Name recognition carries much weight in today’s motorcycle market. From the Ninja to the Sportster to the Monster, sometimes, only one word is required to visualize a model. Honda wasn’t leaving anything to chance when it debuted the 2023 CB750 Hornet, though. Big Red’s parallel twin-powered roadster may act as the spiritual successor to the CB600F Hornet, but it borrows part of its nameplate from the “world’s first superbike”—the CB750.
Leaning on legacy presents its own challenges, on the other hand. Unlike its two predecessors, the CB750 Hornet doesn’t flaunt an inline-four powerplant. Instead, the all-new naked bike treads the practical path with a parallel-twin engine, a fact that many Honda faithful find sacrilegious to the platform’s forefathers.
Suzuki avoids such controversies by introducing its new middleweight street bike, the 2023 GSX-8S, under a never-before-used moniker. While Hamamatsu’s new naked can’t leverage name recognition, the fresh start unbridles it from nostalgic expectations. Beyond the branding, however, the CB750 Hornet and GSX-8S will have to duke it out on showroom floors. Which new challenger fairs best in that battle? For a sneak peek, we turn to the spec sheets.
|2023 Suzuki GSX-8S||2023 Honda CB750 Hornet|
|Engine:||Liquid-cooled, DOHC, 776cc Parallel-Twin||Liquid-cooled, SOHC, 755cc Parallel-Twin|
|Bore and Stroke:||84mm x 70mm||87mm x 63.5mm|
|Performance:||81.7 hp/ 57.5 lb-ft (EU model)||90.7 hp/ 55 lb-ft (EU model)|
|Weight (wet):||445 pounds||419 pounds|
|Price:||€7,800 (~$8,200 USD)||£6,999 (~$7,985 USD)|
Speed and Strength
The Hornet no longer favors an inline-four mill, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t pack a punch. Team Red’s single-overhead-cam, 755cc parallel twin drums up 90.7 horsepower (at 9,500 rpm) and 54.6 lb-ft of torque (at 7,250 rpm). The two-pot wonder manages such an impressive output thanks to its extra-oversquare configuration, with a bore measuring 87mm along with a stroke running 63.5mm.
Despite the GSX-8S's parallel-twin flaunting a double-overhead-cam layout and a larger 776cc displacement, Suzuki squeezes less power out of the pragmatic powerplant. We’re talking 81.7 horsepower (at 8,500 rpm) and 57.5 lb-ft of torque (at 6,800 rpm). With that kind of pep under its belt, the GSX is no slug in the segment. However, its smaller 84mm bore and longer 70mm stroke can’t match the Hornet’s rev-happy demeanor.
If the Hornet stings like a bee, it better float like a butterfly, and the compact chassis ensures a sharp-handling ride. A lightweight 36.6-pound steel diamond frame sets the tone. The 41mm Showa SFF-BP front end and Pro-Link-aided monoshock only elevate the package, but the roadster remains accessible with a 31.3-inch seat height. Expect quick side-to-side transitions as well thanks to the Hornet’s 55.9-inch wheelbase and 419-pound curb weight.
Suzuki meets the challenge with a steel backbone frame paired with an aluminum swingarm via a link-type KYB monoshock. KYB also provides an inverted fork while dual Nissin four-piston calipers level the Hornet and GSX-8S in the braking department. Unfortunately, the Suzuki’s 57.7-inch wheelbase and 180-section rear tire don’t yield the same rapid steering as the Honda, especially when accounting for the GSX’s 445-pound wet weight.
On the tech front, the GSX-8S's five-inch, full-color TFT display takes center stage. The panel automatically adjusts to lighting conditions with Day and Night modes while LED indicators relay additional data to the ride. Users can fully manipulate the Suzuki Intelligent Ride System suite through the dash too. That includes three ride modes (Active, Basic, and Comfort), multi-level traction control, a clutch assist system, and a bi-directional quickshifter.
In lockstep with its Hamamatsu rival, Honda equips the CB750 Hornet with a five-inch TFT. Except, this dash includes the Honda Smartphone Voice Control system, which touts compatibility with both iOS and Android devices. A quickshifter may not come standard, but the Hornet’s four ride modes (Standard, Sport, Rain, and User) dial both engine power and engine braking to the situation. Switchable Honda Selectable Torque Control and integrated Wheelie Control act as additional safety nets while all-around LEDs meet class conventions.
Thus far, Honda hasn’t officially confirmed the 2023 CB750 Hornet for the North American market. Suzuki will bring the 2023 GSX-8S Stateside, but it has yet to reveal the model’s MSRP. Based on recently released pricing from Suzuki France and Honda’s European announcement, we know that the GSX will retail for €7,800 (~$8,200 USD) while the Hornet will come in at £6,999 (~$7,985 USD).
Considering the fact that the CB750 Hornet outperforms the GSX-8S in power and handling, the model’s budget-conscious price tag only amplifies its value proposition. Though the tech round ended in a dead heat, the GSX-8S's standard quickshifter secures it a slight advantage. Still, without an inertial measurement unit (IMU) sensor on either model, neither can truly take on the category’s top performers. After all, that exclusion helps keep both newcomers affordable, and that accessibility should contribute to their name recognition in years to come.