Thunder Road Comparison of the 1999 Suzuki Intruder 1400 and Intruder 1500 LC

Background on the Suzuki duo from the Thunder Road Comparison

This article was originally published in the June 1999 issue of Motorcycle Cruiser.

1999 Suzuki Intruder
Many considered the Intruder 1400 (left) the first Japanese cruiser that “got it” in terms of a styling treatment that appealed to American tastes. Last year, Suzuki added the Intruder 1500 LC, to provide a cruiser with the wide comfortable styling that is currently attracting buyers. The '99 machine is our favorite 1500 LC to date, thanks to a brighter paint scheme and slightly improved clutch engagement.Dean Groover

When the Intruder 1400 made its debut, early in 1987, it was something of a revelation. Here, in real steel, was proof a Japanese motor­cycle company could sculpt a cruiser to American tastes. The lines were original but still based on the chopper­esque style of an American custom. And it was clean—with wiring and cables tucked out of sight, unnecessary gadgets discarded and, for a few months, the biggest V-twin on the planet tucked under its peanut-sized tank. Coming as it did on the heels of Suzuki's ill-fated Madura V-4, it was a welcome surprise.

The 1360cc engine powering this rolling work of art was a 45-degree V-twin, its vibration checked by a pair of offset crankpins, their offset chosen to subdue vibration while providing a pleasing cadence. This gave the balance of a smooth 90-degree design. The engine is air/oil-cooled, with one exhaust and two intake valves per cylinder. Single overhead cams and hydraulic adjusters actuate the valves. Each cylinder has its own 36mm carb positioned behind it with the exhaust pipes exiting the front and running down either side of the distinctly narrow motorcycle. Originally, a four-speed transmission was used, but a five-speed was fitted in 1997. A shaft final drive completes power delivery to the rear wheel.

Slim was in when the Intruder 1400 was being designed, and despite a few minor styling changes over the years it retains that narrow, chopped look. The tank accommodates only 3.4 gallons and the slender, stepped saddle terminates in a short, but welcome, passenger backrest. A narrow 19-inch wire wheel, stopped by a single disc, points the way up in front with a fat 15-incher squatting out back. By the time the Intruder 1500 LC was introduced in '98, fat was where it was at. To get the wide, comfortable style cruiser buyers sought, Suzuki kept little except the layout of the shafts in its V-twin engine and the three-valve cylinder-head layout. Bore and stroke were increased to yield 1462cc and compression was dropped slightly. Both carbs were located together between the 1500's cylinders, and both pipes exited on the right side. The crankshaft's mass was increased for more flywheel effect, and the 1500 got five speeds and shaft final drive. Much of the drivetrain was beefed up to handle the added weight and power, and new, wider cases and covers were used.

Those two carbs needed a big airbox to get the volume of air required to make the power Suzuki sought, so most of the space normally occupied by the fuel tank was consumed by the airbox. The 4.1-gallon fuel tank was relocated under the seat. The tank had to be fairly wide which made the entire bike quite broad in the beam.

The seat, fenders, dummy tank, cast wheels (16-inch front, 15-inch rear), covered fork legs, 7.5-inch headlight and engine cases are all fat, even in this chubby crowd. Floorboards and tank-top instruments (speedometer, warning lights and an LCD odometer that now includes a fuel-level function) complete the Intruder’s transition from chopper-flavored custom of the ’80s to big, luxurious classic cruiser of the ’90s.