Suzuki Madura blog
The Suzuki Madura History and the History of the 1980’s Power Cruisers
In the beginning of the 1980’s, the Japanese motorcycle industry took over almost the entire US market with a complete new type, style and concept of motorcycle;
Honda was the first and launched a brand new bike design; The V4 Cruisers were born
The Magna V65 (and a little later the Magna V45) was introduced, a complete new type of motorcycle, also today known as “Power Cruisers” and “Muscle Bikes”.
The Magna has a 90° V4, 16 valves DOHC engine and a shaft drive mounted, liquid cooled with 116Bhp (With the 90° angle, there are absolutely no engine vibrations and Honda has this engine setup under their Patent)
The Magna V65 was the fastest stock bike ever to leave the factory in the early 80’s.
The Magna sold very well and was immense popular. The US needed to react fast(*)
Suzuki came with their Power Cruiser; The Madura GV1200 and the smaller version the GV700
The GV engine was a complete new and bold engine design for the Madura, no other Suzuki street legal motorcycle had an V4 engine before
The Madura was built in 1984 and on sale in 1985 and 1986; as a GLF and GLG version.
The GV700 was produced for only one (model)year; 1985 GLF, the GV1200 for only two years as ’85 GLF and ’86 GLG
The SDU was upgraded on the later models of the GV1200 known as GLG type
There is also a GV1400; the Suzuki Cavalcade from 1986
Due to patent from Honda with the 90° engine, the Madura was fitted with an 82° V4, 16 valves DOHC engine, a little vibration was expected and the engine was mounted in rubber.
Also a maintenance free shaft drive was fitted.
To make a stand off to the Magna, the Madura had some unique (bling) features;
A hydraulic clutch and (maintenance free) hydraulic valve adjusters
Easy accessible and changeable oil filter (Car type) The first on a motorcycle ever.
One-inch handle bars (Like Harley’s)
Chrome “flat” spokes as bling factor that would reflect the sunlight like many small mirrors do.
hex diagonal frame tubes (first seen on previous released GS series)
Gear indicators (also like the GS series) and 5-speed transmission with 6th overdrive
Electric rev. meter and an adjustable (with no need for tools) mono shock rear absorber
An exhaust setup to create a unique sound, no other engine sounds like the Madura engine.
Kawasaki never made a V4 engine and took the engine from an existing bike; the GPZ to create the ZL (Eliminator) series.
The ZL 900 is a true traffic light sprinter and has that “mean” dragster look.
The eliminator series has been built as a 250-400-600-750-900 and 1000cc version over the years
Yamaha came last with their version of a Power Cruiser; the (mighty) V-MAX
The V-Max had the most power (>120Bhp) of all the power cruisers and was the fastest of them all.
YAMAHA has an 80° V4 16 valve DOHC engine, liquid cooled with shaft drive.
The V-Max was and still is the king of all power cruisers and is the only survivor from the original 80’s muscle bike design that is still in production.
Even today, with the new V-Max 2, YAMAHA still holds the “ace-card” with their V-Max concept.
(*)The US needed to do something to protect their own industry, so the added a huge tax on any foreign motorcycle with 750 or more engine displacement which was to be sold in the US.
So the Japanese responded with a slightly smaller engine displacement for many of their bikes, to avoid these taxes; hence the GV 700 instead of a GV750 (like the GS 750).
Also the intruder was first launched in the US as a VS700 in 1986.
YAMAHA did the same with their bikes; for example, the XJ700 Maxim
Also unique for the 80’s;
The 80’s were also the years that motorcycles were given a name and not just a number;
Magna, V-Max, Madura, Maxim, Eliminator, Sabre, Intruder, Savage, Interceptor, Ninja and so.
Even today, a bike is better known by its name than it’s number.
The name “Madura” was only chosen as to sound like “Magna” and has no other meaning what so ever.
Why was the Madura short lived?
In 1985, it was an economical crisis in the US and ‘85/’86 were the worst motorcycle selling years in US history. Many bikes were sitting at the dealer and would only sell on sale.
The Madura did not sell as well as Suzuki had planned, and even with the slightly improved shaft on the ‘86 GLG version, sales were bad.
The, for Suzuki cheaper to build, Intruder with air cooled and only 2 cylinders, was selling at the same time and selling better, so Suzuki dropped the V4 idea all together.
The big brother of the Madura, The GV1400 Cavalcade V4 touring bike was taken out of production in 1989.
The Intruder, which had the Shadow from Honda as competitor, is still for sale today and one of Suzuki’s longest and most successful production series.
Because of only two years of production, there were hardly any aftermarket products made to fit or modify the Madura, only engine guards, this was a crucial problem for the Madura, which has been corrected with the many aftermarket parts for the Intruder and many others.
2012; After 27 years of Madura;
Today, only a few Madura’s are found on the road, not because of malfunction or bad engine design but most are wrecked or totally neglected by their owners.
Many have failed to understand the true power of the Madura muscle bike and many Madura are found after sitting in sheds for many years.
Only a few (aprox. 6000) were ever made and even less are still on the road.
In Holland, there are less than 200 registered Madura
But, every year, some Madura’s are restored and brought back to life by dedicated enthusiasts whom will go to any length to keep the Madura’s alive.
Today, the Madura is only for the lucky, happy few, so if you own one, or if you have the opportunity to buy, or better yet; to restore one; this is the place to be;
Welcome to the world of Madura.
Seth aka “Madura Madness”
Dutch Madura Riders