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Suzuki’s Dark Secret: 1983 XN85 Turbo

Suzuki’s Dark Secret:  1983 XN85 Turbo

If there is such a thing as a read headed step child of the motorcyling world, the XN85 Turbo is it.  It sounds like as soon as the production line shut down Suzuki was ready to move on.  I love this quote from XN85turbo.com:

“Suzuki America does everything short of denying the bike’s very existence”

It is rare bird indeed with just under 1200 produced and only 300 of those made it to the United States.  For comparisons sake,  roughly 3600 VJ23 RGv250’s were produced and that is considered a rare bike.

The funny thing is, after reading up on the bike it was well reviewed at the time.  Yes, the engine was a bit quirky but the  bike got high marks in the handling department.  The frame was used on other models and it was the first production motorcycle to sport a 16″ front wheel.

I was still ripping around on dirt bikes back in 83 so I’m stealing this wealth of info from XN85turbo.com.  It is a just a vault of info on the XN.   Tech info, pictures, magazine articles:  it is all there.

Details from the auction:

This is one clean and rare machine,  SUZUKI  made only 1153 of these and just 300 of made there way to the U.S.A. This one has the very low production # of 68 adding to its collect-ability and long term value. Runs great,  paint is original and nice. Tires have plenty of tread. The wind screen is cracked but they are available from Gustafsson Fairings for $100. Personal viewing is welcome, I’m located 70 miles north of Los Angeles  For International  buyer, I can deliver to shippers in the Los Angeles area for $150.

Suzuki may have shunned the XN but people still seek them out.  For that reason don’t expect any deals on a clean low mile example.  XN85turbo.com  suggests $3000-$4000 for a clean, low mile bike and up to $7000 if you are lucky to find one in showroom condition.  I don’t know about $7,000 for this bike but I would assume it would sell at the higher end of the spectrum.  That’s a faux aluminum swing arm.  Suzuki brought out the spray paint to hide the steel.

 The backward “turbo” is not a mistake.  It is just another quirk of the XN85.  I see a little hint of Katana styling there from the front.  If you’d like to own a little piece of Suzuki history that Suzuki would rather forget, .



  • They’re rare, they’re unusual, they’re collectable- but these pigs honestly aren’t that much fun to ride. Don’t look for one thinking there’s going to be a cool turbo hit/rush of power to impress you. The Kawasaki 750 Turbo has that, and is much more fun. And good luck finding any parts for the Suzuki XN if you need them- scarce.

  • Agree that the XN85 is not the most potent turbo bike (faster than the Yamaha Seca Turbo and the original Honda CX500T but slower than the rest), but handling is right up there with the best of the era – and still holds up today.

    This bike seems to have enjoyed some paintwork – gold wheels and calipers and gold turbo heat shield were not part of the stock package if I recall. Still, very clean and pretty! Thumbs up!

  • I have an xn85 Turbo for sale. I’ve driven it for more than 10 years now, with much pleasure. It’s a heavy bike, and not the fastest, but very reliable. And very very rare indeed.
    I sell it because of kids and space; make me an offer I can’t refuse?

  • I have own and ride an XN85, I have yet to see another out on the road and always get asked if I built it myself and does it really have a turbo. Its fun to ride, plenty quick enough and handles way better than most 30 year old bikes. Luckily I also have a complete spare bike and so far have not had to rob anything from it to keep mine running.
    The suzuki brochure for the XN85 explains that the turbo is intended to give the power of a larger engine while retaining the economy of the smaller engine. The power produced is equal to that of the 1980’s GS1000 and it still returns around 45mpg so maybe they got it spot on. I agree there is no “turbo rush” but when the speeds get up and most bikes start running out of steam the XN85 just keeps pushing on until either the turbo boost limit cuts in (scary) or your pushing the needle near the 130mph mark.

  • Good stuff Russbusa, thanks for commenting.

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