Roadtest: Suzuki GS150R - 'Commu-Tourer'
- by Adil Jal Darukhanawala
- Feb 5, 2009
- Views : 65204
The excitement brought in by the new breed of performance 150cc bikes launched last year was balanced out by a rather practical and subtle model from Suzuki India, the GS150R. Varad More puts it through its paces.
In the past two years the Indian two-wheeler bazaar has seen a lot of action in the 150cc motorcycle segment, with almost every bike-maker launching at least one product in this category. This clearly points out that demand for motorcycles with decent fuel economy, good looks and adequate performance is increasing every passing day. Masses are slowly, yet steadily moving away from the boring 100cc commuters towards something that offers more style and performance.
However, the 150cc segment has now been divided into two categories, namely - premium and budget. The premium class consists of the two new Yamahas launched last year and the TVS Apache RTR 160 FI. All of them have strong USPs and state-of-the-art technology to justify the hefty price tags. For those looking for practicality and the value-for-money aspect, Hero Honda has three answers in the form of the Hunk, the CBZ Xtreme and the understated Achiever (Yes, it's still being sold). And though Bajaj Auto's old-timer Pulsar 150 DTSi and Honda's Unicorn offer more bang-for-the-buck compared to HH's three offerings, they still don't pack in enough features and performance to compete in the premium 150cc segment.
Now there is a sizeable gap that has developed between these two categories of the 150cc segment and that's where Suzuki's latest offering, the GS150R fits in perfectly.It has no strong unique selling point or any high-tech gadgetry in its kitty to boast about. So what does it have that Suzuki is banking on to set its cash registers ringing? Let's find out.
Design and Style:
If you are the sorts, who has been closely following the Indian motorcycle developments and the various 150cc models launched till date starting from the legendary Hero Honda CBZ, then it will be very difficult for you to appreciate the GS150R's styling. If you dissect every part of the Suzuki and look at it individually, you will find it similar to one or the other Indian 150cc motorcycle. Try what we did. Park it, step back a few feet and then slowly run your eyes over the non-aggressive but smart-looking bikini fairing, the contours of the muscular Gixxer-like tank, the pseudo air-scoops below it, the simplistic centre panels flaunting the '6-speed' decal and then finally to the very sporty tail panels and the contemporary clear-lens tail light design, which is a direct lift-off from this year's Suzuki GSX-R1000 superbike.
When we first saw the bike in pictures, we were disheartened. Suzuki has been known globally for churning out some of the most gorgeous motorcycles like the GSX-R750 or the SV650, for years. But then we got our test bike and in flesh, the GS150R sure left a lasting impression on everyone's mind. During the test, several people stopped by to take a good look at it and some even commented, "Mast banaya hai gaadi." I guess our eyes have been too desperate to see something that looks fast even when it's standing still and in that, sometimes we miss out on acknowledging beauty which a rather untrained eye notices so innocently, like detailing on this Suzuki.
The detailing has been done keeping in mind the average Indian 150cc buyer and the GS150R successfully charms its target audience. The digital console houses the speedometer, gear indicator, trip meter while the tachometer remains analogue.Worth mentioning here is that the orange backlit display does not switch off immediately once the ignition is turned off but it slowly fades away. Neat! The bars are painted in glossy black paint unlike chrome handlebars commonly seen on most Indian bikes. These subtle design cues give the GS150R a very contemporary and sophisticated appeal. It is not a great looking bike like the FZ16, but a very good looking one with well drawn proportions and all design lines flowing smoothly from start-to-finish. It's a no-brainer that the Suzuki GS150R is not aimed towards bike-buffs but the normal office-goers who easily outnumber the enthusiasts and determine the figures on sales charts inside a company's conference room.
Ergonomics is one of the key factors in this class and the happier the rider feels about the time spent on the saddle, the more praises he will sing about the bike. Here the GS150R scores top marks as the handlebar, footpeg and seat equation yields fantastic results. The bars aren't typically tall or flat like the ones seen on hooligan naked street-bikes. It's just the thing. The pegs too aren't rearset but you don't get a feeling like you are seating in a chair with a complete commuter-ish foot-forward position. The 790mm high saddle is nice and relaxing and its contours properly comfort the rider's bottom for hours. The switchgear is placed right within the reach of the rider's arm and one doesn't need any sort of getting used-to to access the lights, starter button, turn signals, etc.
Powertrain & Transmission
This is the most critical aspect of any motorcycle and in the Indian 150cc segment it can break or make a product. It is yet to be seen if the 149cc mill of the GS150R housed inside a single downtube frame makes it or breaks it for Suzuki India, but going by our test data, it sure isn't a winner in the performance department. Suzuki has done a very good job in terms of comfort, refinement, ergonomics, design and the cost, but the focus of the machine remains on stylish and comfortable commuting.
It is not a fire breather or track scorcher but a very potent tool for the cityscape. It surely didn't impress the ready-to-vroom 18 year-old from the neighbourhood with its 0-60km/h sprint time of 6.25 seconds and a rather feeble top whack of 110.01km/h.Nothing extraordinary then - but the GS is not really meant to fight in the performance bracket. It is a city tool designed to tackle everyday commute with ease and it lives upto the expectations outstandingly well. The gear ratios of the six-speed transmission have spot-on configuration giving the GS best in-class in-town rideability. To make it simpler and clearer to everyone, the GS150R completed the 30-70km/h dash in third gear in just 5.5 seconds, which is two seconds quicker than the Yamaha FZ16 and it was quicker to the Yamaha by whole two seconds in next two gear roll-ons as well.
Another thing that really puts things in the GS's favour is the exceptional handling making life a lot easier by squeezing through tightest gaps effortlessly. The butter smooth transmission is precise and the gears slot it in with conviction, no matter if you are riding the bike in the higher or lower rev-range. However, one needs to tap the gear lever often to keep the power handy or then keep the revs above 4500rpm all the time to feel the punch from the motor, which is possible only on the open highways.
Handling and ride
This is where the GS150?s true potential stands out. Even without any modern-day technology like lightweight frame or monoshock rear suspension, the GS150R provides exemplary handling and superb ride quality. It rides through congested traffic so effortlessly and does so in such a delightful manner that it's almost identical to carving a spoonful of yummy chocolate souffle from the bowl. Add to that the comfortable ride quality with perfectly well-tuned suspension and it swallows all road undulations without letting out a burp. The only glitch we noticed was the front-end of the GS150R which during cornering hard felt extremely light and did not inspire enough confidence. Apart from that there was nothing wrong with its handling and the chassis and suspension are more than capable to tackle everyday city commutes.
Living with it:
Having a Suzuki GS150R parked inside your garage will not get you envious looks or passes from lovely ladies. But it will surely make your life through the harrowing traffic in our cities a lot more relaxed and even enjoyable in its own way if you are not looking for an opportunity to hit the three digit mark every now and then.
And with conscious use of the throttle you will find the GS150R surprisingly economical as it delivered exceptional and best in-class overall fuel economy of 62kmpl - a figure which most 125cc bikes struggle to achieve. This is an ideal tool even for long distance touring only hindrance being its lack of top speed. But that is largely compensated by superb ride quality and great fuel efficiency. Maintain a steady 80km/h in sixth gear and you will cover a phenomenal distance of 900 km plus on a single tankful. Gosh! (I want one the next time I'm heading to Bangalore from Pune!) That's remarkable efficiency for a 150cc motorcycle.
The Suzuki GS150R's strongest points are its ride quality, fuel efficiency and touring ability. Slot into the sixth cog and cruise down the highway at 80-90km/h and still no need to tank-up. And even then it remains one of the best tools for city-commute offering best in-class roll-ons as well as superior handling. The only place it does not score great marks is the performance department, but then Suzuki never aimed to catch the fancy of the speed-freaks with the GS150R. It was for those who are looking at a stylish upgrade from the 125cc bracket without compromising the fuel economy and the GS achieves these goes exceedingly well. However, the bike slots in between the budget and the premium 150cc motorcycles. Considering its appeal and its job to bridge the gap, it is competitively priced at Rs. 60,827 (Ex-Showroom, Pune). It might seem a little expensive for the 150cc budget class, but factor in the amazing fuel efficiency, extremely good ride quality and awesome roll-ons - the GS150R clearly justifies the price tag.