Each year around this time the American International Motorcycle Expo (AIMExpo) assembles in Las Vegas to introduce new motorcycles and powersports to the press, consumers, and dealer networks. This year Suzuki decided to bring a bike that they introduced to the rest of the world back in 2016—the Suzuki GSX-R150. Does this mean that Suzuki is planning to introduce the bike in the States for 2019? For now that's not confirmed. They brought the bike to the AIMExpo as more of a marketing focus group. Suzuki wants to know if there is enough interest in this segment.
Unfortunately in the States there is a misperception held by a vocal sub-population that new riders need to start out on a manly bike. This group frequently misinforms the inexperienced that they shouldn't buy a proper bike for their ability, because in three months they'll want to sell it, and they can just use throttle control—a skill the new rider has yet to comprehend. As ridiculous as this sounds the neophytes don't know any better, and end up with bikes that quickly end their riding careers. While the occasional outlier might develop that quickly most riders would benefit from years of being on a proper sized bike. Has the rider population in the States matured enough to understand this revelation? Suzuki believes that it's a possibility.
Many of the motorcycle manufacturers already have exciting entry level product in their warehouses. For instance Aprilia has the RS50/RS125, and the GPR125, KTM has the RC125, Rieju has their Century 125, Piaggio has their Race GSR125, Italika has the RT200GP, Motorini has the MT125RRi, Yamaha has the YZF-R15, and Suzuki has the Suzuki GSX-R125/150. These bikes already meet Euro4 emission standards—which are more stringent than even California's requirements. This begs the question why aren't these bikes being marketed to a large region of North America? Well Suzuki has wondered enough to bring a couple of bikes to Las Vegas to find out, and here we are being introduced to the GSX-R150.
To help orient and compare the GSX-R150 it will be useful to employ the Aprilia RS125 4T—a bike which most regular readers will be familiar. Both bikes are in the same class, and would attract very similar buyers.
The GSX-R has a tubular mild steel frame shrouded in plastic to look as if it feature a twin spar unit (like the aluminum twin spar found on the Aprilia). Dimensions wise the seat sits at 785mm (31in), the wheel base comes in at 1300mm (51.2in), and a claimed wet weight of 131kg (289lbs)—at which the GSX-R isn't as light as the 2018 Aprilia RS125 at 120.0kg (265lbs). The front wheel measures in at 90/80-17M/C, and the rear at 130/70-17M/C. These are similar to the Aprilia, although the Aprilia's front tire is slightly larger at 100/80-17M/C. The fuel tank holds 11 liters compared to the RS's 14.5 liters.
Suspension and Brakes
The front is handled by conventional telescopic forks, with no adjustment. The rear features a mono shock linkage system with a two sided swing arm. Compared to other bikes in this class the GSX-R would be expected to have inverted forks, and yet it does not keep up with this feature.
The front brake features a two piston axial caliper with rubber lines, and a single-piston rear caliper. This is another area where the GSX-R pales in comparison to the competition. The Aprilia RS features a four piston radial front caliper with brained lines, and a 300mm disc—as does the KTM RC.
Suzuki’s 147cc Powerplant
The GSX-R150 features a water cooled 147.3cc fuel injected balanced DOHC four stroke single producing around 19hp. This is one area where the 150 is improved over its competition gaining about 4-5hp more than the 125s. There are kits available to bring those bikes up to 160cc which would ameliorate this advantage, but at stock levels the GSX-R has the power advantage.
At 147.3cc the GSX-R150 would not be allowed on the freeways in California—which is proper for a learner's bike as new riders have no business on the freeway due to their yet to be developed ability to proficiently read traffic.
Similar to the GSX-R125 14hp sibling the GSX-R150 retains the same bore of 62mm, and has increased the stroke from 41.2mm to 48.8mm adding the extra 22.9 cubes of displacement. Starting is handled by an electric motor, and there is no kickstarter. Torque is rated at 14.0Nm/9,000rpm. The transmission features a six speed gear box with a cable pulled wet clutch.
Competition: Aprilia RS125
While no retail price was discussed for North America—with current exchange rates the GSX-R150 sells for about $2900USD in the Philippines, and about $3500USD in Mexico. That's competitive with the 12" wheeled 125cc air cooled four strokes currently on the market. What would the Aprilia be in this market? That's a little harder to judge, but it would likely be more.
In many ways the GSX-R is similar to the Italika RT200GP. While the GSX-R features a water cooled engine the extra displacement of the RT compensates for this short coming. Other equipment like the chassis, suspension, and brakes are very similar between the two bikes. Compared to the KTM, and the Aprilia offerings the GSX-R comes up short. To some extent this is intended so as to be able to offer the bike at a lower price, and in that Suzuki has successfully achieved a more competitive price. The GSX-R is a good looking bike, and is available with the MotoGP livery too. That's a huge plus in the Replica scene.