Where does one even begin…? To articulate into mere mortal words, what it is like to have under you, a modern reimagined legend of the old days past. The strikingly edgy Suzuki Katana. An unapologetic legend in its own right.
I was privileged enough to have the Suzuki Katana in my care for a week. Sufficient time to experience true riding bliss and pleasure, and yet too much time for any rider not to fall head over heels in love with this sports naked phenomenon. From the onset, it was an ideal bike to have used throughout the 7th Annual Africa Ubuntu 2023 Run.
One thing I certainly observed from the Run, was the constant turning of heads in my direction as we eased on into the Biker’s Warehouse parking lot. I knew beforehand that the Katana carried more than just its 1000cc 110kW engine and a plethora of exceptional modern features, it housed something more, something grander, a history to it that I was hellbent to uncover.
A name functions not only to identify, but to go as far as to signify character and individuality. Suzuki assigning the “Katana” name was no mistake. The Katana is a Japanese sword that is characterized by a single-edge curved blade with a long grip, ideal for a firmer double-handed hold.
The Japanese warrior class evolved from just having swords as class symbols, and with the birth of the Katana, the sword doubled up as a weapon too. How fitting…how we, as modern-day riders have evolved to be graciously equipped with mighty weapons of finely engineered motorbike masterpieces. The Katana is no exception, rather, it is the benchmark.
I was fortunate enough to bear witness to the sheer nostalgic effect the Katana had on a particular passing gentleman. Whilst waiting out the rain, out the corner of my eye, I watched as a 68-year-old man’s eyes lit up like a child being handed over their favourite lollipop as he came within close proximity of the sleek matte midnight blue Katana. Having owned the initial Katana himself, it’s as if every glance across its sharp Japanese aesthetic design, struck forth memory after memory of each ride taken. This was the most memorable, unscripted and candid rider-to-rider moment I have ever experienced. A moment reminiscent of a grandfather revealing the endless tales of past escapades.
I heard straight from the horse’s mouth, what a true soul catcher the 1981 Katana was. And now, in a design that pays homage to the GSX1100S Katana and featuring one of the most praised engines from Suzuki, the K5 GSX-R 1000cc motor, Suzuki has introduced their latest iteration of the well-acclaimed Katana.
The new Katana is fitted with a neat digital dash with figures pertaining to gear selection, trip meter, fuel indicator and consumption as well as range. It has 3 levels of traction control, allowing you to adjust the throttle response to your riding palette. Additionally, the ECU works seamlessly with Suzuki’s Low RPM Assist and Easy Start features.
Whether it was in town or on highway trips, riding comfort scored high in my books. When it comes to its conservative 12L fuel tank, “legend” has it that one should be able to get a 230+km range out. Fortunately or unfortunately, I am one-of-a-kind. I mean, put yourself in my leather boots for a second. Under you, the iconic Katana with the esteemed inline-four engine that dominated the 05-08 GSX-R1000 era, producing 150hp released smoothly through Suzuki’s advanced throttle control system. Add on the comfortable and optimised riding position, and it becomes the making of a fast and fun riding pleasure experience.
Agility and manoeuvrability are meals all served with absolute splendour at no further expense thanks to a compact lightweight chassis. Whether it be a quick short or windier ride, the Suzuki Katana is equipped with a convenient Clutch Assist System (SCAS) which essentially acts as a slipper clutch on the downshifts.
The 2023 Suzuki Katana not only stays true and consistent to the original bike, with top-quality perfectionist-like Japanese design and refined craftsmanship but has also been able to successfully usher in a new era of exciting modern-day technology, incorporated ever so innovatively and conveniently into their bikes. All mentioned elements come together harmoniously to serve the masses with absolute pleasure riding experiences through and through.
As the “bonfire’’ dissipates and the last tale slips through the aged lips of my long lost rider grandfather, he summed it all into one simple phrase, “I have lived a good and exciting life”. At this point, time had stood still, I even forgot about the rain. At this moment right here, I knew to be fully present and take it all in. As we bid farewell in a cheerful embrace, he walked away with that exact same twinkle in his lived eyes, I knew then, what riding truly does for the spirit as one ages. The Suzuki Katana was undoubtedly a catalyst for such fulfilment.
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