Suzuki ‘04 — New, revamped and shared

Suzuki’s dealer meeting, held Sept. 12-14 at Bally’s in Las Vegas, was sandwiched between the Honda meeting and the Kawasaki event. “Celebrating 40 Years of Success,” American Suzuki Motor Corp. (ASMC) padded its line-up with two all-new mid-sized street bikes, a shared cruiser, and a bevy of updated machines.
First through Bally’s convention room stage curtain was the V-Strom 650 (MSRP $6,599), a mid-sized “sport enduro tourer” and replica of the versatile V-Strom 1000, which also received tweaks for the coming year. Powered by the DOHC, 90-degree 650cc V-twin derived from the SV650, the DL650 features a seat height of 32.5 inches, a 5.8-gallon fuel tank and unique wind protection provided by a windscreen that moves a total of 50mm and can be angled differently as its height is altered.
The V-Strom 1000 ($8,999) gets a couple of updated creature comforts, including a windscreen similar to that on the 650 and an easier-to-read gauge package.
The second newcomer to the Suzuki line-up came in the form of an entry-level sport bike, the GS500F ($4,999). Based on Suzuki’s long-time GS500E, the faired “F” offers improved wind protection and a pair of vertically stacked headlights that resemble those on the GSX-R series. The “venerable yet reliable” air-cooled four-stroke 487cc parallel-twin engine sits in a black-painted box section frame with single shock rear suspension and single disc brakes front and rear.
Meant to be a surprise to Suzuki dealers but revealed through a Kawasaki release a week prior to the meeting, the Marauder 1600 ($10,999) becomes ASMC’s seventh cruiser but began life as a 1500 Mean Streak — a bike Kawasaki retooled to a 1600 for ’04.
Underneath the Suzuki-style air cover and badging lays a rubber-mounted, liquid-cooled SOHC four-stroke, four-valve-per-cylinder V-twin with digital fuel injection suspended in a double-cradle steel frame. Ride on the shaft drive bike is softened by a 41mm male-slider cartridge fork up front and a pair of air shocks in the rear, while footprint is provided by radial tires wrapped around 17-inch polished cast aluminum wheels. Oh, and Suzuki bobbed the rear fender.
Dealers cheered when ASMC Vice President of Motorcycle Mel Harris reported there would be no minimum orders on the big Marauder, and cheered even louder when told the two previously mentioned bikes will not be shared by Kawasaki.
Arguably one of the most sought after lines of motorcycle available today, Suzuki’s GSX-R series brings the traditional three bikes together again for 2004, but with radical new changes to the 600 ($7,999) and 750 ($9,499) — updates ASMC said were intended to make the bikes lighter and more efficient. Not only were both engines given high-tech features from the factory race department, but other improvements were made to such things as aerodynamics, braking, layout and weight.
Anchoring the 600 is an all-new black-painted twin-spar aluminum-alloy frame, subframe and swingarm. The new frame is 15mm narrower at its widest point and 5mm narrower at the swingarm pivot, which makes for a narrower overall package. To compensate, Suzuki designed a more compact fuel tank and repositioned footpegs for increased banking angle. This resulted in a reduced seat-to-handlebar measurement and a seat height lowered by 5mm.
Suspension is handled by fully adjustable 43mm inverted Showa cartridge forks up front and a large diameter Showa shock in the rear, and ASMC says brakes were upgraded to four-pot Tokico calipers mated to a Tokico radial pump master cylinder for improved lever feel and performance. Two 300mm floating discs stop the package up front while a 220mm disc with a dual-opposed-piston caliper mounted directly to the swingarm binds the rear wheel.
Final styling touches were given to the aerodynamic package, which places the ram air intakes closer to center line, lighting — stacked headlights in the front and LED rear lighting with smaller turn signals — and the instrument cluster.
The 2004 GSX-R750, first introduced in 1985, retains its basic layout from previous versions but benefits from the same series of refinements the 600 received to reduce weight and mechanical losses, increase engine output and improve power delivery while reducing exhaust emissions.

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