The evolution of the Indian motorcyclist is delightful since we've gone from crawling on all fours - considering motorcycles just as a means of transport to confidently sprinting on two legs - understanding that motorcycles offer way more than transport. Performance orientation is spilling from higher classes of motorcycles to mass-market ones. India now has full-grown sports motorcycles in the 125cc segment as well. But the first segment in the mass market category to incline towards sporty performance was the 150cc.
Suzuki Gixxer has come to be a promising choice for anyone looking for sporty design and ride dynamics. In fact, they have the 155cc engine in a naked streetfighter avatar and a fully faired one as well. So, if the engine and chassis are the same, which one must you opt for?
The basic difference between the Suzuki Gixxer and Suzuki Gixxer SF is obvious. The SF comes bolted with wind deflecting plastic on either side, but it most certainly makes it look more proper.
The name Gixxer comes from Suzuki's big bike lineup GSX-R, which with love is pronounced Gixxer around the world. The R series is the fully-faired one and the GSX-S series is the one for nakeds. No doubt, the baby Gixxers pick design cues from their elders. But they do so in a very subtle way, compared to how extreme the Intruder 150 is in wanting to look like the real deal.
The Gixxer SF most definitely looks cooler and has a stronger presence on the road, especially since it now picks design and styling from the Gixxer SF 250. The Gixxer, on the other hand, looks compact, tidy, and the front-end with its big LED headlamp looks stylish.
Engine & performance
The two are powered by a 155cc single-cylinder fuel-injected engine paired with a five-speed transmission. With 14 bhp and 14 Nm, the engine and throttle response feel appropriately sprightly for within city commutes and most of its grunt lies in the low and mid-range. On paper, the new Gixxer 155 engine has slightly lost power but it doesn't really reflect on the way it responds. Gear shifts are smooth and hassle-free. In very broad terms, I found the Gixxer's ride smoother and it feels more nimble compared to the fully-faired one.
The Gixxer and Gixxer SF will easily do speeds of up to 122 km/h but the engine sits the most comfortable at 70-80 km/h without it feeling stressed. Engine vibrations are barely a problem and only creep in the top range of rev band, but are still not a problem. The Gixxer and Gixxer SF 155 deliver on fuel economy of about 42-46 kmpl (city and highway combined) depending upon the riding style and requirement.
The second most prominent difference between the two is how you interact with them. The Gixxer SF clearly has the rider more committed to a spirited ride style with lowered handlebars delivering on a sporty stance. You can crouch low and lean into corners with much more ease compared to the Gixxer which offers an upright riding stance. But then it translates to better comfort. Having said that, the Gixxer SF is a great mix of comfort and commitment.
The wheelbase of the new Gixxer SF has been increased a bit and the effect it has had is that the fully-faired baby Gixxer now has more stability on high speeds. The two are lightweight bikes, to begin with, but owing to the rider geometry on the two motorcycles, the Gixxer feels lighter on the handlebar and is easier pull in and out of parking as well. For someone very new to motorcycling, the Gixxer makes for a brilliant package to go for.
Brakes and suspension
Now, this is a subject the Gixxer and Gixxer SF have covered rather well. The bite from disc brakes on both ends feels appropriate in a sudden-but-subtle way. The rear brake is especially impressive considering that it provides only about 30% of the full braking capability but even so delivers on a good bite. In a very slow-crawling traffic situation, the Gixxer and Gixxer SF can rely on the rear alone. The single-channel ABS is responsive and the feedback on the brake lever is subtle.
The suspension setup with telescopic forks up front and a monoshock at the rear is on the plusher side of the spectrum. So, the ride is comfortable on both Gixxer & Gixxer SF and they keep the rider comfy in their occasional venture on bad roads as well, but if I were to pick one in terms of comfort – it'll have to be the streetfighter version.
Which one then?
Design is an extremely subjective matter and you could love the 'racer' appeal of the full fairing or the simplistic yet sporty disposition of the naked streetfighter. The Gixxer and Gixxer SF are both looking better with their 2019 upgrades, but then you must consider if you're willing to indulge in sporty riding and hope to lean through entry and exits of highways or is it comfort you're chasing after.
2019 Suzuki Gixxer - Rs 1 lakh (ex-showroom, New Delhi)
2019 Suzuki Gixxer SF - Rs 1.09 lakh (ex-showroom, New Delhi)
The Gixxer is better value for money as it delivers on sporty performance for about Rs 9600 less on the ex-showroom price compared to the SF. But then, the Gixxer SF looks brilliant for its price and feels sportier as well. If you plan to upgrade to bigger sports motorcycles eventually, the Gixxer SF is a great place to start and if design really is all that important, Suzuki also retails MotoGP livery for the SF. But if you're only looking to do sensible commutes, the naked Gixxer will check all boxes on comfort, style, safety, and fuel efficiency is respectable as well.