And welcome to another edition of the Arctic Ride blog! My trip might be a distant memory (last year in fact) but there is still plenty to come from me both for Arctic Ride 2014 post trip (like this blog) and future adventures.
I'm pleased to announce that earlier this week my blog reached 45,000 views which I am both pleased and humbled about.
So with this blog I wanted to share my thoughts on the bike I rode on my ride to the Arctic this year, the Suzuki GSX650F. I've had many people ask me to review the bike and, well, here it is.
|My GSX 650F and I at the Arctic Circle in Norway|
As a background in my 9 years of riding I've ridden a smallish cross section of bikes, but I feel it has been enough for me to put some context behind my views on the GSX650F. An example of some of the bikes I have ridden include my first bike, Suzuki Marauder 125, a Yamaha Virago 535, Kawasaki ER5, SV650S, BMW LT 1200, Harley Davidson Street Glide 1800, and a Kawasaki KX125.
On to the GSX650F, I made some slight modifications for my trip. I fitted the bike with 2 Givi MonoKey sideboxes, and a 46lt Givi MonoKey topbox. As well I had a gel touring seat and a tankbag.
|Lift off: The Suzuki at my starting point, St Mary's Lighthouse, Whitley Bay|
I had an overriding memory of riding in the arctic on my bike and that was "This bike must be the best 'mid range' touring bike there is" and this is why:
I rode just over 6,000 miles in 3 weeks, and did some days in excess of 600 miles and not once did I feel uncomfortable to the point where I had to pull over, which I've had on other bikes I've ridden in the past. The bike is easy on the wrists when gripping the bars, the seat and leg position allows an upright body position, and fairing keeps the most of the wind off you.
Speed and Power
With 85bhp with a weight of around 216kgs this bike has plenty of power to deal with all real world situations on the road. Ok, it can't do 180mph like its big cousin the GSX-R 1000 but its got everything you could ask for on the road. On the autobahn it easily kept up with the traffic doing 100+mph. On the Norwegian country roads, even fully loaded with 3 touring boxes, power to nip past camper vans and Volvo estates was no problem at all. It was so easy in fact I started calling 3rd and 4th gears 'The sling shot' as a drop down of the gear and a twist of the throttle and I was past anything that was in my way.
Fuel Economy and Range
The bike more than matched my expectations of a 650 and was surprisingly good on fuel both on the motorways and on the twisty country roads of Scandinavia. It cost me around £18 to fill the tank in the UK (at 125p p/l at the time of the trip) and this would see my through 150 good paced motorway miles and around 180-190 on the twisty slower roads, which certainly helped when putting 6,000 miles worth of fuel in the tank over 3 weeks.
Price and ££££
I was a lucky biker when I picked up my GSX650F for sub £2,500 for a bike with less than 10k miles on the clock and only just needing an MOT. Even from new the price compared to other bikes used for touring its very very cheap. It also benefits from a moderate insurance group and a wide range of cheap parts, which are readily available due to it having the same engine and frame as the new Suzuki bandit 650.
|A factory Spec Suzuki GSX650F|
I would highly recommend any tourers or weekend riders looking for a good priced bike to take a look at the 650F. I've been nothing but impressed with this machine and love to see more of them taking the adventures they deserve. All specs from the bike included below.
If you have any questions you would like to ask me about the bike that isn't cover please comment below.
Engine: 656cc, liquid-cooled, DOHC, 16 valve, four cylinder, four-stroke
Power: 85bhp @ 8,900rpm
Front suspension: 41mm Kayaba forks, adj for preload
Rear suspension: Kayaba shock, link type, adj for preload and rebound damping
Front brake: 310mm discs, four-piston calipers
Rear brake: 240mm disc, two-piston caliper
Dry weight: 216kg (claimed)
Seat height: 770mm
Fuel capacity: 19l
Top speed: 130mph (est) (I've tested it to 115mph on the autobahn)