Subscriber Exclusive: Jurgen Plaschka’s main job is being a test rider for Suzuki Germany, involved in the development of new bikes of Suzuki. Mainly all bikes, not all, so in the past he was not involved in cruisers, but road bikes, almost all bikes.
Q: So you’ve obviously had a chance to ride the new Katana. What aspects have you been involved in through the development process?
Setting it up finally, so this is about the chance we have to find the best suspension setting, ABS for example also, or tyre choice. Of course, we decided much earlier, for example, it will be a Dunlop Sportsmart and so on or whatever, but at the end, of course, we have many choice in sight: structure, compound, and so on, to influence steering behaviour, corning, stability and so these kind of things.
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Q: Obviously it’s quite close or there are a lot of similarities between the GSX-1000, so what are the main differences?
Main differences: for the rider immediately to feel, beside the massive design change, is of course the seat position, so you are much more front orientated, seat is more higher a little, may be 2cm more up and your seat more in front and the handlebars are also much wider and more close to the rider, so the riding position is more centralised. So it’s very, very comfortable but still sporty and direct.
Q: Do you know what inspired Suzuki to release the Katana now?
Very good question!
Q: Because it’s always been an iconic bike…
I think there have been some ideas inside the company for years, let’s say some visions or ideas. Why they finally made it now, I cannot say.
Q: Are you working on anything else at the moment?
Yes, I always working, so that’s why I go over to Japan and work right with the Suzuki internal Japanese test drivers together for future projects. For example, I’ve been in Japan, came back last week.
Q: Riding around the test track?
Yes, in Japan it’s only on the test track, we cannot go on open roads in Japan. I rode something that will be in the future, something new in the adventure direction, I can say.
Q: The V-Strom is due an update…
Yes, the V-Strom is due an update.
Of course, when I say we go to Japan, the final tests will always be done in Germany or let’s say in Europe, if the weather or season is ok, of course. We are limited in summertime, same as in your country, but we have the best conditions in Germany. A highway with no speed limit for high speed stability, we absolutely need for testing, high speed highway with corners, up/down, it is much more stress to a chassis for example, than any other race track. You don’t have that stress though, that is way we need, of course, we have winding roads. You need plenty of different surfaces and so on, we have a very good place in Germany for that.
Q: How long have you been in development?
That time was a bit of an exception for me, because usually I’m involved a bit longer. That you might have heard during the press launch, the press conference, that bike was developed more quickly than usual in terms of Suzuki.
Q: Is that a result of it being based around the GSX- 1000?
Yes, the frame, many parts are already there. At the end, they suit this concept very well but made it easier.
Q: Is there many changes to the engine?
Engine itself, I will not say nothing because may be there are even very small parts I even don’t know but mainly what has changed is the throttle response, it’s a bit more smooth and easier to control. The first opening is smoother, this is the reason for the rider, and the rest is basically the same.
Q: Power delivery, torque, is it smooth through the range, pull a little bit maybe?
Power is the same but first opening range is more smooth.
Q: If you were to have to pick a GSX-1000 or a Katana to ride, having ridden both, which would you go for?
Both have strong points for me, very difficult to say.
Q: Because they have different purposes…
Different character, even though as we said correctly, many parts used but the Katana has its own character, it’s still sporty. S-1000 is more sporty maybe, S-1000 is a bit more smooth, so not only by throttle control, even the suspension is more smooth. So difficult to say. Size wise I’m more on the Katana side.