Thread: B-King: Owners First Report
B-King: Owners First Report
A “Real World” Report On the B-King
Having purchased one of the first B-Kings delivered to US Suzuki dealers, I can tell you a bit about what it is REALLY like to own one. Since there are virtually no owner reports on the net, I figured you all might find this report interesting.
I’m 52 years old and have ridden mostly Triumphs, BSAs, Hondas and Harleys throughout my life. For a brief period (when I was very young) I owned and drag-raced an extremely ill-behaved, Kawasaki 750, three cylinder, 2-stroke Mach IV fire-breathing demon. Despite the fact that it was one of the most foul-tempered motorcycles I had ever ridden, I loved it.
It was incredibly fast for its day and could eat any other stock bike in the quarter mile. Since then, I have always had a soft spot for really fast drag bikes.
Anyway, for my second mid-life crisis I decided I wanted a drag bike with a Hayabusa engine that would not require twice-weekly visits to the Chiropractor and a cup jockstrap to ride. Additionally, since I hate the plastic shrouds on modern sportbikes, I wanted a naked bike. At the time (about 2-3years ago) there was nothing stock that met my requirements.
However, I had been reading about the B-King and decided to wait for its promised appearance.
My long wait was rewarded when my Suzuki dealer called me in November and told me that he had just received an all-black B-King and that if I wanted it, I best get my butt out there and put some money down on it. One look at the bike and I gave him the earnest money and quickly arranged financing.
The B-king in all-black looks quite a bit different than the two-tone bike. The black is composed of both gloss and matte black parts which flow together into an understated, smoothly-matched, subtly-contrasting finish. The all-black B-king looks overwhelmingly powerful but still very well-composed and regal. On the other hand, the two-tone motorcycle, IMHO, looks garish, comic-bookish and seemingly tries too hard to attract attention.
I suspect the two-tone color scheme of the pre-release “test” B-Kings was responsible for a fair amount of the negative press regarding the bike’s appearance.
I was nervous preparing to leave the dealership since I had very little experience riding the B-King (two miles) and had well over 30 miles to ride before reaching home. The first thing I noticed, throwing my leg over the bike, was how high the rear-end was. It felt like I was climbing on a Harley fat bob with a low sissy bar.
However, once my leg cleared the jutting exhaust cans and tail, I slid down easily “into” the motorcycle’s relatively low seat. Again, continuing on with the fat bob theme, for a few moments the fuel tank and bulging airbox nacelles overwhelmed everything else in my field of view.
Adjusting myself in the seat, I brought the sidestand up, pulled in the clutch, turned the key in the ignition, flipped the kill switch to “on”, then watched and listened with delight as the computerized cockpit lit up and the fuel pump awoke with a whine. A slightly more than one-second push on the starter button and the engine rumbled happily to life. Within two seconds it was running slick as Teflon with nary a hint of roughness.
Still, as I prepared to Flintstone-mobile the bike from the service area, I was very much aware of its big, bulky fuel tank-airbox combo. It made the bike feel top-heavy and clumsy. Manhandling the over 550 lb. quietly idling machine out the dealer’s door reinforced my impression of the B-King’s apparent unwieldiness. This added to my apprehension of the ride ahead.
I worried that the bike would prove to be top heavy and hard to control. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Toe-wrestling the reportedly “smooth as silk” gearbox into first gear took a bit of doing. Apparently, my transmission not having been broken in yet was still factory stiff and moderately uncooperative compared to those of the pre-release, B-King test bikes. Nonetheless, once in first gear, I cracked the throttle gently fearing an embarrassing (and potentially terminal) wheelie. To my great relief, the power came on smoothly and the bike took off briskly but quite under control.
Fortunately, the terrifying visions of my legs flying out from behind me as the bike wheelied off into the sunset failed to materialize.
Now underway, the bike handled smoothly with no hint of clumsiness or top-heaviness. My confidence growing a bit I headed for the highway entrance ramp. I was looking forward to giving my new machine some exercise.
The ramp was about an eighth of a mile long and relatively deserted. I decided to get frisky and roll on some throttle. The acceleration was virtually instaneous. I felt my eyebrows rapidly migrating to the back of my head as my tongue slammed into the roof of my mouth.
My eyeballs were flattening against the back of my skull when I realized I was doing almost 90 mph and was completely out of ramp. Rolling off the throttle a bit I merged with traffic and checked my speed. I was doing 85mph and feeling quite proud of myself for having already “wrung-out” this killer motorcycle. However, once I looked at the tachometer, I peeked around embarrassedly hoping no one had been able to see my cocky expression.
The tach was reading 3400RPM. I had barely bumped the King’s leviathan mill off idle and it was just loafing along at 85mph. I was amazed.
The ride home was a blast but relatively uneventful. It did dawn on me that it was going to be very difficult to use more than a quarter turn of the throttle anywhere in or near this city. The engine delivers so much power so quickly that you hit triple digit speeds long before you come remotely close to redline. Power delivery is smooth and linear even though I get the distinct impression the big mill is waiting impatiently to be let free of its bounds.
The bass throb of the engine and the bike’s effortless, multiple G-pulling acceleration act as reminders of the monstrous power and performance awaiting anyone willing to let go of the beast’s leash.
The vertical seating position, merciful foot peg placement and broad seat make for a reasonably comfortable ride even for these old bones. However, I have yet to spend more than a few hours on the relatively thin saddle and will have to report back on my butt condition after I experience more lengthy rides.
While I haven’t taken the bike to a track or even run it particularly hard yet, I can say that the suspension is excellent and soaks up most nasty road conditions without a stutter, shudder, shimmy or hop. The brakes are top-notch and I haven’t noticed any fade even after fairly heavy use in stop-and-go-traffic. The steering damper works and there is no tendency for front wheel wobble whatsoever.
Cornering has also been effortless though I will admit that the King is a handful in a tight parking lot. However, it is still much easier to maneuver than any big cruiser.
Additionally, I have to say the B-King is a cop magnet. Virtually every time I take the bike out I pick-up a police tail for at least several blocks. It’s as if, even though they don’t know what it is, they know it wants to go real fast.
I can’t explain it as it looks a lot more like a standard motorcycle than a sport bike. And, of all the bikes I’ve owned, it’s one of the quietest. So, I have to conclude that the B-King screams speed through some other form of subliminal communication. Maybe it’s the fact that most of the bike is engine or maybe it’s the odd exhaust cans. Whatever it is, if you decide to ride one, be sure you look behind yourself every few seconds.
Otherwise, that car struggling to catch up with you may have flashing lights and a driver with visions of a triple-digit speeding ticket with your name on it.
Technologically, the B-King is light years ahead of my old Kawasaki drag bike in every way. So far the fuel mapping and injection have been flawless and I have not been able to detect any flat spots in its power curve. Engine vibration, while palpable, is minimal and way below any other motorcycle I have ever owned or borrowed.
Obviously the counter-balancing is very sophisticated and effective.
Now for some quibbles:
The B-King’s fit and finish has, for the most part, been excellent. I do have an issue with the paint being overly soft and easily scratched. I have discussed it with the dealer (who has been very cooperative) and we both agree that the likely cause is insufficient curing-time.
In any case, they are communicating with Suzuki on this and I will let you know what the outcome is.
I also have an issue with the mirrors. You would think on a bike this advanced, they would have spent some time and effort on mirror functionality. Based on the way my mirrors perform, they didn’t. Both mirrors do provide me an excellent view of my elbows until I hit highway speeds (60 mph on up). After that the mirror vibration is enough to moderately distort any view.
While they are still marginally useful, I expected much better from this bike.
In summary, I have to say I do love my B-King. It is an amazing machine that is an absolute hoot to ride. There is something about being astride this bike that is completely different than any other motorcycle I have been on. I’m not sure if it’s the incredible power available at the flick of my wrist or if it’s the fact that virtually everything about it is superbly engineered and integrated. Whatever it is, I doubt any other manufacturer will be able to match it anytime soon.
I expect the B-King to reign over the stock standard bike class like its brother, the Hayabusa, has done over the stock sport bike class. IMHO, Suzuki has outdone itself with these two motorcycles. For now, nothing else even comes close!
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