2008 Suzuki B-King Review/Test –

3 Jan 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on 2008 Suzuki B-King Review/Test –
Suzuki B King Concept

2008 Suzuki B-King Review/Test

The bike’s not a laughing stock. Far from it.

Although the B-King’s seat’s not particularly high, the bike looked as huge from the vantage point of the saddle as it had when I first walked up to it. Shifting it off the sidestand, it felt heavy too. “Here we go,” I thought “this thing’s going to be a pile.”

The first stop, just a few minutes from Suzuki’s bat-cave, was the Area P dyno room where I’d be meeting up with the MO crew. Even on the short ride, I was already suffering from a little cognitive dissonance because the riding experience was better than I’d expected. But once I met up with Kevin, Pete and Fonzie at Area P, we regaled ourselves at the expense of the B-King’s over-the-top styling.

We decided that we’d go for lunch at Burger King, since this bike was such a whopper. Ha, ha. We kill us.

We actually did go to Burger King, and got one of those stupid cardboard crowns they give out with the kid’s menu, and we taped it to my helmet and took some pictures of me riding that way. We laughed some more, imagining the “I’m so hurt you’d mock our bike” calls we’d be getting from Suzuki’s press relations department.

There’s just one catch. The bike’s not a laughing stock. Far from it. Oh, it’s got lots of power, which we all expected. But it’s also got great brakes and frankly amazing handling.

It’s comfortable, with the best wind protection I’ve ever experienced without a windscreen, and great ergonomics. I rode 150 miles before the fuel warning flashed on the dash, which is as far as I ever want to ride before stopping to drain my own tank and recaffienate, anyway. No kidding, I could throw soft luggage and a tank bag on this thing and take it sport touring.

Or take the mirrors off it, tape over the lights, and take it to a track day.

How the heck did that happen?

Suzuki introduced the 1298cc Hayabusa in 1999. It was the undisputed heavyweight champion in the raw-speed stakes and quickly attracted the interest of horsepower addicts, whether they were racing on the Bonneville Salt Flats in daylight, or on some deserted road in an industrial subdivision after midnight. More than a few of them supercharged their ’Busas, or devised turbocharging or nitrous-injection systems.

In 2001, the motorcycle industry decided to end the top-speed arms race, with a self-imposed 186-mph governor on future models. Only 186? That sort of took the raison d’etre away from the Hayabusa.

Then someone at Suzuki had a brainstorm. What if we took one of those supercharged ’Busa motors and put it in a big naked bike? On the face of it, that was a patently ridiculous notion. Imagine the poor rider, snapping like a flag in the wind, as his arms stretched like rubber bands, hanging onto it for dear life.

Still, it was a compelling concept for a show bike, and Suzuki built one for the 2001 Tokyo Motor Show.

That original B-King made an initial impression as huge as its 240-section rear tire. Faced with a global chorus of, “Please, please, please build one like that, that I can buy,” Suzuki set about turning it into reality. The supercharger didn’t make it into the production version (and trust me, it’s not needed) but the rest of the model stayed remarkably close to the original show bike.

Don’t worry about it. On Area P’s dyno, the B-King produced a hair under 160 rear-wheel horsepower with that 9,500 rpm rev limit. That compares to 168 hp for the ’Busa at 11,000.

More to the point, the B-King produces just under 97 pound-feet of torque. That’s indistinguishable from its streamlined brother, especially considering that you have no reason to rev either motor out.

The impression created on the street is one of seamless, limitless power in almost any gear at any speed. Although the shape of the horsepower and torque curves are the same right up to the B-King’s lower rev limit, it feels even more potent than a Hayabusa off the bottom. I knew the internal gear ratios were the same, but I called Suzuki to ask if the B-King had different final drive gearing, which might have accounted for the difference in the readings from my seat-of-the-pants dyno.

“No,” I was told, “both bikes are 18-43 (teeth at the countershaft and rear sprocket.)”

Suzuki B King Concept

“Maybe the B-King is lighter, then?” I asked hopefully. But I learned it’s actually a bit heavier.

All I can conclude is that the ’Busa’s sportier riding position masks that torque, and that the B-King’s upright stance exaggerates it a little. Whatever the case, on a long and unobstructed freeway on-ramp, the B-King pulls like a pit bull that’s just realized Fifi the poodle is in heat, somewhere just upwind.

On the freeway, an indicated 80 mph in top gear shows 4,000 rpm on the tach. The bike has top-gear roll-on performance that compares to a lot of bikes’ fourth-gear stomp, so passing is effortless. At that cruising speed, the B-King has the best wind protection ever for a naked bike.

I don’t know how stylist Satoshi Isokari did it, because the headlight and clocks seem, if anything, lower than other naked bikes. But somehow, I experienced less wind noise, buffeting and neck strain than I did when I recently rode a partly-faired BMW K1200R Sport.

At that speed, the handlebars transmitted no vibrations at all. There was the slightest buzz every now and then from the seat or pegs, as different components came in and out of phase. The mirrors were the only place that seemed to resonate most of the time, although their position was good; overall, the rearward visibility was still average. (The concept bike had a rear-facing camera and little television built into the tank, which wouldn’t have been any better!) In any case, there’s no reason you should ever be caught from behind on this bike.

To the right of the ignition slot is the drive-mode selector, which offers an A or B choice only. If you’re familiar with the A-B-C choice on the GSX-Rs, note that the B-King really offers something more like A and C. That is to say, in B mode, it peaks at 114 hp. Frankly, I didn’t try it.

The throttle is so easy to modulate, that I don’t think I’d remember to hit the switch even in the rain.

The ’Busa-derived motor had big respect going in, so the power was expected, and the functional ergos were a nice surprise. The B-King’s handling though… that’s almost a shock.

The frame and suspension are unique to the B-King; Suzuki didn’t just take the fairing off the ’Busa and slap a wide bar on it. The frame itself – a high-tech, variable-thickness casting job – looks like something that would support a bridge. I guess I should say that the Kayaba fork and shock are “adjustable,” since the term “fully adjustable” now probably implies separate high- and low-speed compression damping.

For the record, the available adjustments are spring preload, and compression and rebound damping. There’s no easy way to adjust ride height at the rear.

Suzuki B King Concept
Suzuki B King Concept
Suzuki B King Concept
Suzuki B King Concept

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