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Whacky! The first word which comes to mind when you lay eyes on the new Suzuki Intruder 150. Some bits are really nice, while other bobs are pretty tacky.
As I headed to Lavasa for the first ride of the Intruder 150, I couldn’t help but wonder at Suzuki’s choice of location for a cruiser motorcycle. Lavasa has been made famous by motorcyclists of Pune as the perfect ghat section, which isn’t the natural home for a cruiser. But as I rode the curves I was pleasantly surprised to be proved wrong, more on that later…
There are a few motorcycles in the world which bring together a common motorcyclists consensus about its aesthetics. The Suzuki Intruder 150 isn’t one of them. It is difficult to brand it gorgeous or downright ugly. The front will leave you delighted and the rear will leave you flabbergasted. I am not someone who generally cares about looks, because it is so subjective. But the Intruder leaves me perplexed. The bike looks muscular and intimidating from the front three quarters with the big headlight dome, 41mm chunky forks and the flowing plastic shrouds. It gives an impression of a motorcycle larger than its 150 mill. From the rear, it resembles a maxi-scooter to be really generous!
In detail the Intruder has quality plastics and components. At no point of time will you find anything looking cheap. The only thing which sticks out like a sore thumb are the RVMs; chrome where there is almost none on the rest of the motorcycle. Simple black ones would have sufficed.
Look beneath and the Intruder 150 is basically the same as the successful Gixxer 155. The same engine, chassis and suspension with all of it tweaked a bit for the cruiser layout. The Intruder uses a different gearing ratio, with the rear sprocket having an extra tooth. The Airbox is also different, a bigger intake and a different exhaust is employed on the Intruder. The chassis is essentially the same. A longer swing arm and a different rake angle increase the wheelbase and give the bike decidedly cruiser ergonomics. These along with the cosmetic changes add 8 kg over the Gixxer.
Whether you like how the motorcycle looks or not, you surely cannot ignore it. Wherever we rode the bike, people would stop to stare and click pictures. But the proof of the pudding is in the eating and the Intruder turned out to be one delicious package. If you can forget the appearance for a minute (and it is pretty darn hard to do that!) then you will truly appreciate the Intruder for what it is. Throw a leg over the saddle and settle in, because you are in for a proper joy ride.
The sweet motor from the Gixxer makes its appearance as you thumb the starter and the Intruder rumbles to life and settles into a steady rhythm. The same tractable motor does a fantastic job of getting you around the blocks, riding at 1st Gear slow traffic speeds or even providing sufficient grunt to keep you happy mid-corner. Of course even the 14 Nm struggles to accelerate up a slope with a pillion. But the fact that you expect it to do so, just shows how good this 154.9cc mill is.
The 5-speed gearbox is slick, with a heel-toe type shifter, which is easy to use with riding boots. Though I did manage to get my boot stuck between the footpeg and gear lever once. The clutch is light and will be comfortable to use for heavy traffic and I didn’t experience false neutrals at any point of time.
Brakes are as good as the Gixxer, progressive and with good feel and bite. You can get it stopped in a hurry. The safety net of ABS is always present in case you find yourself in a sticky situation, though it is a single channel unit. The tyres and wheels are the same as the Gixxer and therefore perform as per expectation.
The saddle is plush and broad and the pillion should be reasonably happy as well, while the footpeg-saddle-handlebar triangle was near perfect for my 5’11’’ frame. Though I reserve my comment till we take it for a substantially longer spin. The suspension is firm and tuned for better handling, though it did manage to absorb the bumps and potholes on the post-monsoon Lavasa roads.
What really makes you sit up and take notice is the handling. The bike handles almost as well as the Gixxer 155, which is a very big deal. It is light, nimble and can be thrown around with aplomb. It feels stable through the corners and does a decent job of changing direction. Slow speed U-turns are also disposed off with ease. Even the mild bit of off-pavement excursions we threw at it was swallowed wholeheartedly. That is when you realise why Suzuki held the first ride on the curves of Lavasa. This cruiser shines in the corners.
Lighting on the bike is taken care of by a 35W halogen with an LED pilot lamp and taillamp, though the trafficators miss out on the LED treatment.
The Intruder 150 is very much a Gixxer 155 in different clothing. A bike which will bring a smile on the face of the rider. Buy it if you like or are indifferent to the looks, don’t if you think it is a monstrosity! This is a big step-up from the limited competition in every respect. The price is Rs 98340/- Ex-Showroom Delhi, which is a cool 17k more than the Bajaj Avenger 150. Commuters and college kids will be happy to have more options in this niche segment. Which of the two will they buy? We are very keen to find out.
Photos: Mohit Gena