The Suzuki Marauder 800, with a 16-inch front wheel, is the only bike in our test to come with a sub-19-incher.
While none of the bikes are particularly tall, Honda boasts the lowest seat height at 26.6 inches, a welcome feature for shorter riders. Furthermore, the saddle is one of the most comfortable of the bunch. However several taller riders felt pressure on the tailbone on long rides. The suspension on the Honda draws plenty of praise. While the forks on the Suzuki may be a touch soft when braking, the Honda's 41mm fork, with 5.1inches travel, might not be as easy over bumps and dips, but the stiffer suspension feels better on twisties and tight corners.
The brakes on the Shadow are pretty good considering the bike only has one disc brake, a 296mm disc with twin-piston caliper. The rear brake is a traditional drum, but we were never in dire need of additional braking support like we were on the Harley Davidson.
Honda's attention to detail goes beyond the mechanical aspect of the bike. The controls are most visible on the Honda and easily accessible. The materials are on par with the Sportster and look like they belong on a bike that has double the price tag. Its only detail shortfall is being the only bike of the group not to have a hinged fuel cap.
In nearly every shootout there always seems to be one bike which does everything quite well, but doesn't stand out until final analysis. In our recent 600cc sportbike shootout it was the all-round capable Yamaha R6. In this case it is Suzuki's middleweight offering.
- Excellent styling
- Competitive performance
- Beefy front tire gives
- Saddle bags don't come on the stock version.
- Weak exhaust note
The Marauder's name is likely derived from the fact that the Japanese manufacturer appears to have looted the H-D design department. When lined up next to the Sporty, the Marauder actually looks eerily similar to its American counterpart. So much so that on several occasions passerbys would act surprised to read "Marauder" on the side of the tank.
Thanks to its H-D-inspired paint scheme the Marauder is a fine looking machine and is the only one in the group to utilize a beefy 130-series front tire. Our test model came with a windscreen and a set of soft leather saddlebags, neither of which come on the stock Marauder.
Check out the "Bottom Line" of the 2003 $6,000 Cruiser Shootout.