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Suzuki to revive turbos and Katana?

Suzuki Recursion - Katana turbo blown turbocharging
Suzuki Recursion

Rumours of a Suzuki turbo bike, possibly called a Katana, have revved up after the Japanese company recently filed more patents for a turbo engine.

Suzuki unveiled its turbo-charged 588cc parallel twin “Recursion” concept sportsbike at the Tokyo show in October. The company then registered the Katana name and trademark Samurai sword.

And now they have filed more patents for turbocharged motorcycle engines.

Suzuki Recursion turbo patent drawings
Suzuki patent drawing

The switch to smaller, lighter, more powerful yet more fuel efficient sportsbikes makes a lot of sense given the stricter emissions rules in Europe and California, as well as tough imposts such as a £12.50 ($24) daily charge for pre-2007 bikes to enter central London.

It also follows Kawasaki’s force-fed supercharged H2 and H2R sportsbikes which has sparked a power struggle among brands such as Yamaha and BMW.

However, the Recursion isn’t about absolute power. It is believed to make only 75kW (100hp) at 8000rpm and 100Nm of torque at 4500rpm. But with a low weight of only 173kg it gets 50% better fuel economy than a 600cc sportsbike and nearly as good a power-to-weight ratio as a litre sportsbike.

There are no capacity or output figures on the recently submitted patents, but it certainly isn’t a litre four-pot engine.

It’s a parallel twin with an unknown capacity and a body that looks like the Recursion concept.Suzuki Recursion turbo patent drawings

Filing the patents seems to indicate that Suzuki is going ahead with production.

Recursion means “flowing back, repeating” which is what a turbo does with the exhaust. However, that name may not necessarily make it to market.

A more fitting name would be Katana which was their 1980s futuristic designed sportsbike, although it was also used for a scooter and some mid-sized bikes about 15 years ago.

It would also follow Kawasaki’s lead in bringing back its old H2 model name.

Suzuki Recursion turbo
Suzuki Recursion

Suzuki has also registered the name Gamma which they used in the 1980s for their two-stroke machines, however the Katana name fits better with the pointy nosed styling of the Recursion.

Turbo was the “next big thing” back in the ’80s with models from several of the Japanese manufacturers. They had manic light-switch power that made them not only difficult to control, but dangerous. They were also temperamental and unreliable.

However, modern low-boost mini turbos and superchargers which have revolutionised the car industry in recent years would be a lot more controllable and reliable than the temperamental rocketships of the ‘80s.

  1. The turbo bikes of the ‘80s were nothing more than expensive, pointless gimmicks. For less money you could buy better bikes with more power (because they had bigger engines) that were lighter, less complex and easier to service. Smart buyers avoided them. Had the Japanese manufacturers fitted turbos to their big bikes instead of to mid capacity machines they would have created the most powerful bikes available at the time, and that would have been a big selling point. However, they might have been too powerful for the chassis, suspension and tyres of the day.

    Back then the big bikes only had about 100hp so we all were hungry for more power. Now most of us have lost interest in more power because the fastest bikes have more than is useful in the real-world, and more is only of benefit if you ride on a racetrack. This makes it rather pointless fitting turbos to large capacity bikes. But if better fuel economy and lower emissions can be achieved by fitting turbos to mid capacity bikes it could be a good thing.

    Hopefully they will get it right this time. With over four decades of motorcycling experience I am getting tired of gimmicks – especially all of the unnecessary electronic gizmos.

    1. Yes, that’s why they are fitting them to lower capacity bikes – more power from lighter and more fuel efficient bikes.
      Also, turbos are a lot more reliable these days with smoother power delivery.

  2. You would want to make sure that the turbo boost is silky smooth… nothing worse then turbo kicking in mid corner.

    Besides this, I think it a great concept. Lighter more nimble bikes with lesser cc capacity engine and fuel consumption and on par power should be a very good formula going forward.

  3. Can’t wait, will someone take a deposit from me- please!
    Back in the day I purchased new a Honda VF1000F and pushed it hard over the next 40,000km – loved it, but one leg over the Honda CX500TC Turbo and I was sold. I quit the new 1000 for the 2yr old 500 in a flash. Here was a machine that was total fun to ride, no other experience like it.. Faultless performance, supreme comfort, and exhilarating rush at the flick of a wrist (wait for it, wait for it – yeeee haaa).
    Each of the Big 4 had a go at them with insurance killing them off quick smart. With low numbers made only a lucky few really got to experience them, sure there were other bikes faster, lighter, etc, etc, but none that delivered the feel that the early turbo’s did.

    With the original Turbo’s the big 4 brought to the motorcycling world a series of innovations that stand true today, for example they got their heads around fuel injection (Hond/Suz/Kawa), under piston oil cooling still seen in the Suz’s today, Full-floater/Uni-lever/Pro-link suspension, and styling that stepped out (love them or hate them), 16in front wheels for the first time (Suz), fuel gauge’s and single skin smooth seats! .

    So enjoyed them, now have two Honda TC’s and a Suzuki XN85, when you consider the leap in innovation they took back then – they did a great job!

    Really looking forward to their next evolution.

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