In last week’s Church feature, we showcased the competent, if not boring, Kawasaki Vulcan 800 classic. This week, we turn our attention to Suzuki’s interpretation of a middleweight cruiser: the Intruder Volusia 800. While occupying a similar space in the cruiser landscape as the Kawasaki, according to Brent Avis, who penned the story, the Suzuki goes about its business in an entirely more entertaining fashion. Jump ahead 13 years to present day, and it almost seems strange to call Kawasaki the tame OEM and Suzuki the exciting one. But such were the days back then. Check out Avis’ review of the Volusia 800 below and transport yourself back to 2002.
By Brent Avis Mar. 20, 2002
Torrance, California, June 26, 2002 — In cruisers, just as in stacks of money and the size of your house, bigger is always better. It’s an unfortunate place that non-behemoth-sized cruisers inhabit, then. There’s no respect given due to their comparative performance vacuum when placed alongside such monsters as Harley V-Rods and Honda VTXs. At least, that’s the way it has always been until now.
Suzuki introduced their Volusia 800 a year (or was it two?) ago, and aimed it at cruiser enthusiasts who wanted classic cruiser looks without the classic cruiser heft – a seemingly unshakable side-effect of cruiser manufacturing. And, of course, it had to have untraditional performance.
Technically speaking, the heart of the Volusia is an 805cc, eight-valve, liquid-cooled, 45° V-twin fed by a single 34mm carburetor. Suzuki claims to have installed a short-duration cam and, of course, the tuned dual exhaust system to help make even more power out of the relatively small motor. To keep vibes to an acceptable level, the crankshaft feature 45° offset crank pins to reduce engine vibration. And to keep things “green,” a pulsed-secondary air-injection system introduces air into the exhaust ports to ignite unburned hydrocarbons and reduce emissions for bike delivered to all markets.
From the seat, just 27.6 inches from the ground, you see the fuel tank-mounted speedometer with LCD fuel gauge, clock and indicator lights. It’s your usual cruiser layout with nothing fancy and no terrible eye-sores to loose sleep over. The handlebars are wide and the foot controls are out front, though not stupidly so. Again, it’s standard take-no-chances cruiser fare pretty much across the board.
The thing that so many of us like about the smaller-displacement cruisers is the way they rev, and this Suzuki will wail. There’s none of that rev-limiter cutting in seemingly right after you’ve released the clutch and get underway. The Volusia likes to run, and by the time you realize there’s no hard limiter to bump into (the Volusia uses a soft limiter) you’ve already grabbed another gear and are on your way.
Keeping what appears to be an old-school bike current, a digital ignition system with 3-D timing maps and throttle position sensor make sure the fuel/air mixture gets lit off at the correct moment. The throttle response was excellent except for when the bike was cold. It takes a long time to get the motor up to temperature so you have to be patient before really enjoying the thing. But once warmed up, power spins from the five-speed transmission (featuring a high fifth gear ratio for relaxed highway cruising, Suzuki claims) through the shaft final-drive to the rear wheel smoothly every time the throttle is opened. Suzuki claims their shaft-drive system has “low torque reaction,” but I think all that means is that their shaft-drive system doesn’t suck. It is, in fact, pretty well-sorted out. Just like the rest of the bike.
This bike has us already preparing a few other bikes for a mid-size cruiser comparo. We’re anxious to see if there’s anything else out there that can rival this Volusia’s bang for the buck. So stay tuned, eh?
Suspension felt really soft, but that wasn’t surprising. Chassis feels solid (though it should considering it is made of metal.) The only thing not to like? The rather bland styling. It gets lost in the crowd.
Engine: 805cc, four-stroke, liquid cooled, 45° V-twin, SOHC, 8-valves, TSCC Bore & Stroke: 83.0 x 74.4mm Compression Ratio: 9.4:1 Carburetor: Mikuni BDSR34 Lubrication: Wet Sump Ignition: Digital/transistorized Starter: Electric Transmission: 5-speed Final Drive: Shaft Drive Overall Length: 2510mm (98.8 in.) Overall Width: 985mm (38.8 in.) Overall Height: 1110mm (43.7 in.) Seat Height: 700mm (27.6 in.) Ground Clearance: 140mm (5.5 in.) Wheelbase: 1655mm (65.2 in.) Front Suspension: Telescopic, coil spring, oil damped Rear Suspension: Link-type, oil damped, 7-way adjustable spring preload Front Brake: Single hydraulic disc Rear Brake: Single drum Fuel Tank Capacity: 17 liter (4.5 gal.) Claimed Dry Weight: 239kg (526 lbs.) Color: Black/Blue, Silver/Silver MSRP: $6,599
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