If you want to rule the land of superbikes, you won’t crown yourself king with just horsepower galore and a good chassis. Without electronics you won’t get there, so it was high time Suzuki reinvented its flagship bike. Last year the completely updated GSX-R1000 and GSX-R1000R appeared on the battlefield. I took the latter out for a week.
The Suzuki GSX-R1000 is “the basic model”. Its 999,8 cc four-cylinder engine has an output of 202 hp and 118 Nm at 10,800 rpm. Variable valve timing? Check. Ride-by-wire with three riding modes? Check. ABS and cornering traction control? Check. To list but a few points of its entire checklist.
The checklist of the GSX-R1000R is slightly longer, including cornering ABS, launch control, quickshifter, LED strips above the air intakes and Showa Balance Free front and rear suspensions. Which lifts the price rather displeasing: $15,099 for the GSX-R1000, $17,199 to add that extra R. If you drop ABS on the R-less Gixxer, the price tag is lowered to $14,699 (US prices).
So is that extra R worth the extra cost? Time for a ride to find out. And then you’ll notice immediately that here’s another manufacturer who nowadays thinks it’s not done to scare riders away. Suzuki’s racer is ultra-controllable and will never surprise you with a bad temper.
The ride-by-wire has three settings, and Suzuki has done it again: instead of naming them Race, Road and Rain for example, they’re called A, B and C. Although in this case OK, Not OK and Even Less OK would’ve been better. Let me explain. The A setting has the most linear power delivery. In B and C the power curve shifts to the right a lot (B) and a lot more (C), postponing the fun. Which is pointless because the A setting can be used under every condition, making the B and C settings completely useless. As an aside, the ride-by-wire does not affect ABS nor traction control.
That traction control!
Fortunately the traction control is better. A lot better. It has 10 levels (called 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10, with 1 intervening minimally and 10 maximally). Levels 1 to 4 are intended for the racetrack and allow some rear wheel spin. 5 to 8 are for the road. From a certain angle of inclination, they will make the throttle response and power delivery react more gently on the throttle impulse. Numbers 9 and 10 are the rain levels. The horsepower is never influenced by the traction control and – should you be tired of your life – there’s also a level 0: traction control off.
I started my week’s test with level 5 traction control and Continue reading →