Living with a superbike: Suzuki GSX-S1000
What is it?
Simply put, this is one of the nuttiest litre class nakeds out there this side of the incredible Aprillia Tuono and it costs just half as much. Interested? You should be!
Let's not kid ourselves, that's not what this was made for but it copes remarkably well in the situation. The riding position is sporty but not crippling. The engine is remarkably smooth and flexible and the brakes sharp. Issues? Well the engine radiates a lot of heat even though the gauge never crosses the half way mark and the snatchy throttle opening requires a gentle right wrist to prevent rocketing forward
Fast road bikes don't get much more exciting than this. This is easily one of the most exhilarating engines I've ever experienced. Borrowed from the legendary K5 GSXR-1000, Suzuki claims it has been detuned to 144PS but independent tests overseas have seen as much as 150PS at the rear wheel! Couple that to short gearing and the acceleration borders on frightening. 0-100kmph in about 3s and over 200kmph in third. It's a drug.
Wind protection? Bah! The Gixxus expects you to face the wind blast like a man. Anything above a sustained 130kmph requires neck muscles of steel, a good way to exercise restraint on the highway
The soft seat can get a little painful on long rides
The GSX-S1000 returns an easy 230kmph between refuels on the highway. We were getting between 18 and 20kmpl fuel efficiency
Luggage mounts fairly well. The flat rear seat will accommodate most soft bags. The pillion footpegs are good mounts and have a little groove that acts as strap anchor. The rider's seat is reasonably spacious and I didn't feel cramped with my stuffed Dirtsack Gypsy on the back which was holding a week's worth of clothes and a full race suit. That's saying something because I'm 6'1" and my KTM 390 Duke feels much more constrictive.
The electronics package is quite simple. You get ABS and three traction control modes. Level 3 is for wet roads, 2 for sportier rides while 1 allows a bit of slip before cutting in. Level 1 also allows small wheel lifts before TC brings it back down. This happens three times in 1st gear alone! Changing modes is easy and you just need to roll off the gas to select a mode using the toggle switch on the handlebar.
The sheer speed
We've already road tested this bike and achieved a 0-100kmph time of just over 3s. Top speed will be well over 250kmph. To try and explain just how brutally quick this bike is, we took some go-pro grabs off the speedometer at the race track. The below images are all in first gear, take a look at the speeds!
4,000rpm: My word, this feels as fast as a 390 Duke going flat out!
7,000rpm: Dear me, that's fast!
9,000rpm: It's wheelieing!
In a cruel twist of fate, after riding over 1,300km to the track, I only had a handful of laps to play with the GSX-S1000 before a fork oil seal gave way. Given time to find the right suspension settings, I'm sure the chassis could have been a hoot. But it must be said, it's not as effortless as a Street Triple and requires more muscle. The bigger issue though is the throttle and it's quite hard to smoothly get back on the gas when leaned over, especially in lower gears.
So violent is first gear acceleration that the wheel lifts three times (in Level 1 of Traction Control), only to be brought back down by the electronics
The chassis isn't feather light but eager and capable. I only wish I had more time with the bike on track
Despite having just a handful of laps on track the chassis encouraged me to use all of the tyre!
One of the sweetest sounding stock cans we've heard - needs no replacement!
A slippery tank makes it hard to hang on under hard acceleration. this bike could really do with Stomp Grips!
Broken oil seal
The rag absorbs fork oil leaking from the broken oil seal, preventing it from falling on the disc brake. This allows you to safely ride the bike back to the service centre.
Busted fork seals are an unfortunate reality in India's dusty-dirty road conditions. A simple aftermarket rubber protector - a la 390 Duke - is a must. The rag stops oil from dripping on the brake, good enough to get to a service centre. Nifty trick Anand from Indimotard taught me!
Rubber brake hoses
These are fine on the street but a big no-no on the race track! Starting my 5th lap, I braked hard from about 240kmph for C1 but got a limp lever that went right to the bar! The fluid got too hot which expanded the hose, dropping hydraulic pressure. Fortunately I managed to stop using the gears and rear brake. Scary. Really, really scary.
A rubber brake hose on a bike this fast works fine on the road but isn't a good idea for the racetrack
The GSX-S1000 costs Rs 14.37 lakh, on-road, Mumbai. Thanks to our conditions, regular service comes up every 4,000km in India (8,000km elsewhere) and costs Rs 7,500. Additions we'd make post purchase are braided brake hoses, StompGrip grip pads and a screen at the minimum. Below is a list of expenses I incurred while running the bike
Km run: 2,650
Fuel filled: Rs 10,000, 156 litres
Other costs: Rs 2,500 (fork oil seal replacement)
Six days may not sound like a lot but I used them to the fullest, clocking over 2,600km taking the Gixxus to the race track, encountering long highways, dense city traffic and everything in between. Enough to get to know the bike quite intimately. And miss the violence deeply on return!
Photos: Anis Shaikh
Starts Rs 2,52,928
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