Handling was never a GSX-R1000 weak point, but Suzuki has gifted their new machine a compact new aluminium beam frame and longer swingarm to sharpen things up.
New Showa ‘Balance Free’ forks and ‘Balance Free Cushion lite’ rear shock (similar to the ZX-10R’s) give a plush ride and lots of feeling for grip. But the standard set-up is road-soft and needs tweaking for the circuit.
Low speed agility is superb, but it takes effort to make quick direction changes at speed and hold a line in faster corners. It’s here where the stiffer-set, pointier superbikes, like 1299 Panigale, RSV4 RF and R1 are crisper on track.
With revised Brembo caliper settings and bigger discs (up 10mm to 320mm) the stopping power is strong, but there’s a little bit of feel missing and some fade after a handful of hard laps, which seems to be the hallmark of the latest Japanese braking systems. But the GSX-R’s brakes have more bite than those on the R1 and ZX-10R.
Stab the one-touch starter (and no need to pull the clutch in now) and the over-square 999cc inline four-cylinder motor barks into life. It’s as gloriously raw and angry as ever, snorting and growling through airbox and titanium pipe (let’s not mention the end can).
The Suzuki is fast. It’s not just a bit quicker than the trusty old bike, it’s ZX-10R-R1-1299 Panigale quick, as it would be with a claimed 199bhp oozing from its shrunken new engine cases.
But more impressively there’s a torrent of power right through the rev range, thanks to Suzuki’s ‘Broad Power System’ which includes new exhaust valves, secondary injectors, dual stage inlet trumpets and of course the eagerly anticipated new Variable Valve Timing.
The new motor combines old-school GSX-R1000 grunt, with a modern superbike top end rush, a flawless power curve and an accurate throttle. Think svelte ZX-10R with added midrange punch.
There’s so much grunt you can go a gear higher through corners and still be rapid, which is good news on the road where you surf grunt, away from the upper reaches of the rev range.
A new six-speed, close ratio cassette gearbox slices through cogs with blade-like precision and is ably assisted by a super-slick electronic quickshifter and autoblipper system.
Suzukis never go bang so you’ll have no problem with reliability. Built quality is decent, but not quite at the level of its rivals.
This R model is cheaper than a top spec S1000RR, R1M, Blade SP, RSV4 RF and ZX-10RR, but slightly more than the R1, base Blade, S1000RR and ZX-10R. The base model GSX-R1000 is the best value and costs less than all its superbike rivals.
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As well as fully-adjustable suspension, a multi-function LCD dash, quickshifter and autoblipper, this is the first GSX-R1000 to come with a full suit of electronic ride aids including ride-by-wire, a choice of three riding modes and anti-stall (rpm is monitored and adjusted when you pull away or ride slowly).
Wheelie, launch and a 10-stage traction control are all controlled by a six axis Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU), which is right up there with the best systems found on the R1, ZX-10R, RSV4 RF and 1299 Panigale.
Traction control holds you safely into a spin or slide when you crack the gas. Open the throttle more and you drive forward smoothly with no electronic cuts or splutters. It’s a piece of cake to get used to and lean on within a few laps.
It’s the same story with the wheelie control. It softly retards power as the front lifts under hard acceleration, saving you the effort of having to climb over the front wheel trying to control all that power. And if you don’t believe in electronics you can turn the traction and wheelie control off.
Lean-sensitive cornering ABS is a no-brainer for the road, but it intrudes slightly on the track under very heavy braking and can’t be switched off.