Intruder Alert

Warning: The muscular and mighty M1800R has attacked. We hear its making heads turn and eye balls pop. Observe caution on the road
Story Gauri Lokare
Photography Sanjay Raikar

For some, the Suzuki M1800R or the Intruder is just a big heavy cruiser boasting of colossal torque figures. One look at this massive beast and you can’t help but be awed. But for someone like me who uses a rather puny (not in India though) Royal Enfield 350cc motorcycle for daily commuting, the monstrous cruiser with the biggest capacity Suzuki engine seemed like a scaled down version of God.

The night before the day I was supposed to ride this monster, I was behaving like a silly teenager getting ready for her first date. I felt butterflies in my tummy the whole night and anxiety just wouldn’t let me be. My colleagues at Bike India too were quite apprehensive about their decision to let me swing a leg over the beast. As was evident looking at their faces, they hoped they didn’t have to regret the big decision. I wouldn’t have been surprised if an ambulance or a fire brigade was called on standby while I went for the ride. The few hours that I managed to spend in bed that night felt like an agonizing, endless nightmare. I was all geared up and raring to go much before the sun had risen.

As we reached the shoot location, I turned the key, switched on the ignition and the display lit up for the self-check. Just before I was about to press the starter switch, I whispered to the bike, “be good to me”. A gentle dab of the right thumb and the 125PS engine roared to life with a deep pulse. It may sound like exaggeration, but to me, it sounded like the birth of the Universe itself.

I literally had to sit down, take a moment and let the sight of this torquey behemoth sink in. The design works towards emphasizing the big 1800 odd cc V-twin engine rather than overshadowing it. Suzuki has taken the word ‘big’ quite seriously for the Intruder. The bike is fitted with one of the fattest rear tyre (240mm wide) available on a production bike. The fuel tank with a capacity of 19.5 liters is wide enough to hold a violin and merges seamlessly into a comfortable saddle. The tail cover, shaped like a rare diamond, easily stands apart. The frowning hooded headlight expresses a ‘don’t mess with me’ attitude. The chrome side stand which looks rather delicate is strong enough to hold the 8 feet long beast weighing a mammoth 319kg. The dual exhaust takes a seductive U-turn near the engine to point towards the 240 section rear tyre. Ending as a pair of bedazzling slashed mufflers, the chromed exhaust pipes exhibit raw oomph. This cruiser expresses aesthetic coherence brilliantly. Needless to say, the Intruder is all about road presence and attracts attention wherever you ride it. Bystanders and other commuters are dazed by the sheer sight of this monster cruising on the road.

The M1800R looks every bit a bespoke cruiser machine, but make no mistake, it draws heavily from the flagship Suzuki sportster, the GSX-R. Suzuki has always honed its technology on racetracks and they have made good use of the advancements made on the GSX-R in this cruiser. The borrowed technology bits include the dual throttle valve system, radially mounted disc brakes and dual spark plug ignition. The perky performance of the Intruder reflects the debt.

The wide handlebar is a good reach away. Get the bike rolling, take your feet up and the far stretched footpegs make the seating position feel rather awkward. It may sound as if I’m exaggerating, but the riding posture actually made me feel like an orangutan clinging from a zoo cage. I at 5 feet 8 inches and yet struggled with this rather awkward position. I can only imagine the plight of riders shorter than me. This design seems strange as compared to true blue cruisers, including the Indian ones, which are equipped with conventional laid back handlebars.

SHINE ‘EM: The frowning hooded headlight expresses a ‘dont mess with me attitude’ and makes generous use of chrome

THE CONSOLE: The speedometer firmly rests on the fuel tank while the tachometer lies in the conventional position


THE POWERPLANT: The large 1783cc V-twin fits in perfectly with the rest of the body elements with no visible see through gaps. The asymmetric layout of the header pipes gel with the bike’s curvaceous styling and recieves a similar plush chrome treatment as the engine

The Intruder, boasting impressive figures in terms of power (125PS) and torque (160Nm), is equipped with brakes to match. Ripped from GSX-R1000 Superbike, the Intruder sports two radially mounted 310mm discs with four piston front brake calipers which work exceptionally well. Instead of using the more conventional chain/belt drive system, the Bavarian-inspired, shaft drive mechanism is used on the Intruder. Suzuki adopted its first shaft drive system way back in the year 1979 with the GS1000GT. With advancements in technology, however, the state of the art unit on the Intruder not only imparts a long lasting drive but also contributes towards a cleaner rear end design.

The sheer mass of the bike coupled with the prodigious power, would make one wonder about its handling and balance. Gettingthe 315kg bike off the side stand for the first time, proved to be physically demanding. Although by using the right technique, it was hardly a task. The initial few minutes of riding were very difficult as I tired to maintain a steady pace and find the right balance. As I got used to this machine, the giant horse broke in. The bike lurched forward each time I twisted the throttle. This was most noticeable while the shorter ratios were selected. Thankfully, there were no unnerving wheelspins like the other ‘big’ bikes. Yes, this is a cruiser and one doesn’t expect it to wheelspin. But it has enough torque to shred the rear tyre within a few hundred kilometers of riding – precisely the reason why Suzuki has fitted a torque limiter to restrict low end torque. Gear shifting was jerky early on as the shaft drive needed precise timing of the clutch release and throttle input to have a smooth shift. Failure to do so resulted in a loud clanking sound emanating from the ‘box. As my day progressed with the cruiser, shifting of gears smoothened out. I learnt to master the right technique of gear shifting eradicating the clunks between shifts. The fourth and fifth gear felt far less abrupt. Once at ease with the bike, I was cruising way above the 120km/h mark – the fastest I had ever gone before this. The headlight housing is designed to deflect the wind blast from the head and torso that occurs at high speeds, but its function proved to be very limited at speeds above 100km/h.

The more I rode the Intruder the more I began to understand it. This is precisely when fears and reservations left my mind and I truly connected with the Intruder. Feet up turns which were like a nightmare earlier, got easier. After a while, the ride became so smooth, I felt as confident on the Intruder as I feel on my Royal Enfield Thunderbird.

One point of irritation is the speedometer. While the somewhat trapezoidal digital tachometer firmly rests where you have the instrumentation cluster on regulation bikes, the speedometer is mounted on the fuel tank. This means that the rider has to dip his/her head every time he/she wants to check the speed. The huge wheelbase and the enormous bulk of the rear tyre means you need more rider input while changing directions. This can get a little demanding in case you have a pillion rider with you. The exclusion of a pillion back rest from the design needs the pillion to lean onto the rider. While parking the bike, its best to park it with its nose facing the road or else you’ll need at least a dozen people to pull the bike back when you are ready to go.

So, now the question which haunts me is, do we have the roads for such monstrous cruisers in India? In the city, hell no! The Intruder with its torquey 1783cc of V-twin power craves for long wide highways where one can open the throttle and justify the very purpose of its existence. Our ridiculous traffic situation seems like a huge concern regarding the practicality of the bike. In a country where you have to find roads amidst potholes, handling the cruiser does become tricky. Because of the ultra low profile (40 section) rear tyre, you can feel every grain on the road surface being transmitted to your back side. The Intruder which is priced at Rs 13.63 lakh in India was developed keeping in mind the butter smooth open highways of the US and Europe. So if, touring is in your mind and you are looking for those perfect set of wheels to leave behind city roads and embark upon lost highways, the Suzuki M1800R would be a great choice.

As the sun began to set, it was time to wrap up the shoot which brought the curtains down on the most wonderful ride. I am not sure if I ever would be able to own the M1800R. I might not be that lucky. But I was lucky enough to have earned the experience to ride it for a day. The memory will last a lifetime. As I got the mighty Intruder back to its parking slot and alighted, I realized that this wasn’t just a road test for the M1800R. In a way it was a test for me too – as a rider, tourer and an automobile journalist. I just hope I managed to cruise as effortlessly as the big tourer. After having ridden the bike, overwhelming feelings began to erupt. I wanted to sing, dance, shout and cry at the same time. Not in that order but all at the same time.


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