Wednesday, May 23, 2007

May the force feed you: 1983 Suzuki XN85 Turbo

The Suzuki XN85 Turbo. Cool!

Back in 1983, when the Suzuki XN85 Turbo was let loose upon an unsuspecting world, Motorcyclist magazine actually claimed, ‘Nothing works better in the corners than the Suzuki XN85.’ Ah, well, the first GSX-R was still two years away…

85 horsepower, 200km/h top speed. Not too bad for 1983

The early-1980s was when all the Japanese motorcycle manufacturers decided that turbocharging was the way forward. So, of course, Suzuki decided they must join in, and released the XN85 Turbo to go against the Honda CX500TC Turbo, the Yamaha XJ650LJ Turbo and the Kawasaki GPZ750 Turbo.

16-inch front wheel, fuel injection, anti-dive front suspension...

The XN85 was cutting-edge stuff for its time, with a 16-inch front wheel, low clip-ons, rearset foot pegs, Suzuki’s ‘Full Floater’ monoshock rear suspension, and anti-dive plumbing in the Kayaba front forks. The engine was an air-cooled, fuel-injected, turbocharged, eight-valve, 673cc inline-four, mated to a five-speed gearbox. Power output was a modest 85 horsepower at 7000rpm.

Look at this and imagine what a factory turbo Hayabusa would be like today...

The XN85 Turbo weighed in at about 247kg, and depending on who you believe, did the quarter mile (400m) in anything between 11.50 to 12.30 seconds. Claimed top speed was 209km/h. While the XN85 was reliable, performed well, and quickly garnered a dedicated fan following, it was only a moderate success and that too only for a short while. The normally aspirated Suzuki GS750ES, released shortly after the XN85, was lighter, quicker, cheaper and less complex.

For about US$5,000 you can still find one of these. If you look hard enough...

Back in 1983 when it was launched, the Suzuki XN85 Turbo cost about US$4,700. Suzuki only made 1,153 units of this bike, and today, finding one in very good condition is extremely difficult. Second-hand examples do come up for sale, and depending on their condition, go for anything between US$3,000 – US$7,000. It may not be the quickest, fastest or the best handling, but if you always wanted something exotic, the XN85 Turbo fits the bill like a dream.

The Suzuki GSX-R750 came along in 1985 and changed everything. But that's another story...

Other turbo bikes:
Kawasaki GPZ750 Turbo. Blow hard!
Turbo Hayabusa sets new streetbike speed record
MAB Power: BMW K1200R Turbo
Acabion GTBO 70: The world's fastest bike

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