A 1997 Review of Suzuki's '97 Intruder 800 and Marauder from our Middleweight Comparison

These two retro rides get an even closer look.

The Intruder 800 could be considered the original modern Japanese cruiser. Introduced in 1985 as a 700, it was the first machine to successfully combine clean cruiser styling and Japanese technology. Over the years, it has undergone only minor revisions, the biggest of which was a 4.8mm increase in piston stroke which made it a 750 in 1988 and 3.3mm bigger bores in 1992, which then made it an 800. Though cast wheels were once available, it currently comes in just one configuration. The 21-inch wire-spoke front wheel which replaced the 19-incher in 1988 is now standard. In its 13-year production span, the price has doubled, which probably encouraged Suzuki to introduce an additional model which features not only completely revised styling, but a lower price as well. The new Marauder commands $500 less than the Intruder, but sacrifices its clean, quiet, fiddle-free shaft final drive, and beautiful detailing.

Though they look different and have different features, the engines in both of Suzuki’s 800s are essentially internally identical, featuring the same 45-degree angle, liquid cooling, 83mm bore, 74.4mm stroke, 805cc displacement, four-valve cylinder heads with the same lift and duration on the single cam, 10:1 compression, and 36mm carburetor throat sizes. Dual offset crankpins quell the V-twin’s vibration without a counterbalancer. Changes in frame design mean that the carbs are slightly different configurations and use different airboxes and jetting. Changing the cases and covers has changed the appearance of the Marauder engine.

The differences in final drive alter almost everything rear of the crankshaft. The Intruder’s clutch is hydraulically operated while the Marauder uses a cable and has a back-torque limiter. Although both have five speeds, the internal and overall ratios are different. The Marau­der packs its transmission shafts closer together and has higher overall gearing than the Intruder. The Intruder, at 3.5 quarts, carries an extra 0.9 quart of oil and also an extra 0.4 quart of coolant, with 1.8 quarts on board.

engine
How does the Intruder 800 get its class-conquering power? It gets its oomph from its 805cc engine.Cruiser

Aside from the engines, the two machines have little in common, mechanically or stylistically. They are much less alike than Kawasaki’s 800s. The Intruder is sculpted along mild chopper lines in its own distinctive style with a narrow frame, a tall, very skinny front tire, a long, narrow fork, pullback handlebar, wire wheels, a teardrop tank perched atop the frame, a sharply stepped seat with a small backrest (containing the toolbox), and narrow pullback bars completed with that impressive clean Intruder detailing. Hoses, wires, seams, fasteners, and other untidy bits are tucked neatly out of sight. Only a few items, like the battery (which is bigger than the Marauder’s) placed awkwardly below the swingarm pivot, interrupt the tidy detailing. Most of its covers are steel. Even the shroud around the frame neck is steel; all other bikes in this class with such shrouds use plastic.

The Marauder tends toward the currently fashionable fat look, interpreted in a street-performance motif. It sports wider cast wheels, a chubby-legged inverted front fork, a bigger headlight, a wider tank (but less than a quart more capacity), a longer, wider rear fender design, and a wider, smoother saddle than the Intruder. It’s wider, T-shaped bar has its own built-in riser which bolts directly to the top triple clamp. This design requires more work to change to a different bar than the Intruder’s conventional handlebar. The Marauder’s frame tubing is more visible, and the ultra-clean detailing is less evident. An inverted 41mm fork with a fat 16-inch tire cast wheel graces the VZ’s front end, which rakes out slightly more than the VS fork. The Marauder is about four inches longer than the Intruder and, despite the weight of the Intruder’s driveshaft, the Marauder weighs over 10 pounds more before fuel is added. Suzuki moved the battery to a conventional location beneath the locking seat. However, the tools were put just aft of the engine in a cylindrical box which succumbs to vibration and looks like a design from the ‘60s.

engine
The changes in frame design ultimately led to changes in the appearance of the Marauder's engine.Cruiser

Although most observers approve of the Marauder’s overall lines, the enthusiasm about the styling declines as you get in closer and see how much fakery and plastic the designers employed. The lumpy, chrome-plasticside panels and scattered heat shields on the pipes beg for another pass through the stylists’ cad-cam station. The rectangular dummy airbox is plastic too. Even what appears to be big machined alloy plates outboard of the swingarm pivot, are actually plastic covers. On the plus side, the cast (metal alloy) wheels are nicely done and mount tubeless tires that resist blowouts.

With the 10 percent price advantage of the Marauder, some observers suspect that the Intruders will start to collect dust in Suzuki showrooms. The fact is, however, the bikes are very different, and the Intruder has no trouble justifying the extra $500. Shaft drive alone will make it seem worthwhile after you have cleaned chain lube off the VZ800’s rear wheel a few times.

This article was originally published in the August 1997 issue of Motorcycle Cruiser.

Suzuki Intruder 800: Suzuki Marauder:
High Points: High Points:
Class-conquering power Affordable
Well-detailed, real-steel design Original styling
Smooth shaft drive Steady, predictable handling
Low Points: Low Points:
Cramped riding position Faulty tool kit design
Wallows in corners Way too much plastic
Narrow saddle Seat protrusion prods average to tall riders
Down on power compared to Intruder
Grabby clutch
Chain drive
First Changes: First Changes:
Aftermarket saddle Secure tool kit
Maintenance-free battery Trash rear fender reflector
Look for better saddle
Suzuki Intruder 800
Suzuki Intruder 800Cruiser
Suzuki Intruder 800 Specifications
Engine & Drivetrain
Type: Liquid-cooled, 45-degree tandem V-twin
Valve arrangement: SOHC, 2 intake, 2 exhaust valves, operated by rockers, threaded adjusters
Displacement, bore x stroke: 805cc, 83 x 74.4mm
Compression ratio: 10.0:1
Carburetion: 2, 26mm, Mikuni CV
Lubrication: Wet sump, 3.5qt., spin-on filter
Minimum fuel grade: 87 octane
Transmission: Wet multiplate clutch, 5 speeds
Final drive: Shaft, 3.2:1
Chassis
Wheels: Wire-spoke, 21 x 2.15 front, 15 x 3.00 rear
Front tire: 80/90-17 Bridgestone Exedra tube-type
Rear tire: 140/90-15 Bridgestone Exedra tube-type
Front brake: Double-action caliper, 11.6-in. disc
Rear brake: Drum, rod operated
Front suspension: 39mm stanchions, 5.1-in. travel
Rear suspension: Dual dampers, 3.5-in. travel, adjustment for preload
Fuel capacity: 3.2 gal. CA 2.9 gal., (0.8 gal. reserve)
Handlebar: 28.4 in. wide, 1.0 in. diameter
Inseam equivalent: 31.5in.
Electrical & Instrumentation
Charging output: 252 watts
Battery: 12v, 16 AH
Forward lighting: 55/60 watt, 5.7-in. headlight, position lights
Taillight: 1 bulb
Instruments: Speedometer, odometer, tripmeter, warning lights for neutral, high beam, oil pressure, turn signals
Performance
Fuel mileage: 37—50 mpg, 44.6 mpg ave.
Average range: 143 miles
RPM at 60 mph, top gear: 4080
200-yard, top-gear acceleration from 50 mph, terminal speed: 84.8 mph
Quarter-mile acceleration: 13.31 sec., 97.2 mph
Suzuki Marauder
Suzuki MarauderCruiser
Suzuki Marauder Specifications
Engine & Drivetrain
Type: Liquid-cooled, 45-degree tandem V-twin
Valve arrangement: SOHC, 2 intake, 2 exhaust valves, operated by rockers, threaded adjusters
Displacement, bore x stroke: 805cc, 83.0 x 74.4mm
Compression ratio: 10.0:1
Carburetion: 2, 36mm, Mikuni
Lubrication: Wet sump, 2.6qt., spin-on filter
Minimum fuel grade: 87 octane
Transmission: Wet multiplate clutch, 5 speeds
Final drive: No. 520 chain, 48/15
Chassis
Wheels: Cast, 16 x 3.00 front, 15 x 3.5 rear
Front tire: 130/90-16 Dunlop D404FJ, tubeless
Rear tire: 150/90-15 Dunlop D404G, tubeless
Front brake: Dual piston caliper, 11.8-in. disc
Rear brake: Drum, rod operated
Front suspension: 41mm stanchions, 5.0-in. travel
Rear suspension: 2 dampers, 4.0-in. travel, adjustment for preload
Fuel capacity: 3.4 gal., (0.8 gal. reserve)
Handlebar: 28.5 in. wide, 1.0 in. diameter
Inseam equivalent: 31.6in.
Electrical & Instrumentation
Charging output: 250 watts
Battery: 12v, 10 AH
Forward lighting: 55/60 watt, 7.0-in. headlight, position lights
Taillight: 1 bulb
Instruments: Speedometer, odometer, tripmeter, warning lights for neutral, high beam, oil pressure, turn signals, coolant temp
Performance
Fuel mileage: 37—50 mpg, 43.9 mpg ave.
Average range: 149 miles
RPM at 60 mph, top gear: 3820
200-yard, top-gear acceleration from 50 mph, terminal speed: 75.1 mph
Quarter-mile acceleration: 14.08 sec., 89.9 mph