Rennie Scaysbrook | April 21, 2023
Suzuki released its first new street-bike-model platform since 1999 (yes, 1999) with the GSX-8S, and we rode it in the beautiful confines of Nice, France.
Photography by Julien Lacroix
It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly 25 years since Suzuki released its last all-new motorcycle platform in the SV650. The beloved SV went on to become one of Suzuki’s greatest hits, but the market has moved considerably since then—even if the capacity of the new wave of motorcycles has barely moved.
The midsize-capacity roadster market is a hot one indeed. One only must look at the bikes that all retail under $10K to realize this: You have Yamaha’s MT-07 at $8199, Honda’s CB650R at $9299, KTM’s 790 Duke at $9199, and Kawasaki’s base Ninja 650 coming in the cheapest at $7899, with a $400 premium on for ABS. Given the long-lasting success of the SV, this new GSX-8S has some huge shoes to fill.
Circling in at a competitive $8849, the swanky blue, black or white GSX-8S is by far the newest of this bunch. The GSX-8S is actually one of a pair of bikes, as its development was shared in parallel with the V-Strom 800DE adventure steed and utilizes pretty much exactly the same engine to power it.
That’s a 776cc parallel-twin with a 270° firing order that’s a completely new job from the guys and girls in Hamamatsu. However, it’s different from most other bikes in this class. It runs twin counterbalancers rather than the near-ubiquitous single balancer setup with counterweights for each piston favored by nearly everyone else with a parallel-twin engine (except KTM, which employs two shafts on the 790).
Dubbed the Suzuki Cross Balancer, patented by Suzuki and used for the first time on a production motorcycle, the system works by running a vibration-killing balancer for each cylinder running at 90° to each other below and in front of the crankshaft. Suzuki feels the extra complexity of a twin-balancer system that helps kill off as many of the first and secondary vibrations as possible is worth it over the weight disadvantage the GSX-8S motor has to its competitors.
The result is an engine that’s exceptionally smooth at low to medium rpm. Truth be told, it’s smooth all the way to redline, but the best performance is found when the revs are situated below 8000 rpm.
This motor has been designed not for the next Twins Cup race (although I’m sure we’ll see it on the grid once it’s homologated). It’s more for enjoyable street performance, one that lets you hold gears and not dance up and down on the six-speed gearbox that