2016 Suzuki GSX-S1000 –
New Owner Shares Thoughts
The following was submitted by David Bober, who had recently acquired a new Suzuki GSX-S1000 ABS.
I’ve had the privilege of riding with Ultimate MotorCycling staffers and other friends on a couple of occasions, and when I bought a 2016 Suzuki GSX-S1000 ABS to replace my beloved (and heavily modified, but we’ll get to that later) 2012 Honda CB1000R, I was asked if I would like to write about my observations of the Suzuki and the buying experience in general. I’m not a journalist – just a guy who bought a bike.
Having acquired my first motorcycle at the age of 44 (I turn 50 this year), I’ve done my best to catch up since moving to LA from New York four years ago. The Southern California roads here are too good – and the stakes too high – not to be ambitious about improving your riding skills.
I have invested heavily in my own rider education via schools in a parking lot, at the racetrack, and in the dirt. I’m thankful to also have a few mentors to keep me honest—and you know who you are if you’re reading this, so thanks! Spend more on training and less on steering dampers.
Suzuki GSX-S1000 ABS – The Right Bike?
I was never infected by the pure sportbike bug. Fortunately my riding career has coincided with a virtual revolution in the naked bike category, which suits my middle-aged frame and flexibility (or lack thereof!) just fine. Many of today’s naked standards have sportbike DNA, comfy ergos, and blow-your-socks-off performance and handling.
You don’t need a regular Joe like me weighing in on which of the super nakeds are the best technically, but suffice it to say I demo’d them all before buying the Suzuki.
The list included the Aprilia Tuono Factory, the KTM Super Duke 1290, and BMW’s S1000R among a few others. But the day I test rode the GSX-S1000 was a good one. I made a u-turn after about 2 miles, rode it right back to the dealer, and bought it. I just knew.
So why the Suzuki?
1. The bike absolutely rails in the corners despite coming with Dunlop D214s (a tire I had never heard of and when I researched it a bit, found out they don’t sell them anywhere to anybody) that have a 190/50 profile that no one I can find who spends a lot of time on the side of their tire, prefers.
But even with less than optimum tires, you just tip the bike in and it effortlessly holds a line. I bought the unfaired version and Suzuki claims it’s even lighter than the new GSX-R1000 superbike. I had this sense the Suzuki engineers were in my ear saying “we’ll take it from here pal. Chill and enjoy.” And I do, every time I lean it over.
2. Derived from the famous K5 Gixxer engine, the GSX has a claimed 140 horsepower and a very strong mid-range; all that power comes in a very manageable package throughout the entire RPM range. What an engine! Intoxicating when you need it to be, but compliant around town. Can’t say enough good things about the engine and the rasping sound it makes from, that’s right, the stock exhaust.
3. The GSX-S1000 is all-day comfortable despite being one of the smallest/lightest bikes in its class. I’m on the taller side (6’3”) and it has the most forgiving rider triangle of all the nakeds in my opinion. Go figure. Magic!
5. There’s just enough electronics present with ABS as an option combined with 3 levels of traction control to make you feel safe, but still allow you to ride the bike versus the other way around. Depending on your TC settings there’s some allowable tire slippage if you want it, but also a gentle reminder when you’re spinning the rear a bit too much.
6. Strong brakes are a necessity with a bike this powerful and Suzuki did not disappoint. Out of the dealership they felt a big vague but once broken in a bit, the initial bite is there and the stopping power is more than enough, even when pushing it. And that “Brembo” logo on the calipers is a badge of honor for a bike priced so competitively.
7. Finally, and this is the one we all can either agree or agree to disagree on, the bike looks great, and for me at least screams “the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts.” You can nitpick any bike but the Suzuki is a great package at a great price.
Suzuki GSX-S1000 ABS Complaints?
I would not be an educated rider if I did not have any. But really, I only have one worth mentioning and it’s this: the engineers of all new bikes these days have their hands full with emissions standards, changes in gasoline, and fueling. As a result, the Suzuki does suffer from a snatchy throttle when going from off to on, and vice versa.
It’s not unmanageable, and I found it to be less and less of an issue the more I rode the bike and broke it in; but it is there. When you’re coming into a corner and trail braking, there’s that moment you want to transition from brakes to throttle; and having to think about the smoothness of that action is one more thing you don’t want in your head at that critical moment.
I love the bike so much I have convinced myself it’s just the engineers challenging me to be smoother and more refined when I ride. It’s also worth mentioning that the more I ride this bike, the smoother it becomes in this department. Is it possible that “snatchiness” fades as the bike is broken in more? I guess what I’m saying is this is far from a deal breaker.
What about at the track?
OK, so I recently spent two days riding the Suzuki around my favorite track, Chuckwalla Valley Raceway in Desert Springs, Calif.. I changed the Dunlops for a sticky set of Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsas with a 190/55 rear profile. What a huge difference from the OEM tire!
But other than the tire swap, the track day was a great opportunity to see what the bike can do in its original form with no performance modifications whatsoever.
Overall I was very impressed with how a bike that I’m assuming was engineered for predominantly street riding was able to handle the challenging layout of Chuckwalla.
Since I am still getting to know the bike having only ridden it a handful of times, I’m sure I was not beating my personal best lap times but I have no doubt I will on this machine. For all you track day enthusiasts, my pace would be of the “slow A group, fast B group” variety.
Again, while not a traditional “track” bike, it proved more than capable of handling the environment, especially for us mortals. It’s worth mentioning that I’ve seen riders do some unbelievable things with street bikes on street tires at the track. A few coaches I’ve worked with absolutely kill it on a stock Yamaha FZ1. But hey, if you race professionally or in amateur events, I doubt this is the bike you’ll purchase for track riding.
But for me, it was more than enough in every category. And the best part? Take the tape off the mirrors, wipe it down, clean the chain, and the next day you can be in the canyons or on your commute in comfort and style, with your tires scrubbed in like a hero! No tire warmers, race numbers, or rearsets necessary; the bike cooks just enough for me and anybody else who is quick but not on the razor’s edge.
Does the Suzuki GSX-S1000 need any performance modifications?
High performance motorcycles have become more sophisticated in the past few years, and the race is definitely on for horsepower, handling, and general performance. Still, there is no shortage of after-market solutions to increase an alleged gap between what your bike starts out with, and what accessories are available to make you faster or safer, or both.
Depending on who you talk to or where and how you ride, you’ll find plenty of people who will tell you some combination of “your bike needs a new shock, a steering damper, master cylinder, fuel map, and slipper clutch, then she’ll be good to go.” Oh and that’ll cost you how much? Right. OK, sign me up.
And I did, on my last bike, a Honda CB1000R. Then I traded that bike in for my Suzuki and decided to ride it as is. And you know what? I am more comfortable and have more confidence in this bike after 600 miles than I did the entire time I owned my beloved Honda CB1000R with every performance part upgraded with said aftermarket goodies.
Now don’t get me wrong, if you race, take track days seriously enough that lap times matter to you, weigh more than 200lbs, or just like tinkering with stuff, then have at it. I’m not judging, and there is a place for the shiny stuff in our lives.
My only point here is that these bikes are developed by people who really know how to build motorcycles, and the vast majority of us will never ride them even close to their potential; even the really good riders.
I consider myself a capable rider who has invested in my skills and I truly believe that what I did to my Honda compromised the structural integrity of what the engineers had in mind; as a result the bike never felt balanced after all the work I did to it. So I’m going to leave the Suzuki alone. Let the debate begin…
Suzuki GSX-S1000 ABS – Conclusion
My Suzuki in its current form is bone stock, has balance and refinement in abundance, and I’ll be shocked if I’m not faster and safer on it than my previous bike. So you decide, but I’m going with “they know better than I do.”
That did not stop me from putting on an OEM fly screen, Rizoma indicators, and a Yoshimura tail tidy however. The bike looks handsome now. All dressed up and ready to go. So no, there isn’t any buyer’s remorse for me with the GSX-S1000. None at all.