Suzuki's cult classic Katana is back for 2019, a throwback to what many consider the ultimate 1980s sportsbike. There's no pop-up headlight, but the new Katana 3.0 is a very sexy machine that reminds us that the 80s in now well into the retro zone.
How different the world was back in 1981. How simple that world of curly-cord telephones looks to us now, with the very first personal computers only just beginning to hit the market and the Atari 2600 ruling the video game world, plugged into your parents' cathode ray tube television, which probably sat on wooden legs with a doily on top of it.
When Suzuki first released the GSX1100 Katana, it looked like the motorcycle equivalent of Twiki, the phallus-headed robot companion of Buck Rogers in his contemporary TV series. Silver, sleek, angular, futuristic, and claiming to be the fastest production bike in the world, the Katana caught the motorcycling world's imagination like few bikes before or since. It quickly became a cult classic. Some of the 750cc ones even had pop-up headlights like the ones on the Lambo Countach. They were deadly cool, and absolute icon of the 1980s.
To this day, a well-kept Katana will draw more of a crowd at a biker meet than anything this side of a Kawasaki H2. And with the tail end of the retro craze making 60s and 70s-style bikes all the rage again, Suzuki has decided it's ready to release a new Katana for the late Noughteens.
And here it is. Based on Suzuki's excellent GSX-S1000F, the 2019 Katana doesn't go for the velocity crown its forebears held nearly 40 years ago, or rock the pop-up headlight. Instead, it'll offer a similarly crazy sporty road ride experience, with a suitably retro set of bodywork atop to recall the first-gen Katana's ultimate 80s lines.
At a packed press conference at Intermot Cologne, Suzuki's top brass pulled the covers off the new Italian-designed Katana 3.0, talking about craftsmanship and attention to detail on a level with the old-school Samurai swords this thing was named for. Like the GSX-S bikes, it's built around a 150-horsepower version of the 2005-6 GSX-R1000 motor, still one of the greatest and most revolutionary motors in motorcycle history. Its torqey power delivery compared to the raging screamers of today's superbike world makes it an absolutely superb streetbike engine with plenty of power everywhere and a barnstorming top end rush.
The Katana's weight comes in at 215 kg (474 lb), which makes it just 1kg (2.2 lb) porkier than the faired GSX-S1000F. It'll be a demon on the road. The bars are quite high, making for a comfy ride, and the front end looks badass with its double stacked headlight, traditional black screen and full color TFT dash. The seat looks broad and comfy, with room for a passenger, and Suzuki says it's re-routed the throttle cables to help eliminate the snatchy on-off power delivery that was one of our sole complaints on the Gixxess.
We think it looks absolutely terrific, and takes the familiar Katana shape into a new place for 2019. It looks as comfy, quick and snappy as the GSX-S1000 bikes, which we're unashamedly crazy about. And we'll bring you full details and studio photos as soon as Suzuki's overstressed media site trickles out some more images.
You can drool over the new Katana in the video below.
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