5 reasons Suzuki's new GSX-R1000R could be 2017 superbike top dog

Published: 08 February 2017

1 - It’s got the power

The new 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 VVT system.

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 low down oomph you can go a gear higher through corners and still be rapid, which is good news on the road where you surf grunt and not big revs.

2 – A gearbox from heaven

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. Changing the gear pattern to ‘race shift’ (up one, five down) for the track is easily done by reversing the gear linkage.

Launch control

3 – An electronic revolution

The blipper and shifter aren’t the only gadgets in the GSX-R’s toy box.

It has every silicone bell and whistle available right now, including ride-by-wire, a choice of three riding modes, a space age dash containing more information than a stockbroker’s computer screen 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. 

4 – It still loves corners

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 (see track settings box-out)

5 – It will still be a great road bike

With its tiny chassis and slinky bodywork the new 1000 feels spookily similar to a GSX-R600/750 to sit on. The riding position is typical GSX-R: short, stubby, but there’s plenty of legroom for taller riders and the seat is comfier than the racing perches fitted to the R1 and ZX-10R. There’s a new LED headlight, running lights and revised switchgear complements the snazzy dash, making it easy to change modes and settings on the move.

…and one reason why it might not.

The steering is on the heavy side at high speed, which could be dialled out with more aggressive suspension settings to suit stickier tyres. It’s here where the stiffer-set, pointier superbikes, like 1299 Panigale, RSV4 RF and R1 could be crisper on track.

The ABS intrudes very slightly on track at the limit. It can’t be switched off but we tried it with the system disconnected to see what the brakes can do.

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.

Save three grand on a new GSX-R1000.

If paying sixteen grand is a bit steep, Suzuki will release a slightly more basic GSX-R1000 in March, two months before the GSX-R1000R arrives in dealers. Costing £13,249 it will be the cheapest of all the superbikes and the good news is it’s not actually that different to the R model.

You get Showa Big Piston forks and a standard shock instead of the ‘Balance-free’ units and you forgo a shifter/blipper. It doesn’t have the R’s lightweight top yoke and battery, LED position lights and black-faced LCD dash display.

That aside you get the same engine, chassis and the full suite of electronic rider modes (but standard, not cornering ABS) and aids. It’s actually one kilo lighter and your wallet will be nearly three grand lighter.

FACTS

GSX-R1000R 

Price £16,099

Engine 999cc 16v inline four

Frame Cast aluminium twin spar

Seat height 825mm

Suspension Showa 43mm forks and single rear shock. Fully-adjustable. 

Front brake 2 x 320mm discs. Brembo radial four-piston calipers.

Colours Blue, black

Available May

Power 199bhp@13,200rpm

Torque 87ftlb@10,800rpm

Kerb weight 203kg

Tank capacity 16-litres

 

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