India may be getting a lot of big bikes soon after their global unveils, but there is no questioning the fact that we are still a commuter-driven market. While 100-125cc motorcycles lead the charts with sales of more than a million units a month, there is a sizeable market for 150cc offerings too. It is no wonder that there are 14 products on sale in this class currently. But surprisingly, of all the bike makers, Bajaj Auto has been the only manufacturer to offer a cruiser in this category so far. Suzuki has now sighted an opportunity and brought in the all-new Suzki Intruder 150. While making an impact on the 150cc segment in itself is a tall order, this new motorcycle also wears the revered Intruder badge. And then, considering the products Suzuki has launched in the past few years, it is only natural to expect more from their newest. We got a chance to ride it on the hills of Lavasa to find out if it can deliver on all these fronts.
The Incredible Bulk
Suzuki had remained extremely tight-lipped about the Suzuki Intruder 150 but a leaked image of the brochure gave us a glimpse just a few days prior to the media ride. At first, I thought it looked like a gym-rat with an extremely muscular upper body and relatively skinny legs. In fact, its voluminous design cues inspired from the larger Intruder even make the wide 140 section rear tyre look skinny. But I have to admit, pictures don’t quite do justice to the design and it gradually starts growing on you. Suzuki has smartly covered the empty spaces in the engine area with the tank extensions and the side panels. The grab rails at the back too have been integrated neatly. While the Suzuki Intruder 150 looks distinctive for the most part, its wide tail section and the unnecessarily large exhaust makes it a bit too outlandish for our taste. Suzuki is bullish about the design and claim that the Intruder 150 has been sketched keeping in mind the demands of the customers. Quality of parts is good but there are a few places with exposed wires and cables which could have been concealed in a better way.
The Intruder 150 uses the same all-digital instrument cluster as the Gixxer, which by the way, is well integrated into the front upper cowl. Other highlight features of the baby Intruder include automatic headlamps, LED taillamps and front and rear disc brakes.
New Body, Old Heart
With the kind of praise that the Gixxer’s engine has received since its launch, it doesn’t come as a surprise that Suzuki has plonked it in the Intruder as well. In this cruiser too, it continues to make 14.5bhp and 14Nm from the 154.9cc single-cylinder motor. Thumb the start button and the engine comes to life with a familiar thrum. It has adequate punch in its low and mid-range which makes it a good city cruiser, but it tends to feel out of breath towards the top. The engine is as smooth as we have always known it to be with vibrations well restricted for the most part. Suzuki says they have tinkered with the 5-speed gearbox to ensure that it is in sync with the bike’s cruiser DNA. The taller ratios allow you to extract the more from the torque output at the same time demanding fewer gearshifts. The clutch action is light and the shifts are precise too.
Now, you must be wondering why Suzuki chose to bring the carburetted engine despite having the option of the fuel injected motor. The former option has allowed them to keep the cost in check – a factor that makes a huge impact when competing with 14 other vehicles in the class.
Considering that it is a cruiser, the seating posture and ergonomics of the Intruder 150 are a lot different than its naked sibling. The front is unahced but the stretched swing arm means that the Intruder’s wheelbase is 75mm longer than that of the Gixxer. Knowing that the Intruder is targeted as a city cruiser, Suzuki has consciously managed an impressive ground clearance of 170mm (10mm more than the Gixxer). At 740mm, the seat height is considerably lower than the Gixxer too. All of this, combined the forward set foot pegs and the nicely shaped rider seat, offer an extremely comfortable riding posture. Speaking of which, the seat of the bike that we had on the test made an annoyingly squeaky sound every time I sat on the motorcycle.
The Intruder’s setup leans more towards the comfort side of things. While it absorbs most bumps and edges with great poise, the larger bumps are felt on the lower back. That, however, has more to do with the long wheelbase than the suspension setup. Of all things, it was the handling of the Intruder that impressed us the most. The bike feels nimble and we found it extremely easy to get into a nice rhythm on the twisties. So much so, that within no time I found myself going up and down the hills at Lavasa scraping the foot pegs to glory. A lot of customers wanting to buy the Intruder will possibly have concerns about the rear tyre. The Intruder sits on the same rubber as the Gixxer and it works perfectly for this motorcycle too. No doubt it looks a bit skinny under that wide body, but grip from the tyres is good. At 148kg, the Intruder is 13kg heavier than the Gixxer but the weight is well balanced. Even at slow speeds or while pushing the bike around, you don’t quite feel the additional weight. Sharp hairpins and U-turns would have been a lot easier had it been fitted with a wider handlebar though. Bite from the ABS-assisted brakes are acceptable.
While Suzuki already has the Gixxer and the Suzuki Gixxer SF in the 150cc segment, they have been smart in spotting the need for a cruiser in the class. But they have been smarter in playing safe with the Suzuki Intruder 150. It has the proven mechanicals of the Gixxer range, comfortable ride and seating posture, and great manoeuvrability, working in its favour. And then, of course, it had the advantage of ABS too. The design isn’t our personal favourite, but it may have a lot of takers for the ‘big bike feel’ it offers. With all that it offers at Rs 98,340 (ex-showroom), it is a good addition to Suzuki’s portfolio, one that Bajaj should surely be keeping a close eye on.