A new powerplant, a pair of  bikes to use it, and a new direction?

Suzuki pulled the wraps off a completely new motor this week at the EICMA in Milan, Italy, and introduced the first two bikes that will utilize the mill, the 2023 GSX-8S and V-Strom 800DE. With this completely new motor for the brand, and two bikes it will first appear in, Suzuki is committed to manufacturing a versatile powerplant that can be put to use in an ever wider array of motorcycles in the future. More on that shortly.

The 2023 Suzuki GSX-8S and V-Strom 800DE. Photos by Suzuki.

For decades, the popular V-Strom models all have utilized a v-twin configuration, much beloved by riders in dirt and on street, from the larger 1037cc engine in the recent V-Strom 1050 bikes, its predecessor the 996cc in the V-Strom 1000, and the smaller 645cc in the runaway best-seller V-Strom 650. The mill has also been used in Suzuki’s ground-breaking SV naked sport bikes, and found its way into club racing with entire classes built around their popularity. MotoAmerica still runs a Twins Cup class, first inspired and filled with SV650 bikes in its early days of running. The Suzuki V-Twins have been a hit for the brand, no doubt.

The Suzuki V-Strom 650 Rob rode across Baja. He couldn’t kill that bike.

So now they will change things up with this all-new motor, still a twin, but in a parallel configuration rather than v-twin. The new 776cc DOHC machine will be more compact, with a narrow width, short length, and light weight that will give designers much flexibility in chassis geometry for a wide variety of motorcycles.

Suzuki’s new 776cc parallel twin with 270-degree crankshaft. Photo by Suzuki.

From Suzuki: “This new parallel twin provides plenty of torque and peak power with smooth throttle response throughout its broad powerband. To avoid the deficiencies of other parallel-twin configurations this engine employs 270-degree crankshaft timing with the Suzuki patented, industry-exclusive Suzuki Cross Balancer to deliver a smooth, torque-rich experience. This innovative balancer design not only smooths operation but is key to each motorcycles’ light weight and compact size, resulting in stable and nimble handling.”

Suzuki’s proprietary Cross Balancer system in the new motor. Photo by Suzuki.

The Cross Balancer technology Suzuki has developed and patented has not previously been utilized in a production motorcycle, but will be employed now in the two 800s. It positions two balancers at 90 degrees to the crankshaft, suppressing engine vibration, makes the mill more compact from front to rear as well as lighter, and reduces the use of heavier and more complex engine mounting hardware.

A cross-section look at the 776cc motor. Photo by Suzuki.

The new mill debuted in two bikes in Milan- a 2023 GSX-8S naked sport bike, and a 2023 V-Strom 800DE adventure bike. The GSX-8S is an all-new machine for Suzuki, and seems to take aim at Triumph’s recently debuted and updated Street Triple 765 as well as Yamaha’s popular MT-07 twin. Pairing the new 776cc parallel twin mill with a completely new frame design, then installing a suite of rider aids as expected these days, the GSX-8S bumps up the power factor over the 650-class naked sports so popular right now, with the weight, agility and comfort of that class. Looks like a hit-maker for Suzuki, and we hope to get our hands on one in the coming year for review.

2023 Suzuki GSX-8S. Photo by Suzuki.

Its challenging to mess with (near) perfection, and the v-twin V-Stroms of Suzuki have been the “Everyman’s Adventure Bike” for 20 years. They’ve sold over 440K worldwide since introducing the line, with good reason. Heck, Rob fell in love with the 650 V-Strom when he toured Baja on one a few years back. Why change? How and why Suzuki decided to answer that, we like what we see in the new V-Strom 800DE. It doesn’t appear that Suzuki is replacing the 650 with this (yet), as both will be available for 2023 as of this writing. With the short, narrow, and lightweight 776 motor in this new V-Strom, and with all the suspension and rider aids employed and expected in their fantastic 1050 bikes, we’re of the opinion that this bike will sell well with the ADV crowd, given Suzuki’s expertise in this class. Taking aim at Yamaha’s wildly popular Teneré 700 maybe?

2023 Suzuki V-Strom 800DE. Photo by Suzuki.

As nice as both of these bikes look, what we found fascinating was this new 776cc parallel twin motor they’ve developed and debuted. Suzuki plans to utilize it in more models, so time will tell what new directions this powerplant will take them in. We certainly look forward to following its evolution.

Ride Life.

Road Dirt Crew

Cycle World Athens


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