2014 Suzuki GSX-R1000 ReviewThe promise of something new can often be a powerful motivator and usually, without this element, our interests are not aroused.
But that’s not the case here as Suzuki has done it again by releasing its 2014 GSX-R 1000 without any changes from the 2013 model. Well, they did give it a new paint scheme.It is one of the last race replicas sold by a leading manufacturer that does not include electronic rider aids – no traction control, no ABS, no anti-rear wheel lift.Regardless, what we get is one of the best handling and all-around performing bikes on the market today. Sure, with all the power it delivers, traction control would be a welcome addition, but a rider’s careful execution of throttle actuation will take care of business. My real focus is street riding at a reasonable pace, though we will take it to the track for some riding insights.While on the subject, let’s compare the GSX-R1000 to Suzuki’s GSX-R750, which I reviewed in January (2014 Suzuki GSX-R750 Review). Again, we selected Greg Nulman’s Motoyard as the track day organization of choice, only for the GSX-R1000 we visit them at Buttonwillow Raceway Park – about two hours north of Los Angeles.Greg runs a cohesive organization that helps make track days fun and safe. His control riders, like David Price, are always helpful with suggestions and escorts to show riders the best lines, and discuss strategy or equipment. Lessons are available, prices are reasonable, and Motoyard’s online signups are simple. Buttonwillow, as it is today, could use a bit of repaving, especially on turn 2, which is off-camber and feels a bit greasy. It’s a lovely turn that begs for more throttle and lean, but without traction control this corner has me on my guard all day (it also consumed one bike during the session…but not ours).Lately, bikes without rider aids tend to be marginalized by what they lack, but, in the case of the GSX-R 1000, there is still much to love. So what if traction control on this machine means connecting your brain to your wrist like we did for countless years? I’m not that fast, anyway, so a fun and pleasing experience is much more important to me than shaving tenths of seconds off my lap time.One electronic feature that is included, besides the simple, easy-to-read dashboard, is S-DMS (Suzuki Drive Mode Selector) which allows the rider to choose one of three fuel injection and ignition maps (A/B/C) by left thumb and forefinger. This helps deliver power best suited to conditions. Frankly, in the short time I had to play with them I felt little difference between modes, simply left it in A. Power delivery is smooth with no spikes or flat spots and modulation was natural and a no-brainer.I’m only guessing but I think we should anticipate a bevy of electronic rider aids from Suzuki soon with their announced entry onto the MotoGP grid in 2015. They must be developing these aids as I write, and we are sure to get the trickle-down effect from the race effort. Expect to see these soon, but there is no official word as of this writing.On the street the Gixxer exhibits excellent manners in all types of riding. For a bike that can, off the track, corner near the best out there, it has a relatively plush ride on oil-damped, inverted big-piston Showa forks and link-type rear suspension. The feedback is excellent, and everything is adjustable – as a rider’s pace and demands increase, the suspenders can be tweaked to handle the load.The other side of handling is managed by the stock Bridgestone Battlax T20 rubber, which I found to be acceptable on the street but a bit too squirmy on the track. The rear is a 190/50-17, which, when compared to other bike’s fitments, may make you long for a 55-section tire to raise the rear a bit for sharper handling. Up front is the ubiquitous 120/70-17. As I said in my review of the GSX-R750, “Not to worry as you will shag these tires in no-time and replace them with rubber commensurate with your mission.”Braking responsibilities all around are handled by Brembo. They are not Monoblocs, but they do an acceptable job. The binders were strong and easy to modulate, and were all that was ever needed. On our hot day at Buttonwillow, I experienced no fade or other maladies – even with the standard rubber brake lines, which happen to be one of my pet peeves. I have never understood why the manufacturer of a high-performance motorcycle would try to save what can only be a few Yen by not fitting braided stainless lines. Suzuki is not the only perpetrator of this action.Provided you enjoy the riding position of a liter-race bike and its clip-on handle bars, you will find the Gixxer comfortable enough. The seat is optimal, and the reach forward is fine for my 6-foot average frame which usually places plenty of weight on the wrists. The pegs are high enough to never touch down on pavement, at least at my skill level, but they aren’t uncomfortable. All-in-all there are no ergonomic surprises.The Gixxer 1000 is only a bit larger than the 750 (0.6-inch length; wheelbase not stated; 29 pounds heavier), and they feel almost identical but for the horsepower bump on the liter bike. The 999 cc, inline-4 has the usual character of that type of architecture and is happy to putt around town, offering good low-end torque and mild manners. On the track it’s something else entirely. It takes off quickly and smoothly with good clutch action.And the sound is not unlike the 750 yielding what I have termed a kind-of duck call sound until the mill hits around 6000 rpm and the tach needle just races to redline. Without a quickshifter, the pilot must be ready to make his change up and engage the Warp Drive.Handling is smooth and, mostly, free of drama. The bike turns in quickly and accurately, and holds its line even through bumpy sections. Adjustments during turns are easy, and it just goes where it’s pointed. The Gixxer likes to accelerate through and out of each turn.The 1000 is remarkably like the 750 in all aspects but for power. The 750 is one of my favorite track bikes because it’s so sharp and fast yet not as intimidating as the liter version. On the 1000 my respect level was turned up a couple of notches in lieu of traction control.If I were to make any suggestions for changes, apart from different rubber and brake lines, I’d opt for a quick shifter and look around for a more effective slipper clutch. While clutch action is good, it is very tight and often does not feel like a slipper clutch nor favorably compare with some others I’ve tried. Improperly timed or rough downshifts at speed, given the massive engine braking exhibited, can dislodge the rear bun making for some erratic corner entries.The 2014 Suzuki GSX-R1000 is still relevant even in the face of advancing technologies. It has most of what it takes to be a fast companion and offers faster riders a solid platform to build their dream machine.2014 Suzuki GSX-R1000 Colors:
This week we ride two genre-departing motorcycles from the established American manufacturers. Jess McKinley gives us his thoughts on the all new Harley-Davidson Pan America Special, and Ron Lieback gives his on Indian’s latest version of the FTR 1200 S.