Unsheathe the sword.
We had a hunch it was coming. After a marked absence from the market a decade ago, the Katana resurfaced same time last year, when Suzuki trademarked the name, leaving us to wonder what the company had in store. Thankfully, unlike some other trademark tracks that go cold after a while, it didn’t take too long for Suzuki to act on it and put its trademark to good use. Six months later, the Katana was back.
Between the concept unveiled at EICMA in 2017 and the trademark filing, we knew there was something big coming at Suzuki’s—we simply didn’t know when. Then in September, weekly teasers made their appearance and kickstarted the countdown to Intermot. Finally, on October 2, 2018, we got our first look at the returning Katana.
Forget the latest, sportier generations of the model that marked the end of the 25-year legacy in 2006. Suzuki is instead going back 40 years by bringing back the original 1981 Katana GSX 1100S aesthetic in all its early 80s glory. Picking up on some styling cues introduced by Hans Muth and his Target Design three-man crew four decades ago, the 2020 Katana brings back the square headlight (stacked dual lamps in this case) and bulky fairing look, sprinkled with just the right amount of modern flare. I mean, Suzuki even went as far as to reintroduce the model in its original silver livery slapped with red lettering on the flanks.
The platform is borrows features from a few different past models—almost as though there was no way to recreate a genuine Katana experience with modern ideas. The lightweight twin-spar aluminum alloy frame helps keep the weight (relatively) low. The model’s footprint is the same as the GSX-S1000F with a total length of 87 inches and a 57.4-inch wheelbase. The number of the scale is also the same, both models weighting in at 474 lb. As for the swingarm, it apparently comes from the 2016 GSX-R1000.
The plushier seat and straight riding geometry comfortably position the returning Katana in the sport-touring segment, a far cry from its predecessor and its sporty ambitions. Interestingly, like its previous generation, this new version of the Katana also receives a fairly low seat at 32.5 inches which keeps the bike in the “more accessible” category.
According to Suzuki, the innerworks are inspired by the 2006-2009 GSX-R1000 K5 999cc inline four mill (the same as the current generation GSX-S) with a 73.4 x 59.0mm bore and stroke, rated at 148 hp and 80 lb-ft of torque. The longer stroke allows the Katana to produce more torque at low rpm, while the near 150-hp output at 10,000 rpm positions its favorable on the market, ahead of its closest competitors. The four cylinder evacuate through a 4-in-1 exhaust pipe system meant to reduce the noise.
New throttle cable geometry should help make accelerations on the Katana less brutal than on the Gixxers and a low rpm assist system will keep you from embarrassing yourself at take offs by avoiding a stall. The new model also comes equipped with three traction control modes, from a more to a less invasive setting, depending on the riding conditions.
The bike is mounted on an inverted 43-mm KYB telescopic fork at the front and a single adjustable link-type shock at the back. Braking power is provided by a set of 310-mm dual discs paired with two Brembo four-piston callipers, while at the back, the bike is fitted with a Nissin single piston calliper. The Katana also receives a Bosch ABS system. The 17-inch wheels are wearing a set of Dunlop Sportmax Roadsport 2 tires.
Suzuki plans on announcing the price of the new 2020 Katana in April with the intention of bringing the bike to the American showrooms in the fall. A look at what has been announced on the other side of the pond leads us to believe the nameplate will come at a pretty penny, or at least more than what the GSX-S1000 goes for. We will know more about the pricing once spring rolls in.