LCD display gives a nod to the 1980s.
The Katana's LCD display gives a nod to the 1980s.
Image: Supplied

Still images do not do it any justice; it must be witnessed live to be fully appreciated. The pointy front end, however, did not quite appeal to my tastes. It is a cue that pays homage to the original.

Beneath it all lurks a 999cc, four-cylinder engine that is as potent (if not more) than the striking appearance denotes, with power quoted at 110kW and 108Nm. Having ridden a fair amount of motorcycles from the different genres, I expected something lively - but not to the extent that was delivered here. It took a full day of exploring, then a bit more, to get accustomed to what I was dealing with: a street demon.

The Katana is intoxicatingly quick and if someone was monitoring my heart rate during those initial days, they would have had every right to be concerned.

Thank goodness for modern technology, such as traction control. I can only imagine what the brave hearts of the 1980s and '90s era had to endure with the first-generation beast. For the few who still prefer to live on the edge, the Katana's electronics can be disabled, with three levels of intervention - the third being the most honest.

The LED headlamp ensures good visibility during night rides.
The LED headlamp ensures good visibility during night rides.
Image: Supplied

My underestimation of the Katana’s performance was a blessing in disguise because every ride was a thrill. Each occasion that I came off the saddle, it was like stepping off a rollercoaster. I really had to pause and allow my adrenaline levels to return to default.

Despite its pumped-up outward appearance, the Katana is light and impressively agile for what it is. Add to that a throaty soundtrack and you begin to see why this was such an exhilarating experience.

Despite its wild side, the Katana is a motorcycle I can easily see myself living with and utilising as a daily companion. The upright riding position makes it agreeable to the daily commute, but it’s also the kind of machine you can go barbaric on when your inner villain awakens.

Pricing: From R187,500


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