Suzuki GSX-8R Road and Track Review


Our Report

  • Overall
  • Sex appeal
  • Practicality
  • Performance
  • Value


  • Newbie friendly
  • Multi-tool of a bike
  • Simple interface


  • Limited tank range
  • More exotic bikes for not much more money

Suzuki’s first all-new ‘R’ model sportsbike in years has arrived, but is it really worthy of the name?

At the end of 2023 Suzuki revealed the bike that everyone saw coming, the sleek and sporty looking GSX-8R. As the name suggests, it borrows quite a lot from the GSX-8S but adds a new full fairing, clip-on bars and new suspension.

For this press launch, Suzuki had secured the Monteblanco circuit in Spain, for a morning on track, and an afternoon on the roads around the local area. We had three 25-minute sessions on track, and around 150 kilometres of road riding ahead of us, plenty of time to get to grips with Suzuki’s latest sportsbike.

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What is the new GSX-8R?

Like pretty much every other manufacturer, Suzuki has taken the sensible step of turning its GSX-8S naked into an entry-level sportsbike with road-focused dynamics and performance. The engineers in Hamamatsu haven’t been sloppy about it though, and while it would have been easy to just slap a fairing on the naked and release it into the wild, Suzuki wanted the new bike to feel very different to the naked, on which it is based.

The main area that they focused on for this was the suspension, and the KYB hardware was swapped out for slightly more premium-feeling Showa Separate Function Big Piston forks that are matched to a Showa link-type rear shock. As with the 8S there is no adjustability other than manual preload at the rear, but it’s the settings within the hardware that defines the bike. There is less travel at both ends and the suspension has a slightly firmer and more supportive base setting aimed at more dynamic road and track riding.

Other changes come in the form of clip-on handlebars that are mounted above the top clamp and are about as relaxed and comfortable as clip-ons get! The pegs remain the same type and in the same position as they are on the 8S, meaning they are low-set and comfortable. After sitting on the bike the night prior to our ride, the closest bike I can think of that feels like this is the very soft and cuddly Kawasaki Ninja 650. Here’s hoping the riding experience is a bit more spicy!

Suzuki GSX-8R Press Launch in Seville

What’s it like to ride?

The first session out on the track is a chilly one, although Suzuki has been kind enough to grace the bikes we are riding on the circuit with Dunlop’s SportSmart TT road and track tyres. Still, at not much more than five degrees, I’m not expecting any lap times to tumble! If you’ve never been to Monteblanco and are looking for an easy-going track, that’s not too difficult to learn, it’s well worth a look. It’s also the perfect place to ride a bike like this. Hanging on to a raging 1,000cc bull around this place doesn’t appeal to me, but 85 bhp and 57 lb-ft feel plenty fast enough - just not along the 1,000-metre start-finish straight!

It’s got a bit of everything, fast third and fourth gear corners, 90-degree bends, sweeping hairpins and even a bit of elevation change, and the GSX-8R is lapping it all up. The new suspension is the defining factor, and you have less dive and more control and feedback on the brakes. It’s cold, like a UK trackday in springtime cold, but the suspension is so nicely set up that I’ve got no qualms with trail braking into the slower hairpins early on in the first session. Another point while we are talking of the brakes, they are extremely strong, and even in the heaviest of braking zones I only even need a couple of fingers on the lever and rarely trouble the ABS. It’s only a two-channel system on the 8R, but that doesn’t mean it feels agricultural at all, and considering the bike’s road-biassed designation, the ABS isn’t particularly intrusive.

I’m a bit bigger than the slimline Suzuki test riders, and with a bit of pumping at the rear of the bike ask for some pre-load to be dialled into the rear shock for session two.

Session two is a much more pleasurable affair. The sun is higher in the sky and the track is warming, and the suspension tweak has improved the handling of the 8R quite a bit. The pumping on the corner exit is much improved, and because the bike is slightly more sat on its nose it feels a bit more pointy in slower changes of direction. It’s not that it was bad before, but its 1,465mm wheelbase is longer than pretty much all of its competitors. If you wanted to take this further and make an even more focused machine, a longer, stiffer shock would be ideal and matched to a proper adjustable cartridge kit at the front. Or you could go out and buy a second-hand 600 SRAD and have a proper trackday toy…

If anything is holding me back on the track it's the ground clearance. I understand why Suzuki went with the same pegs as the 8S (cost/ease/comfort/laziness) but when you are hammering them down at every single corner, you start to feel a bit sorry for them! Pulling them up and back 10mm wouldn’t have had much of an effect on the comfort of the bike, and it would have made it much easier to get into the right body position, which as they are, isn’t that simple.

Aside from this, the GSX-8R is a decent little track bike. Yes, it would get eaten alive at Silverstone or Snett in the advanced group. But if you are a newbie to trackdays and only ride in novice or the bottom end of inters, you could happily ride this to a trackday, have a fun time wasting petrol, and then ride home again in total comfort. You won’t need any tools, tyre warmers or support, and you’ll still have a ball on it.

Suzuki GSX-8R track side at Monteblanco circuit in Spain

Suzuki GSX-8R on track at Monteblanco circuit in Spain

After the track ride came the road test...

Whilst the circuit was where all the hero photography took place, the road ride is what will make or break this bike. As expected, the uber-relaxed riding position is a dream and with high bars, low pegs, 810 mm seat and 205 kg kerb weight, it's all very manageable and easy to ride. Newbie friendly? Yes, very, and it kind of makes me think about Suzuki’s last (and fairly iconic) sports bike, the much-loved half-faired SV650S. That was a bike that won people over thanks to looking like a baby TL1000S (if you bagged an original one) easy-going delivery and dynamics, and mechanicals so simple they could be fixed at the roadside with chewing gum and gaffer tape. While the 8R isn’t a natural successor to the SV650’s throne, owing to it being much more powerful and advanced, I wouldn’t have any worries about letting a newly qualified rider loose on the road on one.

Part of the appeal comes from the handling, out on the fast but flowing Spanish roads it just feels benign and well-mannered. No surprises are lurking to catch out the unwary, and in changes of direction, it just floats from one turn to the next. Another part of the appeal is the torque and mid-range of the new 776cc engine. As with on the track earlier in the day, should you make a hamfisted gear selection going into a tighter turn, being a gear higher than you should be doesn’t slow you down as much as it would on a GSX-R600 or R6. You just roll on the throttle and you’ll be back up and in the fun zone again in no time.

Suzuki GSX-8R riding on the road in Spain

Suzuki GSX-8R in blue parked on the roadside

What tech does it have?

The new GSX-8R isn’t exactly covered with tech, and as is the trend with Suzuki, it doesn’t get any fancy IMU control, lean-sensitive traction control or ABS - they prefer to save that stuff for the flagship bikes like the GSX-S1000 GX. You do though get three engine power modes, three levels of traction control intervention and the ability to switch the system off altogether. The conventional two-channel ABS is non-switchable and should you want to do that, you’ll be pulling out the fuse as some of the riders at the track did.

Fairly low on tech it might be, but what it does have is a nice and simple interface that doesn’t use riding modes as the defining setting, and instead the Suzuki Drive Mode Selector (SDMS) allows you to adjust the engine power and traction control level independently of each other. It’s simple and effective, and as it’s so easy to adjust, even on the fly if need be, you can quickly and easily dial in the settings you want when the weather, or the way you are riding, changes.

Suzuki GSX-8R close up detail photos

Suzuki GSX-8R Verdict

Okay, so it might not be a GSX-R for the modern era, but then again it was never really billed as that. It’s also definitely not a direct replacement for the SV650, which like some kind of weapons-grade OAP is still hanging-on in there within the Suzuki UK range. However, it’s a decent enough bike in its own right, and there is just enough difference between it and the naked 8S to mean riders should test them both before making up their minds.

It’s a bit of a multi-tool of a bike too, and while you could commute to a trackday and have loads of fun at the weekend, it’ll be glad to whisk you to work during the week and should keep you warm and dry in the process. And if you can bear the limited tank range of a bit over 100 miles (in the real world anyway) you could chuck some soft luggage on it and take on some entertaining European tours and spend your days in blissful comfort.

It’s not quite as cut-price as we have become accustomed to from Suzuki, and some buyers may find the allure of a slightly more exotic-looking, and only slightly more expensive bike from Aprilia, Honda, and even Yamaha, might sway them towards another dealership. The Suzuki does at least offer a sensible option and one with more everyday appeal than a lot of the competition.

Suzuki GSX-8R range in various colours lined up side by side


  • Dimensions: Length 2,155mm (84.8in.), Width 770mm (30.3in.), Height 1,135mm (44.7in.)
  • Wheelbase 1,465mm (57.7in.)
  • Ground clearance 145mm (5.7in.)
  • Seat height 810mm (31.9in.)
  • Kerb mass 205kg (452lbs.)
  • Engine: Four-stroke, two-cylinder, liquid-cooled, DOHC
  • Bore x stroke: 84.0mm x 70.0mm (3.3in. x 2.8in.)
  • Engine displacement 776cc (47.4 cu. in.)
  • Compression ratio 12.8 : 1
  • Fuel injection
  • Lubrication system: Forced feed circulation, Wet sump
  • Six-speed constant mesh transmission
  • Front Suspension: Inverted telescopic, coil spring, oil damped
  • Rear Suspension: Link type, coil spring, oil damped
  • Rake / trail 25° / 104mm (4.1in.)
  • Brakes: Front Twin Discs, Rear Disc
  • Tyres: Front 120/70ZR17M/C (58W) tubeless, Rear 180/55ZR17M/C (73W) tubeless
  • Electronic ignition (transistorised)
  • Fuel tank capacity 14L
  • Oil capacity (overhaul) 3.9L
  • Fuel consumption 67.23mpg in WMTC
  • CO2 emissions 99 g/km