Suzuki RF900R

Suzuki RF900R – Fast Classic Road Test

Suzuki RF900R Road TestBuilt on a budget, the RF900R raided the GSXR parts bin to create a machine not that far away from the performance and looks of the opposition. Based heavily upon the GSXR1100 bottom end, Suzuki chose to use smaller vales and carburettors than those used on the aggressive Gixxer to create a machine with amazing tractability and day-to-day usefulness.

When first introduced many thought Suzuki had found the answer to the Fireblade, but in reality Suzuki took a more cautious approach particularly when it came to costing. Three was no cutting edge technology involved in the design of the RF; it was and still is a simple machine that performs very well in a wide theatre of operations. In 1994 the RF was successful in several long distance record attempts, using Metzeler tyres and some serious riding talent the Suzuki averaged and impressive 162mph for one hour and 152mph for 24 hours.

Suzuki RF900R
The huge beam frame isn’t alloy, but a far cheaper to produce hollow steel affair painted to match the bodywork, while the suspension and other cycle parts have been similarly compromised. The forks are hard and feel to be over damped but load the RF up and get moving and it all makes sense. The forks where replaced two years into the life of the RF, giving some adjustability in the rebound department but this doesn’t push up prices of the newer version by much as the real world differences are hard to appreciate and many people choose to simply up rate the internal cartridges with after market items. The four-pot Nissin brakes up front grab a pair of dinner plate size rotors and are adequate but not quite as impressive as the other sports machines from the period.

With its Ferrari like side louvers the RF cuts a dash, although once on the move the old school Gixxer engine shows its bulk. Even with the engine thrown forward 19 degrees in the steel frame the centre of gravity cant hide the mass that is really early 90s thinking brought up to date. The radiator is a large curved affair enabling the engine to sit further forward nearer to the front wheel and this helps the handling somewhat.

There is bags of power on tap but great rewards can be had by keeping the revs down a shade, even though the tacho happily swings around to 12k, the peak of the power is had some 2k less, while the max torque is found 1k further down the rev range. Just keep short shifting and the Gixxer 11 gearbox handles the job with ease. For the most part the machine can be left in top gear, as it will easily roll on from 30mph up to full chat without the need for deft left footwork, making it the ideal tool for stress free mile munching.

RF900RBeing the black sheep of the mid 90s Superbike brat pack, prices are ridiculously cheap and you may find it easier to go for the big Suzuki rather than find a decent 600. This makes perfect sense as those in the know will have experienced the VFR like grunt and touring ability while at the same time enjoying sharp handling and neck whipping acceleration. It’s a Jekyll and Hyde act second to none, able to cut the mustard in all but the fiercest “B road” dogfights while also lugging some huge loads and two people over long distances with ease. One greatly missed item especially for touring is a fuel gauge, Suzuki opted to use a warning light instead, this illuminates with just under a gallon left to go and steadily glows brighter and brighter as the point of no return approaches. The crazy thing is many bikes in the S line up get a gauge, but the one machine that really needs one misses out!

RF900R Road TestThis foible aside however, the RF makes for a stunning modern classic for those looking for the convenience, speed, and outright power of a modern machine without the huge bills.

Suzuki RF900R Specifications

Engine – liquid cooled, Four cylinder, inline, four stroke, DOHC
Capacity – 937cc
Bore & stroke – 73mm x 56mm
Compression Ratio – 11.3:1
Carburation – 4 x Mikuni BDST36 36mm
Max Power – 125bhp @ 10,000pm
Torque – 71ft-lbs @ 9000rpm
Ignition – CDI
Transmission – 5-speed, wet-clutch, chain final-drive
Frame – Steel perimeter
Suspension – 43mm telescopic forks, single shock rear
Wheels – 120/70 x 17, 170/60 x 17
Brakes – 2 x 310mm discs, 4-piston Nissin calipers, 240mm disc 2-piston caliper
Wheelbase – 1440mm
Weight – 203kgs
Fuel capacity – 21 litres
Top speed – 162mph

Suzuki RF900R Gallery

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