The ride was organised at Suzuki’s secretive Ryuyo circuit at the R&D centre on the following day. Ryuyo is the proving ground for every new two-wheeler developed by Suzuki and we were looking forward to the opportunity of riding the Gixxer SF on this legendary circuit. However, the Japanese weather decided to make it a challenge. By the time we were ready for the ride, it was pouring on the test-track. We could see rivulets flowing across the width of the track and the rain was getting stronger every minute.
We went out none the less. I was cold and soaked to the bone by the end of the warm-up lap but the SF seemed to mind neither the rain nor the chill. The MRF tubeless tyres were gripping wet surface well and the bike was steady through the sequence of corners after the main straight. After the right-hand U-turn, I ducked down and opened the throttle completely to accelerate down the back straight. The 155-cc air-cooled single-cylinder engine of the SF produces 14.8 PS at 8,000 RPM while the peak torque of 14 Nm is generated at 6,000 RPM. The throttle feels responsive throughout the rev range and the bike has linear acceleration right till the 9,500-RPM red-line. It feels a little more grounded at the front due to the fairing but that hasn’t affected the performance because the kerb weight has gone up by only four kilos. In fact, shifting up through the slick five-speed gearbox, I saw the speedometer reading on the all-digital information panel count till 131 km/h. Since the Gixxer had clocked a top speed of 119 km/h on the speedo during our test, the SF did indeed go faster than its sibling. (However, when we tested the Gixxer SF on Indian roads, it topped out at an indicated 124 km/h, where the true speed was 116.2 km/h).
At the end of the straight, I went full-throttle through the sweeping right-hander before braking for the tight hairpin that leads to the left-hander before the main straight. The SF is equipped with a Bybre hydraulic disc brake at the front and a drum brake at the rear, which I stayed away from. The disc brake is strong and has a progressive feel but I would have liked it to have a bit more initial bite.