The 2004-new-model motorcycle announcements ended on a somewhat anti-climatic note when Suzuki took the cover off its new Marauder 1600.
The cat was already out of the bag by the time Suzuki showed its new cruiser to its dealers this week. Kawasaki had already revealed its 2004 Mean Streak 1600 and announced that its alliance with Suzuki would involve producing a Suzuki-badged version of the Kawasaki bike. Therefore no one was too surprised when Suzuki showed its "bigger and badder" (than its 800 Marauder) Marauder 1600.
The only questions (besides if Suzuki would introduce any other new cruiser motorcycles for 2004, which it did not do) was how different the Marauder would appear compared to the Mean Streak and whether the prices would be significantly different for the two versions of the same motorcycle.
In terms of styling, there is no mistaking the Marauder's Mean Streak origins. The Suzuki has a tailsection behind the seat instead just a fender as on the Kawasaki. Its headlight is a different shape. The engine bay features a different airbox treatment and a blacked out engine. Possible benefit for owners of either brand arethe customizing possibilities of mixing and matching parts and easier availability of common parts, since there are more dealers.
Suzuki has announced a suggested price of $10,999. Kawasaki has not made an official price announcement yet, but the 2003 Mean Streak 1500 has the same price, and it's likely that the new 1600 Meanie will come in at about that price point. Kawasaki will have three colors for the American version of the Mean Streak 1600, while Suzuki will have the black and bluie choices shown here.
Mechanically the bikes seem to be the same, which means they have more sophisticated suspension and brake systems than most cruisers and slightly hopped-up versions of the 1552cc Kawasaki Vulcan 1600 engine. We have not ridden the Mean Streak 1600 yet, but the 1500 has been one of our very favorite big twins, emerging as out top pick in our 2002 Big Twins Comparison test. We expect the 1600 Mean Streak and Marauder to win us over as well.
Suzuki has not told us when the Marauder 1600 will be available, but Kawasaki Mean Streak 1600s should be in dealers in the within weeks. We expect to have a Mean Streak test bike in September.