The Suzuki Katana, or the “Can-A-Tuna” as it is sometimes called, is one of the most misunderstood motorcycles ever produced. Coming in 600cc and 750cc trims, with 80 hp and 92 hp respectively, the Katana was a capable sport/sport-tourer hybrid that is both welcoming for new riders and powerful enough to be entertaining.
Weighing in at 458lbs (600cc), the Katana is far from a light bike – that’s what makes the Katana such a great bike for new riders. With that much weight it feels planted on the highway, handling bumps and small potholes without fuss. Twist the throttle and the front end will stay planted, allowing you to enjoy maximum acceleration with minimum wheelie-time. For a new rider, that’s perfection.
The “Guts” of the Suzuki Katana 600
Powering the Katana 600 is a 600cc inline-4 based off of an older generation GSXR-750 motor. The engine has been modified and detuned to 600cc, creating approximately 80 horsepower, and a helluva good time. With “1 down and 5 up”, the transmission will feel perfect for just about anyone.
Other utilities loaded onto the Katana include electric start, dual headlights (hi/low), vented front and rear disc brakes, a fuel guage, and a digital clock. Thanks to the bulletproof motor, the Katana 600 will run through just about anything.
The Suzuki Katana is a bit of a “parts bin special” due to the fact that it was made from bits of pieces of other bikes. To save money, corners were cut in areas so that the bike would be a good overall performer and still be price competitive. As a result you get a bike that is good at a lot of things but fails to excel.
Riding the Suzuki Katana 600
If you’re used to the low-end torque provided by v-twins, or the crazy high-end power offered by supersports, the Katana may seem disappointing. The 600cc inline-4 lacks low-end toque, but by the time you hit 7,000rpm the Katana is ready to throw everything it’s got at you. The result is a bike that is easy to “ride slow”, while at the same time, can be a screamer up top if you want it to be. This means new riders can comfortably learn the limits of the bike without having to scare themselves senseless.
As mentioned previously, the Katana 600 weighs in at 458lbs. This bike is definitely not light, so don’t expect to be able to flick it around the corners in the same way you would with a smaller motorcycle (like a Ninja 500R, for example). Of course, this pays off when you’re making long trips- the weight lends stability and traction that it wouldn’t otherwise have. When we said that it was a sport/sport-tourer hybrid, we meant that in every sense you can imagine: it’s got the engine, transmission, and adjustable suspension of a sport bike along with the stability, riding position, and comfort of a sport-tourer. It also has a ton of storage (for a motorcycle)- more than most litre bikes.
Down low the Katana feels like a powerful V6 car. It moves with traffic and can certainly negotiate itself well. Up high, however, is where the V6 becomes a V8, packing lots of accessible power and sounding like a bat out of hell. For someone with limited riding experience the power may actually be a bit too much, but thankfully the bike gives you the option of choosing how it is going to be ridden.
Finding the Suzuki Katana 600 Used
Suzuki stopped production of the Katana in 2006. During its production run over over 15 years over 50,000 Katana’s were sold. This means that they are relatively easy to find, and their pricing is competitive. The yellow Katana we reviewed, for example, was purchased for $3,650 with just over 20,050km on the odometer.
For a bike that requires nearly no extraneous maintenance, looks great, and is lots of fun, the Suzuki Katana fails to disappoint and provides a riding experience that smaller motorcycles just can’t replicate. If you want a motorcycle that will easily last you 3 or 4 years, the Suzuki Katana 600 is an excellent choice.