Automotive history is littered with examples of how just one model can transform a company's fortunes, and set the success wheel rolling. Suzuki Motorcycle India Private Limited's Gixxer is one such product. Naturally, in order to maintain the newly found momentum, the company recently launched a fully-faired version, the Gixxer SF. Whether the winning recipe has been kept intact or lost is something we found out by putting the motorcycle to test.
The Gixxer SF is a visually tweaked version of the existing Gixxer naked motorcycle, and the 'SF' stands for Sports Fairing. The appetite of Indians for fully-faired motorcycles is well-known and the Gixxer SF seems to be a right move from the Japanese two-wheeler maker to encash on this trend. The key thing the company needed to get right was the styling and they seem to have nailed it and missed it, both at the same time.
The fairing on the SF is a streamlined and well-designed unit, especially when seen from the side. The front is only a wrap-around on the existing headlamp of the Gixxer and bears resemblance to the fairing design of the Hayabusa. The fairing has been developed in the same wind tunnel, which is used to hone the Hayabusa and MotoGP motorcycles. The design is aerodynamically efficient, claims the company. On the road, we did find it to be effective at directing air around the rider, minimising wind blast. The best part is that the entire fairing gels with the remaining body seamlessly; resulting in good fit and finish.
The black alloy wheels feature a pinstripe, which manages to add a bit of zing to the overall design. The turn indicators have been given the clear lens treatment to further differentiate from the Gixxer. While the exhaust design is the same for both Gixxers, the SF gets a more upmarket aluminium muffler cover. The instrument console is a rectangular digital display, which offers good visibility with gear indicator and digital tachometer.
The reason we said that the company has nailed it and missed it on the design front is due to the colour and livery options. In the blue shade, which is a special MotoGP edition, the SF looks stunning. The colour shade and the branding accentuate the sportiness of the bike. On the other hand, in the regular black and white colours, sans the livery, the SF doesn't look impressive and loses out on road presence. The designers have achieved two extreme ends of the scale in one go.
Suzuki decided to play safe with the SF, which means that the motorcycle gets no mechanical changes or upgrades. The engine hence is the same 155 cc single-cylinder carburetted unit, developing about 14.5 hp and 14 Nm of torque at 6,000 rpm. One would expect the SF to be slower than its naked counterpart, owing to the added weight of the fairing but that isn't the case. The fairing weighs just about four kg, which doesn't change the power-to-weight ratio considerably. Acceleration hence is pretty much same as the Gixxer but beyond 100 km/h or so, the SF pulls marginally quicker due to the aerodynamic effect of the fairing. Top speed too is higher since we managed a speedo-indicated 124 km/h on the Gixxer and 136 km/h on the SF.
The engine itself is quite impressive by segment standards and offers peppy performance. The motorcycle pulls cleanly off the line and the engine is acceptably smooth and has good low and mid-range performance. Closer to the red line though, the engine shows signs of stress.
The engine features the Suzuki Eco Performance (SEP) technology, which the company claims to help offer high efficiency without sacrificing power. What it actually means is that the engineers have worked upon reducing the friction inside the engine to minimise mechanical losses. The lightweight design of the engine also helps improve the overall balance between power and efficiency.
The exhaust note of the motorcycle is noteworthy and is better than most of its competition. We tested both the Gixxer and Gixxer SF at the same time and despite the lack of any mechanical changes, the five-speed gearbox on the SF was notchy and hard, while it was smooth on the Gixxer. We checked with the dealership and were told that the gearbox would be fine after the first service.
The SF doesn't feature any change on the riding dynamics front compared with the naked Gixxer. This means that the rider sits almost upright, which isn't the normal position one would expect on a motorcycle styled like this. That isn't a drawback though as the SF, due to this very reason, can be a great bike for covering long distances.
The suspension set-up on the Gixxer SF is neither too hard nor soft, striking a good balance between ride quality and high-speed stability. The capable chassis and decent grip from the MRF tyres translates into good handling characteristics. It should, however, be kept in mind that the Gixxer SF has been developed to look like a sportsbike and not go like one. The city roads too are dealt with in an impressive manner with good damping over uneven surfaces. The seat too is comfortable, making it easy to negotiate long durations on the motorcycle. What could be a concern though is the 160 mm ground clearance, which could prove to be a bit low for some of the really bad roads we encounter in the urban environment.
The brake set-up on the Gixxer SF consists of a 266 mm single disc upfront and a 130 mm drum at the rear. The front offers good bite and feedback, the rear drum seems underequipped. While this is helpful in keeping the cost low, a disc at the rear would have been a great addition.
Since its launch in early April, the Gixxer SF has been well-received by the customers. We were told by Atul Gupta, Executive Vice President, SMIPL that the demand for the SF already exceeds the production capacity and although these are early days, the company expects good response for the motorcycle in the long-term.
We agree with him on multiple counts. First, the overall packaging of the motorcycle gives it a very different perceivable character for a reasonable price increase. The Gixxer SF in general is well-equipped by segment standards and offers impressive performance too. At a little more than ' 83,000, ex-showroom, Delhi, the Gixxer SF is not only the cheapest fully-faired motorcycle in the country, it's easily one of the best looking too in the sub-one lakh segment. The latter, however, holds true if one opts for the special edition blue shade with MotoGP livery.
Text: Arpit Mahendra
Photo: Bharat Bhushan Upadhyay