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This review comes from budding politician Paul Keyworth who is attempting to kickstart his Motorcycle Australia Party. (Read my story here.) Paul owns a Yamaha “Thunderace” and a Suzuki B-King, but he is thinking of selling both and going retro with a Deus ex Machina Bonneville. Here he reviews his trusty B-King.
Somewhere in the bowels of the Suzuki factory in Hamamatsu in 2000, a group of engineers and designers got together to build a machine unlike anything the world had seen. Had they ingested mind-altering substances, had too much sake or just demonstrated what happens when imagination meets passion?
The end result was a design concept show bike exhibited at the Tokyo motorcycle expo in 2001. It had a motor from a Hayabusa, with a supercharger added and a 240 section rear tyre. It was unlikely that anyone there at the time thought it would ever see the light of day. But joy, joy the bean counters and cardigans must have had a day off as Suzuki decided to put the B-King into production. It came on the market in 2007. The supercharger was absent as was the monster rear wheel. Instead there was 200 section rubber hoop and a rejigged Hayabusa 1340cc motor pumping out 181hp (135kw) out of the crate.
The stock version had mufflers which were lethal to small children and the vertically challenged with the sharp, angular and bog ugly cans. The looks polarised motorcyclists and it was no sales success except in Germany and with the Viking bikers in Scandinavia.
I purchased my 2008 model in early 2009 after seeing it online on a local site selling bikes and knew that I must have it. It was ugly, brutal, hypnotically savage but above all completely mad! I bought it from a bloke who had run up about 8000km on it and he had decided he wanted a Triumph Speed Triple Limited Edition instead. Why? He had put Yoshi cans, tail tidy and a grotesque mini screen on it which I quickly removed. Over the next 4-plus years of ownership, I have racked up another 25,000km on it and completely changed its looks in an effort to reflect the designers’ vision. There is approximately $4500 worth of carbon fibre bodywork on it, a 190 section tyre which makes it much more manoeuvrable in the twisties, lower tapered bars and cnc bar-end mirrors among other items designed to add practicality with unique looks.
The B-King is my 30th motorcycle and by far the best all-round bike I have owned. Yes it is totally impractical, the standard seat has the comfort of a slab of concrete, has a woefully inadequate tank capacity, chews rubber and fuel and is a solo beast. Do I care? Not one iota. Wherever I pull up, it draws a crowd, with the most repeated query being ‘What is it?’ The iPhones come out and pictures are enthusiastically sent on to friends and relatives. It elicits a visceral reaction and small children pull their parents towards it like moths to a flame.
This thing handles beautifully with the suspension fully sorted and will stay with any of the crotch rockets and boy racers should the mood take me. But there is nothing to prove. It will tour – regular breaks at around 200km, hammer through the twisties and accelerate like a land-based missile.
Now, the time has come to move on and let someone else take up the mantle and enjoy the attention and the rush this beast provides. I am on to another project. Suzuki pulled the pin on production of the B-King in 2011, guaranteeing collector status. The more astute have twigged to this and the dwindling number for sale only enhances its collectibility.
Paul can be contacted on 0404 285 832.