“What’s in a name?” asks Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet. Quite a lot, as it turns out. There are names that conjure up a certain image or feeling, either negative or positive. This is why you would think twice before naming your kid something fancy like Gandhi or Jesus. Or, on the flipside, Hitler.
Thing is, just the simple act of christening a child or, in this case, a product somehow brings along with it expectations as great as what its namesake brethren may’ve had.
Which is why we were quite surprised when, at the Auto Expo earlier this year, Suzuki Motorcycles India introduced us to their all-new 150cc offering with the name “Gixxer.” That’s right, not even a “150” suffix or prefix, just “Gixxer.” Short and snappy, but also evoking immediate throwbacks to one of the reigning kings of the litre-class superbikes – the mighty Suzuki GSX-R1000.
So yeah, with a name like that, the Suzuki Gixxer does have some rather large boots to fill. Will it do so, or will it be a misfire for Suzuki’s product marketing and naming department?
Design & Features
On pure design grounds, the Gixxer is a winner, no doubt about that. Sure, it is a naked streetbike with no supersports leanings, but it is a looker through and through. Suzuki has finally decided to ditch the safe and conventional route and the end result is an aggressive-looking motorcycle that looks fast even while standing still.
The headlight doesn’t have the same pizzazz as the rest of the bodywork, but there can be no faulting the rest of the Gixxer’s curves.
Part of this big-bike appeal goes to the twin-port exhaust, and the faux air scoops above the engine. The 12-liter fuel tank is gorgeously sculpted, and is complemented brilliantly by the plastic tail panels with body-coloured pillion grab rails. The mudguard hangs too low, but, fret not, part of it can be removed, in case you don’t encounter rains and muddy roads on a daily basis, or just want to show off that fat 140-section rear tyre (on Y-spoked alloys) to maximum effect.
Styling is a subjective thing, but I honestly feel that the Suzuki Gixxer is the most handsome 150cc street bike I’ve ever seen in our country, and possibly overseas too. But that applies only if you will allow me to remove the full rear mudguard and the unsightly bits and bobs forced upon us by Indian government rules from the equation.
Suzuki has loaded the Gixxer with everything but the kitchen sink when it comes to instrumentation. You get a fully digital red backlit console that, other than the basics, also feature a gear indicator, clock, service indicator, and two tripmeters. Two innocuous rubber buttons under the panel cycle through the menu, and adjusting any parameter was intuitive enough to be learnt in one try. There’s also a bright white indicator that lights up whenever you approach the 10,000rpm limit. All the electricals run on DC power, so you get ample illumination no matter the revs you’re doing.
On the handlebars you get an engine kill switch, a pass switch and a manual choke, handy for cold starts. Switchgear quality is a bit of a downer, and there are noticeable gaps between the fake bar-ends and the handlebar grips that detract from what is otherwise, a bike that looks and feels very high end.
A small part of this high-end feel can also be attributed to the GSX-R inspired key. The mirrors have been designed more for style than real-world usability – they serve their purpose but the vision is nothing life-saving. Also not life-saving, but definitely welcome is the aircraft-style fuel filler cap. The kick-starter has no rubber cladding, and has an unfinished look to it, although we suspect not many customers will be using it as the bike fires up on the first thumb of the starter even in the coldest of conditions. A half chain cover and chrome exhaust shields round up the look, but we would’ve preferred fully metal footpegs for the rider, just like the pillion has.