Best bikes for under £5k: 2005-2006 Suzuki GSX-R1000

Published: 10 June 2013

What was it like then?
This was the superbike to have in the mid-noughties. The K5/K6 was magnificent, but little did we know it would be the best GSX-R1000 ever.

After a steady improvement through the models, from the 2001 GSX-R1000 K1 to this 2005 K5, we naturally expected the K7 to be better, but it wasn’t – it was too heavy and peaky. The K9 fell further behind its rivals and the current model, introduced at the beginning of last year, is the most sedate of all current superbikes.

So the K5/K6 is the pinnacle of the GSX-R1000 story and back then, the king of the 1000s. It beat off the challenges from the R1, ZX-10R and Blade on the road and in the hands of Troy Corser, won the ’06 WSB championship.

It was at the cutting-edge of superbike development, boasting fully-adjustable suspension, radial brakes and a slipper clutch, but the real secret to its success was its lightness and a grunty, long-stroke engine. A dry weight of 166kg and a true rear wheel power figure of 160bhp was just about perfect.

You didn’t need any electronic rider aids to go fast, the compact chassis had so much feel, the throttle connection was just about perfect and there was loads of mechanical grip. Today’s bikes have so much power, they need electronics just to keep them on the straight and narrow.

But not only was the GSX-R1000 eye-wateringly fast, it was smooth, practical and comfortable. It was as happy thrashing around Cadwell as it was riding to Cannes. It’s even got bungee hooks.

What is it like now?
It’s still a wonderful superbike, even eight years on. No current superbike is as light, or has such a deep pool of low-end torque. None has such an evil, impatient, metallic exhaust note – this is a pre-Euro 3 bike, so it’s allowed to breathe and make lots of noise.

A good one will still pull third gear wheelies. Fit modern sports rubber and it’ll handle well enough to stay with any modern superbike on the road. But under hard track use the brakes can fade – the Gixer Thou’s only real Achilles heel.

The K5/K6 was very affordable at the time, so lots of people got to enjoy Suzuki’s masterpiece – some were cherished, but many were used and abused.

Countless were raced or made into track day tools and lots were turned back into road bikes again. These are the bikes to be wary of. They’ll generally have clean, barely-used bodywork, but peer closer and they’ll have tatty frames, scuffed engine cases and signs of crash damage.

Look out for race parts the previous owner couldn’t easily remove, to sell separately. Make sure it’s had the frame recall, too – there should be an extra brace between the frame spars above the radiator.

Price for a good one:
£3750 to £5000
ENGINE: 16v, DOHC, 988cc water-cooled inline-four
POWER: 160bhp @ 10,800rpm
TORQUE: 80ftlb @ 8500rpm
TOP SPEED: 180mph
MPG: 43

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