Review: Suzuki GSX-R1000R

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

Review: Suzuki GSX1250FA Touring

Suzuki’s GSX models all have four-cylinder engines, with the GSX1250FA having the largest lung capacity: 1255 cc. On some markets (Australia and Belgium for example), it’s available in a tourer trim, challenging other big tour bikes like the Triumph Trophy, BMW R 1200 RT and Yamaha FJR1300.

The Touring suffix doesn’t mean the GSX1250FA obtained lots of extra equipment: a vario windshield, a topcase and side panniers, that’s it. Fortunately, the model already had a nicely streamlined fairing so that suffix is justified.

Tough competition

The first question that raises is whether this Suzuki is up to the rather tough competition. If you compare the price tags, the GSX stands out: it’s a lot cheaper than its three competing colleagues. But while these offer technology like cruise control, heated grips, an electrically adjustable windshield, traction control and different riding modes, the Suz does without. Back to basics. And if you think the option list might have something to offer, well, you’ll only find a tank pad or wheel striping.

Still, the GSX1250FA Touring has ABS, a height-adjustable seat and a centerstand. The latter comes in handy because the GSX uses a chain to transfer the engine power to the rear wheel. You might expect a shaft drive on a touring oriented bike, but a chain of course lowers the price.

Some mistakes

The competitive price of the Suzuki GSX1250FA Touring doesn’t only imply a pretty basic standard equipment, the bike also makes some mistakes. For example, it has three keys. One to start the bike, one for the topcase, one for the panniers. Continue reading