Suzuki Slingshot: Roadtest
Bold styling, a potent motor that's frugal yet fun and a nimble chassis, this has been the mantra of most 125cc motorcycles in the country today. So what does the Suzuki Slingshot bring to the table that sets it apart? Varad More looks for answers
Suzuki's initial stint in the Indian two-wheeler sector was the company's collaboration with TVS Motors, when the JV produced some really exciting motorcycles like the holy grail of two-stroke lovers in India, the Suzuki Shogun. The Japanese major exited the Indian sphere by 2001 after delivering us a potent 150cc four-stroker, the Fiero. In 2006, Suzuki re-entered the Indian market as an independent player with two 125cc models, the Heat and the Zeus. Both these models raked in decent sales numbers but failed to strike a chord with the masses as per Suzuki's expectations. Now determined to eat into a larger pie of the market share and to amass better volumes, Suzuki has unleashed the trendier and feature-packed Slingshot 125. This new bloke from Suzuki does pack in quite a bit of muscle to garner respect in its class but does it have the nerve to knockout its rivals? Let's find out.
There is no shadow of a doubt here that the Slingshot is the most stylish and aggressive motorcycle, in Suzuki India's present line-up. Contrary to the conservative approach taken by the company earlier with the Heat and Zeus models or also the big brother GS150R, the Slingshot is quite sweeping in its design philosophy. The streetfighter-like bikini fairing upfront holds the headlight in place and atop it rests the compact analog dash that incorporates the speedometer, fuel gauge, tell-tale lights and the trademark Suzuki gear-indicator lights to tell what gear you are riding in. While the Suzuki Heat and the Zeus shared the same body panels amongst themselves with just equipment levels distinguishing the two bikes, the Slingshot is a fresh new design with a lot more character and individuality than what Suzuki managed with its previous two offerings.
The neatly drawn knee recess on the well-proportioned fuel tank of the Slingshot offers excellent grip for the thighs regardless of the rider's physique and it is quite helpful in instantly easing the rider. The cushy seat has extremely well-drawn contours that hugely help in improving the comfort level even if one has to spend long hours in the saddle. Factor in the tall handlebars and what you get is an ideal ergonomic geometry for all-around use. It is important for a commuter motorcycle to have ergonomics that suitable for city-riding and occasional highway bouts. And the Suzuki Slingshot like its elder sibling, the GS150R, boasts of excellent ergonomics and relaxed riding posture. Move towards the rear of the bike and it maintains its fresh appeal with funky design flow all the way upto the sharp and steeply raked rear-end of the Slingshot but the piddly-looking tail-light fails to match the rest of the bike's aggressive stance. Although the very smart and first-of-its-kind lightweight split alloy wheels more than compensate for the bland tail-light and add considerably to the Slingshot's overall charm.
What's in the sling?
The same old motor that has been residing inside the Suzuki Zeus 125 albeit with minor tweaks for improved performance. While the Zeus struggled to cross the triple digit mark, our test Slingshot, quite in line with its name, did attain a top whack of 104km/h. Considering the bike's humble power output of 8.8PS @ 7,000rpm, the Slingshot also posted a very decent 0-60km/h time of 7seconds flat, which is not bad considering that the bike returned us a mileage figure of 66kmpl under mixed riding conditions. Couple that to the 12 litre fuel tank and one can ride for 792km on a tank-full of gas! The super-frugal 4-stroke air-cooled single cylinder 124cc motor has a bore into stroke configuration of 53.5mm bore into a slightly longer 55.2mm of stroke with a compression ratio of 9.6:1. The cylinder is fed via a conventional carburetor and the power is put down via a 5-speed transmission. Going up or down the gears is extremely smooth and there are not clunky shifts or false neutrals taking place.
A Suzuki special, the bike has a gear indicator (like seen on the Zeus before) to tell the rider what gear he is in. This feature may come handy to some newbie riders, but it surely isn't a negative. Somehow though, the rideability was okay while I expected it to be really awesome. Considering the fact that Suzuki makes some of the best road machines all-round the world known for practicality as well as to provide jollies, take for instance the street-friendly SV650, the cult race-replica GSX-R750 (also known as Slingshot amongst its fans) or even the Hayabusa, it comes as a little bit of surprise why the Slingshot took 14 seconds in 5th gear in the 30-70km/h roll-on test. It is a decent figure when compared to its rivals but with its light weight frame tipping the scales at just 128kg and pretty convincing torque output of 10Nm available from lower down the rev-range at just 3,500rpm, we expected it to shed some valuable seconds in the roll-on acceleration.
The talking point of the Slingshot is its neutral and nimble handling that really shines through when riding through crowded city streets. The 125cc motor is placed inside a single down tube frame while the damping duties are handled by the telescopic forks at the front and twin shocks on the rear bolted onto the conventional oval swingarm. Together, the mechanism works flawlessly to offer excellent ride quality (read best in-class) and equally well-matched handling. Although the front feels a tad bit light and floaty, it's the light front-end of the Slingshot that makes it a great commuter to cut through tight spots with less effort. Aiding this Suzuki's agility and well-heeled nature is the 1,265mm of wheelbase, which provides the bike with rock solid stability even while tackling mid-corner bumps.
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