A face only a mother could love but with a heart of gold – Suzuki B-King
Trevor Hedge spends some quality time with Suzuki’s B-King
Despite being an inanimate object Suzuki’s B-King deserves the use of well worn sayings normally only used in relation to people or animals. It truly does have a face that only a mother could love but under that somewhat brutal exterior lays a true heart of gold.
In fact the Hayabusa sourced 1340cc four-cylinder heart is more special than gold. It responds to the throttle in a way that only Suzuki know how, yet remains gentle enough under a light throttle to let your grandmother ride it to the shops.
The B-King will idle along at just over 30km/h in top gear with no grumbles. And when I mean idle, I mean hand off the bar and engine on tick-over at 1000rpm without any trailing throttle whatsoever. Put your hand back on the bar and twist that throttle and the Suzuki responds so smoothly that you would think you are on a CVT scooter. The tractability of the motor is matched by nothing else in motorcycling.
Use the gearbox and throttle with some meaningful purpose and the B-King will dispense the old school quarter mile drag-strip in ten seconds dead time and again without raising a sweat. The grunt is so prodigious and immensely satisfying that it feels as though you are transported through time by the hand of god when you twist the throttle hard in any gear.
There is no doubt whatsoever that no company on earth can make a big bore four-cylinder engine like Suzuki. Some might go close on a dyno chart but in real world riding there is no contest.
Suzuki is known for making great gearboxes and while the unit on our test bike was good it was not as smooth in operation as Suzuki is renowned for. With so much power I can only guess that the size of the gears and shafts in the latest Hayabusa engine have been strengthened to improve reliability and a little more driveline lash seems to be the result. It is by no means bad, just not as ‘knife through butter’ as earlier Suzuki boxes. A slipper clutch aids stability during rapid downshifts.
Suspension on the B-King is fully adjustable all round and the machine steers quite nicely. Its 235kg mass is never really felt on the move and the machine is more than capable of setting a very brisk pace through the corners, be that on the road or in the extremes of the racetrack. At the track plenty of body english is required to keep the undercarriage off the deck if really having a crack but it remains bearable. While the suspension and power is light years ahead of what the best sportsbikes could offer ten years ago the actual riding experience is somewhat reminiscent of an early GSX-R1100 in the way the machine needs to be muscled around at times. That’s not necessarily a bad thing as a bike that demands a little more of its rider than normal can add to the ride rather than detract from it in the eyes of some.
The brakes are also worthy of Superbike specification with massive four-piston calipers mounted in the now preferred radial design.
In the comfort stakes the B-King is fairly accommodating. Wind buffeting is less of a problem than most bikes of similar design but at certain speeds a few minor vibes can be felt through the bars. While the bike is reasonably slim between the knees the broad expanse at the front of the tank is huge. Despite that width however the tank holds only 16.5 litres which is a little disappointing.
If any modern bike deserves the old world title of “muscle-bike’ Suzuki’s B-King is it.
Specs – Suzuki B-King
- Engine – 1340cc, liquid cooled, DOHC, v-twin
- Transmission – Six speed manual, chain final drive
- Seat Height – 805mm
- Dry Weight – 235kg
- Fuel Capacity – 16.5 litres
- Average Consumption on test – 7 litres per 100km
- Range – 230km
- Warranty – Two years
- Price – Expect to pay around $19,000
Verdict – ****
- + Fantastic engine
- + Light handling belies mass
- + Pillion unfriendly
- – Small tank
- – Ugly as sin
- – No ABS option
- – Hard to fit luggage