Suzuki introduced the Intruder line in 1985, it had a two decade long run until 2005 when it was then replaced with the Boulevard (for most markets, in Europe the Intruder name continued to be used for various models.).
The Intruder 1400 was the second largest capacity Intruder to be produced only superseded by the 1500, it was released in 1987 and was in production until 2004.
A big heavy hitter V twin cruiser with a successful run of around 17 years and the foundation for the generation of big Suzuki cruisers that followed.
I am excited to deep dive into the Intruder 1400, let’s start with a review.
Suzuki Intruder 1400 Review
The title of ‘Intruder’ followed by 1400 hinting at the capacity gives the impression that this is a serious motorcycle, the big Intruder, an engine full of power that the smaller models couldn’t hold a candle too.
Well first of all, we have to put ourselves into the position of when the bike was released which was 1987. Performance cruisers, muscle bikes etc. were not quite yet a thing, so the 70 something horsepower and masses of torque was more than enough to get your pulse racing for a cruiser.
It was a bike pretty much on par with the rest of the competition such as the Honda Shadow, Kawasaki Vulcan and anything coming out of the Harley factory at the time.
There was an important difference though, the Suzuki wasn’t trying to win any races, its benefit was in the torque department, both the Shadow and Vulcan were faster bikes than the Intruder in terms of top speed and peak power.
However, the Intruder wouldn’t sweat this issue as the power was in the mid-range and from 45mph-75mph with the throttle pinned the Intruder would pull away from the others with ease.
This made the Intruder a pretty awesome road bike with lots of usable power, the mid-range acceleration put it in the same leagues as big 5 speed transmission bikes like the Yamaha V Max and GSX-R1100.
So the wide ratio between gears, old fashioned four speed gearbox and simple air cooled twin engines, still provided enough momentum to have serious fun on rides, out-performing the best big bore sport bikes in the mid-range.
In terms of maintenance the Intruder was ridiculously easy to care for, giving the owner pretty much a free ride in that regard. This was thanks to low maintenance features that Suzuki implemented including a shaft drive, hydraulic valve adjusters, auto cam-chain tensioners, a sealed battery and car type filter changes.
The front pot was air cooled and rear oil cooled, Suzuki could have water-cooled the huge engine but this would have increased the engine size and complexity, required a radiator and increased production costs.
The rear pot oil cooling system required a big oil tank to directly deliver oil to the cylinder, this tank was bigger than the big bore oil tanks of the time.
While the Intruder 700 utilised 4 valves per pot the bigger 1400 went with 3.
Peak torque hits at 3,500rpm whereas peak power hits at 4,000rpm so there is little point revving above 5,000rpm as the engine will start lacking after these points.
The two pistons are huge and thumping so Suzuki had to focus on the details to ensure they didn’t ruin the ride. A torque-limiting clutch was implemented making for smooth engagement and no wheel hop under hard engine braking, dampers were used in the drive shaft and for the starter an automatic compression release was used.
Despite implementing these features Suzuki failed to actually do anything about the engines vibrations which kick in heavily above 65mph shaking your mirrors, vibrating your hands and feet until you slow back down again to settle in for a comfortable cruise.
Riding along and clocking up highway mileage is an easy feat on the Suzuki Intruder providing you aren’t in a rush.
Gear changes are smooth, easy and there are no clunky shifts to contend with.
The exhaust note rises to a crescendo as you creep up the rev range and settles just as the bike gets to cruising speed.
Around town, stop start traffic, and rides where the you are working the gears, the exhaust ensures everybody around knows you are there, and the larger engine presence is heard by all. Perhaps a little draining on the hearing during this time.
Another nice features of the Intruder is that throttle response is impressively smooth and crisp.
Containing the big motor is the basic frame of big proportions and a steep rake. The geometry is on the more extreme side especially when compared to that of other important cruiser bikes at the time like the Yamaha Virago. The bikes weight paired with the frame didn’t work for the Intruder but rather against it.
It was middle of the road when it came to weight with the Virago lighter and the Shadow and Harley Low Rider Custom heavier (all in the same class) but the steep steering angle, 19″ front wheel, fat rear wheel and overall rather extreme proportions didn’t lend itself to a novice rider or inspire confidence of any rider on back roads.
The chassis did go someway to make for pretty awesome styling however, and certainly shifted the Intruder into the vague area of a custom style chopper. It certainly would fit in outside the doors of a custom shop. Small gas tank, wire spoke wheels and plenty of chrome meant that even in stock form the Intruder had a striking appearance.
Even with the adjustable suspension set up on the firmest settings the Intruder isn’t set up for fast riding, it is an easy-going Sunday morning ride with somewhat lazy steering preferring to turn slowly.
The handlebars are high wide and pulled back at a bit of a weird angle that might take some getting used to. The seat height is very low and pegs are forward. The typical fists in the wind and feet forward makes for a pretty comfortable riding position on the straights and even long rides.
Passengers got their own seat and a backrest which would be appreciated although accommodation from a space perspective was a little cramped.
The suspension paired with the chassis and weight means slow speed manoeuvres are sketchy to say the least, the Intruder is one of the cruiser models that fits the idea that riders drop their bikes at a standstill or when paddling it around.
Single disc brakes left something to be desired, with a habit of causing the bike to dive under hard braking as the suspension was soft even on the firmest setting.
A good modification to make would be an aftermarket windshield to offer a level of protection as the model is as exposed as it gets.
In 1997 the Suzuki Intruder received a five speed transmission, the bike was therefore subtly improved over the earlier versions. Cruising speeds were now more comfortable, powerband broader and fuel economy also improved. Some reviews even started the Intruder was not crisper with its gear shifts.
Over the years peak power slowly reduced to 64 horsepower and eventually 60 horsepower before it was then taken as a foundation for the all new Boulevard S83. What did improve was the styling, fresh paint schemes, use of chrome, confident accents and carefully selected accessories improved the models looks each year.
Overall the motorcycle was a good one for the time, and its lengthy production run backs that up. It might have struggled in some areas but I would be hard pressed to find a motorcycle from the late 80’s that didn’t have a few quirks, especially big cruisers.
Performance on the sales floor
The Intruder was priced competitively, undercutting most others in the segment which made it very attractive to riders. The saving made versus other big bikes, could be used to modify the bike to suit the individual to get it just right.
Not a great choice, at least in stock form, for blasting to the next state or flying down twisty roads, the big Intruder is nonetheless an effective urban assault weapon, with strong power and head-turning looks. Ride it to work or take it out trolling on Friday nights and it will thrill you.Motorcycle Cruiser
The Intruder 1400 might not have been Suzuki’s bread and butter motorcycle but it was a good one that sold well, well enough that the Boulevard S83 took it’s place to continue the legacy.
Intruder 1400 Spec’s
Engine and Transmission
Engine – Four stroke, 45 degree V twin, SOHC, 3 vales per cylinder
Capacity – 1,360cc
Compression Ratio – 9.3:1
Bore x Stroke – 94 x 98mm
Cooling System – Air/oil cooled
Induction – 2 x Mikuni BDS36 Carbs
Starting – Electric
Transmission – 4 Speed until 1997 when the bike received 5 speed transmission
Final Drive – Shaft drive
Chassis and Dimensions
Front Suspension – 41mm telescopic fork, coil spring, oil damped
Rear Suspension – Twin shock, oil damped, 5-way adjustable spring preload
Front Brakes – Single 295mm disc, 2 piston caliper
Rear Brakes – Single 275mm disc, 1 piston caliper
Wet Weight – 572lbs.
Wheelbase – 1,621mm
Rake – 36 degrees
Trail – 165mm
Length – 2,300mm
Width – 710mm
Seat Height – 720mm
Fuel Capacity – 13 Litres
Average Fuel Consumption – 34.8 US MPG
Max Torque – 115Nm at 3,200rpm
Max Power – 71 horsepower at 5,000rpm (later down to 64 then 60 horsepower from 1994 onwards)
Standing 1/4 mile – 13.6 seconds, 94.9mph
Suzuki Intruder Variants
The Intruder didn’t get any specific variants but there were some significant changes over the years including:
1994 – The models power output reduced to 64 horsepower
1997 – The Intruder received 5 speed transmission and power output reduced again to 60 horsepower
2001 – Updated styling, chrome tank, more of a distinct chopper look
2004 – Last model before the Boulevard S83 took over.
How fast is the Intruder 1400?
The Intruder 1400 had an estimated top speed of 105mph.
How much is the Intruder 1400 worth?
An Intruder 1400 today in the UK fetches prices around £5,000 and in the US prices sit between $2,500-$3,500.
Buying a used Intruder 1400
Finding an Intruder 1400 in the US is easy enough from either a dealer or private sale, you should note as usual prices in a dealer carry a premium.
In the UK the search might take a bit longer for the right bike at the price you want to pay. However, they are good a buy and an affordable way into the cruiser segment , so it is worth putting the effort into the search.
This lovely clean 2003 model is currently available from Budget Bikes in Swindon for £4,990 and looks like it is worth checking out if you are in the market for one.
Its clean style, the long production run and the enthusiasm of owners have fostered good aftermarket support for the Intruder 1400. It enjoys a wider range of aftermarket accessories and replacement parts than any other Japanese big twin.Motorcycle Cruiser
For this reason the Intruder makes a good buy as a base for a custom build, that big twin engine can make an exciting foundation for someone who has the creativity to build something special. There is nothing on the Intruder you can’t upgrade or parts that can’t be replaced in order to make it a really fun thumping custom bike.
For $2,499 you can buy this modified model with new pipes and ape style bars to get your started on your custom dream. If you need some eye candy and inspiration check out this custom 1400 from Germany.
The bikes are known for their reliability thanks to being relatively low maintenance. When you are on the look out for one the main things are to look for any sign of oil leaks, be sure to check everything over for rust and corrosion and ask for any service history/paperwork.
On todays roads you might want to review the brakes and set about upgrading them as soon as you can.
Summary: Is the Intruder 1400 a good bike?
My closing comments on the Intruder 1400 are going to be a little different to usual, simply because it is a mixed bag.
It is an excellent example of the old time cruiser bikes (despite its production ending in more modern times), if you can overlook the quirks (flaws), it will put a smile on your face or a moody stern ‘bad guy’ stare if that’s your thing.
It won’t out run any bikes on the road these days for top speed but the mid range will still give most things a good run and frankly it does look pretty awesome.
This things a head turner, its noisy, rude, mean and makes a statement, that is what the best of cruisers are meant to do though right?