Auto blogTue, 11 Nov 2014
Motorcycle trends come and go like fashion, and the latest two-wheeled style du jour is the adventure bike. Chunky and rugged, these (sometimes) dirt-ready rides often take cues from the massive, Armageddon-ready rigs you'd find on the Dakar Rally. In their most neutered form, they can start as street bikes and adapt for adventure duty by adding taller suspension setups, removable saddlebags, bigger fuel tanks, and better wind protection.
Lying smack in the middle of that dirt/road matrix (and leaning toward the tarmac side) is the 2014 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 ABS. A venerable fixture in the adventure scene, it developed a primarily urban following after the model bowed in 2004, though it's also proved itself worthy of tackling trails and light offroad scenarios. For automotive folks not steeped in the vagaries of the motorcycle world, the V-Strom is the two-wheeled equivalent of the late, great Mitsubishi Montero: capable, no-nonsense, and a bit of an unsung hero in the face of more glamorous offroaders like the Land Rover LR4 and the Mercedes-Benz Geländewagen.
Suzuki is known for having a pair of very capable sportbikes in its GSX-R750 and GSXR-1000, but now the Japanese company is recalling 23,073 of them in the US to replace the chain adjuster. Specifically, the campaign affects 2011-2014 model year versions of the 750 and the 2009-2014 1000.
According to documents from The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the problem can occur if riders miss a gear while upshifting. It's possible that the following shift might put enough added strain on the drivetrain to move the rear axle. This can damage the left-side chain adjuster. If there's too much harm done to the part, then the chain could potentially slip off the bike, leaving the powerless bike more vulnerable to a crash.
To fix the problem, Suzuki dealers will "replace the left-side adjuster with an improved part" that will be heat-treated to be stronger. Scroll down to read the full recall report.
The death of Suzuki's American automotive operations can be chalked up to many, many things. One thing it cannot be blamed on, however, is the arguable goodness of its products. The company's criminally underrated offerings included the Kizashi sedan, the SX4 compact and your author's personal favorite, the Grand Vitara.
The GV rode on a radically different version of General Motors' Theta platform, which underpins the American manufacturer's current crop of crossovers, like the Chevrolet Equinox. What made the Grand Vitara special, though, was that it wasn't just another run-of-the-mill CUV. Buying the cheapest model meant living with rear-wheel drive rather than the Theta's typical front drive. Spend a bit of money, though, and you'd end up with an honest-to-goodness off-roader, sporting selectable four-wheel drive complete with low-range gearbox. It also comfortably sat five, was reasonably efficient and was quite handsome. We aren't totally sure how it turned into this.
This, of course, being the new Vitara (it replaces the Escudo, the vehicle Americans know as the Grand Vitara), and it will make its global debut at October's Paris Motor Show, which has ditched its four-wheel-drive system for a part-time all-wheel-drive system called Allgrip.
Spiders seem to love the fuel tanks of Japanese sedans. Mazda had to recall its Mazda6 twice for arachnid webs blocking their car's vent lines. Now, the Suzuki Kizashi is also being called in because spiders can block the car's evaporative canister vent hose, a condition which could cause excessive negative pressure in the tank, eventually leading to a crack and fuel leak. The campaign covers about 19,249 examples of the 2010-2013 model year Kizashi built from October 2009 through July 2012.
According to the automaker's defect notice released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the first report of a spiderweb blocking a vent line was in 2011. It began monitoring field data and found six more incidents from 2011 to 2013. In 2014, there was one more case, and with further investigation, Suzuki decided to initiate a recall. There are no reports of accidents or injuries of the webs causing accidents or injuries in the US.
In a similar move to Mazda, Suzuki is replacing the evaporative canister vent line with one that has a filter in place to keep the spiders out. Also, if the lines are obstructed by webs in a specific vehicle, the fuel tank will also get swapped. Scroll down to read the full recall announcement from NHTSA.
Suzuki is recalling yet another Daewoo-built model due to possible problems with the daytime running light module in the instrument panel. This time it covers about 25,899 units of the Suzuki Verona from the 2004 through 2006 model years that need fixing. Like the repair campaign of the Forenza and Reno in May, it's possible for the part to overheat, melt and potentially cause a fire.
According to the Chronology of Principal Events section in the defect notice submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, this recall was actually a direct result of the Forenza/Reno campaign. After finding the problem in those vehicles, General Motors Korea started investigating for more affected models and discovered that the Verona was also at risk. However, the report says that no cases of melting or fires have been found in the Verona.
Obviously, Suzuki will be notifying affected owners and will replace the DRL module free of charge. Scroll down to read the recall request or check out the full defect notice in PDF format, here.
We haven't heard much about Suzuki since it decided to leave the US market in 2012, but things are going well for the little automaker these days with the recent announcement of record annual profits. It would seem that investors should be ecstatic, but they are starting to question the man at the helm. Company president and chairman Osamu Suzuki is now 84 years old and is guaranteed at least one more year as the leader, but shareholders want to know who is taking his place when the inevitable happens.
We're not being ageist, here. As long as the Suzuki can run the company to the satisfaction of investors, he absolutely deserves the top spot. According to Bloomberg, the issue making shareholders so edgy is that the business doesn't have a transition plan in place. The president obviously isn't a young man, and folks are worried that if something happens suddenly, there could be chaos deciding a successor and a free-falling stock price.
Suzuki's tenure at the company is somewhat astounding. He married the granddaughter of the founder and took her name because the family had no male heirs. In world where many people hope to retire as soon as possible, he's worked for the same automaker for the last 50 years, including stints as company president from 1978 to 2000 and 2008 to the present. Investors aren't questioning the president's ability as a business leader; they just want a clearer understanding of the automaker's future direction.
Toyota, Honda, Mazda, Nissan, Subaru, Mitsubishi, Suzuki and Daihatsu have announced an alliance that will see a push to improve fuel economy from both gas-powered and diesel-powered engines by as much as 30 percent before the end of the decade.
The newly assembled Research Association of Automotive Internal Combustion Engines put the roughly $20-million project together, with the Japanese government committing to half the cost while the eight manufacturers will chip in the rest.
According to Automotive News, the automakers will team up and share basic research on internal-combustion engines in a bid to cut costs. Eventually, the results of the research will find its way into a production vehicle, although it's unclear just when we'll see the fruits of this partnership on the road.
Suzuki is recalling 184,244 total units of the 2004-2008 Forenza (pictured above) and 2005-2008 Reno manufactured under contract by Daewoo, now General Motors Korea, between September 1, 2003, through July 30, 2008, for a risk of fire. The exact split in terms of number of each model isn't available yet.
In the vehicles, the heat generated in the headlight switch or daytime running light module could cause the parts to melt and cause a fire. If this sounds somewhat familiar, it's the same reason that 218,000 units of the 2004-2008 Chevrolet Aveo are being recalled. According to General Motors spokesperson Alan Adler: "It's the same issue."
Adler explained that as the contracted manufacturer, GM is responsible for finding a remedy to this problem and providing it to Suzuki. It's a similar situation as Toyota recalling the Matrix and giving the automaker the repair parts to fix the Pontiac Vibe, which shares the platform.
Ugly Moto is a horrible name for a company that makes such wonderful motorcycle art. The creation of artist Francis Ooi, the company's illustrations focus on some of the iconic racing bikes of the 1960s and 1970s.
The artwork has an elegant simplicity that really makes it pop. It would fit just about anywhere from a home office to the bedroom of a young gearhead. Ooi has completed six illustrations so far covering classic cycles from Honda, Ducati, Yamaha and even Harley-Davidson. According to his site, the Suzuki RGB500 ridden by Barry Sheene will be the next one released. All of the prints are priced at $65 and are limited to 100 copies. They are all about 16.53 inches by 23.58 inches in size.
According to his website, these prints are just a hobby for Ooi and his real career is as the creative director at an ad agency. He creates the illustrations on his Mac, and he estimates that each design with about 800 components and layers takes about a month to complete. You can get idea of the process involved in the time-lapse video below.
Say what you will about its smallest SUVs, but you have to hand it to Suzuki: the likes of the Samurai, Sidekick and Vitara were doing the little-sport-ute-that-could thing long before most of the rest of the industry caught on. And the formula remains relevant enough that Suzuki is still selling the same basic Samurai overseas as the Jimny.
That could be why the Samurai still has something of a cult following. Well, that and the name - which, as it turns out, may not have been such a stretch after all. A Samurai warrior, after all, was just one man - but like any other knight, he was worth more than his headcount on the battlefield. Or in this case, a Japanese snowstorm. Just watch the half-minute video below to see what we mean.