What caused Suzuki to become such a joke?

Discussion in 'Road Warriors' started by Tanshanomi, May 1, 2019.

  1. Tanshanomi

    Tanshanomi Your Favorite Uncle Supporter

    Jul 22, 2009
    Heart of America
    I've long been a huge Suzuki fanboy. For so much of the company's history they built state-of-the-art, innovative, high quality, remarkable motorcycles. If you go back to the 2003 MY, GSX-Rs were still legitimate track weapons, the 650 the SV650 had just gotten a new cast alloy frame, their V-twin cruisers were still [sorta] current... But over about the last 15 years, they've been outpaced by pretty much every other manufacturer (worldwide, not just the Big 4 Japanese brands).
    And now? Off the top of my head, I can only think of one new engine Suzuki has introduced in the past decade, the 250 twin in the Inazuma/GSX250R. The Suzuki of today reminds me so much of Studebaker in the late '50s–'60s, or perhaps American Motors in the '70s–'80s: trying to come up with "new" models by rearranging and repackaging the same basic production parts as creatively as possible while using as much existing tooling as possible.

    Why? What causes a whole company to just deflate like this? Did they get hurt worse than others in the 2009 recession? Did they choose to concentrate their R&D on the automotive market, or the SE Asian market? A zombie virus? Comet dust?
  2. rd400racer

    rd400racer Long timer

    May 14, 2013
    Louisville, Ky
    Well, they have a motorcycle competing in MotoGP and Kawasaki doesn't. So they've got that going for them:D
  3. Schmokel

    Schmokel Long timer

    Jun 29, 2015
    Up. And to the right.
    Contrary to my avatar line, if it ain't broke...
  4. CRFan1

    CRFan1 Been here awhile

    Apr 30, 2013
    Northwest Indiana
    Sort of agree...there is not one Suzuki model I would buy today and that's pretty sad. MAYBE and SV650 but I would still buy an older one.....
    mitchxout likes this.
  5. cyclopathic

    cyclopathic Long timer

    Dec 23, 2007
    Suzuki was always a joke in Japan and the main driving force behind Gixxer was AMA with Mladin/Spies rivalry. AMA sold the rights to Daytona group which didn't know what to do, Spies left, Mladin retired, financial crash happened.. and Suzuki didn't have any other business to fall back on. There's only that much money you can make selling Wagon R.
    Lee Dodge and SmittyBlackstone like this.
  6. Florida Lime

    Florida Lime Long timer Supporter

    Sep 5, 2008
    As stated and not often enough in Robbinsville, NC
    And they just won the last MotoGP race. Good enough for me.
  7. Cactus67

    Cactus67 Been here awhile Supporter

    Jul 19, 2018
    Arizona, USA
    They obviously don’t have the budget of the other 3 big Japanese brands, but I like them nonetheless. I just think of them as the most conservative of the 4.

    They have several models with a cult following - Wee Strom, DR650, Hayabusa, SV650. Fans of those bikes REALLY like them, older tech and all.
  8. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer Supporter

    May 28, 2008
    Huntsville , Al
    The V Stroms, both 650 and 1000 may not be state of the art but are both great bang for the buck bikes. The Burgman 400 has been recently redesigned and outlasted Maxi Scooters from Honda and Yamaha at least here in the US. Then lets not forget the Van Van:D

    If you don't need the latest and greatest technology Suzuki still sells some nice bikes. Eventually they will need to bring out some new models if they want to stay in business. The EPA and Euro emissions is forcing the retirement of some bikes like the Hayabusa. If they don't bring out a replacement for the Hayabusa then we will know they are really in trouble. It may not be my cup of tea but it has been one of their flagships for a long time.
  9. ag_streak

    ag_streak Tiene Ruta Cuarenta? Super Supporter

    Aug 9, 2006
    Blue Ridge, GA
    The Wee-strom/SV650, GSX-R, and motocross engines have all seen a steady stream of improvements since their intro. The 1250 Bandit engine is just over a decade old, but a ground-up design at the time.

    Many bikes have gotten a little new tech, like cylinder linings, ABS, TC, and quick-starting features. I think there was a new 650 four cylinder more recently, but it wasn't cutting edge at all. And I don't think innovation is very important in the cruiser market.

    But yeah, things haven't really been all that exciting around Hamamatsu!
    davyjones and SmittyBlackstone like this.
  10. NuckaMan

    NuckaMan Space Available

    Aug 4, 2008
    Orange County, CA
    Here in America, the automotive division struggled (eventually withdrew from the American market) and came extremely close in bringing down the powersports division along with it. Plus, I think I read somewhere they also suffered through a terrible and costly partnership with VW.

    Like others stated, Suzuki doesn’t have the luxury of having powerhouse corporate money like Kawasaki Heavy Industries or Honda Motors as their brand mainly deals in low-margin, inexpensive cars and relies on volume. Suzuki barely survived the economic downturn as a corporation and just now getting back on their feet. I think with their MotoGP team and especially with their impressive progress since 2018, I think they are recommitting their resources back into motorcycles. I expect to see some cool things from them within the next coming years.
  11. wellcraft

    wellcraft Been here awhile

    Aug 31, 2008
    I wouldn't consider Suzuki a joke because they have their business philosophy and so long as they are making a profit why invest millions of bucks in developing new motorcycles when their current crop of bikes sells well enough to keep Suzuki afloat? Even though my 2017 ZX14R was woeful outdated when it comes to all the electronic wizardry of todays bikes it was still a awesome bike that was just as much fun to ride as anything else and while the Busa also lacks all the modern electronics it's still a great bike as is along with the rest of Suzuki's line of motorcycles. Could be Suzuki is satisfied to be where they are in the pecking order and as long as their fans/customers are happy with their products Suzuki is happy too.
    davyjones and SmittyBlackstone like this.
  12. Blakebird

    Blakebird r - u - n - n - o - f - t

    Feb 7, 2004
    Las Cruces, NM
    smaller budget and the industry is not at peak health right now.

    They were never a joke - they were a smaller company without the resources...but go back to 1977 when big 4-cylinder UJM's had been out a few years - Suzuki is late to the game leaving 2 strokes behind, but their first effort is the best handling and most comfortable bike of the bunch.
    Forty-Won, 996DL, Rider and 2 others like this.
  13. appliance57

    appliance57 Long timer Supporter

    Dec 11, 2014
    If I'm not mistaken, the Japanese government forced Kawasaki to give Suzuki the plans of their i4 so they could get a development jumpstart- and yes, the resulting engine was the best of the bunch.
    sporthog93 and SmittyBlackstone like this.

    BUZZARD II Old Geezer

    Jun 4, 2007
    Vee Strom/Wee Strom and a DR 400/650. Those are all lifetime designed motorcycles.
    Grestil, Mink, davyjones and 8 others like this.
  15. Smaug1

    Smaug1 '19 Kawasaki Versys 1000, '15 SMax

    Jun 15, 2017
    Chicago area
    I think you're wrong about that. They wouldn't be keeping up in road racing like they are if they used 15 year old engine designs.

    Also, maybe their original designs are SO GOOD to begin with, they don't need new engines every year? For example, their 645cc, 90 degree V-twin is such a masterpiece, it's still being used 20 years later, and now in two full lines of motorcycles. It's one of the all-time greats. How about that wonderful Bandit 1250 engine? It's smooth and torquey, everyone who rides it can't say enough good things about that engine. With basic mods, it makes 30% more power than stock. People do complain about budget suspension, but only after conceding that it's expected at the low price point.

    Know what else they always get right? Gearboxes and real-world bikes at fair prices. (are you listening, Honda? Yamaha?)
    EEnvy, Watercat, Forty-Won and 18 others like this.
  16. Motogasoline

    Motogasoline Been here awhile

    Feb 8, 2018
    New York
    I think a lot of buyers buy on impulse when a new model presents itself. Honda is constantly updating and changing models around. In 10 years half of their models won't be offered anymore. Suzuki covers all the bases well enough imo although the vstrom 1000 needs a drive shaft...
  17. Anthiron

    Anthiron Hell hath no fury like a womans scorn for Sega

    Aug 4, 2017
    Sunshine Coast QLD Australia
    I think Suzuki just has a different business plan.

    You don't need a new engine every 2 years to stay relevant. Their approach seems to be to develop and sell well engineered and long living motorcycles that gain solid followings.
    If people are spending their money on Suzukis then why spend money on unneeded R&D.

    Suzuki is my favorite of the big Jap brands. I think they get it right.
  18. Oilhed

    Oilhed MarkF Supporter

    Oct 17, 2003
    Back in the day the Suzuki UJM and metric cruiser was a good, reliable, reasonably priced version of what Honda & Kawi already made. Then along came the GSXR. Cutting edge and great for decades. The Bandit was a just ok bargain bike. Then came the 650 & 1000cc V twins in both streetbike & V strom. Again good discount bikes. So Suzuki hasn’t fallen. The GSXR was the anomaly. Suzuki has always made a good reliable discount bike. And cars too!
    jfman, Jim K., Night_Wolf and 4 others like this.
  19. hypersports

    hypersports Been here awhile

    Jul 22, 2018
    Boise, ID
    Suzuki was always a joke? Come on now. In the early 80's when the sportbike revolution was taking hold Suzuki had the biggest balls and was freaky enough to be the first to put what was really a track bike with lights in the showrooms. Remember how cool the first Interceptors were? Then the Ninjas and everything was changing so fast. But then...holy shit. The GSX-R changed it all. From club racing to superbike, they had massive sales long before Spies and Mladin. Yeah, they haven't tried to be first with all of the latest and greatest but I think they've always put out quality stuff. I think in 2010 they didn't bring any new models here to the states as there was still so much leftover so like others have said, kudos for staying the course and surviving. Let alone what they're doing in Moto GP now...
  20. Tripped1

    Tripped1 Smoove, Smoove like velvet.

    Aug 6, 2009
    The R1 beat the K series GSXR to the show room by 2 years.

    I had a K1 and K2 I still miss those little missiles