The VX800 FAQ: Overview of the VX
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2.1 Overview of the VX

The VX is a liquid-cooled, shaft-drive, upright seating 800cc V-twin. It's a very general purpose bike.

I'm going to quote a usenet post by Don Sucher from a couple of years ago, in response to my query in regarding the bike -- I think he described the bike pretty well:

"Congratulations, You have discovered one of Motocycledoms best kept secrets, the VX-800. I've got 18,000 plus miles on mine. Let me share with you some of what I've learned:"

"The bike was designed for the US market by American Suzuki. They apparently reasoned that riders here loved V-Twins, upright `70s style unfaired bikes. The bike never caught on. Why? Dealers I've spoken to say it was poor advertising. Suzuki went after the cruiser set. They all wanted Harleys (or at least Harley look-a-likes). The bike was designed for real get-up-and-ride motorcyclists. As such it is STILL is a big seller in Europe. I find that it is very comfortable, amazingly fast in real-world terms (my other ride is a Ducati) and has been almost totally trouble free for those 18,000 miles."

"The engine is a V-twin, but it has a 45 degree crankshaft, which when matched with it's 45 degree cylinder angle cuts primary imbalance to near zero. It has a nice texture, but is not a "shaker". The engine is a 4 valve liquid cooled design, slightly oversquare, so it likes to rev more than an older pushrod (read Harley) V-twin does. Of course that means that low end grunt is exchanged for a broad middle range torque curve, 2,800 to 8,000 rpm. It REALLY pulls above 4,000. The bike has geared to keep it at it's peak at american double-nickel speeds. (The euro models are geared for higher speed riding) Because of this design a passing manuever takes only a twist of the wrist. Gear changes are optional! Valves are supposed to be checked every 3,000. In fact they are good for at least twice that. (both my experience and dealers experience concur on this)"

"I have on many occasions ridden for 8 hours or more. The seat and riding position is REALLY comfortable."

"List price for the first year was $4,800. I got mine in `92 for $3,700. A friend got one last summer for the same price."

2.2 The History and Design of the VX800

(This Section, in its entirety, was harvested from the The Dutch VX800 Pages hosted by Ko Harthoon.)

All information and pictures in this section courtesy of Mr Don Presnell.

The VX800 was designed at U.S.Suzuki's Design Studio in Brea, CA between 1987-1989.

Among others the design team consisted of

According to Don Presnell, both Aki and Sam are the two really "cool guys", and definite "gearheads" who are responsible for creating the original idea of the VX 800 back in 1987. Presently (Jan 2001) they are still working at American Suzuki, on Imperial HWY in Brea, CA.  Sam is now working in the Automotive test shop and Aki in the MC Test Lab.  Don himself has left Suzuki.

Quotes from Don, the Lead-designer:

" I'd like to say that the VX 800 was my brainchild, but actually Sam and Aki were the inspired R&D engineers who started putting together a crude prototype at the Brea Studio utilizing a 750cc Intruder engine in a modified Intruder frame.  The rake and trail were of course modified on that prototype, as were the footpeg / shifter positions.  The prototype was finished off with a hand-hammered aluminum tank mastered by Sam.  So the VX WAS conceived in the U.S."

The Early Sketch

The Prototype
"I had the opportunity to ride the prototype the day they finished it and gassed it up, and it was a blast!  Everyone knew that this machine would answer the void for a great handling v-twin standard.  We over-estimated the U.S. riders response, though. Only the very "savy" U.S. enthusiasts picked up on it!"  "Hats off to you more knowledgeable bikers in Europe and Australia who "understood"!"

"I did the full-scale clay modeling myself on the first VX750 model in Brea, CA, and followed the "concept model in crate" over to Hammamatsu to present the concept to management there. 

Once the concept was approved by management to go to the Design phase, I was asked to lead that part of the project.  The first thing that I wanted to do was widen the downtubes slightly, so that we could fit the "protruding" Intruder radiator between the downtubes, and make it disappear.  That was probably the extent of my influence over the frame design, save a few sketched lines to give the bike a lean look."

"As far as the styling was concerned, I was working to get a nice flow to the lines; some like it- some don't, but I have to admit some bias toward the design myself .  I had far too many occurrences of being on the speedway and having to switch the fuel to reserve, fiddling around "down there" trying to find the pet cock.  That's what prompted me to make the pet cock easy to find, while bipping down the road.  After I left Suzuki, they changed it to an automatic reserve I believe, so it's all academic now.  My 1990 VX still has the original pet-cock configuration, and I've had to switch to reserve many times while riding- it makes me thankful that I placed it where I could find it!"
The latest sketch,
Oct 1986

"Finally, a lot of the suspension, engine work and final touches on the frame was done in Hammamatsu once the concept & design direction were established, so it was basically out of the hands of the U.S. development team.

The original full-scale clay model that I accompanied over to Japan  had a rear fender/seat more like the first sketch.  It's true that Japanese management did want to play it safe, so they went with the more traditional styling on the rear fender.

Many times a transportation Designer's sketches/models get compromised when it gets to the Marketing Dept. stage!"

"When I left Suzuki a bit later on, I was told that the VX project was "shelved", and possibly would be cast aside.  That's why I was pleasantly surprised to see it on the cover of CYCLE magazine one day.  I called up Mark Blackwell at American Suzuki, and asked him if I could pick one up at the old employee discount price, and he was kind enough to grant my request.
I picked up my new VX 800 at Pioneer Motorsports, in Salinas, NY."

"It was one of the best days of my life, to ride home on a production version of the prototype bike and clay model I worked on three years earlier!"

Quotes from the EU VX800 E-maillistserver:

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