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2009 Suzuki Gladius Comparison

Monday, June 8, 2009
2009 Suzuki Gladius Comparison
Don't let its small engine size fool you. The Suzuki Gladius is the definition of fun.
Before riding the Gladius, we were pretty pessimistic of how fun this little Suzuki motorcycle could be. But after just one ride on it, we were blown away by how amusing it is to ride.

Jump into its cockpit and there’s no disputing the Gladius feels wider than the ultra-narrow ER. Reach out to its chrome handlebars, however, and you’ll be impressed with its wide traditional bend which lends itself well when you need to maneuver the motorcycle in the tight confines of a parking lot. Like the ER, the front brake lever has a good deal of adjustment for hand size and the clutch lever is light and offers gentle engagement. Although the Gladius’ 30.9-inch seat height is taller than the ER’s, it still allowed the 5’7” Atlas to plant both feet firmly on the ground. We also liked how the seat is shaped to perfectly fit your bottom.

Press the starter button and the Gladius engine chugs to life with an air gulping intake sound, as compared to the ER’s beefy exhaust blare. Accelerating hard from a stop and you’ll be taken back by how peppy the Gladius 645cc V-Twin feels. Although on paper it actually has slightly less peak torque, it feels more lively and responsive than the numbers lead you to believe. Keep on revving the engine past 7000 rpm and you really feel the Gladius accelerate. Here you’ll feel its horsepower advantage over the ER, yet its power delivery is completely seamless which won’t intimidate a novice rider.

Working through the Suzuki’s six-speed transmission was also pleasing and it felt more polished than the ER’s, changing gears with the precision and feel we’ve come to expect from Suzuki’s GSX-R line of sportbikes.

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2009 Suzuki Gladius Comparison
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Without a doubt the Gladius is a very well balanced motorcycle and has plenty of power to get on one wheel, check out all the action in our Suzuki Gladius Video as it takes on the Kawasaki ER-6n.
“I love the sensation you get from the Gladius’ engine. It just feels quicker than the Kawi’s pretty much everywhere. It’s super smooth through the rev range and doesn’t have any power hit like the ER. Plus you don’t have to rev it to the moon to get it to accelerate fast,” mentions Atlas.

While the Suzuki’s chassis isn’t quite as agile as the ER’s, it’s still is a blast to ride when the road gets curvy. However its lack of ground clearance gets annoying. Add in a really soft suspension and it feels like the Suzuki is missing a something charging through the corners.

“Next to the Gladius’ paper thin seat, the thing I don’t like about it is its lack of ground clearance. I mean they put good sticky tires on it and you lean it over and it immediately starts scrapping. Then the bike stars wiggling around because the suspension is so soft. If they fixed those things this could be almost a perfect little motorcycle,” says Atlas.
Suzuki wisely chose to fit the Gladius with the ultra sticky Dunlop Sportmax Qualifier tire. And if we had to choose between it and the Roadsmart we’d always go with the Qualifer because we like the way it feels. However, that feel does come at a cost: Mileage service life.
2009 Suzuki Gladius Comparison
2009 Suzuki Gladius Comparison 2009 Suzuki Gladius Comparison

While the Gladius suspension wasn’t as taut as the ER, it definitely is much more forgiving on rough road. Where the ER’s rear-end feels downright harsh the Gladius set-up sorts out pavement imperfections effortlessly. However, its thin seat works against the more complaint rear suspension and compromises ride quality so much that the ER gets the nod for those planning on logging extended seat time.

Out on the highway the Gladius’ engine delivers more vibrations through its control surfaces. While it never gets annoying it’s not quite as smooth as the ER. We did appreciate its more open cockpit though especially within the leg region, which allowed for a sporty seating command without compromising overall comfort.

Equally as pleasing was the Gladius’ simple yet well thought out instrumentation. In fact, come to think, of all the streetbikes we’ve tested recently the Gladius might have the most functional, most legible instruments of any new motorcycle. A large analog tachometer is flanked by an orange backlit digital speedometer complete with a gear position indicator and dual trip meters and clock.

Braking performance is another department exceeding expectations. Up front 290mm brake discs and double-piston Tokico calipers require only one finger at the brake lever. A single 240mm rear disc and single-piston caliper keep you from looping out when you’re riding down the road on the rear wheel. Feel on both ends was plentiful, however, we could see how novice ham-fisted riders might think the Suzuki’s brakes are a bit touchy.

While the Gladius netted slightly better fuel economy than the ER (44 MPG versus the ER’s 42) it wasn’t enough to offset the ER’s 0.3 gallon-larger fuel tank. Which gives the ER slightly more range then the Gladius.

2009 Suzuki Gladius Comparison
One of the few kinks in the Gladius armor is its lack of ground clearance at speed.
Visually, the Gladius design is a mixed bag. Although we dig its Blue/White paint scheme and stylized exhaust system, its shape is, perhaps, too out there. It also didn’t draw near the amount of attention as the ER, which might be a boon for the rider who likes to fly under the attention radar.

Where the ER-6n feels utilitarian to ride, the Gladius is dynamic - offering a much more intimate riding experience than expected from its $6899 pricetag. It does everything a motorcycle is supposed to do: It’s easy-to-ride, performs admirably in all but the most extreme conditions and is just plain fun on the road, regardless of engine size. That’s why the Suzuki Gladius is the sporty new entry-level motorcycle you’ve been looking for.

For My Money

Adam Waheed, Road Test Editor, 6 foot, 180 lbs:

Honestly, both of these motorcycles would be perfect for a new rider as beyond anything else they are small and easy to ride. But the thing I really like about the Suzuki is that although it’s designed for a newbie, it’s still so well engineered that an experienced rider can hop on it, rip around and come back with as big as a smile on their face as if they just got a GSX-R sportbike. It’s truly amazing how much fun Suzuki infused in this motorcycle. If I was in the market for a new small displacement sporty motorcycle the Gladius would be it.

Steve Atlas, Executive Editor, 5 foot, 8 inches, 150 lbs:

The ER-6n is a funny motorcycle. It is definitely more oriented to someone who is new to the sport of motorcycling. Not to say that the Gladius isn’t, but the Kawi just feels a tad bit smaller, a little more agile, more docile power, etc. When I picked up the Gladius I told Suzuki’s press officer, Garrett Kai, that if I could leave the store and, right off the bat, having never ridden the machine, wheelie the Gladius for the several blocks to the stoplight at the end of the road without putting the front end down, I would give it a good review. And the Suzuki did just that and more. I’ll take a new Gladius please.

Kawasaki ER-6n vs Suzuki Gladius
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Suzuki Gladius Dealer Locator
2009 Suzuki Gladius Technical Specs
2009 Suzuki Gladius Comparison
Engine: Liquid-cooled 645cc V-Twin; 8-valve
Bore and Stroke: 81.0 x 62.6mm
Compression Ratio: 11.5:1
Fuel Delivery: Fuel-injection
Horsepower: 67.12 @ 9000 rpm
Torque: 42.9 lb-ft @ 7400 rpm
Clutch: Wet; cable-actuated
Transmission: 6-speed
Frame: Steel
Front Suspension: 41mm preload-adjustable Showa fork; 4.9 in. travel
Rear Suspension: Showa hydraulic rear shock with adjustable preload; 5.1 in. travel
Front Brakes: 290mm discs with Tokico twin-piston calipers
Rear Brake: 240mm disc with single piston caliper
Tires: Dunlop Sportmax Qualifer 120/70-17, 160/60-17
Curb Weight: 447 lbs.
Wheelbase: 56.9 in.
Length: 83.9 in.
Rake: 25 deg. Trail: 5.1 in.
Seat Height: 30.9 in.
Fuel Capacity: 3.8 gallons MPG: 44
MSRP: $6899
Colors: Blue/White; Black
Warranty: One year, unlimited mileage

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Canisferus   June 21, 2011 01:27 AM
BBB, you may be right about these being too much for a real beginner. But has anyone noticed that the HP of both bikes is lower than their 2006 counterparts? The 2006 ER6N made 65.8hp but the 2009 ER6N made only 62.94hp The 2006 SV650 made 72.6hp. but the 2009 SV650 made only 67.12hp. Why dumb down the horsepower? The gas mileage of these 650cc bikes isn't that great either: 42-44mpg. These two mounts should have been making at least 50mpg. Heck, my bro's old '84 GPZ750 got 55mpg on the highway two years ago and it was rated at 92hp.
Bikebikerbikest -Not designed for beginners.  November 14, 2010 11:01 PM
These reviewers are fools if they truly believe these bikes are designed for beginners, women or older people "just getting back into riding"... the whole "beginner bike" crap is nothing more than a way for manufactures to move both their midsized bikes and their over the top, almost completely useless overly powered sport bikes. Anyone of these 650cc bikes will keep pace, or flat outrun all but the most exotic sports cars. These are NOT beginner bikes, They are not developed or designed for beginners.. That line is pure marketing! Get people to buy a "beginner" bike and then ..eventually get them to buy another bigger bike.. ...and sadly many people fall for this marketing strategy. I owned a " beginner" DL650 AND the bigger DL1000. The DL650 does everything better than the DL1000 and for a lot less. I also don't know what these reviewers are talking about when referring to the performance differences between the ER6 and the Gladius. Somehow suggesting that the ER is lacking. There is a video on youtube of a comparison/review of these two bikes and in a drag race, they run neck and neck.. Virtually identical performance is the way they put it.
Denny -Gladius to be no more ?  November 7, 2010 10:30 AM
So I went to the local Suzuki dealer and was told that the all new Gladius was to be cancelled !! What is up with that ? Is that true ? He also told me that the DR 650 SE will be dropped ! What is going on with Suzuki ???
CHARLIE -er6n  February 15, 2010 09:47 AM
I have an er6n and my buddy has a gladius and i love my er but i have road his gladius over 1000 miles and like it too i think just pick the body style you like best or the cheapest and trust me about being a real biker i have had a cbr1000rr and zx10 and vrod and have 10x more fun on my little er6n.
Joe -Gladius and ER-6  January 23, 2010 11:53 PM
Strangely enough, as someone looking to buy a first motorcycle these are the two that captured my attention. They are both reasonably priced, user friendly, comfortable to sit on, and pretty uniquely styled. Those who have a preference for the leaning ultra fast sportbike will find these two bikes sort of silly and slow... while the cruiser type rider will find them too sporty, and not very "biker" looking. I am not interested in racing, and not interested in the "gangster" image, so the odd looking bike is a chance to project a modern new look.
Roy Jourdan -Suzuki Gladius  November 15, 2009 07:40 PM
I bought the Suzuki Gladius after reading mulitipal reviews. I have not ridden a bike in over 10 years, but I rode for 20 yrs. straight. I sat on the kaw. and then on the suzuki. The Suzuki has a 10 year engine (tried and true). The only problem with the gladius is the seat is very uncomfortable. I have since had a custom saddle made. This is a great little bike for around town and the back roads.
Eric -Gladius  August 22, 2009 02:04 AM
i own an 09'R1 and an 09'zx10 and i still find the gladius very fun to ride. it's still not broken in yet so i havent really pushed it yet. it is a great bike for what it is. engine is very smooth and so is the gearbox. the only complaint is that the seat is very narrow towards the front and there is not much cushion there. its much more comfortable to ride laying on the tank than sitting upright as the seat pushes you forward a bit. i ordered the upgrade seat with 20mm more cushion. hopefully this will help. it can get uncomfortable after an hour on the gladius. other than this problem i love this bike. the gladius easily exceeds 100mph (i've done 180mph on the R1)so i'm not exactly the whimpiest rider either. i prefer the gladius over the 08' fz6 i used to have. the motor is not so high strung on the highway. wind protection is great for a naked bike.
Aaron Rose -@ Milwaukee Mike  August 7, 2009 01:48 PM
"A real biker wouldn't let another biker ride one" What kind of pretentious crap statement is that? A REAL biker doesn't care about what people think of him when he's on the bike. A REAL biker only cares about two things: how in tune he is with his own ride, and how connected to the road his ride makes him feel. After all, we RIDE our bikes for the enjoyment of them, and not for any sort of fashion statement. If that were the predominant school of thought, the whole rat bike / bobber / street fighter culture wouldn't exist. If you wanna be a "real biker" (as you claim) and "look cool" to your friends, go grab a Gixxer like everyone else does, throw on your flip-flops and shorts and douche up the roads somewhere else.

Brad -Kawasaki ER-6n  July 8, 2009 10:40 AM
I bought the ER-6n and think it is a fun bike. Put 2K on the bike in a month including a 1200 mile five day travel adventure. I've been riding for years and find this bike will do 95% of everything you want as compared to a "sports bike". My last bike was a Triumph Speed Triple that got totaled after hitting gravel in a turn unfortunately. But like I said, this bike is a fun bike and even did well on the Tail of the Dragon in TN a week ago. Not to mention that the ER-6n looks a whole hell of a lot better than the Glady's IMO. BTW, the ER-6n has been out in Europe since 2006 and has a very good following. I only wish that Yamaha would bring their naked version of the FZ6 or the european XJ6 to America. Anyway, ER-6n over the girlie Glady.
Warren -The Gladius  July 6, 2009 11:49 PM
It doesn't scrap as suggested in the test. I've had the thing cranked over and it has not scraped. One of the sweetest rides on earth for sure.
Motor 6 -Maria's concern  June 23, 2009 09:20 PM
I recently purchased the Gladius and couldn't be more happy. I have a ton of riding experience after being a Police Motor Officer in Los Angeles for the last 6 years. I am also a police motor instructor. I tell you that just to say that unless you are going to be trying to set the best time going through the canyons, you will never have to worry about scraping the pegs on this bike. It leans further than 75% of riders will ever even attempt. Ride safe, ride often.
MARIA -Gladius  June 19, 2009 02:44 PM
I just got my licence and thinking of getting the gladius. This was a very encouraging review actually. However, I am a bit worried about the "immediatelly starts scraping when you lean it over" bit. Are we really talking immediately scraping here or you mean knee down and then starts scraping, as this is somethingth I really wouldn't have to worry about being new in this and all lol Could somebody clarify this for me please? thanks :)
Bill -Newbie ?  June 16, 2009 10:43 AM
I've wondered since I started riding what this "newbie" bike thing is. Why do I need a 1300 super sport to commute to work to prove my 30 years experience in motorcycling... heck I rarely own a car, and rarely buy a motorcycle over 650cc. Why would I. What's in it? Wheelies and stoppies? Granted a 250 has trouble pulling me up long hills. But you're just a bunch of speed freaks.. get a pilots license if all you care about is the number on the dash.
Dave -Kaw ER 6N or Yam FZ6R ?  June 12, 2009 08:10 PM
I like the Kawasaki but I'm worried about a lack of power since I weight over 200 lbs. I have a 13 year old 1000cc sport bike and it is not lacking in power. I need to read a review on the Yamaha FZ6R.
Larry -Mitch-Disappointing review  June 10, 2009 03:28 PM
I agree completely with your comments as these bikes are important for beginners and people getting back into riding after long layoffs and may be looking for affordable rides. I wish more newbies would buy these user friendly bikes and stay away from sportbikes.
William -ER-6n  June 10, 2009 10:44 AM
I'm a new rider and purchased the ER-6n in May 2009. I paid $5,999!! Great handling and very, very easy to ride. Also, it is very smooth with almost no vibration. I'm 5' 9 1/2" and weigh 158 lbs. so I fit the bike well, and with smaller hands I appreciated the adjustibility of both the brake & clutch levers. I didn't test ride the Suzuki as I decided to spend less on the bike and then get some decent gear. Bottom line - I'm very happy with the bike.
Ian -Beginners bike  June 10, 2009 08:20 AM
I am the only one who thinks a 650 might be a tad to big for a beginners bike?
Chief -That makes no sense...  June 10, 2009 01:23 AM
Pat - What sense would it make to have a beginner review a bike? What would be his basis for analysis? While yes, you could throw a newbie on and see how they do. A newbie would never be able to provide any honest feedback because they have no experience.
Alan -About time  June 9, 2009 12:52 PM
Nice to see the mfg putting something out that newbies and smaller sized riders can start on instead of those god awful vstars and rebels
Brett -gladius vs 08 SV650 standard  June 9, 2009 10:49 AM
Suzuki - Please bring back the standard SV - the gladius is just too "feminine" looking for such a great riding all around fun bike.
sbkmike1974 -need glasses?  June 9, 2009 10:38 AM
Just my 2 cents on the looks of the Gladius and the ER... Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If it's got 2 wheels a moter and goes down the road, it's a motercycle and its cool. As far as "...a real biker..." not letting another biker ride one? I own a 2008 CBR 1000RR and think Suzuki's new TU250 is cool (yes I've ridden one... I work at a motorcycle dealership). Real biker indeed...
Big Ron -Street fighter shoot out please  June 9, 2009 07:33 AM
Can you guys please get the streetfighter shoot out on the books. It would be greatly appreciated if you could include the new Ducati as well as the Buell 1125.
Mitch -Disappointing review  June 8, 2009 11:17 PM
While I appreciate this head-to-head test, I was really hoping you would perform something similar to your sportbike smackdowns. I think a full on comparison between these two bikes plus the Monster 696, the Mana 850 and the FZ6R would have been very interesting. It seems to me that your magazine and the motorcycle industry would have a common interest in getting new riders interested in the sport. To that end, more in-depth tests of bikes like these would not only be more helpful to new riders (thereby increasing motorcycle and magazine sales), but they would also help remind more experienced riders that you don't need a lot of horsepower or money in order to have a good time on a bike. Don't forget those people who are looking at a motorcycle for basic transportation rather than sport, either. In short, I think it's great that you guys do what you do for sportbikes, but how about showing a little love for the standard bikes?
milwaukee mike -650 vs 650  June 8, 2009 07:39 PM
Geez guys, these are really ugly little bikes. Kinda reminds me of the story of the "Emperors Clothes". Yeah,...that story we all heard in the 2nd grade. Well heap all kinds of praise on them, but a real biker wouldn't let another biker ride one.
andyc -gladius  June 8, 2009 11:58 AM
im being a prat its a tl1000 not a 100 oooppps
andyc -gladius  June 8, 2009 11:56 AM
CHRIS i have to only half agree about the monster rip off. This bike is a total rip off of a cagiva raptor right down to the same basic motor.I have the big brother version and its well fast (tl100 power)
LateNiteCrawler -Fun?  June 8, 2009 11:54 AM
So Adam...I not sure what you are trying to say about the Gladius. Could you please keep it simple and tell me...Is it a fun motorcyle? And...is it really easy to ride? LOL
Chris -Gladius  June 8, 2009 11:40 AM
Does anyone else think the Suzuki Gladius looks like a Ducati Monster rip-off??? Just saying.
John -FORGOT YOUR CAPS LOCK LOL  June 8, 2009 11:17 AM
PAT, did you forget your Caps Lock? LOL
PAT -KAWASAKI ER6N  June 8, 2009 10:26 AM