Suzuki's Boulevard Showdown

Text: Chris Myers • Photography: Christian Neuhauser

The Suzuki Marauder and Volusia are both 800cc cruisers. The similarity pretty much stops there. They share the same V-twin heart, yet these brothers in wheels have chosen to travel down different lanes of the cruiser boulevard.

A quick glance at the spec sheet might lead one to believe that the '04 Suzuki Marauder and Volusia are similar motorcycles. Both are powered by the very competent 805cc V-twin. They're both long and low and seem to suggest cruising with a capital C. Upon further digging, though, differences begin to emerge. Not just minor things, but radical departures. It's easy to get lured into a false sense of security when manufacturer, engine size and classification match up so cleanly. Well, toss any preconceived notions out the window because these are two entirely different birds of a feather.

As the bikes roll out into the morning sun, it doesn't take a design engineer to see that each has its own unique style. The Volusia is all about the classic cruiser look. From the swoopy, retro fenders to the long, wide bars, this machine is dripping with custom style. The spoke wheels and the hidden monoshock add to the classic hard-tail aura of the machine. Even the name Volusia is a tribute to the Florida county that embraces Daytona Beach. Custom motorcycles anyone?

While the Volusia carries an air of suntan lotion, warm sea breezes, and mountain air, the Marauder seems more at home with racing exhaust, burnt rubber, and stale popcorn. The forward-mounted bars and twin shocks give off the feeling of an old-school drag racer in disguise. The mag wheels and chain drive seem to hint at quick starts reminiscent of Saturday night at the local strip.

Both bikes are cruisers; they just have a different take on how to get from one end of the boulevard to the other.

Engine and Transmission
The Suzuki 805cc V-twin is a formidable motor and serves the purposes of both bikes very well. Variations in tuning and setup are the differences that define the personalities of the bikes. The Marauder has two Mikuni constant velocity carburetors that give the engine the extra juice it needs for quick launches. This extra throttle response, coupled with the chain final drive and a slightly higher compression ratio, explains why the Marauder feels quicker off the line. The Volusia is no slowpoke, but its single carb and shaft drive pull from a stop in a much more linear fashion. The Volusia is obviously tuned to have a more rational personality.

Both bikes feature five speed transmissions that work well. Shifting is smooth and precise whether coupled with the shaft drive or the chain. The Volusia is very much at home on the open road thanks to an overdrive fifth gear. The driveshaft probably doesn't hurt matters either. Regardless, highway miles roll away with ease. Things aren't quite as smooth with its counterpart. Whereas the Marauder excels from light to light, it comes up a bit short when the road gets long. It's not that the ride is bad; it just feels like sixth gear is needed. Extended rides are much more doable on the Volusia. Which bike is better here? It simply depends how far outside the city limits you plan on riding.

Chassis and Brakes
Both of these machines come to you with excellent handling packages. These are not sporting machines, yet each can be easily ridden at a rather brisk pace with no adverse results. They have low centers of gravity that benefit their handling. The Volusia, with its longer handlebars, turns well, and, at times, feels more stable than the Marauder. The shorter bars on the Marauder have a tendency to feel twitchy, yet they offer a much better feel for what the bike is doing. The Marauder is certainly the more enjoyable back-road bike of the two.

Suspension duties are handled quite differently on these bikes. The Marauder has an attractive inverted fork up front and twin, chrome-plated shocks in the rear. The ride isn't as plush as the Volusia offers but, like the bars, it seems to give the rider a better feel for the road. The Volusia has a rear single shock and telescopic forks in the front. The ride of the Volusia is a more traditional cruiser style. It is softer than the Marauder and generally more comfortable. Both suspensions allow for adjustments so you can dial in the ride feel of your choice.

In the braking department, each bike comes equipped with a single disc out front and a drum in the rear. Braking on both is adequate but not excellent. Again, lets keep in mind that these are cruisers. Hard riding can take its toll on the single disc and especially the drum rear that is prone to fading on both machines. The Marauder seems to have an edge in braking. This is likely not due to better brakes so much as it is the 80 pounds of extra weight the Volusia is carrying. If kept within the parameters of cruiser riding, both machines handle quite well with the edge going to the Volusia, thanks to its superior stability.

Accessories and Arrangements
This portion of the comparison is where it gets tricky. The Marauder is more about handling and attitude, whereas the Volusia is about comfort and style. The wide padded seat and comfortable pillion of the Volusia will appeal to those who may be interested in longer rides. The attractive instruments, mounted atop the gas tank (which is over a gallon larger than the Marauder tank), add to the classic lines of the Volusia. The adjustable suspension offers a plush ride that sucks up all but the biggest road faults with ease. Forward-mounted foot pegs and foot controls contribute to comfort, but also to the cruiser feel. The fit and finish on the Volusia is custom all the way from the two-tone paint to the numerous chrome-plated parts. The Volusia is a head-turner that is also a very capable cruising machine.

Where does this leave the Marauder? Well, at the top of the page as well. It's just that it's on a different page. This is a different type of cruiser altogether. Less at home on the open road, the Marauder does its thing on the boulevard and the back roads. Its suspension is much less compliant, yet it gives valuable feedback to the more aggressive rider. The shorter handlebars do feel more 'nervous' than the wider bars on the Volusia; yet again, they give the rider much more of a feel for the road. The Marauder is not an exercise in style like the Volusia - it is an exercise in attitude. These two offerings from Suzuki are extremely competent machines in the midsize cruiser category. Both bikes can stop traffic; it just depends on who's looking. Most of the aestheticians will favor the Volusia. Others who appreciate that more bare-bones approach will gravitate to the Marauder.

So what's it going to be, suntan oil or racing fuel?

TECHNICAL SPECS:
Suzuki VL800K4 Intruder Volusia

Retail Price $ 6.699
Warranty one yearwith unlimited mileage
Maintenance Schedule
600 / 4,000 / every 3,500 miles(1,000 / 6,400 / every 5,600km)
Importer/Distributor
American Suzuki Motor Corporation
3251 E. Imperial Highway
Brea, CA 92821-6795
Phone (800) 828-RIDE
www.suzukicycles.com

ENGINE
Type V Twin, four stroke
Cooling liquid cooled
Valve Arrangement SOHC, 4 valves per cylinder
Bore & Stroke 83.0 x 74.4mm
Displacement 805cc
Compression Ratio 9.4:1
Carburetion 1-34mm carburator
Exhaust Emission Control air injection

TRANSMISSION
Gearbox 5-speed
Clutch wet, multi plate
Final Drive shaft drive

CHASSIS
Frame double cradle steel
Wheelbase 1655mm (65.2in)
Rake (horizontal/vertical)57° / 33°
Trail 141mm (5.6in)
Front Suspension telescopic fork
Stanchion Diameter 41mm (1.6in)
Adjustments n/a
Travel 140mm (5.5in)
Rear Suspension single shock
Adjustments 7-way spring preload
Travel 130mm (4.1in)

WHEELS & TIRES
Type spoked with chrome plated rims
Front 3.00 x 16
Rear 4.00 x 15
Front Tire 130/90-16
Rear Tire 170/80-15

BRAKES
Front Brake 1 disc, 2 piston caliper
Diameter 300mm (11.8in)
Rear Brake drum
Diameter n/a
Combining no

DIMENSIONS & CAPACITIES
Seat Height 700mm (27.6in)
Dry-Weight 241kg (530lbs)
Fuel Capacity 17 liters (4.5gal)

PERFORMANCE
Claimed Horsepower (measured at crank)n/a
Torquen/a
Top Speedn/a
Accelerationn/a
Fuel Consumption
5.5 liters/100km (42.1 mpg)
Fuel Range344km (215mls)

EQUIPMENT
Leather grain pattern seat, fuel tank mounted speedo, LCD fuel gauge, 4-way emergency flasher. Accessories include leather saddlebags, windscreen, chrome fender trim, and passenger back rest.

ROADRUNNER Test Diagram
Engine 4/5
Chassis 4/5
Brakes 3/5
Comfort 5/5
Luggage w/accessories 4/5
Equipment 4/5
Design 5/5
Bike for the buck 4/5

Suzuki VZ800K4 Marauder

Retail Price $ 5.999
Warranty one yearwith unlimited mileage
Maintenance Schedule
600 / 4,000 / every 3,500 miles(1,000 / 6,400 / every 5,600km)
Importer/Distributor
American Suzuki Motor Corporation
3251 E. Imperial Highway
Brea, CA 92821-6795
Phone (800) 828-RIDE
www.suzukicycles.com

ENGINE
Type V Twin, four stroke
Cooling liquid cooled
Valve Arrangement SOHC, 4 valves per cylinder
Bore & Stroke 83.0 x 74.4mm
Displacement 805cc
Compression Ratio 10.0:1
Carburetion 2-36mm carburators
Exhaust Emission Control air injection

TRANSMISSION
Gearbox 5-speed
Clutch wet, multi plate
Final Drive chain drive

CHASSIS
Frame double cradle steel
Wheelbase 1645mm (64.8in)
Rake (horizontal/vertical)55° / 35°
Front Suspension inverted fork
Stanchion Diameter 41mm (1.6in)
Adjustments n/a
Travel 127mm (5.0in)
Rear Suspension twin shocks
Adjustments 5-way spring preload
Travel 102mm (4.0in)

WHEELS & TIRES
Type cast aluminum
Front 3.00 x 16
Rear 3.5 x 15
Front Tire 130/90-16
Rear Tire 150/90-15

BRAKES
Front Brake 1 disc, 2 piston caliper
Diameter 300mm (11.8in)
Rear Brake drum
Diameter n/a
Combining no

DIMENSIONS & CAPACITIES
Seat Height 700mm (27.6in)
Dry-Weight 207kg (456lbs)
Fuel Capacity 13 liters (3.4gal)

PERFORMANCE
Claimed Horsepower (measured at crank)n/a
Torque n/a
Top Speed n/a
Acceleration n/a
Fuel Consumption 5.6 liters/100km (41.5 mpg)
Fuel Range 348km (216mls)

EQUIPMENT
Large speedo, oil, high beam, neutral, and turn indicators, 4 way emergency flashers, 2 liter storage compartment with helmet hooks. Available as accessories, fairing, windshield, lower cowling, saddle bags, backrest, and case guards.

ROADRUNNER Test Diagram
Engine 4/5
Chassis 4/5
Brakes 3/5
Comfort 3/5
Luggage w/accessories 4/5
Equipment 3/5
Design 3/5
Bike for the buck 3/5