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1986 Suzuki VX800
Back to the Total Motorcycle Big Book of Concept Bikes
Click photos to enlarge.
They make great desktop images.
- 1986 Suzuki VX800
1986 Suzuki VX800
The VX800 was designed at U.S.Suzuki's Design Studio in Brea, CA from 1987-1989.
The among others the designteam consisted of
Don Presnell, Lead Designer, styling
Aki Goto as Lead Engineer and
Sam Yamazaki for frame and engine engineering
Quotes from Don, the Lead-designer:
" I'd like to say that the VX 800 was my brainchild, but actually Sam
and Aki were the inspired R&D engineers who started putting together a
crude prototype at the Brea Studio utilizing a 750cc Intruder engine in a
modified Intruder frame. The rake and trail were of course modified on that
prototype, as were the footpeg / shifter
positions. The prototype was finished off with a hand-hammered aluminum tank mastered by Sam. So the VX WAS conceived in the U.S."
The early sketch
"I had the opportunity to ride the prototype the day they finished it
and gassed it up, and it was a blast! Everyone knew that this
machine would answer the void for a great handling v-twin standard. We over-estimated the U.S. riders response, though.Only the very "savy" U.S. enthusiasts picked up on it!" "Hats off to you more knowledgeable bikers in Europe and Australia who "understood"!"
The prototype of the VX800.
"I did the full-scale clay modeling myself on the first VX750 model in Brea, CA, and followed the "concept model in crate" over to Hammamatsu to present the concept to management there.
Once the concept was approved by management to go to the Design phase, I was asked to lead that part of the project. The first thing that I wanted to do was widen the downtubes slightly, so that we could fit the "protruding" Intruder radiator between the downtubes, and make it disappear. That was probably the extent of my influence over the frame design, save a few sketched lines to give the bike a lean look."
"As far as the styling was concerned, I was working to get a nice flow to the lines; some like it- some don't, but I have to admit some bias toward the design myself . I had far too many occurences of being on the speedway and having to switch the fuel to reserve, fiddling
around "down there" trying to find the pet cock. That's what prompted me to make the pet cock easy to find, while bipping down the road. After I left Suzuki, they changed it to an automatic reserve I believe, so it's all academic now. My 1990 VX still has the original
pet-cock configuration, and I've had to switch to reserve many times while riding- it makes me thankful that I placed it where I could find it!"
The latest sketch, oct 1986
"Finally, a lot of the suspension, engine work and final touches on the frame was done in Hammamatsu once the concept & design direction were established, so it was basically out of the hands of the U.S. development team.
The original full-scale clay model that I accompanied over to Japan had a
rear fender/seat more like the first sketch. It's true that
Japanese management did want to play it safe, so they went with the more traditional styling on the rear fender.
Many times a transportation Designer's sketches/models get compromised when it gets to the Marketing Dept. stage!"
"When I left Suzuki a bit later on, I was told that the VX project was "shelved", and possibly would be cast aside. That's why I was pleasantly surprised to see it on the cover of CYCLE magazine one day. I called up Mark Blackwell at American Suzuki, and asked him if I could pick one up at the old employee discount price, and he was kind enough to grant my request.
I picked up my new VX 800 at Pioneer Motorsports, in Salinas, NY."
"It was one of the best days of my life, to ride home on a production version of the prototype bike and clay model I worked on three years earlier!" (thanks to The Dutch VX800 pages)
The Suzuki VX800 is a relatively unknown and somewhat rare motorcycle. It was imported to the United States from 1990 through 1993. With the exception of that marvelous V-Twin engine, the VX800 was engineered as a new bike from the ground up. Designed as a "standard" motorcycle in a cruiser and crotch-rocket dominated US market, the VX unfortunately did not sell well. It did sell well in Europe and Australia (much wiser buying public, evidently), where it was sold until 1997. The VX800 uses the 805cc, liquid cooled, eight valve, V-twin engine from the Intruder. As such it has tremendous roll-on power, with top gear 50 to 70 mph times rivaling those of much more powerful machines. Top gear downshifts are unnecessary at speeds over 50 mph. Although down in raw horsepower when compared to pure sport bikes, it can still motor from 0 to 60 mph in approximately 4 seconds, and produce a high 12 second quarter mile for the adventurous. Unique among this class of bike is the use of a drive shaft final drive, eliminating the maintenance chores and mess of a chain drive. However, the best kept secret is that with a few inexpensive suspension modifications, this bike becomes a highly proficient canyon carver. - Bruce Bacon