Suzuki first teased us with the B-King concept back in 2001, a show pony that was to be a taste of what might be coming,. It was based on a stripped back Hayabusa with a supercharger attached for added awesomeness, not to mention a huge 240 section rear tyre that looked amazing and got plenty of tongues wagging.
The show bike had plenty saying ‘I’ll buy one, and so will my mate’. The motorcycle media and public made all the right noises, although they’d almost forgotten about the B-King when Suzuki finally got around to making a production version. In 2007 the GSX-1300 B-King finally arrived in showrooms.
Unfortunately for all of those stunned showgoers, Suzuki lost its bottle and diluted the beast. There was no supercharger, and the 200/50ZR17 rear rubber looked positively anaemic when compared to the original concept. And let’s not mention that pair of ginormous silencers hanging under the seat…
Sadly, the B-King was stillborn, it never set the world on fire and was dropped from the Suzuki range in 2012. That should have been the end of the story for the Hayabusa powered naked, it was in fact the beginning.
Like so many motorcycles that fail to set the sales charts alight, the B-King gone on to become a bit of a cult bike, and it’s easy to see why. The B-King looks like no other naked bike on the market, it also goes like the clappers. The engine is from the second generation Hayabusa, the 1340cc four cylinder makes a whooping 164bhp. For some that’s more than enough poke, for other owners it’s just the starting point. Plenty of B-Kings find themselves heavily modified, as owners look to recapture the jaw dropping extremities of that original prototype.
What’s it like to ride?
Frankly, there’s nothing else like the B-King experience. For a big bike it hides its bulk well. The lack of bodywork also means a lack a wind protection, but once you’ve accepted that you can get on with enjoying everything that the B-King offers. As you would expect, that engine is a masterpiece and it’s got power everywhere throughout the rev range.
Lots of big bore naked bikes run out of handling before you get anywhere near the limits of the engine but the B-King doesn’t suffer this blight. There’s fully adjustable suspension at each end and it’s proper top notch kit and it handles better than it should. The riding position is a combination of sensible and comfortable, which all helps to hide that 235 kilos.
What to look for when buying one?
We spoke to Vinny Styles, Sales Manager at Wheels Motorcycles, a Suzuki dealership in Peterborough.
“Finding one is your biggest issue,” he says. “They were a slow seller in their day and even when Suzuki offered aftermarket silencers to tempt purchases it didn’t set sales on fire, yet the minute they stopped making them they gained popularity! They hold their values well. If anything a well kept B-King will make over book price.
“Standard bikes are the most desirable. There are a whole stack of bolt on extras out there on the market, the more common goodies that get fitted are performance exhausts, power commanders and bikini type fairings. Some owners go much further, with custom paint jobs and even lightweight wheels. Most of these detract from the bike’s value.
“A service history is always nice to have, especially the older they become. Always ask if they also have the standard parts if it’s been fitted with aftermarket components.”
What goes wrong with them?
We spoke to Chris Tombleson at Grumpy 1260, they specialise in Suzukis and service and repair all makes and models at their workshop in Norfolk. “We like the B-King, it’s definitely on its way to earning a cult status,” he adds. “We stock lots of performance parts for drag racers. The B-King engine is a second generation Hayabusa motor. Leave it standard and it’ll go on for ever, start adding performance parts and, depending on what route you go, you can spend an absolute fortune.
There’s no shortage of options, from bigger pistons through to turbos and nitrous oxide. Prices are high because the engines are sought after by kit car builders. They will pay around £3,000 just for the B-King or Hayabusa engine.
“The build quality isn’t the B-King’s strongest point and bikes used all year are easy to spot! Corrosion is the biggest problem and things like the shock and brake calipers deteriorate quickly.”