Jun 5, 2006

Suzuki Zeus Ride Report

Girls, Suzuki Zeus and Suzuki India Md Katsumi Takata
I finally managed to snag a ride on the new Suzuki Zeus. In a word? Okay.

The good news

  • The engine's a beaut in behaviour terms, between 2500 and 5500 rpm, it's
    a brilliant, creamy, effortless performer. Outside of that? Look in the bad news
  • The powertrain is very refined. No vibes, no snatches, no snags, no jerks
    Just pure, liquid energy coursing its way to the rear wheel
  • The gearbox shifts positively, and is very slick. Slightly notchy still, but my bike had just about 40 km on the clock when I rolled out of the showroom
  • Grips and vibe dampers are both of exceptional quality
  • Feels very stable on the brakes. Brakes well, with feel. Pricol master
    cylinder looks good too
  • Mirrors are good, stay vibe free, more or less and are very adjustable for
    a superb rear view
  • Seat appears to be comfy. My ride lasted a bit more than an hour. No aches
  • Key is a nice one. Very similar to a Hayabusa key, they tell me
  • Fairly 'thumpy' (likeable) exhaust note
  • Meters looks very clean, very readable. Very er... businesslike
  • Short, even stubby tank is a nice one to hug. Feels good. Tucking ankles all the way in along the leading edge of well-bulged sidepanels feels good
  • Fairing looks good on it own. The four-screw fly screen looks great. Is a little lost on the black bike, though
  • Decal quality is very high
  • Street oriented quick turning sort of handling package. No comment on high speed stability and cornering ability yet
The bad news
  • The engine seems to have little or no zest below 2500 and runs very obviously out of breath just past 7000 rpm. I understand that the torque peak is an unprecedented 4000 rpm and all, but running out of breath almost before stuff like the Bajaj Discover has even peaked!
  • No alloys
  • No electric starter model yet
  • Front-end feels a bit bouncy when riding single (no comments on two up riding, none done)
  • Switchgear, while comprehensive, feels below par. Especially detest, even abhor, the pass switch, feels spongy and unresponsive. Most of the time, I could not tell if the headlight came on or not. That sucks.
  • The gear indicator looks gizmo-ey, and isn't of any use whatsoever. Especially with a gearbox this slick and well-tuned
  • Neutral can be obstinate if you've already stopped. Very easy to get if you're still rolling, though
  • Engine cowl is useless. In black, it's just too hidden to actually add/subtract from the Zeus' looks
  • Sidepanels are screw type... slightly unsafe
  • Indicators look a bit big, and too stodgy square. Could have been a sleeker shape
  • Ride quality overall is a bit on the bouncy side. I'd say Disco and Gladiator definitely ride better than this. Shine is even, I think
I'm not impressed. It isn't a poor bike by any standard, but the most attractive part of the Suzuki Zeus (and Heat) appears to be the engine. Especially in heavy to light traffic. On the open road, I can't help but think that the bike will be nowhere. Further, there are better overall packages on sale right now, and the Zeus, unlike the Heat does not even enjoy a price advantage. To make matters worse, while some parts are of noticeably higher quality than the competition, others feel below par (the chain tensioners at the end of the swingarm are HORRIFYINGLY shoddy). A bit of mish-mash really.

Outlook: I don't see Suzuki making a significant dent in the 125cc market with these motorcycles. The Heat looks very, very rural and not one city type will get caught dead on one. On the other hand, the Zeus is very anonymous to look at and I don't think quality (that too in fits and starts) alone will be enough. Er.. so sorry.

My picks in the 125? Still Disco and Gladiator.

Other posts about
All the 125s: Table
Hero Honda Glamour FI: Release
Yamaha Gladiator: Images Launch Expo photos Expo text Compared to the Shine
Suzuki Heat: Expo text Expo photos
Honda Shine: Mumbai launch TVC criticism Launch Compared to the Gladiator
TVS Victor Edge/GLX: Launch

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