2020 Suzuki Katana Review MC Commute

© Suzuki Motor of America   Suzuki brings back a blast from its past with the 2020 Katana, a remake of the legendary 1982 Suzuki Katana.

By Adam Waheed, Motorcyclist

A real-world review of Suzuki’s retro-themed Katana streetbike.

Four decades ago, Suzuki turned the motorcycle world on its head with the 1982 Katana streetbike. Featuring a smart and highly cutting-edge German-inspired design, this Japanese-built motorcycle developed a cultlike following. It also set the tempo for Suzuki sportbikes to this day. Now it’s looking to remake magic with the reintroduction of its 2020 Suzuki Katana ($13,499).

© Suzuki Motor of America   The 2020 Katana tastefully pays homage to Hans Muth’s original rendering, however it incorporates more three-dimensional surfaces.

This time around Suzuki tasked Italian designer Rodolfo Frascoli to redefine the lines of Hans Muth’s original rendering. The 2020 Katana wears more curved and three-dimensional surfaces yet retains the Katana’s signature nose and neatly carved fuel tank (3.2-gallon capacity) area. Full LED lighting and a pleasing swingarm-mounted hugger-style license plate bracket make for a clean overall look.

Swing a leg over the new Katana and you’ll be greeted by a friendly upright cockpit design that is neither too sport nor too relaxed. The monochrome LCD instrument panel is a tad small, but replete with information, and features the original Katana’s signature J-hook-style swept tachometer. The position of the handlebar puts the rider in a commanding, but not overly so stance. The seat junction is slim so it will be easy for most riders to stand flat-footed at a standstill. We also appreciate the plushness of the rider and passenger seats.

© Suzuki Motor of America   The 2020 Suzuki Katana is available in two colorways: Metallic Mystic Silver or Solid Black (pictured).

Considering its dated underpinnings, the Katana takes a few more miles compared to more contemporary designs to break in. Once worn in, the powertrain offers typical Suzuki responsiveness. This is defined by responsive clutch action and excellent throttle response, despite not incorporating ride-by-wire throttle setup, like its 2017–2020 Suzuki GSX-R1000/R sportbike.

Hard on the throttle and this 999cc K5-spec GSX-R1000 engine (2005–2008) delivers a pleasing GSX-R-like induction growl with plenty of vehicle-passing torque. Engine vibration is minimal and it's amazing how well this engine performs overall, despite being 15 years old—a testament to Suzuki’s original engineering effort.

Horsepower-wise the engine is good for nearly 140 ponies at the 190-series Dunlop Sportmax Roadsport 2 tire. There’s no quickshifter, so gear exchanges are made the old-fashioned way, however, the gearbox has a solid and precise feel, once broken in. The Katana comes outfitted with Suzuki’s older-style (non-IMU powered) three-way-adjustable traction control which helps prevent rear wheel instability over slick surfaces.

The KYB suspension components provide a nice balance between sporty road holding in the twisties and everyday comfort over bumpy surfaces. The Katana also feels more lithe in motion than its 474-pound curb weight implies. Triple hydraulic disc brakes keep speed in check and fixed always-on ABS ensures tire lockup during brake application a thing of the past. Our only gripe is that you can’t manually disable ABS, say if you want to lay skids or ride a nose wheelie.

© Suzuki Motor of America   Want a piece of motorcycling history, without the oil stains on the garage floor? Suzuki’s 2020 Katana will let you take a ride down memory lane…

Limited fuel capacity and its relatively dim LED headlamp compromise everyday usability on the road, however, there are few retro-style motorcycles that look as authentic as this Katana. While we appreciate its trendy-again look and polished overall character, its $13,499 MSRP is hefty considering its older underpinnings. But if you want a slice of motorcycle history, without any oil stains on the garage floor, the 2020 Katana fits the bill.

Gear Box

Helmet: Shoei RF-SR

Jacket: Roland Sands Design Clash

Gloves: Alpinestars Winter Surfer Gore-Tex

Pant: Alpinestars Copper 2 Denim

Boots: Alpinestars Oscar Monty


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Automotive Magazine: 2020 Suzuki Katana Review MC Commute
2020 Suzuki Katana Review MC Commute
Automotive Magazine
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