This photo of the '01 Tokyo...
This photo of the '01 Tokyo Show B-King concept bike shows just how close the production version's styling is to the original. Not too bad because most production versions of a concept bike end up being considerably watered down when they make it to the showroom floor.
It was a pretty audacious move by a Japanese OEM. Even one with a long-established reputation for performance above all else.
When Suzuki unveiled the original B-King concept bike at the '01 Tokyo Motor Show, all the rest of the interesting machinery displayed at the event faded into oblivion as far as the sportbike public was concerned. Concept bikes usually showcase wild and alternative ideas in motorcycle design, and while the B-King included its share of unorthodox visions of motorcycling's future in its overall package, the centerpiece of the bike-the engine-is what captivated the public. Instead of some biofuel or electric/hybrid powerplant, the B-King was basically good ol' American big cubic horsepower overkill personified. Not only did the B-King use the 1298cc engine from the original Hayabusa, but it also had a crank-driven supercharger force-feeding the already beefy four-cylinder to the tune of a claimed 240 horsepower.
This led to a significant groundswell of public support to make the B-King a reality, so Suzuki tasked its engineers with bringing the concept into the real world. Of course, building a blue-sky concept bike and building an actual production machine for public consumption are two completely different jobs, and many production versions of previous concept machines have ended up being completely watered-down reflections of the original. Suzuki didn't want to fall into that trap and spent a considerable amount of time-seven years-trying to keep the production version as close to the original as possible.
Because it was developed at...
Because it was developed at the same time as the new Hayabusa, the B-King is equipped with the same new-generation 1340cc engine.
King Of The Bs
The original B-King concept bike was conceived as Suzuki's vision of the ultimate naked bike laden with high technology, performance and technical advances for sportbikes in the 21st century. The name represented the concept of becoming the "king of the Bs": Boost ("Pursuing ultimate engine power to boost the machine forward with tremendous acceleration performance"), Block and Beauty ("Pursuing the pleasure of watching and of being seen, with a distinct, robust beauty composed of blocks of carefully shaped components") and Brain ("Pursuing a fascinating new man-machine interface with electronic features that let the machine more actively communicate its running condition to the rider").
The foundation for the boost portion of the concept was already laid with the Hayabusa engine, although the supercharger had to be jettisoned for the production model due to cost, emissions and power issues (despite being the company that gave birth to the Hayabusa, Suzuki management felt that the public wasn't quite ready for a 240-horsepower naked bike just yet). The production B-King had the good fortune of undergoing final design at the same time as the new Hayabusa, so instead of being saddled with the old-generation engine in diluted form, the B-King comes with the exact same engine as the new 'Busa; only the airbox and exhaust are different (more on that later).
The concept B-King's styling was the other main aspect that really made it stand out from the rest. A menacing, powerful and bold overall look was the obvious theme, from the blocky front headlight to the huge fuel tank with its large intake scoops on either side that also housed the turn signals, to the monstrous underseat twin mufflers with their slash-cut megaphone design. Adding to the big-and-powerful motif were huge tires mounted on both ends: a 150/70-17 front and a 240/40-18 rear.
One look at the photo of the show concept bike reveals that Suzuki stylists have kept the production version's overall appearance pretty darn close to the original. The majority of the former look is retained, from the squarish headlight to the huge side scoops on the fuel tank to the angular tailpiece with slash-cut mufflers. Unfortunately the monstrous tires had to be exchanged for slightly more conventional rubber in the name of realistic handling on the street, which actually ended up paying major dividends for the B-King's handling characteristics (again, more on that later).
The concept B-King had a dizzying array of electronic features befitting the bike's futuristic intentions. The instrument panel was built into a heads-up display on the helmet visor, with the ignition using fingerprint recognition instead of a key; there was also a sophisticated antitheft system for communication and tracking if the bike was loaded onto a truck. Various self-diagnostic systems were present throughout, with Bluetooth technology allowing remote notification of scheduled maintenance, as well as a GPS-based weather warning system to alert the rider of bad conditions ahead. There were no rearview mirrors; a closed-circuit TV camera transmitted its rear view to a small LCD monitor mounted near the dash.
While the concept of all this electronic gadgetry is nice, Suzuki engineers thankfully recognized that futuristic systems like those fitted to the show concept bike aren't very practical in real-world use without further refinement. Thus none of the concept bike's "brain" functions made it to the production B-King.
The Sum Of All Gears
As previously mentioned, the B-King and new Hayabusa were developed at the same time, so the B-King gets the same new-generation 1340cc powerplant as the Hayabusa. No parts-bin refugees here; all the upgrades found in the '08 Hayabusa engine are present in the B-King mill as well. Besides the increased displacement, these include the titanium valves, new 12.5:1-compression pistons, redesigned connecting rods, revised crankshaft and 44mm SDTV dual-throttle-valve throttle bodies. For more details check the Hayabusa First Ride in the Feb. '08 issue.
Instead of the 'Busa's twin upswept exhaust system, the B-King follows the concept bike styling with a 4-into-2-into-1-into-2 system with Suzuki's SET valve and twin underseat mufflers. An O2 sensor and several catalyzers ensure meeting strict EPA and Euro III emissions standards.
The B-King's underseat exhaust...
The B-King's underseat exhaust utilizes a large-capacity catalyzer just aft of the O2 sensor, with the SET exhaust valve behind the catalyzer. The collector-box underseat muffler does a good job of suppressing noise, but smaller volume than the 'Busa's twin conventional mufflers means less power as well.
Using the latest precision...
Using the latest precision die-casting technology in a manner similar to the new-generation GSX-Rs, the B-King's frame is built for optimum rigidity balance. Due to its construction and styling concerns, however, the airbox had to be made smaller.
The B-King's bar positioning...
The B-King's bar positioning is just right: not too low like the Ducati Monster, but not too high like some other naked bikes. Analog tach and digital display functions are easy to read at a glance, and mirrors provide a decent view.
This rocket-launcher-looking device on the engine is actually the charcoal canister for catching fuel vapors, which is part of the emissions system.
The B-King's ignition switch...
The B-King's ignition switch is on top of the fuel tank yet still equipped with a steering lock. Two engine modes are available, but they cannot be changed on the fly like the Hayabusa, and the B mode is basically useless.
This reservoir-equipped steering...
This reservoir-equipped steering damper positioned just behind the steering head helps quell headshake, which would otherwise be a problem on a powerful bike with upright riding position like the B-King.
The 43mm inverted fork is...
The 43mm inverted fork is fully adjustable and does a superb job of keeping the rather heavy B-King under control in the twisties. Radial-mount Tokico brakes provide excellent control and power.
Although it couldn't use the...
Although it couldn't use the concept B-King's massive tire setup to avoid handling issues, the stock 200/50 Dunlop Qualifier is plenty big, and the tires surely contribute to the Suzuki's shockingly good handling for such a big bike.
Rather than trying to adapt to the 'Busa's chassis, the B-King uses an all-new frame and swingarm designed with the naked bike's different riding intentions in mind. The frame is made using the same latest casting methods that allow varying thicknesses in different sections of the casting for optimum rigidity balance, along with permitting fewer sections in the final assembly. The beautifully cast swingarm also uses the same precision die-casting method to achieve similar benefits. The B-King's different fuel tank and chassis requirements forced an airbox redesign, with the B-King's airbox volume slightly smaller at 8970cc than the Hayabusa's 10,300cc. Steering geometry is a bit relaxed from the 'Busa, with rake extended to 25.5 degrees (from 24.2 degrees) and trail lengthened to 107mm/4.2 inches (from 98mm/3.9 inches); wheelbase is also 1.5 inches longer than the 'Busa at 60 inches.
The 43mm KYB inverted fork was designed especially for the B-King, and it-along with the KYB single rear shock-offers full adjustability of spring preload, rebound and compression damping. There's also a reservoir-equipped steering damper positioned just behind the steering head to quell headshake. Braking is handled by radial-mount Nissin calipers with offset-size pistons gripping 310mm discs up front, with a single 260mm disc/single-piston caliper combination out back. And although Suzuki couldn't fit the concept bike's original massive tire setup, it came close: While the front tire is the usual 120/70-17, the rear is a fat 200/50-17 size. Thankfully, Suzuki also saw fit to have OE-spec versions of Dunlop's superb Sportmax Qualifier as stock tire fitment.