Little Bike, Big Boost, and it Looks Great Too

By Aaron Frank, Photography by Suzuki

How does this sound: a 385-pound sportbike that's dimensionally akin to a 250 but produces enough torque to equal most 1,000cc superbikes? That formula sounds essentially perfect to us, and it could become reality if Suzuki's turbocharged Recursion concept bike, which debuted at this year's 43rd-annual Tokyo Motor Show, eventually enters production.

The Recursion name is a clumsy construction of the verb "recur," meaning "to return or to occur again," because this is not the first time Suzuki has considered a turbocharged streetbike. Suzuki's XN85 was ahead of its time in 1983; now, 30 years later, the time for a turbocharged streetbike has finally arrived. The benefits remain the same—forced induction can extract big-bike power from a compact, lightweight, small-displacement engine. Unlike three decades ago, however, when turbo lag made boosted bikes unpleasant to ride, advances in turbo technology and modern electronics have made such shortcomings a thing of the past.

At the heart of this prototype is a newly developed, 588cc, water-cooled, parallel twin with a turbocharger and intercooler tucked beneath the shapely fuel tank. Turbocharging is a simple concept. A small turbine, driven by exhaust gases, force-feeds pressurized air into the combustion chamber to boost power. Forced induction hugely increases the power-per-liter equation. Here Suzuki claims 100 hp at 8,000 rpm and a remarkable peak-torque figure of 74 pound-feet at 4,500 rpm. These numbers suggest ample power spread across a broad rev range, which would make this a fast and easy-to-ride machine.

The Recursion's form, more classic roadster than cutting-edge sportbike, is enticing too. It's also more than a little reminiscent of certain Italian designs, with a voluptuous half fairing and cantilevered, carbon-fiber tailsection that recall certain Ducati Super Sports and Sport Classics. A cast-aluminum frame arcs over the small engine, keeping the bike narrow between the knees, while a single front brake, three-spoke wheels, and a single-sided swingarm contribute visual lightness, in addition to actually saving weight.

This concept, striking a balance between literbike performance and the easy handling and economy of a lightweight 250, is undeniably appealing. And the application is more than idle speculation. In the automotive industry, where weight and efficiency are mandated priorities, small-displacement turbos are now commonplace. We will almost certainly see these design goals integrated into future sportbike development, as values like efficiency, economy, and lower emissions become increasingly important to a new generation of performance enthusiasts.

Will we see the Recursion in showrooms anytime soon? The concept bike looks nearly production ready, and it's exciting to think that the last time Suzuki revealed a "concept" this fully developed—the V-Strom 1000—it appeared in showroom guise one year later, practically unaltered. We can dream! Much more likely, however, is to see this frame and engine form the basis of a new line of Honda CB500-like entry-level middleweights that fill an immediate hole in Suzuki's global lineup, rather than a high-performance, new-generation GSX-R/SV. It's encouraging to see that Suzuki is thinking about turbos, however. Hopefully we won't have to wait too long for this technology to recur.

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