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Basem Wasef

Is Suzukiís Silver Lining Two-Wheeled?

By November 7, 2012

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2012 Suzuki GSXR1000 Review

Suzuki recently announced they're quitting the U.S. car and SUV market.

The flipside?

The Japanese manufacturer has also stipulated that they're "realigning [business] to focus on the long-term growth of its Motorcycles/ATV and Marine divisions," and that they'll "continue to have a strong presence as a sponsor of teams in supercross, outdoor motocross and road racing."

But there's a kicker: Suzuki says that "The most important thing for you to know is that we intend to continue to operate our Motorcycles/ATV and Marine businesses as usual."

Like Honda, Suzuki entered the American market by selling motorcycles first, though the global recession eventually put a serious dent in two-wheeled sales of all sorts, resulting in slower product refreshes and the discontinuation of certain models.

My two cents? The "business as usual" phrase is disconcerting at best, and a glaring red flag at worst. Remaining status quo might mean survival, but taking risks through forward-thinking action might be the only way to ensure that Suzuki motorcycles don't go the way of Suzuki cars.

My hope is that Suzuki borrows from the playbooks of its more successful competitors by building two-wheeled offerings which give riders and would-be riders a pulse-quickening reason spend their hard-earned money on the brand. Sure, both varieties of V-Strom are solid dual-purpose tools and effective commuter machines, but how about introducing more potent powerplants like the three-cylinder mills in Triumph's Tiger models? Suzuki could also look at Honda's sweet new NC700X and see how their competitor has breathed new life into the genre through novel features and surprising affordability.

Suzuki builds do-no-wrong GSX-R superbikes in middleweight, three-quarter, and literbike sizes, but why not inject some Ducati-like technology and styling into their track toys? After all, Luddites don't (usually) buy superbikes, at least unless switch traction control and ABS can be disabled. And though the TU250X makes a compelling case for itself with its retro naked bike cues, Suzuki could take a lesson from Kawasaki in the starter bike realm; Team Green's Ninja 300 combines a fun-to-ride sportbike experience with efficiency, performance, and available ABS.

Conducting "Business as usual" may or may not keep a manufacturer open for two-wheeled business, but building bikes that stoke desire should give Suzuki a fighting chance for survival in this cutthroat climate.

Related:

Photo © Andrea Wilson

Comments
November 7, 2012 at 10:41 am
(1) Scorch says:

Yeah buddy, I think you’re right. Suzuki should focus on some new segments, such as a match for the FJ1300, and a shaft drive standard version of the SV650. Hopefully they will be conservative with the styling (no more B-King nuttiness) and give the bikes nice names, along the lines of Katana or Bandit, and not tongue twisters like Kizashi.

November 7, 2012 at 11:03 am
(2) AD says:

They really need to update the body work on the GSX-R line as well as put in some tech improvements…..All the other mfgrs. have done this, and if Suzuki doesn’t, they’re only going to fall further behind.

November 7, 2012 at 11:41 am
(3) Scottie says:

They should get out of the cruiser market too.

November 7, 2012 at 12:11 pm
(4) Joe says:

Basem, how come no mention how Suzuki could make their cruiser line better?

November 7, 2012 at 12:20 pm
(5) Rider says:

Well, I just don`t know about Suziki. They are good bikes, but there needs to be a change or out the door they go. They have NO touring bikes ( Goldwing, Yamaha Royal Star Venture, The Harley-Davidson, Victory, Can-Am, etc. If you sell only sport bikes and only the young people buy these things. They get older and buy other bikes. Think about it.

November 7, 2012 at 4:16 pm
(6) Basem Wasef, Motorcycles Guide says:

Joe,

I was recently invited to ride a new Boulevard cruiser. Without having tested it (yet), it would be unfair to criticize Suzuki’s business approach in that realm.

However, if I had my druthers based on the current lineup, I’d incorporate reasonably priced custom-style bikes (a la Honda’s Fury and Star’s SCL.) Suzuki’s cruisers work and ride well enough, but their styling isn’t as distinctive as it could be. Don’t forget that one of Harley’s best selling models is the Sportster– a stylish but back-to-basics cruiser that helps move plenty of factory custom accessories, both out-of-the-box, and a la carte.

Basem

November 7, 2012 at 4:21 pm
(7) ryde4ever says:

How about revamping the Dual Sports. The DR650 is a great bike but could do with fuel injection, lighter weight, better seat and suspension.
The DS and ADV market is growing. The V-strom upgrade was a good move, but how about an updated DR350 and DR650.

November 7, 2012 at 4:54 pm
(8) Pete says:

The MC business is still on very shaky ground, especially for a company that doesnít have successful cars to keep the doors open.
Itís usually the other way aroundÖthe cars go well and the MC side pours $$ down the drain. That said –
Let’s see where this goes over the next couple years without the anchor of a car division haemorrhaging money.
I still think in a couple years weíll see Audi begging someone to buy Ducati.

November 7, 2012 at 8:10 pm
(9) Marvin McConoughey says:

It is time for a motorcycle maker–Suzuki, perhaps?–to embrace the bold new world of direct cylinder fuel injection, fully variable valve control, and turbocharging. Car companies are lowering the cost of these technologies and competition is improving their reliability and sophistication.

November 7, 2012 at 10:48 pm
(10) Joe says:

Thanks for the input Basem. The cruiser market in the US is big, Suzuki will have to freshen up it’s cruiser line to keep competitive in the US market.

November 8, 2012 at 11:59 am
(11) Ed says:

Would love to see a Goldwing competior,give then something to strive for in the touring class

November 8, 2012 at 12:39 pm
(12) alex ugur says:

As a self employed person, who’s been out of work for a couple of years now, I needed to sell my van and get something cheaper. Criteria were: , fuel economy, reliability, cheap to maintain, long distance capabilities, comfort and, of course a fun and engaging ride. My choice: a 2007 v strom 650.

The only other bike that came anywhere near my requirements was the brand new Honda NC 700 X, however I couldn’t afford a new bike.

I returned to biking after a 25 year gap, driving vans. One of the main reasons I didn’t return to biking earlier was the dominance of power with scant regard to fuel economy and practicality. People like myself, with little to no money available for such things are now a burgeoning market. Practicality and usability first, with loads of fun, excitement and adventure thrown in, is what will clinch the deal for many more people in the future.

November 8, 2012 at 6:30 pm
(13) scottie says:

Just compare their C50 to a Yamaha/Star 950. The Star has two things that cruiser people like (and some downright require) – air cooling and and belt drive.

(disclosure: I’m biased toward Yamaha since I own a Yamaha Stratoliner)

November 9, 2012 at 7:40 pm
(14) Pete says:

I’ve been riding for a long time and there are lots of long gone traditions I still like and miss…probably always will.
Air cooling is not one of them. I don’t get the appeal For that matter I didn’t like air cooling when there was no chice. Hot motors, that wear out faster…wider tolerances to account for all the expansion…so they’re quite often noisy. Harder to tune properly becasue of wide temperature ranges.
Sorry…coolant all the way.

November 9, 2012 at 9:20 pm
(15) Joe says:

I’m with Scottie on this one. air cooling ok with me, got over 81,000 miles on my air cooled bike with no problems, same belt on the rear drive too. With FI I don’t think there is a tuning issue. As far as hotter, if it’s 85+ outside and humid, I don’t care if you are on a air cooled or water cooled bike, hot is hot.

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