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Suzuki GSX 1400 K2
My first impressions of a great motorcycle

I finally got my bike! Here's some pictures I took during the first 24 hours I owned the motorcycle. And here's the story - My first thoughts of my brand new bike and why I choose to buy it,

I got tired of my old GSX750. It was a really fun bike to ride – when everything was working like it should. The fact that it was leaking oil didn’t bother me too much – or the fact that almost every day I had to fix some small details on it, like the flasher unit, or floating carburetor, or… But when the engine started to protest with a loud knocking sound from the top, I got fed up. The exhaust cam and the lifters were worn out and should be replaced. I had already spent some money on this old bike and I decided not to buy new replacement parts – you never know what part’s going to give up next? The alternator? I didn’t want to stay inside and repair my motorcycle when I should be on the road and enjoying biking. I started to look for a newer bike.

It didn’t take a long time for me to realize that it wasn’t as easy task as I thought. I wanted a cool, naked bike that was easy to handle but still had lots of horsepower. And I didn’t seem to find anything I liked to look at. Harleys and all the custom replicas didn’t move me. I loved the sound of the Harley Davidson, but I didn’t really want that kind of a bike. Besides, the money I was willing to spend would give me an old Harley and according to what I’ve heard, the odds were that I would end up repairing the Harley at least as often as my GSX750. The Japanese Harley wanna-be’s didn’t make my heart sing at all.

I was quite sure I wanted a Japanese bike, something like my old Suzuki, yet better. I hadn’t been following the market for years and I didn’t really know what kind of bikes there was to offer. I went through every bike magazine I could get my hands on, I wanted a new bike right away! The summer in Sweden isn’t that long and it was already august. I wasn’t quite sure what I was looking for, but I certainly didn’t find it. The new Honda VTX looked awesome in the pictures but buying a brand new bike wasn’t anything for me. That’s what I thought.

Quite soon I noticed that only a few years old bike’s are not that much cheaper that what and factory new bike are. And there are bikes that aren’t as expensive than Harleys or the new VTX1800. I started to look for a brand new bike instead. But the bikes the general agents were taking in to Sweden in 2001 didn’t move me either. I simply didn’t fall in love in any of the bikes I saw on the brochures. Yes, I found out that Suzuki makes almost exactly the same kind of GSX750 as my –81. The engine was black and they’ve modernized some details but the overall looks was still the same. Should I buy a new bike, almost exactly like the old one? It was quite expensive… My heart didn’t scream: “Buy it! Buy it!” That’s why I decided not to.

What should I do? As I was looking for a new bike, I was trying to find parts for my GSX750 for a reasonable price. No luck. So I hadn't got a bike to ride with. But then I found it: Suzuki GSX1400 – it was beautiful, powerful and easy to handle. It had everything I wanted. And surprisingly enough, it was not unreasonable expensive either! I wanted that bike!

I sent e-mails to all the dealers I knew sold Suzuki and I found out that not that many dealers in Sweden had a GSX1400. Many of them didn’t even bother to answer and one dealer answered (much later) that they “didn’t have a GSX1100R (1400?) at the moment, but they should get a –95 next week”. I didn’t bother to thank him for the answer… One dealer had a dark blue GSX1400 but that bike I wanted had to be blue and white, I didn’t like the other colors at all.

But then I got lucky, a dealer in Jönköping, about 250 km from where I live, had a blue and white GSX1400 incoming. In fact, they should have received the bike from the general agent a day before. Should arrive any day now, maybe even the same day. And the salesman was a reasonable fellow, too. After a little persuading he agreed to give me a nice price. 7 000 Swedish crowns off the asked price (95 000 SEK), 88 000 crowns (about 8 800 American dollars) sounded like a fine price to me. It was a deal. My heart was singing… And my bank was willing to finance the music.

But the general agent in Sweden couldn’t deliver the bike that soon. I found out that only 25 bikes were to be delivered to Sweden this year and the promised bikes were all delayed. I don’t know if the Suzuki Corporation in Japan had problems with their deliveries or what really happened, but I had to wait about three weeks before I got my Suzuki GSX1400 K2. Two times I thought my bike had arrived from Japan to Sweden but a few days later I was told that it hadn’t.

Damn. I hadn’t even seen the bike in real life. And the winter was coming. I joined a Suzuki GSX1400 owners club (two of them, as a matter a fact) and gathered all the information of the bike while I was waiting. I started this web site. I found an insurance company with affordable pricing (Ansab). Contacting several companies was really worth a while – the rates varied between 18 000 SEK and 3844 SEK/year! Do I need to say chose the cheapest insurance company…

On Monday, September 17th, the same day Suzuki GSX1400 K2 was officially revealed to the European market in Milano, I got a phone call from the dealer in Jönköping. A young woman said to me: “Hi Jarmo. I’m going to make you happy now...” What?! “Your bike has finally arrived. You can fetch it today if you want!” the girl resumed. Now I knew what she was talking about…
A couple of hours later I was on my way to Jönköping, in my brother’s diesel Mercedes. And later on that afternoon I finally met my love for the first time (the bike I mean, the girl that called me by the phone was nice too, but the Suzuki was what I had been waiting for).

My first reaction? – I have to admit I was almost disappointed. The bike was exactly as beautiful as in the pictures. Nothing more, nothing less. You have to remember, at that point I had been yearning for the bike for a long time and what I expected was some kind of a religious experience or something like that. “Yes, it’s as beautiful as in the pictures” I replied and started to make business with the dealer. I just wanted to gather the extra accessories I had decided to buy at the same time and get on the road. I bought a colour-matching IXS tank bag and a black Schuberth Concept helmet and a couple of other things (I got a nice discount) and finally, after an hour or so, I was ready to ride my new bike for the very first time.

Now, I had to admit another thing. I didn’t ride my own bike out of the shop. My friend, Esa, did it for me. I started to put on my riding outfit when my friend asked me: “Shall I drive the bike out for you?” “Yeah, you do that”, I replied. The bike had 0 km on the meter while inside the shop. Now there was 2 km on the meter when I got out to my new bike. “I took it for a little ride when you were changing your clothes”, my friend said. “It seems like a marvelous bike.” It’s not the end of the world, but it should have been me who took the virginity of my new bike. Maybe it’s the last opportunity (it should have been the first) for me to ride a brand new bike with zero kilometers on the meter. Now that opportunity was gone.

“What the hell, I can ride it all the way home”, I thought with a camera in my hand. I planned to take a couple of pictures of my bike at the front of the dealer’s.
My friend had parked the Suzuki just a meter or two behind my brother’s old Mercedes. I didn’t want the car be in that photo. I jumped on the bike and decided to ride it just a couple of meters forward so I could take a better picture. My very first test ride of the bike was about five meters long.

And I felt it right away – I’m going to enjoy riding whit this bike! With no effort what so ever I could easily hold the balance of this enormous motorcycle. My GSX750 felt much heavier and clumsier than the GSX1400. In fact, my first motorcycle, the Jawa 250, felt much clumsier that the world’s largest straight-four motorcycle. And when I released the clutch the bike just smoothly advanced forward. No dramatics, no excitement. The bike just did what I told it to do. So civilized.

Immediately I realized it wasn’t anything like my old GSX750 that needed a touch (a fast grip) of a firm hand (both hands) to manage the engine’s sheer power and keep the wobbly thing on the road. The GSX1400 seemed to be a sophisticated bike. The engine was humming nicely - singing in a soft manner - my GSX750 would have been playing hard rock’n’roll and screaming: “Watch out! I’m not sure what is going to happen when you release the clutch. You can survive the ride if you’re tough enough!” The GSX1400 was nothing like that. The bike was telling me: “I’ll be nice”. But the overall appearance of it revealed: “…but I can be bad if you say so. I take you wherever you want me to – as fast as you tell me to”.

Suzuki GSX1400

Finally I could see my already beloved bike in real life. My new bike is ready to take me anywhere. Photo: Jarmo Haapamäki (there's more pictures on another page, see the link at the end of the review)

The girl who wanted to make me happy :-) came out from the store and took a picture of my bike and me. She told me that they use to take a picture of every new bike they sell. I posed for her. Smiling.

Finally I took off. The bike was so easy to handle. I knew it would take some time before the engine would deliver all of it’s 106 horsepower but there was already lots of muscle. Still, it was obvious that I was in charge, not the bike. I started my way back home, the bike was willing to go faster but I wanted to take it easy before I knew how it behaved in my command.

Everything seemed OK and I increased the speed to see what happened. Nothing extraordinary at all. The bike had no manners you had to get used to. Unless to uncommon feeling that it was me, not the bike that was setting the limits. I remembered the warning of one guy on the GSX1400 mailing list who said that the model wasn’t anything for beginners. It is heavy, very powerful beast (or something like that) that should be treated with respect. What is my old GSX750 if GSX1400 is a beast? The chances of anybody getting in trouble with this gentleman (or lady?) is far more unlikely than hurting - or killing - himself on the road with my ancient GSX750.

Obviously I’m not the right person to compare Suzuki GSX1400 with other modern bikes. The bikes I’ve tested or owned have all been either designed for decades ago or otherwise differed far too much from this retro-style but techically modern muscle bike. But I don’t need to try other bikes to be able to tell everybody that Suzuki GSX1400 is really easy to ride. If you know how to ride a bike, you don’t need any instructions before riding GSX1400. Everything is where it should be. You just jump on the saddle and tell the bike where you want to go. That’s what I did anyway - and I haven't owned a motorcycle that long.

Homewards! After a quick stop at a gas station I steered my bike to the highway again. I even found the electric trip meters (there’s two of them, I was glad to find out) without any doubt. Nice.

I had about 250 kilometers to ride home, it looked like it was going to rain and I didn’t want to get wet. The mechanics at the bike shop told me that I could ride “just normally” and didn’t see any need in running the engine the first 500 miles below 4500 rpm. Strange.

It had been raining for several days earlier but I didn’t get wet that day. Nevertheless the wind was blowing quite hard on the freeway. The conditions of testing a new bike weren’t the best possible. The airstreams were quite disturbing. Riding the bike at 4000 rpm (about 140 km/h) seemed almost effortless. Some guy claimed that GSX1400 has a sheltered spot at your head. That seemed to be true. I don’t know if the newly purchased helmet made the difference or was it the bike. Nevertheless increasing the speed didn’t result in any sour neck muscles. At first anyway. The legs and the whole under body were well sheltered by the tank and the broad engine. But the airstreams were beating my both shoulders. That was a new sensation to me. The whole me was getting beaten up when I was riding fast with my GSX750. That may be the reason why I never noticed any forces beating my shoulders.

Almost 200 kilometers on a straight freeway wasn’t a very challenging method of trying out a bike, nevertheless the hard wind. After an hour or so the engine seemed to be more responding to the slight movements of the gas handle. I decided it was time to push the engine a bit more. It was so damn boring to ride the bike only 140 km/h on a wide freeway. For a brief moment I tested what the bike can deliver. You may call me crazy and accuse me for abusing my new bike, but I wanted to feel the power, even for a short while. I gave the bike a command and off we went! The beating on the shoulders turned to a storm and I felt like my neck was twice as thick than just a moment ago. I felt myself like a bodybuilder trying to make a new world record. After a few seconds the needle pointed at 210 km/h (max speed on the meter is 260/h) when I gave it up. “Damn, should I really have bought a naked bike?”, I wondered. It was really hard to ride the bike at that speed. The airstreams wanted to break me in half. “Maybe it’s just the nasty weather.”

Riding the rest of the freeway part of my journey at a “cruising speed” of 120-150 kilometers per hour were much more relaxing but still quite boring. “This is not as fun as driving my old GSX750” I thought. “Certainly not as thrilling.”
In Norrköping I could finally turn of the freeway to a smaller and definitively more amusing road. Yes! At least there was something happening! I enjoyed riding the bike through the curves without feeling any anxiety. What seemed a bit risky with my old Suzuki was a piece of cake with the GSX1400. I didn’t have to push the engine at all, didn’t have to gear down or anything although the road and the curves were getting narrower. It was simply FUN!

It was getting dark now but that didn’t bother me at all. On the contrary, I found out that the headlight did an excellent job. I didn’t like riding a bike at dark, I use glasses and my eyes get easily strained when meeting other vehicles with their headlights on. I was happy to find out that the other vehicles' headlights didn’t bother me at all. My own lights were so bright that I hardly noticed the lights of the cars I met. Damn, I wish the lights in my car were as good as Suzuki’s!

Despite of the “cruising speed” the bike needed to be refueled before I got home. After riding just 210 kilometers the bike seemed almost to be out fuel. Later I was told that almost 10 liters of gasoline per 100 kilometers with a brand new engine is quite normal. The next gas stop (the day after) showed a lot more pleasing mpg. 7,5 liters per 100 km sounded a lot better. I wonder how long I can drive with a full tank when the engine gives it’s best?

My neighbor back at home was waiting for me to arrive. He has been riding bikes like Yamaha RD and Ducati, modern (well, sort of anyway) bikes. He didn’t want to test the new bike that late at night, but he drove it once around the house. His reaction was similar to mine first reaction when I moved the bike just a few meters to get a nicer picture of it. “It certainly doesn’t feel like a 1400 cc bike”, he reported. “It feels more like a 500 cc, it’s so easy to handle!” I knew it was easy to handle but the only bike I can compare it with is my old Suzuki. “It’s ten times as expensive as my old motorcycle, but it is also ten times better - at least” I replied.

I was pleased with my choice of a motorcycle. After all, I didn’t know that much of the model before I decided that I'd buy it. I had red a couple of reviews and looked at the pictures I could find on the Internet. Somehow I knew that any modern bike would beat up my old bike in handling. But I still wasn’t sure if I’d love riding it. There’s no way to tell it before you try it. Dozens of people may tell you that it’s the best bike they’ve ever had - it is not sure that you agree them. Numerous people wouldn’t trade their Mercedes for any other car but there’s still thousands of people who don’t like the Mercedes at all.

Now I’ve had my bike for a couple of days and I love it more and more. There are no problems with turbulence when there’s no hard wind. The bike has only a few hundred kilometers on the meter so I haven’t been able to push it to it's limit, but the low revs are more than enough to get me smiling on the curvy small roads, thanks to the enormous torque even at low revs.

The only thing I’m not pleased with is the exhaust pipes. The bike is simply too quiet. I thought my old bike was far too loud when pushing it . It gave me a headache! But this bike is almost ridiculously quiet. I’m pretty sure I’m going to something about it after a while. We’ll see. Perhaps I learn to enjoy the silence...

However, I’m quite happy with everything else with it. One of the rear mirrors needs to be moved a bit and I just found out that the drive chain has way too much slack but that’s only small adjustments. The time will tell if the overall quality of the bike is as excellent as it appears to be. The bike gives the impression that the Suzuki engineers know what they’re doing. The GSX1400 K2 is, in my opinion, a superb and beautiful bike. I have no plans what so ever to sell it. Ever.

Never say never, a certain Mr. Bond said. I’m planning to save the brochures and everything about this bike for the next generations or something. I reckon the GSX1400 K2 will always be considered as a work of art. Beautiful things will always be beautiful things, even after decades and decades.

Jarmo Haapamäki
September 20, 2001
A proud owner of a Suzuki GSX1400 K2, day three

The initial

More: Suzuki GSX1400

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