Suzuki RF900R Review
The one major downfall the RF900R had for many upon its release in 1994 was that most people simply did not like the way it looks. Some love it, most loathe it. But after you get past that first impression and ride thevery capable 937 cc sports-tourer – opinions can change quickly.
The RF900R was designed to fill the gap between Suzuki’s all out fang machine, the GSXR-750 and the long in the tooth GSX-R1100. It fulfilled this role quite well and was a far superior package to the GSXR-11.
On its release the Japanese company had got a bit carried away with itself, advertising that the RF900R styling was modelled off a stingray the designer had seen at an ocean aquarium…
The engine was proper strong for it’s day and as a powerplant it had few peers until the ZX-9R came along. The in-line four-cylinder engine was designed by Hiroshi Lio who also had a lot of input on the GSX-R series of engines.
He and his team decided that the fitment of small (for a 900+) 36 mm carbs would help preserve low and mid-range torque while not sacrificing too much top end. The 28 mm intake valves and 24 mm exhaust valves are also fairly small for the size of the engine, also for the same reason.
The final drive is quite high for a bike with a sporty nature, 43/15 is the combination of sprockets. I would be tempted to add a couple of teeth to the rear for some more zap as 5th gear is a tad long. The acceleration that the engine provides is great, easily the equal of many other bigger engined sportsbikes designed in 1994.
The riding position while not an armchair ride, is appreciably more comfortable than the GSXR-750.
The bike does have a few vibes coming through the grips around the 110 mark but these disappear when you pass 130.
The chassis is a good balance between comfort and fang modes. On standard settings I would say that its handling on your average back road is a match for just about anything else from its era. The frame itself is painted steel which is fairly rare these days, but does look a little classy and is a change from the polished alloy that we normally see.
While not up to 2022 standards, the brakes are good for the era and perform their role adequately.
The opposition was bested in most areas when the RF900R was first released in 1994, but they moved on while the RF stood still. That led to the model being dropped from the Suzuki line-up in 1999.
Fuel range from the 21 litre tank (16 main, 5 reserve) can be stretched to around 300 kilometres when exercising restraint or can be drained in around 220 kilometres if you let yourself get carried away.
The dash lay-out is simple and uncluttered, although how Suzuki’s comparatively low-spec GSX750F can get a fuel gauge, while the RF can’t, I will never know. The horn is pitiful.
Suspension had little adjustment to offer up the front, pr-eload is the only offering up the pointy end, while out back you have seven-way pre-load, step less compression damping adjustment and four-way adjustable rebound damping. I didn’t really find that much appreciable difference could be felt between the settings, unlike more modern bikes with higher spec’ suspension.
The suspension does acquit itself admirably when a few bumps are thrown in to the equation though, the RF9 shrugs them off and its great stability instils confidence in the rider.
The RF does not have the technological brilliance of the VFR800, but would well and truly shame the VFR when the time comes to press on a bit quicker than socially responsible. Finish is not one of the main strengths of the RF900R, but this can be forgiven a little when you consider the low entry price. This is a formidable back roads blaster that will not get left behind by much else on the road that was made in its era.
Suzuki RF900R Specifications
|Engine Type:||Liquid-cooled 4-stroke 16-valve 4-cylinder DOHC TSCC|
|Bore x Stroke:||73 x 56mm|
|Compression Ratio:||11.3 : 1|
|Carburetor(s):||Mikuni BDST36 x 4|
|Maximum Power:||135 horsepower|
|Final Drive:||‘O’-ring sealed chain|
|Dimensions (mm):||2,130 x 730 x 1,165mm|
|Wheel Base (mm):||1,440mm|
|Seat Height (mm):||805mm|
|Fuel Capacity (litres):||21 litres|
16 main / 5 reserve
|Front Tyre:||120/70 ZR17|
|Rear Tyre:||170/60 ZR17|
|Front Suspension:||Telescopic, spring preload adjustable, 43mm stanchions|
|Rear Suspension:||Link type, spring preload 7-way adjustable, rebound damping 4-way adjustable|
Dual 310mm full-floating discs with 4-piston Nissin calipers
|Rear Brakes:||240mm disc, 2-piston Tokico Caliper|
|Dry Weight (kg):||203kg|
|RRP:||$13,990 + ORC|