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Suzuki GSX650FU LAMS Newbie Review

Discussion in 'Bike Reviews, Questions and Suggestions' started by chrome, Aug 3, 2009.

  1. So, I picked up this on Saturday:


    I figure that other learners might be interested in what my experience so far has been with it. Now, I know there is a tendency for people to buy something and then say, "I bought this, so therefore its awesome, so you should buy it too", so I'll stay away from that, and just be objective from the point of view of a newbie.

    I won't bore you with the story of why I bought the GSX650FU, instead of other bikes in the LAMS range such as the Ninja 250R or the CB400, or why I didn't just stick with the CB250. To cut a long story short, I wasn't happy on the CB250, and the GSX650FU was everything I was looking for in a bike.

    The LAMS ECU

    The Suzuki GSX650FU is the LAMS version of the GSX650F. If you don't know about this bike, the way the LAMS restriction is performed is by fitting a reprogrammed ECU that limits the power output at high revs, which is intended to keep the power output below 150kw/tonne.

    I'd done a lot of research on the bike, on netrider and out on the net. A lot of people are shy of the LAMS version of the GSX650F, due to the lack of an official option for unrestricting the bike after you are on an unrestricted license. This is certainly a concern.

    As the law stands, you have to either get a new GSX650F ECU and fit it yourself (~$1200) or buy one from a wreckers in the US (~$400+). The SV650 ECU is compatible, so some might use that. But, once you've done that, you've increased the power output of the bike, and it then is no longer a LAMS bike. You'll need to get it re-evaluated by an engineer, and some paperwork would need to be submitted to say that the bike meets all of the ADRs, and then somehow get the LAMS designation removed from it's registration details. This could easily cost you several thousands of dollars!

    You could of course choose to say nothing, and if you're on unrestricted license, this might be ok. Many people ride with modified exhausts where technically this isn't 100% legal if the exhaust is louder than the factory fitted one. (I believe - from reading the relevant ADRs, etc)

    In my opinion this is a huge oversight by Suzuki, and it must be costing them sales. I don't know what the best solution is, but I think a step forward would be if they sell the GSX650F as a LAMS and non-LAMS bike like the Hyosung, and give the dealers a method of flashing the ECU to the LAMS version and back to non-LAMS.

    Even though all of this was a bit of a worry, I ended up buying the bike anyway because I figured that in 2 years, I might want to upgrade and the market for recent LAMS bikes is not too bad. So, I got the GSX650FU on order, it arrived on Saturday, I put the money down and rode away.

    Controls and Instruments

    All of the controls are in easy reach, with nice clear and bright instrument panel. The panel has a digital odometer which can be cycled to two separate trip meters and a clock (very handy!). There is a shift light, which you can set to illuminate at any particular rev for each gear, which is so bright you don't have to look at it to see it. A nice big tacho, and a digital speed display.

    The clutch and brake levers are adjustable, so you can adjust how far out they stand from the grips. The clutch itself is very forgiving. The friction point is reasonably large and smooth, so its easy to start off the bike in first and not jerk around like an idiot.

    Riding position

    The riding position is a lot more "Sport Tourer" than "Sport", so when riding you can grip with your legs and comfortably sit without much weight if any on your hands, assuming you're not a noob and you're not gripping onto the handlebars out of sheer terror like I was for the first few hours riding it.

    The gear lever is a little high for me, so I'll be adjusting it down a little so I can rest my foot on it comfortably. The brake pedal is also a little high, so will need to be adjusted, but its not as bad as the gear lever.

    Edit: I had the dealer set up the preload on the suspension for a load of my weight and gear. This made it quite firm, and the ride on rough Sydney roads is a little bumpy but the shocks take care of most of it nicely. My feet are able to go flat on the ground when stopped.

    Engine and drivetrain

    The engine is liquid-cooled, and after it warms up a bit the fans will inevitably kick in if you've been riding through stop/start traffic like what I experience every day. The sound of the engine is just lovely, in my opinion, but thats terribly subjective.

    Acceleration is smooth and constant with this bike, with a lot of torque in low revs. If you find yourself having to slow for other traffic, and you're in a higher gear, you can easily accelerate smoothly from low speeds back up to 50-60km/h without it feeling sluggish. The old 250 just never had this much grunt; and forced me to change down to low gear every time.

    Shifting on the bike is smooth. I have managed to put it into 3rd and have it pop out into a false neutral once, when shifting without the clutch, so I think maybe if you want to clutchlessly shift on this bike do it from 3rd onwards.

    Opening up the throttle a little, I didn't feel any lack of power with the cut down ECU. Being a learner, I can only go 80, but it can clearly do the posted speed limits and get there quickly, restricted ECU or not. I might not be able to race it on a track, but on the road its a nice tame beast that can easily keep up (and outrun) traffic. I doubt I could get it to do a wheelie though, which is probably a good thing :)

    Brakes and Tires

    Brakes are excellent, compared to an older bike. If you're looking at buying newer vs buying very old, then the brakes I think are an important thing to look at.

    My 1992 CB250 had one small front disk brake and a rear drum bake which was mostly worn. Stopping was an exercise in terror, especially with my providing another 120 odd kg of mass into the equation.

    The Suzuki GSX650FU has two large front disk brakes and a single rear disk brake. This stops the bike dead in half the distance that I'm used to, even with all the additional weight, so I feel much more confident that I could stop quickly in an emergency.

    The bike was fitted with Bridgestones and they seem to grip very well in the dry. I havn't done any serious cornering with it yet, as the tyres are still wearing in, but a few tight corners I've taken and its felt very secure on the road.

    Impressions while riding

    So far I've done a few hundred K's worth of city riding. Up Princes highway, through Drummoyne, back down via King Georges' road, along Forest road. Did a commute this morning. It handled all of this effortlessly, and never was I conscious of any issues with the bike. It has enough power to accelerate smoothly from traffic at the lights, the brakes have saved me several times already from people cutting me off or stomping on their brakes in front of me.

    Filtering through traffic in Sydney, it isn't so fat that I worry that it will scrape against a car, and the mirrors are a little higher than my old bike, so they seem to keep away from other mirrors. A little rear brake, 2nd gear, slip the clutch, slowly move through the traffic. Easy to wrestle past wing mirrors, it is surprisingly nimble at slow speeds.


    This bike is heavy. 241 curb mass is to be respected. If you're a small guy with short legs, you might want to give this thing a miss. I'm large, have plenty of muscle power in my legs, and I managed to put it on the ground while doing a full lock low speed turn, and wasn't able to save it. Not enough throttle, stalled it, thud, crunch, indicator light shattered. (I know you're laughing at me now, you bastards :p) Standing it back up wasn't particularly easy, though I managed it reasonably quickly. Likewise, you should be aware that this is a lot of weight to end up on your legs if you end up in that position.

    Is this bike good for a learner? I think that if you're a taller person, with a fair bit of strength in your legs, you'd be ok with the weight. I'd be a bit worried if you were under say, 5'8", or you were stick thin. Experienced riders wouldn't have a problem, obviously, but for us noobs, being able to get both feet on the ground, being able to pick it up if (and when) we drop it, and being able to save it from a drop in the first place using a leg provides a nice amount of confidence that if we get into slow speed trouble, we might have a chance of saving it.

    The bike has an awful lot of power. Compared to a 250cc bike, this is a rocket ship. My very first trip on it was spent simultanously grinning from ear to ear and wetting myself. While the bike is very forgiving, smooth, and easy to ride, like all bikes if you don't respect it, it will very quickly get you into trouble.

    As a learner, I'm excited to have a bike that I know will last me for many, many years. I suddenly don't care about the neutered ECU, as I know the bike will easily do highway speeds and then some without any problems at all. I don't intend on racing the thing, so for me, the issue with the restricted ECU is now irrelevant. I can only ride at the posted speed limit anyway, and it can get me to that in a couple of heartbeats.

    So, if youre a learner with some riding experience under their belt and who want something that will last beyond their restrictions (goddamn NSW government changing the rules) the Suzuki GSX650FU may be a good choice for you. I'm confident that it's going to easily meet everything I throw at it from my daily commute, to long weekend rides with my mates.

    Oh, and learners? If you buy a new bike, for fcuks sake buy some oggy knobs.

    edit: fixed the spelling of tyres. Thanks RED!
  2. Yes, very nice bike that GSX650F. I looked at the unrestricted version very seriously, because it is such an excellent budget sports-tourer. So smooth, nice ergos, very nice cockpit - well laid out, comprehensive, readable. Love it!

    But... that weight! 240kg is A LOT. If I'm going to drag this much mass around with me, I might as well get a 1000cc CBF with its 251kg curb weight... or add another 10 kilos (if that) for a Bandit 1250cc.

    If only this bike was 40, or even 30 kilos lighter... I'd probably be riding it now instead of my Honda.
  3. Yeah. It must be said that once you're moving, it's very balanced and comfortable around bends and doesn't feel heavy at all.

    It's just those moments that all learners have when they're doing slow speed work or they stop a little too quickly and unbalance the bike and need to shoot a leg out to steady it where it gets a bit dicy.

    But you know, a bike that is 100kg lighter will still fall over if you do stomething stupid and don't react in the right way to save it. Its an experience thing, I guess :)

    Oh, and yes, there are a lot of better bikes available out there if you're on an unrestricted license, weight wise.
  4. That's a nice looking bike.

    Good write up too.
    The GSX650F was a bike I was looking at when shopping around.
  5. a really nice looking bike imho.

    oh and cant you just whack on a pc3 and flash the ecu?
  6. Nobody is flashing these ECUs yet*. Reports on various sites say that Power Commander and their ilk don't work very well with these neutered ECUs, either. There's a very slight improvement, but the power curve is still a plateu above 6k revs.

    *as far as I can work out - and I've done an awful lot of googling.
  7. Glad your enjoying it Chrome.
    And well written report .
    It's hard to recommend this bike to people as everyone is different .skills ,height ,weight ....some will drop it at slow speed because of its weight when learning and as you said get knobs !!!!.
    And from what I've read its 100% the same power under 7000rpm and 90% of my time I'm under 7000rpm on my Full GSXF...like you said its got power and will take off in any gear and very forgiving if your in the wrong gear.
    You get ALOT of bike for your money and it if was lighter is would be ALOT more expensive.
  8. Nice write up. Well done.

    PS: Tires is incorrect for Australia, Tyres is correct.
  9. as others have said - well written piece.

    very pleased to see someone writing from a noob perspective - i dare say there is a few folks out there that sometimes are too embarassed to ask / comment.

  10. Hi Chrome,

    Mate, what an excellent write up. It's a shame about the drop but I'm sure theer are plenty of people here who would say it will go faster now.

    After reading your peice and looking at the pic, I am really really, really jealous. Well done on an excellent machine. I'm sure you will love it for a long time.

    Stay safe and have a great time with the bike.

  11. From what I've been reading LAMS bikes cannot legally become non learner legal. This is the same with hyosungs, apparently legally they shouldn't be doing it. But its just some slides so no ones the wiser.

    The reality is the only way they can tell if you've paid $200-400 to replace your ecu is with road side dynos.
  12. Mate, BRING THAT ON !!! Free Dyno's ??? This would definitely go against their SPEED KILLS (erm...'BILLS') campaign.
    It would be full throttle to see who'd get pulled over first :cool:
  13. I havn't been able to find any legislation that specifies how the LAMS scheme actually works from a legislation point of view. The only thing I've been able to find online has been the LAMS page on the RTA NSW site, and it doesn't say anything about unrestricted riders riding modified LAMS bikes, or the rules around doing that.

    The ADRs suggest that by upgrading the ECU, if you increase the power output by more than 25%, then it cannot be owner modified, and needs to be approvied by an engineer. In those cases they will require some kind of safety upgrade.

    Speaking to the RTA technical bods, they said that LAMS bikes should never be modified, and that to do so would be illegal.

    But as has been discussed in the other 650FU thread, if you do it, there is very little chance of any regulation such as that being enforced once you're on your unrestricted license, and you'd have to be monumentally unlucky for your insurance company to pull the ECU after an accident and say "Ah HAH! you're riding a bike that has the exact same power output and configuration as the unrestricted model in suzuki's range that you're allowed to ride but this is a LAMS bike and you touched the ECU so gotchya!". If they did, I'd probably want to have a day in court to see if I can't convinc a judge that once I modified it to F specs, even though its model number was different, its an F, and refusing a claim on that basis is unreasonable.

    But its all too much of a pain in the arse. And do I need all the extra power, to make it all that it could be? Maybe I'll feel differently in 2 years time, but right now I'm very, very content.
  14. For such a popular bike, I hardly see any others around. Must be fair weather riders :shock: :p
    With practice, you can shift without the clutch from first to second, I do (but not all the time). Here in the ACT, learners are allowed to go the posted speed limit and the GSX is very comfortable at 110km/h and higher. The GSX will push 100 in 2nd,but that was a once off on my part :oops:

    Stock tyres aren't bad, I almost got 10000k's out of the front tyre and 13000 out of the rear.
    From experience, the GSX sounds a whole lot better with a yoshi slip on \:D/
  15. Excellent write up Chrome. Precisely my thoughts on the bike. I got my K9 in April. It was so easy to get used to and I managed to ride 40kms back home the evening I picked it up, bearing in mind the only other time I rode a bike was at the pre 'L's course on a CB250. Admittedly I did have white knuckles when I got back home. :grin:

    I commute with it daily to the city where stop/start traffic is common. I like the smooth and linear power delivery. The full fairing and more upright sitting position makes it a great tourer. So far I have done about 4500kms, and have even taken it on a short trip to Robertson via Macquarie pass. Planning to take it for a longer trip to Phillip Island for the MotoGP.

    I have never dropped it but have came closed. Luckily managed to catch it before getting to the point of no return. The only time when the weight is noticed is during reverse parking. I find that I really need to put my back and arms into it to move it without engine power. Apart from that I can hardly feel the weight and besides I feel it is better to have weight on your side during those windy Harbour Bridge crossings.

    I don't particularly care about un-restricting it but it would certainly be a great option to have. I like the idea of un-restricting being like an accessory where the ECU can be swapped in and out depending on the purpose of the day. Unfortunately this is not the case for now. Besides this is good for reducing the chances of me becoming a statistic :LOL:

    So if you don't already have one, go out and get yourself one, especially if you are on restrictions and/or a person of bigger stature. Sure beats the other LAMS 125s, 250s and 400s on offer out there... IMO :p

  16. The GSX650F is a great bike by all accounts, and is certainly on my possible list if/when I upgrade. I considered it when I bought the GS500 but with the uncertainty in upgrading the ECU at the time I decided not to.

    For those with one, what is your average fuel use in L/100 ?
  17. I get about 230-270kms per tank. Total quoted tank size 19.5ltrs and I usually get in about 15ltrs or so at the pump.

    I managed to get about 310kms on the highway and thats with a fang up Macquarie pass.

    Average about 6.5L/100Kms, pretty darn good compared to my 4wd I would say

  18. 4.7/100km, I have manged to get 300km before the first flashing light (5.5L left in tank) About 320km per tank as an average.
  19. Thanks, that's impressive! Seeing as you are in ACT that gives me an idea what my fuel usage would be like. I average 4.33 with my GS500 so that's hardly any difference.
  20. If you are looking for a GSX650f specific forum site, try www.gsx650f.biz

    Its a pretty good forum.