Suzuki GSX-S1000 first ride review
Suzuki recently expanded their Indian portfolio with two new motorcycles based on the GSX-R series of sports motorcycles. The faired cousin is Rs 50,000-odd more expensive and is called the GSX-S1000F while the one we're riding today is the Suzuki GSX-S1000. In a nutshell, it's a sport naked or a street fighter. Which means big power, a capable chassis and potentially, a crippling lack of wind protection. But as I found out, the GSX-S1000 is really, really, really, really impressive.
Really? Four times really?
Yes really. The sport nakeds have in the recent times gotten segmented and now you have them and you have the super nakeds. The likes of the stupidly powerful Super Duke 1290, the hardcore Aprilia Tuono or the oddly shaped BMW S1000R are the examples of the super naked. Until the Suzuki, India has had three litre-size sport nakeds on sale, the Honda CB1000R - too heavy, too old but likeable and the Yamaha FZ1, which we hear is a nice enough motorcycle but Yamaha India doesn't believe in test rides so that's just hearsay. The third one is the Kawasaki Z1000 which looks absolutely terrific and is very involving to ride around town as well but happens to be criminally undergeared which makes doing anything else with it unnecessarily annoying.
The Suzuki drops into this hot mess with sensational power and manners and that's why the four reallys were required. It this were a music chart, the Suzuki debuts at the top.
So it's a detuned GSX-R, right?
Yes it is. But don't walk away just yet. Suzuki didn't just detune any old GSX-R, they looked through their packed cupboard and found the K5. This is a long-stroke 999cc engine that powered the GSX-R1000 from 2005 to 2008 and it's a bit of legend. It produced impossible torque in the mid-range before producing a shattering top-end that took Troy Corser to one World Superbike Championship, won umpteen comparisons and even today despite 200PS power outputs, the K5-K8 Gixxer Thousands are regarded as a bit special. I've ridden one and I know intimately the madness that K5 engine represents.
It's that engine that Suzuki engineers gave new cams and new pistons to and tuned down a little bit. Officially the S1000 makes 144PS at 10,000rpm and 78lb-ft (105.75Nm) at 9,500rpm. But there's a story online about a Japanese engineer letting slip that the bike actually makes closer 165PS. Oh yeah. The stubby exhaust has also been tuned and it has a lovely, rounded but extremely present howl that reminds strongly of the GSX-Rs from the 2005-2008 period.
But it's not a 10-year old chassis...
No. The chassis is all new. The swingarm and the 310mm floating dual front discs with the radially mounted Brembo calipers come straight off the current GSX-R1000 and the chassis is all new. Suzuki claims the chassis is actually lighter than the GSX-R1000 and the entire motorcycle at 209kg (kerb weight, ABS), is actually lighter than, for example, Suzuki's GSR750 and all the three sport nakeds - the Honda, the Kawasaki and the Yamaha.
And it's got digital things in it too
The compact instruments are all-digital and while they're pretty easy to read though initially, it's easy to mistake the coolant temp readout for a fuel status readout
Yes it does. Suzuki added their three-mode traction control system to the S1000. The system monitors the state of the motorcycle via throttle and crank position sensors, wheel speed sensors and more 250 times a second. You can turn it off or select one of three modes to ride in. Mode 3 is the most alert and Suzuki recommend it for wet roads. Mode 2 is good for most conditions, according to the company, while Mode 1 will permit some amount of wheel slip and is meant for good grip conditions. The mode selections are super easy with a large selector rocker on the left switch with a small selection button nestled in it. Obviously, the compact instruments are all-digital and while they're pretty easy to read though initially, it's easy to mistake the coolant temp readout for a fuel status readout.
How is it to ride?
Frightening. The Suzuki makes a lot of torque and power and the traction control's yellow light flickers a lot. However, the system works very well so its cutting in and out is done very smoothly and you can really feel it working. But nail the throttle and the acceleration is intense and if you can't change gears smoothly, the Suzuki's front-end will float gently as the bars go loose thanks to your lack of smoothness. Don't ask how I know this. What is stunning about the GSX-S1000 is how much power it makes and how easily it makes it. Come up to a fast car in sixth with say, 4,000rpm on the clock and just a roll of the throttle will fling you forward so hard that the car will summarily disappear from the mirrors. It's the kind of silly power that makes for shaking hands, incredulous smiles later on and the S1000 constantly threatens to put something eminently illegal in the speedo with its incredible turn of speed.
Oh yes. The chassis is a delight and a light nudge on the Renthal FatBar is enough to get the S1000 smoothly leaned into a corner. The feel is very neutral and the Suzuki feels much lighter to manoeuvre, whether in traffic or into fast sweeping corners than its weight suggests. Add the excellent, feel-some brakes and you've got yourself a seriously capable chassis. The suspension is fully adjustable and that further opens the window to tuning the feel of the S1000 to your liking.
Well, the S1000 has no screen and that'll make the neck scream. The lack of protection heightens the sense of speed and drama but a fast day in the saddle will leave you with a sore neck and aching arms. I'm not a fan of the way it looks but I know that the blue-white-fluoro green is a powerful colour scheme and a number of people saw the S1000 and noted how nice it looked. To me, the tail end is sharp and neat but all that plastic up front is a little bit over the top. Obviously, the S1000F with the fairing is the more practical purchase but I think that one looks even less proportionate. As in the S1000 is the one to buy in my book.