Test ride: Magic middleweight - Suzuki GSX-8S

Whoever coined the expression good things come to those who wait obviously knew how long it would take Suzuki to launch a new naked middleweight.

The SV650 was a trend-setter but has been around nearly a quarter of a century. For all its charm, it is feeling its age despite still being held in great affection by V-twin lovers.

The all-new GSX-8S could not have come at a better time in a year that will be remembered for several new middleweight motorbikes.

The GSX-8S is the motorbike I have most looked forward to riding this year.

As stylish, sporty, slimline naked motorbikes go, Suzuki has nailed it. The GSX-8S’s lines are modern, picking up the twin stacked headlights that are a big part of Suzuki’s modern design language.

For me, it looks best in white with the blue frame and wheels. The all-blue and all-black ones are just a little too, well, blue and black.

The new 776cc, parallel twin engine is a gem. It develops a useful 82.9PS at 8,500rpm and 78Nm of torque at 6,800rpm.

It has a delightful spread of punchy power, especially with the engine in A (active) mode which gives the sharpest ride-by-wire electronic throttle response. I preferred the less aggressive B (basic) mode for urban riding. C (comfort) mode offers a softer, more relaxed response for touring and riding in wet, slippery conditions and bad weather.

It pulls cleanly in the lower gears from little more than 2,000rpm, making it easy and relaxing to ride in traffic and poodling on cross-country routes. Wind back the throttle and the GSX-8S leaps forward, revving freely, accompanied by a purposeful exhaust note.

Suzuki claims 67mpg overall but a real-world 58mpg, with some enthusiastic riding, will please most riders.

Twin 310mm front discs are predictable, progressive and powerful when needed, backed up by a 240mm rear disc.

The six-speed gearbox is a delight. It is slick and sweet, even more so with a standard quickshifter doing away with the need to use the clutch although it is smoother going up the gears.

The inverted front forks have no adjustment while the rear shock adjusts only for preload but, apart from the back end feeling a little firm at low speed, the set-up copes with most conditions and brings out the best of the agile handling.

The GSX-8S is well-balanced at low speeds and a low seat means smaller rider can get both feet on the ground. A long wheelbase makes for high-speed stability and comfort, inspiring confidence on twisty roads.

The riding position is natural and comfortable, with little wind buffeting at speed.

The full-colour five-inch TFT dash is easy to navigate, giving plenty of information without being crowded.

I rode the GSX-8S much longer, and further, than I had planned and reluctantly took it back to the showroom. It is a bike I could easily live with.

It’s not the cheapest middleweight, at £7,999, but is well finished, despite some cheap-looking plastics, equipped and good to ride.

For many riders, whether moving up to a bigger bike or downsizing to something smaller yet still fun to ride, it is all the motorbike you’ll ever need.

Suzuki has nailed it with the GSX-8S which was well worth the wait.

Check out the full Suzuki GSX-8S specification at orwell.co.uk/suzuki/new-suzuki-motorcycle-range/street/gsx-8s

See our video review at youtu.be/8OUZFjb2cZM