Style, speed, comfort come together in Suzuki GSX-S
SUZUKI’S NEW GSX-S1000 RANGE HAS BEEN CREATED WITH THE RIDER IN MIND
The evolution of sportsbikes has been one of constant change towards going faster, often at the expense of comfort. Suzuki’s new GSX-S1000 range aims to break that cycle.
When it comes to riding any motorcycle, speed and adrenalin are addictive, but what happens when your body can’t keep up? Both the GSX-S1000A and GSX-S1000FA have been designed specifically to address the problem older sportbike riders are all too familiar with: comfort.
While the GSX-R line isn’t going anywhere, Suzuki says that as riders age, the ergonomics of supersport machines become less tolerable. While riders have always been able to progress on to fast, modern sports tourers, there will continue to be a hardcore few who shy away from the disadvantages those bikes come with, particularly with regard to weight and performance. With this rider in mind, Suzuki’s engineers came up with the GSX-S1000 duo.
Sitting somewhere between the Supersports and Sports touring categories, the bikes mate the supersports’ performance with a sports tourer’s comfort.
Creating an alternative to the cannonball ergonomics of the GSX-R could yet be a risky manoeuvre but Suzuki are starting with a solid base in the GSX-S duo.
At the heart of the siblings is the legendary 2005 (K5) GSX-R 1000 999cc inline four — with a few modifications for the all-new GSX-S chassis.
Renowned for its torquey performance, thanks to the 73.4mm bore and a longer stroke against newer GSX-R engines of 59mm, the K5 engine was the perfect choice for the road-oriented GSX-S.
Suzuki made a host of changes to the motor with new cam profiles better suited to street riding, while compression has been lowered from the original 12.5:1 to 12.2:1.
Suzuki’s SDTV (Suzuki Dual Throttle Valve) 44mm throttle body was nabbed from the 2007 GSX-R1000 with the secondary throttle valves controlled electronically to smooth power delivery and optimise combustion.
The S1000FA's fairing adds around 20KG of extra down force to the front wheel (below).
The aural pleasure of the GSX-S is right up there with the best in the business, with a specially tuned air box which creates a surreal roar during acceleration, which quickly became addictive during our 316km ride through Manawatu.
Twist on the throttle in any of the six gears and you feel a brilliant surge of torque as you build up through the rev range. Let it rev out and you’ll possibly be in loss-of-licence territory. This has a former superbike engine after all.
While the bikes look different, they are nearly identical. The naked GSX-S1000A is 5kg lighter than its GSX-S1000FA brother, the main point of difference being the fanged modular headlight and lack of a fairing.
While it is up to you which bike to go for, there are real benefits to opting for the S1000FA.
Don’t let that fairing fool you into thinking this is a sports tourer. It’s a hard-as-nails sports bike — it just happens to be comfortable as per the Suzuki design brief.
Apart from the added protection from the elements of any fairing, the unit bolted to the front of the S1000FA adds the benefit of aerodynamics. The S1000FA’s beak-shaped fairing acts like the wing on an F1 car, forcing the front end down with nearly 20kg of added pressure at highway speeds. That’s enough to give the front wheel a reassuringly planted feel, which was noticeable while jumping from bike to bike during our ride through lower North Island back roads.
With rain-filled boots and slips covering the roads, keeping traction was high on the priority list. Probably the biggest benefit to the GSX-S over the hard-edged GSX-R is the addition of Suzuki’s new three-mode advanced traction control system.
The traction control system is an evolution of the unit found on the current DL1000 V-Strom.
Combining a speed sensor on each wheel with gear, crank, and throttle position sensors, the system seamlessly reduces torque, preventing the wheel from spinning. With three settings and an off switch you can tailor the personality of the GSX-S to the conditions.
We put the system to the ultimate test with heavy rain, roadworks, and those slips making riding conditions treacherous... well, they would have been on another bike.
ABS ensured we stopped in time to avoid fallen rocks and slippery washouts, while the traction control ensured we stayed shiny side up despite the nasty conditions.
After 316km in the saddle, it was pretty clear the safety features alone make the GSX-S worth a look. Combine those with the comfort and performance of the bike, as well as a sub-$20,000 price tag, and it would appear Suzuki are on to a good thing with the comfy-but-not-a-tourer GSX-S1000.
PROS AND CONS SUZUKI GSX-S1000
|PRICE:||GSX-S1000A $16,995 GSX-S1000FA $17,995|
|ENGINE:||999cc inline four cylinder|
|PROS:||Traction control, comfortable, sounds incredible on throttle, bang for buck|
|CONS:||Subframe not really designed for luggage/pillions, *clutches at straws* the name — try saying that three times fast at the pub!|