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Suzuki GV 700GL Madura
If you're a loyal Suzuki buyer who has loyally been waiting for Suzuki to bring out a cruiser bike, then 1984 has been your year—now you can choose between two fresh-off-the-drawing-board cruisers. With this late-1984 new-model introduction, Suzuki's two brand-spanking-new V-four Specials with nearly identical styling, feel and appeal await their turn on the street. The differences between the 700 Madura and the 1200 we tested in August very nearly amount to just two items: price and displacement.
The GV700 shares the 1200's powerplant design, and the two bikes also share a number of engine pieces. The 82-degree vee engine employs dual- overhead camshafts driven by individual HyVo-type chains to actuate four valves per cylinder, and hydraulic valve adjusters and automatic camchain tensioners eliminate all valve-related maintenance. The smaller engine uses 26mm intakes and 23mm exhaust valves, versus 26mm poppets for the GV1200. The crankcase splits horizontally, and except for machining differences the smaller Madura's lower engine case half looks exactly like the 1200's case; our Suzuki tech contacts weren't certain, but the bottom halves seem to be finish-machined from identical castings.
New top-end parts account for the displacement difference, 698cc versus 1165cc. Both Madura engines employ wet liners cast into the top case, a configuration which makes the 700's shorter top half distinctly different from the 1200's. As befitting a machine with 40 percent less displacement, the 700's bore and stroke is pale in the shadow of the larger Madura's: 69.0 by 46.7mm versus 78.0 by 61.0mm. The four constant-vacuum Mikuni carburetors also follow the 1200's lead, but the smaller bike employs 33mm mixers in place of the big Madura's 36mm carbs.
In addition, Suzuki lowered the 700's gearing to match the smaller engine's reduced power output. First gear, second gear and the secondary reduction ratio are all identical to the 1200's, but the other gearbox pairings and the primary and final ratios are all a bit lower. At 60 mph in sixth gear the 700 turns a calm 4218 rpm; the bigger Madura, in turn, spins a leisurely 3439 rpm at 60. The two Madura clutches are identical, save the smaller bike's lacking one of the 1200's 10 drive plates, and the 700's plates being a touch thinner.
Differences between the two Madura chassis are so few the bikes could pass for identical twins. Minor cosmetic detailing, including a slightly taller backrest on the 700, account for most of the visible differences. Otherwise, the two V-fours share virtually everything. The double-downtube full-cradle frame sets the steering head at a conservative 29.5 degrees, with 4.6 inches of steering trail. The long 62.0-inch wheelbase makes the little Madura feel like a big liter-plus machine rather than a nimble 700, no handicap as long as you stay within the parameters of the GV's intended use.
At 559 pounds fully gassed, the 700 offers a 33-pound weight advantage over the 1200, a difference small enough for the two bikes to share similar suspension components. The 700's aircap-equipped 39mm fork is a touch smaller than the full-tilt Madura's 41 mm fork, and it lacks adjustable damping and anti-dive valving. The limited-tech unit delivers 6.3 inches of supple travel, again well suited to cruiser use. The single-shock Full Floater rear suspension is exactly the same as the big bike's suspension setup; it offers remote preload adjustment but lacks adjustable damping of any sort. The adjuster knob hides away on the bike's left side, down near the swing-arm pivot, and a foldout handle takes the hassle out of spring adjustment.
As expected, the 700 basically feels and performs like a detuned GV1200. The 700 starts eagerly and warms readily in the morning, with a trace of C-V hesitation the only carburetion glitch. The small Madura's engine has a flexible, easy-to-use nature with a broad power spread, and this makes rides on this Suzuki friendly, enjoyable affairs rather than frenzied mini-races. Suzuki's engineers effectively controlled the engine vibration, making the powerplant all the more delightful to use, and if you need to squeeze maximum performance out of the 700, it winds smartly and willingly up and through the 10,750-rpm redline.
At the drag strip the GV700 managed a best run of 13.47 seconds at 98.70 mph, only fair performance for today's crop of 700s. Hard-nosed thrashing, whether in a straight line or on a twisty road, is not the Madura's forte at all. Limited ground clearance and lazy suspension components let the Suzuki bob and weave through fast corners and bumpy sections. The brakes, however, fare better; the dual front setup is strong and progressive, the rear drum less strong yet still acceptable.
Like the 1200, the small Madura finds around-town cruising and the open road more to its liking. On the freeway, the 700 purrs along smoothly, with barely a trace of engine vibration. The suspension likewise blots out bumps and jolts from road irregularities. The Madura's cruiser riding position offers more flexibility than most Specials; the front portion of the seat is long enough, and the handlebar not bent so radically as to dictate exactly where the rider must sit. In addition, the passenger pegs offer a useful alternative for a boot perch.
A couple of less desirable traits the 700 shares with the 1200 include a healthy appetite for fuel and a limited cruising range due to a smallish fuel tank. While we managed nearly 50 mpg on one steady freeway cruise, our overall average was an unimpressive 37.4 mpg. Coupled with a 2.6-galIon main tank and a 0.8-gallon reserve, the Suzuki barely clears the 100-mile mark between gas stops.
At a suggested retail tag of $3549, the 700 Madura commands a premium price; all other 1984 700s come in from $150 to $500 less. On the other hand, the smaller Suzuki costs a whopping $950 less than the GV1200, making it a bargain-basement Madura. And while the smaller Suzuki lacks that unmistakable liter-plus punch, in all other respects the two Maduras are almost indistinguishable.
Source Cycle Guide 1984