Suzuki RF900R (1995-1999) Motorbike Review MCN

13 Jun 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Suzuki RF900R (1995-1999) Motorbike Review MCN
Suzuki RF 900 R
Suzuki RF 900 R

Owners’ Overall Rating (14 reviews)

OK So I am 42 years old and still want to enjoy a bike that has some grunt (preferably 150 MPH+) but at the same time is comfortable enough to allow for my geriatric back and knees… Oh and also it cannot cosy more that £1500, Finally I want something a little “out of the box” and “different from the crowd”! I had a good look on bike trader and slowly the list of bikes that matched this wants list shrank smaller and smaller. Anything that was one or more of these was not the other.

To be frank the biggest problem was finding anything that was not rotten andor just another old Suzuki bandit at this price point, (nothing against Bandits as a bike but they are a bit like the two version of a clitoris, in that every c**t has got one… and the connotations of being a bandit in my era are most certainly not the same as they are now) pardon my French. Finally I accepted that the price had to go up and the speed requirement had to go down… Or did it?

Literally just before changing my search criteria to add another £500 (and include the moon and inner solar system as locations in my search) I saw an add for a Suzuki RF900…. For £999. Now I remember seeing one of these back in the day and thinking “my god it looks like a cross between one of the thunderbirds and a wedgewood sideboard, from the rear anyway” but on seeing this one something clicked in my mind.

Yes it does have an arse only a mother could love. And yes those vented grills do make it look like a 70’s doctor who robot… but wow its actually quite pleasing on the eye. This one was fettled in the silver, purple and orange (reminds me of the 1995 urban tiger Fireblade). The advert said it had 22,000 miles on the clock and also the photos were showing a pretty tidy bike.

I rang the owner in anticipation and sure enough it was still available. The owner was happy to talk through the plusses and minuses of the bike and I got the feeling he was being straight. On arriving to test ride the owner (lets call him Ken, as that was his name) struck me as loving the bike and really would have rather kept it.

Also very honest and fair-minded. He was at the senior end of the biking spectrum in age terms and had owned the bike for 15,000 of its 22,000 miles so no need to worry about the owner not knowing the bike well. Clean and tidy ticked over well, minor leaks from the fork seals and a back brake that had too much travel meant that we finally settled on £880.

Now up to this point I had broken my golden rule about giving the bike a full test ride and had only ridden it round the local roads close to his house so had not really had a chance to go above 3rd. Money paid I left and spent the next 20 mins getting comfortable with the bike. Now at this point I discovered something rather interesting. This is no soggy old hector pretending to be a bit sporty.

I has a massive and gargantuan, torque filled powerband that runs pretty much from 1500 revs in first to 9-10,000 revs in 5th… OH BTW that’s 5th… no 6th gear (mind you don’t need a 6th because your face will be ripped off way before then when you hit the quoted 162 miles an hour top speed, I of course did not do that but I know a bloke that did… AHEM) This bike is very, very VERY quick. But that’s the odd thing.

Its not quick as in “Jayyyyyyssssuuuussss Keeeeeeeeeeeriiiiiiiissssssssssssst “. its much more “good god did I really get home that quickly?” Its never going to really trouble any true sports bikes from its own era too much though I noted its stock torque numbers wee’s like a puppy all over the 96 Fireblades numbers so if you put it on a diet I expect they would not be too far apart. The comfort is OK and the 3 hour blast I took it on left me only a little tired.

One thing to note on this bike. Its big and quite heavy so when you get to twisty roads you will feel it and although it’s essentially a sports tourer I did notice my wrists had begun to get that “loaded” feeling near to the end of the ride. Generally speaking the ride comfort is good with the suspension coping with most of the things the UK roads could throw at it. But on one occasion I did feel it begin to fall behind on the most severe C roads.


The stock seat is horrible though, if you have a bus ticket in your back pocket you will feel it. I am going to have a Corbin fitted as soon as humanly possible. The whole shebang gets a bit vibey and buzzy around 4-5000 revs but nothing that cant be sorted out I am sure. Also take note.

Suzuki RF 900 R
Suzuki RF 900 R

The carbs were way out of balance on mine when I bought it and the buzzing has dropped markedly since these have been synced. Handling. This is where the real and most obvious difference is between a bike like the RF900 and say a Gixxer or Blade from the same era.

Nowhere near as flickable and responsive but by no means a slouch. It feels great on long flowing corners but does feel a little punch drunk on quick and tight corners. Mind you a big plus was no scary diving in feeling on the corners and once you get used to the slightly Rocky Balboa feeling nothing that cant be planned for at all but the most extreme speeds. Build quality seems OK.

The plastics are all in good order on this example but I can see where little things in general were used to shave cost. The still frame (using the engine as a stressed member) is OK but I feel that a strip down and powder coat is required on mine. Brakes… Hmmm again OK but nothing spectacular. The pots are basic Nissin clunkers so I would suspect an aftermarket upgrade of these will be next (after a Corbin seat).

In conclusion the bike is surprisingly fast, very different from the run of the mill, comfortable for extended periods and only cost me £880 (p.s the insurance is hilariously cheap £110 per year fully comp). All in all an awful lot of bike for very little money. If you see one and it has been looked after I would strongly recommend a test ride you might be surprised

It’s getting to be an old bike now, but it still turns heads (and snaps necks). Smooth power delivery from under 2000rpm in top, to — well, nobody knows — and it pulls from a stop at idle. Great fuel mileage; eats road miles at a prodigious rate, or rewards hard-core attention by blowing a surprising number of other bikes onto the shoulder.

I have had one for over three years now (see avatar), and just got a parts bike running. It’s so pretty, in original purple and yellow, and its controls and bodywork — everything is so nice, it looks like it’s about 2 years old. I’m keeping it together!

After 40+ years riding, plus racing, long distance touring, etc. on over 40 bikes, I must say that the RF900R has the best feel and balance of all of them, for what it’s supposed to do. There simply isn’t any other bike that can deliver the miles so comfortably, so stinking fast, with so little effort and on so little gas, and still be so much fun! Oh — I have made a few mods: Corbin seat, Heli-bars, one tooth less in rear sprocket, Yoshimura can, Road Attacks, faired turn signals, car horns, LED lights, lots of powder coating and custom candy apple paint, and Hayabusa (Tokico) 3-pot front calipers. I’ll never want another bike, ‘cuz I’ll never be able to outride this one. (Don’t snicker, young ‘un — I’ll bet you can’t, either.)

Suzuki RF 900 R
Suzuki RF 900 R
Suzuki RF 900 R
Suzuki RF 900 R
Suzuki RF 900 R
Suzuki RF 900 R
Suzuki RF 900 R

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