Review: Suzuki GSX-R150

It's no pretender in the small sport bike class
by Carlo Chungunco | Nov 15, 2017

Suzuki Philippines has unveiled the smallest entry in its venerable Gixxer line. Meet the GSX-R150, which, despite its small engine, is attempting to make its mark in the small sport bike category where there are only a handful of entrants.

A sport bike is one of the most exciting motorcycles that a person can buy. They come equipped with an extremely aggressive riding position that ensures that, through positioning a rider right on top of a tank, the bike can get the most out of a sweeping and winding road.

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That riding position, however, is also what makes a sport bike a very personal decision. It’s personal because not everyone can, or is willing to, contort their bodies to be able to fit on a sport bike.

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Bearing the GSX-R name and paint scheme, does this little 150cc bike actually earn the moniker? Or is it a mere pretender, cashing in on the GSX name? Let’s suit up and find out.

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Squint and you’ll swear this is its bigger brother, a GSX-R750. That’s because the bike possesses the same paint scheme and design language as the legendary middleweight sport bike higher in the range.

The only thing that gives up the charade are the skinny tires. But other than that and the generally slimmer chassis, the bike is a dead ringer for the 750. This uncanny resemblance means that the GSX-R150 has the looks of a legitimate sport bike.

From the swooping lines to the front fairing, the overall look is one that exudes sportiness; a look that helps it stand out in the crowded small bike market.

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Straddling the bike, one thing becomes clear: This is no pretender to the sport bike class.

You are greeted by an extremely aggressive riding position that puts a lot of weight on your wrists. If you are not used to riding sport bikes, or if, like me, you're on the taller side of the height spectrum, prepare yourself for a steep learning curve.

With my 6'2" frame, the bike bordered on unrideable. The position of my body in such a far forward position placed so much weight on my wrists that I couldn’t ride the bike for anything longer than an hour without taking a break, lest my wrists snap clean off.

But if you're looking for the most aggressive small bike in the market today, the baby GSX is your best bet to get the knee-down action sport bike fanatics crave.

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The 147cc single-cylinder exudes a racy vibe. Peak power comes in at a stratospheric 10,500rpm, and that, coupled with the six-speed transmission, means that to keep the bike going at a good clip, one must constantly wring its neck and rev the engine to the high heavens before shifting.

At only 18.9hp, the GSX won’t set your pants on fire. But with the engine screaming toward the redline and snicking through the gears, the bike feels fast. And for a sport bike, feeling like one is going fast is better than actually going fast.

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The aggressive riding position, while terrible in the city and commuting, is amazing given a winding mountain road. A full race tuck is possible thanks to the clip-on bars, provided that you are of a modest height and the set-back foot pegs provide a truly sporty ride.

The front and rear disc brakes provide adequate stopping power while the telescopic front and swing-arm rear suspension setup soaks up bumps and allows the rider to take corners without fear of the bike’s balance being upset by undulations on the road.

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The GSX has features that best more expensive big bikes. It has a great and legible LCD dash with a gearshift indicator, and it came equipped with an innovative smart key system that allowed me to start the bike without ever inserting a key.

When the key is within range, all you need to do is twist the ignition knob, which makes the bike look for the key. And once ready, the bike can then start and set-off. This reduces time spent fumbling for a key and doing something as outdated as inserting it in the keyhole. It’s a great system that really ought to be standard in all bikes, whatever the price.

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The GSX-R truly lives up to the GSX name—a sport bike through and through. Save for the smaller displacement engine and diminutive dimensions, this bike is a purebred machine designed to carve the corners of your favorite track or mountain road. If you are in the market for something small, light and sporty, and if your physique can survive the relatively cramped dimensions, the GSX-R150 may be the bike for you.

SPECS: Suzuki GSX-R 150

Engine: 147cc, 4-stroke, DOHC, 4-valve, single cylinder 

Power: 18.9hp @ 10,500rpm

Torque: 14Nm @ 9,000rpm

Transmission: 6-speed

Price: P156,000

Score: 16/20

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PHOTO: Carlo Chungunco
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