MCN Fleet: Is it Hit or Miss for the Suzuki GSX-S1000GT

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As I wave goodbye to the Suzuki GSX-S1000GT, it’s with sweet sorrow that I reflect on a brilliant eight months of biking, a period that’s also seen me ride further and for longer than I have in a great many years. And I’m crediting the Suzuki’s superb suitability for all of this. 

Having racked up over 6000 miles on the latest sports-tourer on the block, I’m pretty intimate with the Suzuki’s many good points as well as its handful of niggles. Here’s what I’ve discovered:

Revelatory comfort HIT

The biggest eyeopener for me was the fact that I can ride all day and not feel like I’ve been beaten up afterwards. As a recovering sportsbike addict, I’m used to having to pay with pain after a long ride, but not so on the ergonomically brilliant GT. The pegs are set fairly low, and the bars placed high and wide making it a perfectly pleasant place to while away the miles. 

Suzuki GSX-S1000GT engine

Inline-four fun HIT

With the trend for parallel twins, triples and vees, it’s somewhat of a forgotten engine configuration, but the mighty K5-GSX-R1000-derived motor powering the GT makes you remember the intoxicating allure of a great inline four. It’s the best of both worlds; a mighty grunt factory at low rpm, allowing for smooth, high gear cruising. Then you can also rev the crackers off it at the top end for that traditional GSX-R frenetic thrill. The GT’s a fast, fast road bike.

Headlight performance HIT

A light in the dark, quite literally! The GT’s headlamp shines a broad and clear patch of brilliant white light on the road ahead, so much so that it really boosted my night-time riding confidence (another overhang from spending too much time with sportsbikes.) OK, so there’s no swanky cornering lights or anything like that, but I can’t see how it’d make the night-riding experience any better.

Suzuki GSX-S1000GT lights

Fuel warning and consumption MISS

The GT’s full-colour TFT dash is mostly brilliant, bright, clear and really easy to read. But, the digital fuel gauge isn’t prominent enough and hasn’t got a traditional orange ‘low-fuel’ warning light either. Yes, this is a nit-picky issue, but it’s one that irked me on every long ride. On the subject of fuel, I can’t help but feel the 40mpg I was averaging was a bit on the low side, resulting in a brimmed-to-empty range of 171 miles meaning that I felt like I was constantly filling it up; the lack of fuel warning light only exacerbated this.  

Vibrations – MISS

Being a GSX-R at heart means that the GT’s got a bit of a vibe about it. I remember my 2010 GSX-R1000 suffering terrible high-frequency tremors through the bars and pegs… The GSX-S GT doesn’t suffer vibrations in these areas, due to judicious use of rubber mounts and dampers. But it does get uncomfortably buzzy through the seat at high rpm, a feeling which is magnified by its short gearing.

Suzuki GSX-S1000GT Dash

Build quality – HIT

OK, cheapo-looking sidestand aside, I’ve been really impressed with the GT’s build quality and how it’s weathered over its first year of life. Considering it’s been used as intended, in all weathers, and cared for in a diligent-but-not-obsessive manner, the metal parts and paintwork still look fresh – there’s not a hint of rust and only a minimal bit of furring on the brake hose fittings.

With almost 7000 miles under her belt, Emma reflects on a year with the Suzuki GSX-S1000GT. You can watch it below, with additional insight from Chief Road Tester, Michael Neeves.

Update Six: Emma turns to suspension supremos Maxton to help sort out her wobbly rear end

Published: 12 December 2022

Sports-tourers are a funny breed. On one hand you’re asking for a bike to be cosseting during long journeys and remain composed when fully loaded with luggage. Then on the other, you want something with the performance of a sports machine in the twisties, and maybe hold its own on a trackday. So far, the Suzuki GSX-S1000 GT has ticked most of those sports-touring boxes.

Trouble is, when I took it to Cadwell Park back in the summer, I quickly discovered the limits of its suspension. I struggled to pull it onto an apex and hold a line mid corner, plus I found that it had a real tendency to run wide on corner exits. Quite frankly, it was pretty difficult to try to ride even moderately fast, and the limited adjustment at the rear meant there was very little I could do about it.

It left me scratching my head. On one hand I was satisfied with the GT’s performance on road, the place where I spend 99% of the time riding. Yet, on the other, I was a bit disappointed. Part of the reason I opted for a sports-tourer rather than just a tourer was so that I could unclip the panniers, drop the tyre pressures and head out on a trackday a couple of times a year.

Suzuki GSXS1000GT riding on track

The thing was, though, when I eventually got there, I found the GT’s overly soft suspension sapped my confidence and actively put me off booking any more trackdays. At one point, I even found myself browsing the classified ads for a supplementary track bike!

So, I got in touch with Maxton Engineering to see what they could do. I regaled my frustrations to boss man Richard Adams and he explained that what I was feeling was down to a combination of how the GT’s stock shock works with its linkage.

“The linkage has a lot of rising rate,” said Richard. “This means the further the rear wheel moves the softer the rear shock needs to be. It’s a form of ‘anti-squat’ and means the quality of the original rear shock does not have to be that good, as the linkage and the rear shock are both supporting the bike’s rear. Most production bikes have rising rate, but the percentage of rising rate on the GT is a lot higher than normal.

Suzuki GSXS1000GT Maxton Shock

“So in effect, the bike has too much rising rate in the rear linkage, causing the original rear shock to get very hard after around 50 to 60mm of wheel travel. This overloads the tyre. The wallowing you are experiencing will be the side walls of the tyre moving.

There is also a lack of rebound damping in the original rear shock. So when the back of the bike does start wallowing, it will take longer to settle. This will make the wallowing more noticeable.”

Fortunately, there is a fix. Maxton’s NR4 shock (£630 incl. VAT) is aimed at road riders so it doesn’t quite have the level of adjustability as their more track-orientated and race shocks, but is still fully adjustable and custom made for each individual rider and bike setup.

Suzuki GSXS1000GT standard shock

“The difference between the original Suzuki shock and the NR4,” continued Richard, “is that the NR4 is softer in that it has a lot less high-speed compression damping. This means that our shock has a lot more support initially and then less support deeper in the stroke. This then works with the bike’s rising rate linkage to create a more linear feel.”

As the NR4 can also be fitted with a remote preload adjuster too (another minor bugbear from fellow owners about the standard GT shock), I decided to go for it and get it done – and also treat the front end to a revalve and respring too. I’ll tell you more about that, as well as how the upgraded suspension performs, in my next update. Stay tuned.

Update Five: Weekend to the Lakes on the Suzuki GT allows Emma to indulge in two hobbies

Published: 29 September 2022

Emm enjoying a well deserved rest

Who doesn’t love a two-for-one deal? No, not a BOGOF down the local supermarket, this is about indulging two of your fondest hobbies in one weekend. On the rare moments I’m not writing about, thinking about, looking at, riding or talking about bikes, I like to go trail running.

Most of the time, this dovetails quite nicely with some elements of my motorcycling life (you can’t beat a dawn run around Brands Hatch GP circuit). But often, it doesn’t and I’m left frustrated that my training commitments mean I can’t set off for a two-wheeled getaway somewhere spectacular. Only now, thanks to the Suzuki GSX-S1000GT, all that’s changed.

“You need to run somewhere with gnarly terrain,” said my coach, “so find an event in somewhere like the Lake District and use it as a training run.” No sooner had she finished uttering the words, but a fantastic thought entered my head: I could ride up to the Lakes, do my run, then spend the rest of the weekend exploring the area by bike. Two hobbies for the price of one. Bingo!

Lakeside views

Buoyed by my experiences with the Suzuki’s supreme comfort and impressive capaciousness, I knew it’d be the ideal tool for a bit of leisure time multitasking, so I embarked on a two-wheeled and two-footed weekend up in Grasmere, where I’d be taking part in a trail ultramarathon as well as exploring some of the area’s best-loved biking roads. If that’s not winning at life, I don’t know what is!

Confident & engaged

I’m still feeling victorious as the rain lashes down and the sidewinds shove the GT as we slog through afternoon traffic on the A66. The conditions are the most challenging I’ve encountered this year, yet even now, three hours into my ride, I’m still feeling great. Visibility’s low but confidence is high, and I think a big part of it is down to the Suzuki’s riding position. Its ergonomics surprised me at first as it puts the rider’s top half into more of an adventure bike riding position (sat tall with wide bars, rather than hunkered down with high rise clip-ons, as I expect from a sports-tourer) but it really is very effective; I always feel confident and fully engaged when riding the GT and I think a large part of that is the fact that I’m sat up tall rather than crushed and compromised as I would be on a traditional sportsbike.

Screen test

The GT’s angular fairing always reminds me of the polygon-constructed graphics of an early Sony PlayStation, but in practical terms they’re doing a decent job of providing a bit of weather protection. However, I’m currently thinking that I might’ve made a mistake in swapping the Suzuki’s standard screen for a taller Skidmarx version (£75.95). I didn’t have any issue at all with the Suzuki’s original shield, but thought I’d try the aftermarket version just to see if it could make things even better. And for me, it doesn’t. The 470mm tinted screen looks great and is easily fitted, but it features a lip at the top which is perfectly positioned to pummel windblast straight at my visor. Perhaps if I was a bit taller (I’m 5ft6in) or longer in the body, it’d work a bit better.

Fell running at its best

After a Saturday spent running around the area’s highest peaks; Sergeant Man, Harrison Stickle, Loughrigg Fell, Red Screes, Fairfield Peak, Great Rigg and Stone Arthur, Sunday morning leaves me free – albeit a bit tired and sore – to enjoy the same vistas without as much exertion. We blitzed around Windermere, enjoyed the squiggles and scenery on the Kirkstone Pass before reluctantly heading southward once again. It was certainly a full-on weekend, but one I wouldn’t have enjoyed quite as much if I’d not had a bike as versatile and comfortable as the Suzuki to do it on.

Update Four: Suzuki GSX-S1000GT’s extreme comfort lets Emma be in two places at once

Published: 14 August 2022

Being a science fiction fan, I’m often daydreaming about time travel. You see, the 4D fabric underpinning the universe is warped by mass and if you get a certain configuration of dense objects in one place scientists have suggested a wormhole – a bridge linking two distant points in the spacetime continuum – could be created, et voila, time travel. But that’s all just theory and this is a motorcycle publication so let me tell you about the next best thing: the Suzuki GSX-S1000GT. Let me explain…

Tanking along

A family event up in Lancashire coincided with my other half racing at Brands Hatch and my son’s fifth birthday – all important occasions that could not be missed, so I looked to the Suzuki as a means of allowing me to do all three. But the thing was, it’d mean a 500-mile day and it had been a good many years since I’d done that amount of riding. Being totally honest, I was nervous, but knew it’d be a great opportunity to put the Suzuki’s long-distance comfort to the test.

Loading my stuff into the GT’s panniers, using a couple of Co-op ‘bags for life’ as inner bags, I set off for leg one; a 200-mile ride up to Lancashire. With a bit of time in hand, I decided to go cross country on the cracking roads between Cambridgeshire and Derbyshire. The GT is super-sweet on the twisties, especially now it’s running Michelin’s Road 6 tyres. The grip and ride quality, even over less than perfect roads, is spot on. You honestly hardly notice the lumps, bumps and potholes that usually take the shine off a ride.

Brands bonanza for the weekend

Destination reached and family duties done, it was time to take flight for leg two – dicing with Friday rush-hour traffic heading diametrically south-east across England. Now exclusively on motorways, I got to make use of the GT’s cruise control – which is great to have, but a little awkward to initialise due to the button being on the right-hand switchgear… It was while on the motorway that I discovered another minor niggle about the GT and that’s how buzzy it is at cruising speeds – there’s a fair bit of vibration through the seat and it feels as though it’d benefit from slightly taller gearing to keep things a bit smoother here.

But, rolling into the Brands Hatch paddock at the end of a long day, I was absolutely flabbergasted by how good I felt. On board the Suzuki, my big day in the saddle had been easy, effortless and enjoyable. I arrived just in time to read my little lad a bedtime story and was still fresh enough to avoid falling asleep before the final page!

Update Three: Cadwell Park and a big-name BSB rider pushes the Suzuki GSX-S1000GT’s limits

Published: 14 July2022

A trackday or two has been on the cards for the Suzuki GSX-S1000GT ever since I picked up the keys back in April. And today was the day – Suzuki Live at Cadwell Park, a day for all Suzuki owners (and others) to enjoy the current range, ogle at cracking classics and chat with racing stars.

Now, I’m fortunate that Cadwell’s pretty much on my doorstep, and doubly fortunate that the 60 miles to get there are mostly all excellent riding roads. Fast, flowing bends, decent straights and little traffic, going to Cadwell on a road bike is the perfect trackday warm up.

The sun’s shining and I’m feeling pretty chipper – the GT is so effortlessly fun on the road that surely it’s going to translate to effortless fun on the track. Arriving at the circuit, I sign on at the office before being promptly hustled out on track, where I’m in for something of a shock…

Emm about to head on track with the Suzuki GSX-S1000GT at Cadwell

I can’t hit an apex if I try! OK, yes, I’m rusty, but I’m finding it harder work than I thought. Although the GSX-S1000GT’s K5-derived motor is excellent on Cadwell’s straights, it’s on the wiggly things between them that I’m finding the sports-tourer a bit of a handful, especially in the faster turns.

Some might label it ‘understeer’, but I’d describe it more like trying to make origami out of a blancmange. Naturally I’m questioning myself as the laps tick away, as the GT has the frame, swingarm, and KYB forks and shock (albeit with slightly tweaked internal settings) as the prodigious Suzuki K5 GSX-R1000. Which leave me wondering whether it’s the new tyres I’ve recently fitted, Michelin’s Road 6, which have been transformative on the road but perhaps are dulling the Suzuki’s steering and degrading its grip on track.

Relived to see the chequered flag, I pull in and go looking for a screwdriver to stiffen things up, adding another couple of clicks of rebound damping to the rear, as well as mess around with the tyre pressures. No sooner do I pop up from down beside the bike when there’s a Suzuki-shirted man waiting to ask me a question. “Can we borrow your GT, please? Iddon needs to ride it…”

Two Suzuki GSX-S1000GT models ridden on track by BSB riders

Exsqueeze me? A bit of a rhetorical question seeing as though it’s actually Suzuki’s bike, but I hastily agree. Turns out, Buildbase Suzuki riders, Christian Iddon and Richard Cooper will be having a mocked-up race on a pair of GTs for a promotional video, but Suzuki are a GT short, hence needing to borrow ‘my’ bike.

No sooner could I utter the words “I’m not sure the tyre pressures are quite right…” BSB star Iddon is disappearing out of Cadwell’s collecting area, Cooper in hot pursuit. The next 15 minutes are spent transfixed watching the pair of British bike racing greats pulling all sorts of shapes over the Mountain, and through Hall Bends.

And they’re just as animated when they eventually pull back into the paddock. “It’s got plenty of go for a bike designed to take luggage and pillion!” laughs Iddon. “Obviously it’s not as fast as my superbike, but you don’t necessarily need 200+ horsepower around Cadwell, so it suits the circuit pretty well, and the upright bars give plenty of leverage through places like Hall Bends.

“It’s a bit on the soft side because it’s designed to be comfortable on all sorts of roads so I found the limit of suspension pretty quickly – if I was improving it for regular track days, that’s where I’d start.” So perhaps there is room for improvement? On the ride home, I ponder how I can make things better ahead of a planned tour-trackday-tour up to Knockhill in August. Maybe it’s time for professional help…

Update Two: Easy-to-use smartphone connectivity on the Suzuki GSX-S1000GT

Published: 14 June 2022

Smartphone connectivity, it seems every household device offers this function these days. But whilst I’ve managed to resist downloading the partner apps for my ‘connected’ washing machine and toaster (honestly, why?), I installed the Suzuki MySpin application straight after the first ride on the new Suzuki GSX-S1000 GT.  

The GT is the first Suzuki motorcycle to offer smartphone connectivity, and the feature opens up an expanded range of functions from the bike’s impressive 6.5in full-colour display – allowing you to make and receive calls (in-helmet headset needed), access your music, check your diary and view maps.

And it’s the latter function that I was most excited about… Thing is, as a recovering sportsbike addict, I’ve often found myself on bikes that have next to no space to mount a satnav or smartphone meaning that for many years, my ‘onboard navigation’ has been in the form of handwritten directions sellotaped to a piece of paper on the fuel tank. Yes, old school.

Static shot of the Suzuki GSXS1000GT

Those days are gone. After downloading MySpin to my phone from the Google store to my Android-powered Samsung A51 (also compatible with Apple OS), I opened the app on my phone, switched on the GT’s ignition then set the phone to ‘vehicle mode’. The phone then creates its own Local Area Network which the bike then pairs to and bingo – I was connected. As simple as that.

Although MySpin has its own built-in mapping feature, I noticed that the system is also preinstalled with an additional third-party navigation app called Sygic, so it’s this that I chose when I went on my first long-range mission down to an address in Poole.

The basic free version of Sygic then shows me my pre-programmed route, along with ETA, and gives turn-by-turn audio information into my headset. Powered by TomTom mapping, Sygic also offers live traffic and speed camera location data, but you’ll need to subscribe for about 2 euros per month to access these functions.

Connectivity is the name of the game

But I found free mode is more than enough for my needs and works smoothly, being quick to reroute if I take a wrong turn.

In terms of niggles, there is one problem but I’m yet to fathom whether this is down to the bike or my phone; the connection between the bike and phone sporadically drops out meaning that you lose the nav display on the dash.

The connection does reinstate after a few minutes, however – presumably for safety reasons – you can only access the MySpin menu screen when the bike’s at a standstill, meaning that you have to pull over and stop if you want to get your mapping back. But still, even with that foible, it’s so much more useful than a connected toaster…

Update One: Panniers are the new big thing on the Suzuki GSX-S1000GT

Published: 11 May 2022

Sunny ride on the Suzuki

Last year, I celebrated turning 40 by buying a really focused sportsbike, then spent the intervening 12 months giving it a lot of admiring looks in the garage but doing very little in the way of riding.

This year, I saddled up on the day of my 41st birthday on a bike with panniers and a comfy riding position, with my smartphone happily paired to a large-print TFT dash, the built-in satnav pointed in the direction of cake…

What a difference a year makes, eh? But I’ve not swapped my sliders for a sewing kit just yet, because these touring bike trappings are all stuck to a bike with the heart and soul of one of Suzuki’s most-loved litre bikes. This is the K5-powered Suzuki GSX-S1000 GT – a bike that promises to be a proper practical sportsbike.

A toy and transport

Time to fess up, this is the first time I’ve spent any significant length of time with a bike that has panniers. The Suzuki’s colour-matched 36l hard cases and mounting kit adds an extra £909.60 to the price of the GT, which is a significant amount of dosh, but for me they were a big must-have – and I have to say that their very presence on the side of the GT has transformed my relationship with motorcycles, almost overnight. Those pair of plastic pockets at the rear have put bikes back in the realms of transport – rather than just a toy – for the first time in about 10 years!

Em loves a pannier

The Suzuki’s boxes are basic, but extremely easy to use. And what’s better is that they fit to the rear of the bike really easily. However, I’ve noticed that one of the rubber damping boots covering the metal locator on the right-hand mounting bracket has already fallen off, although it doesn’t seem to be affecting the pannier’s stability.

Doing the miles

With my renewed ‘I’ll take the bike’ philosophy, I’ve already racked up a fair number of miles in the short time we’ve spent together. My biggest journey to date has been a jaunt down to Poole and back, a round trip of 400 miles. First off, I gave the rear suspension a tweak just to give the shock a sniff more control (preload set two steps from maximum and rebound set one click from max) and was a bit surprised to find there was no remote adjuster… Then I stuffed the panniers, downloaded the Suzuki MySpin app and painlessly paired the dash to my smartphone (more on that another time), plugged one end of my charge lead into the 12V USB socket in the cockpit and the other end into my phone inside my tankbag, then set sail southwards – feeling like a proper grown-up!

Two hours in, gliding along the A34 in the spring sunshine, I also suddenly realised that I was actually, truly comfortable, too. Although it looks very much like a sportsbike, the GT has a fairly upright riding position with surprisingly wide, flat bars, which not only give brilliant, flickable control on twisties, but also put you in a relaxed-yet-commanding position on less exciting roads. As the miles clicked by, it made me realise just how much I’d been kidding myself by trying to live with sportsbikes; ‘I’m comfortable, honest I am’ uttered countless times through gritted teeth…

The GSX-S1000 GT has already got me thinking of ways that I can broaden my horizons this summer, so I have a few hefty days in the saddle lined up. However, the sportsbike lover in me hasn’t vanished just yet and I’m itching to do a trackday to really put the Suzuki’s sporting K5 credentials to the test.


After years of owning out-and-out sportsbikes, I’ve finally stopped lying to myself and reached the conclusion that they’re no good in the real world (slow learner, eh?). But as I’m still not completely comfortable with the idea of giving up on performance just yet, so I’m hoping Suzuki’s new K5-powered sports-tourer will be the ideal blend of comfort and composure. I want to ride more, further, but also still enjoy the odd trackday. Knockhill via the Highlands, anyone?