This was the bike that the Suzuki lovers were waiting for. To label this new bike a big sledgehammer with hit and run tendencies is a crime, but it certainly packs huge clout to back up the young and feisty little brother, the 750.
I was hoping to bag a Yamaha R1 before this test to acclimatize myself with the brute force of an open class bike. In retrospect, the plane ride here was enough. Fast, smooth and comfortable. Bit tight in the legroom department, but undeniably fast. Me biased towards the R1? Nah…
I must admit the hype surrounding the Suzuki was music to a street boy like me. I’d heard big BHP figures bounced around the rumor fill Internet land. I was smacking my lips in delicious anticipation. Due to my late admission into editorial duties for 2wf, I’d missed the boat for the initial December Atlanta intro. I’d seen the wheelies, read about the back straight speeds and heard about the crashes. I was anxious to experience the same (bar the crashing) and that nice chap from Suzuki, Mark Reese had promised me a personal demo ride if I made the trek from Disney World to Disneyland. Now, hearing about the legendary combination of great roads and weather, I considered it a perfect opportunity to stretch some Suzuki throttle cables and it had a definite advantage over the cold and damp Road Atlanta circuit. Little did I know...
Arriving in LAX to pouring rain I figured, like typical Floridian weather, that it was only a passing squall. Looking back I was about to “enjoy” the worst Californian weather not seen this side of “El Nino”. Grabbing a wet ride on someone else’s toy was unnerving enough, chuck in 140+ BHP and I can see how things could get ugly.
First day on the bike was spent dodging showers in freeway traffic in and around town. I was initially disappointed. The bike seemed not to have the low down grunt of the Yamaha R1. Ergo’s were not suited to this type of town riding and my wrists were confirming this too. The bike really didn’t seem have the initial kick in the pants that the R1 enjoyed right off the line, of course due to the conditions and environment I couldn’t get busy in the way us sportbikers like to busy themselves.
I stopped by the Vance and Hines motorcycle center in Whittier and strapped the 1000 to a dyno. It made 141.5 bhp and a healthy 75.7 lbs of torque. Hmmm, my own R1 made 136.7, the difference was not as significant as I had hoped. I came to ride a jet fighter and it was being down graded before my very eyes. More piddling (literally), around town.
Initial gripes were that the screen obscured my view of the clocks. The reflection of the brake lights of vehicles in front of me looked like they were coming from the bikes instrument cluster, as I was looking down and through the screen. Caught me a couple of times that one. The stock steering damper also felt a little heavier than I remembered the 750’s damper to be and certainly felt heavier than the GSX-R600 we had with us. It definitely felt eager to turn, yet it felt muted with the damper. I’m sure this is to curb that warm and cuddly slapping sensation we enjoy so much on these light and short wheelbase motorcycles. The front forks also felt very harsh.
OK, so I’m back at the hotel now. Thoroughly disillusioned with both the crappy weather and a little with the big ‘Zook. I came here to experience that much needed adrenaline rush we all crave as performance sportbikers, instead I\'m a little soggy and kind of wondering what all the fuss is about. I crack open the mini bar and delve into the whiskey and vodka miniatures, I’m halfway through the second tin of mixed nuts when I realize that I have to pay for this indulgence, sometimes being the boss sucks too. Is this going to get better?
Still raining. I had planned a ride to Angeles Crest Highway, not today fish boy. Having checked the comprehensive insurance coverage box on my rental car, I decided that it would be rude if I didn’t go beat up some local roads in it. I took the highways and byways to San Juan Capistrano and went on to the Ortega Highway, a road recommended by a like minded compadre. Weather reports indicated a long a painful bout of precipitation, so I took out my frustrations in my little blue car.
OK, so it\'s not raining. I go out on to the porch and peer over at the bike. The "Gixxer" was wet but the roads around seemed to be drying. Time to slip out of my Kung Fu pajama\'s and into my serious road gear.
I fired up the big open classer and headed off to the hills. As suspected, my initial impressions of the Suzuki were dulled by the aforementioned environment and, of course, by the weather. Not so today. On opening the throttle in anger I am greeted by G forces previously reserved for fighter pilots and NASA astronauts . The bike devours pavement at alarming velocities. Forget everything you\'ve ever felt before. This bike feels like a nitrous burning drag bike.
I remember once seeing a car advertisement referring to a hot car with the phrase “This is the reason you look both ways before you cross the road”. Trust me on this one, this Suzuki will make you think twice, before thinking twice, about looking both ways before you cross the road…
The roads are drying nicely now but the weather is still a little cool. The tires are spinning up a little, I\'m sure due to my over zealous throttle hand, than tire quality. Hey, I have been trapped in a hotel room for a couple of days. The throttle to engine response is seamless. Suzuki have seen fit to add the dual throttle valves ALA the 750, however, they are electric operated rather than a cable like the 750\'s, so they are a weight saver too. Because they are controlled by the ECM it\'s all deliciously matched to engine RPM and gear position. The ECM has, of course, been upgraded to match it\'s new job quota. The result? More get up and go regardless of situation.
I suppose I should mention wheelies. The throttle is like a rheostat, how high or how long is up to you. Ride this bike for any amount of time and you are transformed into a mixture of Gary Rothwell and the Star Boys. I just hope Johnny Law gets as much enjoyment watching you perform them as you will have doing them... err, see you in court.
The new GSX-R1000 has a more pointier nose than the older 750 to increase air intake efficiency. The 1000 also has an exhaust valve to aid mid range wheeli.. I mean torque. It also helps keep the EPA guy\'s happy too as it reduces noise and emissions. The engine has the basic outline of the 750 and weighs a tad under 9 lbs more. It\'s 14mm taller and 6mm longer front to rear, so please put away all thoughts of wedging one (literally) into your 600 or 750 frame. The cylinder head is the same if that\'s any consolation, as is the wheelbase. It also has Ti headers and muffler, trickness abound.
The GSX-R1000 obviously has beefier frame spars than its little brother yet maintains its same wheelbase length. It now features four top engine mounts instead of the 750\'s two. Everything else on the bike has been picked through with great detail and either lightened, strengthened or redesigned.
There was still a certain amount of harshness in the front forks, I\'m not sure if this was one of the bikes set up for the track day intro at Road Atlanta, but I took out a two lines of preload and loosened up the compression adjuster a little anyway. It immediately felt 100% better. The titanium nitride forks of this bike offered extremely low stiction, which meant that with this softer setting the bikes front wheel tracked perfectly and offered very inspiring feedback. All my previous doubts had gone.
The front brakes are fuss free, if you want to stop give them a two finger tug. Want to stop faster? Pull them harder. They are six piston Tokico\'s, similar to the HayaBus but lighter. Pad material is changed from the big 1300, it\'s probably worth looking into as to whether they fit the bigger 1300 due to their efficiency. The bike came with Bridgestone\'s BT010\'s. They felt very stable, especially in these nasty conditions. I spun the tire up a couple of times, but caught the slide before it became terminal. I think I\'d want to swap out the rear for a 180. Negligible difference in grip, but should offer better turn in and save some wedge too.
As it should, the bike really does feel like the 750, yet it feels a little more substantial. Ergo\'s are pretty good too, the shape of the seat puts you in a very forward position yet if I scoot back and crouch down, I can easily fit my 6\'1" frame in a semi-comfortable race stance and still see through the screen. The clocks are illuminated in a warm red glow similar in style to an electric faux fire. Just the ticket on a cold day. The clock does that same step servo sweep that the Busa\' does, I don\'t think I\'ll ever stop enjoying that.
There\'s something about motorcycling that hits me hard. I need to go out every single day and get that daily ration or I get antsy. Miss a day or two and I\'m ready to go out and get busy on my bike. The new GSX-R1000 satisfies every craving one could ever have for handling, speed, speed and more speed. Better than the R1? I\'m afraid so. It seems to have more of everything everywhere, except at the very bottom of the RPM range. I can live with that.
Finally, I do wish that there were more of a distinction, either paint or body style to the 600 or 750 because the difference between the three bikes is pretty subtle. But as Teddy Roosevelt once said, "Walk softly and carry a big stick."
This engine is one hell of a big stick!