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Suzuki xn85

Profile - Suzuki XN85

by Guy 'Guido' Allen

June 2020

Suzuki's entry into the turbo race of the early eighties may not be the most famous, but it's now rare and desirable

 

It was the appearance of a very clean example for sale, on Craig's List in the USA (see pics and link below), that prompted this profile. To our way of thinking, turbo bikes from the big four Japan makers (see our overall Turbo Kings feature here) still look like good value in the classic motorcycle market.

They were built in relatively low numbers, definitely qualify as something exotic and can be a thoroughly entertaining ride. Looked after, they can also be reliable.

Suzuki's 673cc entry was loosely based on the GS650G and E platforms and reality was a major step forward from either. Running a plain bearing crank, it boasted two valves per cylinder - even though the GSX range was running four by now - and twin overhead cams. Compression was down from a typical 9.5:1 to 7.4:1.

A lot of emmphasis was put on longevity and extra strength in the motor, with upgraded components such as conrods, along with oil spray to the underside of the pistons and a large oil cooler.

The engine was injected and ran a fairly sophisticated ECU for the day. It was able to run fuel injection, monitor boost pressure (set for a maximum 9.6psi) and adjust timing to suit. The turbo, by the way, was made by IHI and chimed in around the 5000rpm mark, with max power at 8000 and redline set at 10,000rpm.

Suzuki XN85

Just 1153 of them are thought to have been sold. The market proved suspicious of the 'new' technology and, to be fair, this was years before turbos were the common automotive fitment they are today.

As for the chassis, it had all the latest gear on board. That included a 16-inch front wheel - controversial at the time, but it was meant to mimic what the 500 Grand Prix racers of the day were using. It also ran anti-dive up front in the 37mm Kayaba fork.

Out back you scored the first use of Suzuki's Full-Floater rear end (intially trialled on the dirt range) on a road bike. The shock-absorber was also by Kayaba.

The package was heavy at 218kg dry and claimed 85 horses. It was however relatively compact, given the performance.

Now here's the thing: the company's own GSX750ES of the same year claimed 210kg and 84 horses. And it was considerably cheaper at Au$4300 compared to $5000 for the turbo.

As a ride, it was pretty good. Handling was very acceptable, braking about average for the era (not great) and the engine entertaining. The gentle but firm shove from the turbo was always exciting and there was a little lag between throttle and response.

It was fast enough, but really about what you might have expected from something like a GS1100G of the period. A GSX1100E would have hosed it.

Really what you were buying it for was exclusivity, the technical interest and as a talking point. Much the same reasons you might buy one today.

Suzuki XN85

The one we spotted on Craigs List (pictured above and below June 27, 2020) is located near Sacramento in California and is priced at US$7500 (Au$11,000), which probably makes it marginal as an import proposition. However if you wanted an ultra-clean low-miler, it's probably the one to have.

Why have one? Really for their curiosity value and they would still be a fun thing to ride. Long term, they should do okay as a classic.

RATINGS

Good

Exotic

Not too expensive

Reasonably robust

Bad

Not as fast as a good 1100

Some parts will be tricky to find

SPECS

1983 Suzuki XN85D

ENGINE:

TYPE: Air-cooled, two-valves-per-cylinder, DOHC, inline 4 with IHI turbo
CAPACITY: 673cc

BORE & STROKE: 62 x 55.8mm

COMPRESSION RATIO: 7.4:1

FUEL SYSTEM: injection
TRANSMISSION:
5-speed
TYPE: Five-speed, constant-mesh, 

FINAL DRIVE: chain
CHASSIS & RUNNING GEAR:

FRAME TYPE: Steel twin-olop

FRONT SUSPENSION: 35mm Kayaba fork with anti-dive
REAR SUSPENSION: Full-Floater kayabo monoshock

FRONT BRAKE: 2 x 290mm discs with 1-piston calipers

REAR BRAKE: 265mm disc with 1-piston caliper
DIMENSIONS & CAPACITIES:

DRY/WET WEIGHT: 218/250kg

SEAT HEIGHT: 762mm

WHEELBASE: 1486mm
FUEL CAPACITY: 20lt

TYRES:
FRONT: 100/90-16
REAR: 120/90-17

PERFORMANCE:

POWER: 62kW @ 8000rpm

TORQUE: 76Nm @ 6500rpm

OTHER STUFF:
PRICE WHEN NEW $5000 plus on road costs

Suzuki XN85

Suzuki XN85

Suzuki XN85

Suzuki XN85

Suzuki XN85

Suzuki XN85

Suzuki XN85

 

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