Recently, at the Indianapolis MotoGP event, we spent considerable time with Suzuki as part of their celebration of 50 years in the United States Market. Suzuki’s huge Fan Paddock at Turn 2 offered owners and enthusiasts entertainment, services and a friendly family feeling … more about that later.
From humble beginnings in Santa Ana in 1963, Suzuki developed a reputation for performance and reliability in its two-wheeled machines, stretching from World MX championships of Joel Robert to the AMA Superbike championships of Mat Mladin and Ben Spies, Suzuki offered U.S. customers race ready machines with performance, style and heritage.
The marriage of an automobile division with Suzuki’s U.S. motorcycle operations ultimately hurt the company’s American business financially, and led to bankruptcy proceedings for the car business. Suzuki started its U.S. operations with a focus on motorcycles, and personnel we spoke with are happy to be focused on two wheels once again (Suzuki will continue with ATV and marine sales, as well).
The Suzuki Paddock at Indy was busy all weekend, and included, among other things, complimentary gear storage, motorcycle inspection, race team displays, special race viewing areas, unveiling of an anniversary model GSX-R1000, and the finals of a Hayabusa customization contest (see photos).
The Hayabusa customs on display were amazing. The level of effort and detail displayed in the bikes was phenomenal. An all white version won the nation-wide contest, but it was a bike designed to honor a deceased New Orleans policeman that really caught our eye. Lots of older Suzuki models were on display, as well. Posters of Suzuki advertisements run in the United States market at various times were pinned to both sides of a tunnel that formed the entrance to the fan area.
Suzuki understands that new product drives the brand forward, and they promise that the 2014 V-Strom 1000 that will be introduced this Fall is the beginning of a new product cycle that will help put Suzuki back on a competitive footing with the other Japanese manufacturers here in the United States.
Suzuki’s commitment to enter the MotoGP championship series beginning with the 2015 campaign is evidence that the company is feeling both confident, and financially strong, once again.
Take a look at the numerous photos we have attached to this article, and search our Bike Reports section for tests on most of the significant Suzuki models introduced in the last 15 years.