Its early in the morning. I am happily cruising at 80 kmph in sixth gear on a relatively deserted Noida-Greater Noida expressway when, unexpectedly, a rookie rider on a brand-new Honda CBR 150R decides to challenge me. He goes past me, slows down, and again overtakes. In the process, I note that he has this air of superiority about his new bike. The biker in me also observes that he thinks I am riding some puny 150-cc motorcycle. Now, I respect the impressive 150-cc he is on, but my bike thinks differently. I downshift to fourth.
Pull the throttle. And in a matter of seconds the poor fellow is reduced to a mere speck in my rear-view mirror. Thats the Suzuki Inazuma for you. (In Japanese, inazuma means the lightning that strikes in a thunderstorm.) This incident, in a way, also demonstrates both the strength and the weakness of the newest quarter-litre to enter India. Sure, the Inazuma is quick but, at first glance, especially from the sides, doesnt look so.
However, on a closer inspection, especially from the front and the rear, you do realise that the Inazuma is a big bike that does justice to its quarter-litre status. The first thing you notice is a big, muscular tank. Then there is a bold front mudguard that is a size bigger than what you get in most other bikes in this segment. The one-piece seat is large and very supportive. The handlebars are wide and, in combination with the seating position, allow for a commuter-like riding posture. What attracts eyeballs are the two exhaust pipes on either sidethey make the bike look like a 500-cc one. Yes, it has got a solid presence but, beyond that, the bike fails to excite you. First, the headlamp design is basicsome may even find it ugly. Second, the instrument cluster, which though has all the essentials, has got some missing bits; for example, at one time, you can either see the odometer or the digital clock, not both. Then, some riders, if they are wearing gloves, may find it inconvenient to operate the control buttons for the instrument cluster. And third, the three-spoke allow wheels wont impress everyone. One should remember that, in India, people love to show off their premium motorcyclesthe Inazuma, though unique, doesnt immediately comes across as a machine you can flaunt.
The Inazuma sits on a semi double-cradle chassis that, the company says, is designed to provide ample support for a variety of riding styles. What helps further are the tyresit rides on 110/80 tubeless front and 140/70 tubeless rear, mounted on 17-inch wheels. It has a long wheelbase of 1,430 mm and a ground clearance of 165 mm.
While on the front you get telescopic forks, the rear suspension is a monoshock system that stays hidden from view. The rear come with a seven-way adjustable spring preload that can be adjusted by removing the seat and and using the tools provided.
The bike is controlled by disc brakes on both front and rear wheels. While these provide controlled braking in most conditions, there is a glaring absence of anti-lock braking system (ABS).
The Inazuma is powered by a four-stroke, two-cylinder, liquid-cooled, SOHC engine with a displacement of 248-cc, mated to a six-speed transmission. Suzuki engines are known for their refinement and this one is no different. While low-end and mid-range performance is not exceptional, once the engine crosses 6,000 rpm, it shoots the bike ahead with a blastyes, post-6,000 rpm, the engine sound changes to a distinctive multi-cylinder one. The gears are nicely spread out, gearshift is smooth and the clutch is light.
In the city: I did four home to office and back trips (60 km a day; total 240 km) on the Inazuma and not once did I feel tired. Thats the beauty of this motorcycle. You can ride the Inazuma the whole day and the engine wont feel stressed or strained. There arent too many vibrations and an upright sitting position ensures negligible neck or shoulder soreness. The soft suspension takes care of broken roads and fat tyres keep it planted on the corners. The rear-view mirrors are large enough to show whats following you. Ridden sensibly, the Inazuma returns close to 34 kmpl in city driving conditions.
On the highway: On a well-paved and empty highway, with a correct tyre pressure, the Inazuma goes from 0-100 kmph in about 10 secondsnot the fastest in its class. But the good thing is that it doesnt lose steam from there on. With your chin kissing the tank, your eyes focused on the road and the engine blaring at 10,500 rpm, the Inazuma easily touches 135 kmph. Beyond that, the wind gets the better of you. Suzuki didnt provide us with the claimed top-speed for the Inazuma but we believe it to be over 140 kmpl. Ridden consistently at 80 kmph on the highway, the bike impressed us with a fuel-efficiency figure of 39 kmpl. A 13.3-litre fuel tank translates into a range of over 450 km. As I said, the Inazuma doesnt get ABS. Though fat IRC tyres add to braking efficiency, ABS is a necessity in todays times, especially in a quarter-litre bike.
Big bike finish, unshakeable handling, comfortable ride, long distance touring, decent fuel-efficiency there are so many things that work for the Inazuma. What doesnt work is its sticker price. Because the Inazuma is a CKD, it retails for Rs 2.99 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), which is a hefty Rs 1.45 lakh costlier than the Honda CBR 250R. (Honda has made the CBR even more exciting by launching the new Repsol edition of the bike for as little as Rs 1.87 lakh.) Even other competitorsKTM 200 Duke, Kawasaki Ninja 300 and Hyosung GT 250Rare priced lower. Add to this the fact that the Inazuma doesnt immediately comes across as a machine that you can flaunt, and this means it will have difficulty making a place for itself in the expanding quarter-litre market in India.
The fast Samurai
In Japanese, inazuma means the lightning that strikes in a thunderstorm. While low-end and mid-range performance of the Inazuma is not exceptional, once the engine crosses 6,000 rpm, it shoots the bike ahead with a blastyes, post-6,000 rpm,
the engine sound changes to a distinctive multi-cylinder one.