With the kickoff of EICMA, it’s that wonderful time of year when we get to see all the goodies that bikemakers have in store for us for next year. Suzuki has decided to enter the ever-growing street-friendly sportbike market with the all-new 2024 Suzuki GSX-8R. Based off of the excellent Suzuki GSX-8S that was introduced last year, the GSX-8R offers something for those who want a little more wind protection and a sportier appearance without giving up everyday rideability.
Character and Comfort
The 2024 GSX-8R is built around the 270-degree crank, 776cc parallel twin that powers several recent Suzuki models and gives the bike ample character compared to its closest competition, the Kawasaki Ninja 650, which features an engine known for its lack of character. The 270-degree crank provides a robust torque curve and V-twin-like exhaust note that helps Suzuki’s new bike stand out in the crowd.
The GSX-8R features styling that is meant to “pay homage” to the GSX-R line of bikes, meaning that while it doesn’t feature lines that are quite as smooth or a silhouette that is as aggressive, it is undeniably in the same family as those motorcycles. The front end is very Suzuki and looks right in line with the GSX-R lineup. However, the tail section is where the illusion begins to wear off.
It’s a very tame tail for a sportbike, but that’s so you can carry a passenger without it being a completely miserable experience for them. The bike is in desperate need of a rear fender delete, though, as it features one of the most comically long and ugly rear fenders I have seen in a while. Once that is sorted out, it will have a fine silhouette regardless of being slightly less aggressive than its supersport cousins.
Much like the Suzuki GSX-8S is the spiritual successor to the legendary SV650 (which is so legendary that it is still sold alongside its so-called successor), the new GSX-8R is the spiritual successor to the SV650S, which was the faired variant with raised clip-on handlebars. It’s not a purpose-built supersport machine, and it’s all the better for it. The GSX-8R is a sportbike you can really use for any on-road task, whether commuting in heavy traffic, taking long highway treks, or carving up a winding back road.
A Resurgence of a Lost Class
Many factors make the 2024 GSX-8R ready for the daily commute despite its sportbike appearance. To begin with, the clip-ons are raised to provide an easy-going riding position that wouldn’t be hard to stay in all day. It falls in line with bikes like the Ninja 650, Ducati Supersport 950, Honda CBR650R, and Aprilia RS660; all are sportbikes that are made for the street more than the track.
This segment features engines that offer more usable everyday power than your average supersport 600 with its high-revving inline four-cylinder motor. Most importantly, the ergonomics don’t fold you up like some sort of gargoyle while you commute to the office. But bikes like the new GSX-8R are still capable of tearing up a winding road or enjoying the occasional track day. You basically get all the benefits of a naked bike without feeling like a leaf in the wind on the highway.
This segment was much more popular in the past with bikes like the Yamaha FZ6R and Suzuki SV650S, but it fell out of fashion when the naked bike craze began to take over. Now, riders have realized that fairings are nice to have, and they are there for a reason. This increased interest in everyday usable sportbikes has caused manufacturers like Suzuki to reinvigorate the once-abandoned segment.
Packed With Tech
Much like its sibling, the GSX-8S, the 2024 GSX-8R is also absolutely packed with high-tech features for a middleweight sportbike (never mind for a Suzuki in general), which also helps enhance its commuter-friendly nature. Some of these features include a full ride-by-wire throttle system, a five-inch TFT dash, three ride modes, ABS and traction control, and a bi-directional quick shifter. That’s a good blend of both performance and safety features, further demonstrating the bike’s dual nature.
The bike also includes Suzuki’s patented low throttle assist, which increases the throttle input when the bike detects that it is about to stall. It actually makes it possible to get the bike moving without ever touching the throttle and is a very handy feature in heavy traffic. The GSX-8R makes most bikes in its price range and engine class look stripped down by comparison, which is not something often said of a Suzuki.
A Trend Worth Setting
I foresee that we will soon see more and more self-aware middleweight sportbikes like the new GSX-8R. Bikes that know most of their time will be spent commuting rather than tearing up the track but that are capable of doing either. With a starting price of $9,439, the 2024 Suzuki GSX-8R offers a ton of value and should be on the radar for anyone looking for a do-it-all sport bike in the coming year.