Given the title, I’m sure you’re looking for some “I pity the fool…” type of comments here, but you will get none from me. Although looking back some 34 years from the future – in a world where nearly every car (from econo box to sports car) is either turbocharged, supercharged or both – it feels like we have not come very far at all. And while every one of the Big Four offered a puffer-enhanced model in the early 1980s, each was a dismal failure in the showroom, despite the investment and technology. Take the 1983 Suzuki XN85: this 650cc sport bike was labeled as the best handling motorcycle of that year. But nothing ages faster than last year’s model, and the heavy, expensive, complicated XN85 was quickly left behind.
Looking back, the XN85 paved the way for more successful Suzuki models, such as the original GSX-R series. In fact, the air/oil cooling technology that enabled the GSX-R’s light weight was pioneered on the XN85. What about the GP-inspired 16″ front wheel? Today this is seen as an antiquated attempt to lessen gyroscopic forces and improve transition maneuverability, but given the chassis technology at the time it was effective. So, too, was the adjustable anti-dive fork and the single shock rear suspension – which was carried onto other sporting models. Computerized fuel injection was a necessity for the turbo application, but represented a giant leap forward in the day (despite the computer being roughly the size of a toaster). Today this technology is a given, but the DNA has deep roots and a long memory.
From the seller:
For sale is a 1983 Suzuki XN85 Turbo. Bike is original an survivor with only 07772.1 miles. Read item condition for specifics, look over the photos or email for any questions. Thanks for looking.
This one year only model looks to be in decent condition; no obvious missing pieces or major damage. It would have been nice for the seller to take a minute to wipe the bike down (or, gasp!, wash it) before taking pictures, but this is not the worst we have ever seen. The corrosion is pretty typical of the age; most of these models have some rash on the brake master and the aluminum forks. While it does detract from the aesthetics, it should not prevent the bike from being ridden. And Turbo bikes need to be ridden regularly. Otherwise critical seals become old and crack, waste gate actuators stick, and myriad other problems can develop.
The Suzuki XN85 is perhaps the rarest of the US-imported Turbo bikes. Suzuki did everything they could to deny its existence, and buyers boycotted the extreme price differential between the XN and a performance-comparable GS750. Today these are interesting milestones along the racetrack of development. They are unique, rare, and relatively affordable. Prices are on a very slow ascending curve, making this a collectable you can afford – and afford to ride. Parts are difficult to find (especially the computerized bits and the bodywork), but if you locate a good one there are few weaknesses in the overall package. Boost is slow to hit – and doesn’t hit nearly as hard as say a CX650T or Turbo GPz – but the handling is sublime by 1980s standards. This particular bike is a true survivor. Check it out here, and get boosted. Good luck!!