2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000 Review |
Track and Street Tested
Fresh off Suzuki’s double win at the first round of the 2017 MotoAmerica Superbike Championship held at Circuit of the Americas—and my 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000R test at Philip Island Circuit in Australia—I had a chance to ride the standard version of the new GSXR1000 on the Monday after the racing.On the following day, a street ride through Texas Hill Country outside Austin revealed more insights into the new Gixxer 1000.
1. There are three different model versions of the 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000: The GSX-R1000 base model, GSX-R1000 ABS, and the top-of-the-line GSX-R1000R.
2. The non-ABS base-model GSX-R1000 is unique to the USA and, at $14,599, it is an amazing value and the ideal foundation for a racebike. The machine that won at COTA as ridden by Toni Elias is actually a GSX-R1000, and not the R model.
3. The ABS system includes Suzuki’s Motion Track rear wheel lift mitigation function, and the ABS on the R model adds cornering ABS as well. The Motion Track Brake System provides the appropriate amount of braking force. However, when the IMU detects rear wheel lift, the ABS adjusts front brake pressure to reduce it. Although for street and track day riders this combination is excellent, it seems a little odd that racers who will want to delete the ABS then find the bike is then without rear-wheel lift control, however Yoshimura currently offer an ABS eliminator kit (part #447-50A-0000) so racers would buy the optional ABS ($400) and then disable that function alone.
4. The new GSX-R1000 can be summed up in one word: Feel. Suzuki has a well-deserved reputation for producing user-friendly motorcycles, and the new Gixxer takes that to a whole new level. Experienced riders will be amazed at how smoothly the GSX-R1000 responds to every input. There is nothing jerky or sudden with this motorcycle; it reacts intuitively and precisely whether you’re going fast or slow. The throttle connection, the power delivery, the handling on turn-in and in mid-corner, as well as the braking, all worked precisely as I wanted; there simply weren’t any nasty surprises.
5. The GSX-R1000 feels very compact. The 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000 is noticeably narrower than the previous generation, and the smaller fuel tank makes it easier to tuck in on the racetrack. Suzuki spent a lot of time in the wind tunnel getting the aerodynamics right. Coupled with the amazing agility of the GSX-R, this helps with the illusion that it is a lightweight racebike more akin to a 600 than a liter-class machine.
6. The short-stroke GSX-R1000 motor feels responsive and incredibly powerful. A Yoshimura engineer told me that this new GSX-R1000 motor build revs from idle to peak horsepower quicker than any motor they’ve tested before. The peak power it produces coming on to the long back straight at COTA pushes the bike so hard the front comes up a little in the first four gears. The track definitely has some bumps and, as the GSX-R transitions over them, the front wheel gets airborne.
7. Despite having monstrous peak horsepower, the GSX-R1000 motor also has impressive mid-range. Thanks to Suzuki’s proprietary and patented Variable Valve Timing (VVT) technology, the motor pulls strongly at all points in the rev range. I was impressed with how tractable the GSX-R motor felt especially when pulling out of COTA’s very slow corners. Exiting a 40 mph corner in third gear still produced respectable power, although I usually opted for second gear.
8. The powerband feels very wide, and linear. The Suzuki VVT technology allows for short cam overlap at low rpm, boosting torque. As the revs rise, the overlap widens, giving big peak horsepower. The transition is completely seamless and all the rider feels is a super-wide powerband. Overall, the delivery is very linear with no huge jump in power—it’s all powerband, from idle to rev limit. Because the motor produces huge power from low-down that doesn’t tail off at the redline, I had to rely on the shift-lights to tell me I had reached the rev limit because the power was still strong.
9. The new ride-by-wire throttle is an enormous upgrade. The new system has the feel of a conventional unit when activating the 46mm throttle bodies. Such is the precision of the ride-by-wire system, Suzuki’s previous-gen double butterfly throttle bodies are no longer needed. The fuel mapping feels super-smooth coming back on to the power, even in the most responsive A power mode, and in first or second gear on the street.
10. The GSX-R1000 is one of the most stable sportbikes I have ever ridden—yet it is also one of the most nimble too. To say a motorcycle is stable usually implies slow-turning, as well. However, the new Gixxer is incredibly agile. Somehow, it feels completely stable not only when upright, but also on turn-in and in mid-corner.
11. The GSX-R1000 is equipped with the slightly lower-spec Showa BPF (Big Piston Fork) and Showa piggyback-reservoir shock, instead of the R model’s top-of-the-line Showa suspension. While the latter must be an improvement over the former, I did not find the Showa suspension lacking in any way. COTA has become quite bumpy and the street has its usual vagaries, yet the Showa BPF performed faultlessly for me and I had no complaints at all. I stiffened it up a little for the track and the GSX-R handled incredibly well, even on bumpy turn-in at the end of the back straight.
12. Front end track feel is spectacular on the new GSX-R. Some credit goes to the awesome Bridgestone Battlax R10 race compound DOT spec tires which gripped amazingly well on the COTA tarmac (also-excellent Bridgestone Battlax Racing Street RS10 tires are stock). However, the chassis configuration is incredible. Going uphill through the very quick Turn 8 and Turn 9 transition from maximum right lean and flicking over to maximum left, while coming back on the throttle, the front end would feel like it picked up momentarily, yet it stayed completely planted. The front didn’t push or slide, and my confidence in the front was so good that I carried entry speed into corners faster than I have ever done before at COTA.
13. The GSX-R1000 does not come with the R-model quickshifter, and it is currently not offered as an option. Although I’d prefer to have the factory quickshifter from the R model, which works so well on both up and down shifts, the standard-shift Suzuki cassette gearbox is incredibly positive and I never came close to missing a gear change. Track day riders/racers who need a quickshifter will have to go aftermarket, for now. Suzuki marketing did tell us they are working on offering the Suzuki system as an option.
14. The slipper clutch and Suzuki Motion Track rear wheel lift mitigation work together seamlessly. The clutch only has three springs, so the lever pull is very light. The ramp system locks the clutch on acceleration, so there’s zero slip. I rode the ABS model all day at COTA and even downshifting a little early off the back straight didn’t unsettle the bike at all; the rear wheel stayed glued to the track.
15. The GSX-R1000 traction control works very well. Using a three-axis/six-direction IMU, Suzuki’s software incorporates wheelie and slide control into the traction control. We were running the Traction Control setting at level 5 with the Bridgestone R10 rubber. Although the TC light was flashing on the first gear corner exits, the rear tire would smear a little and very predictably on aggressive corner exits; the power delivery stayed perfectly smooth. Without the flickering of the light, I would have had no idea the TC was helping me out.
16. Wheelie control is part of the traction control. There is no separate wheelie control, so the higher the level of TC intrusion, the more wheelie prevention you have. Even in TC1 (least intrusion), it is still very hard to get the front end up. For wheelie pictures, I had to turn the system off, which is done easily and on the fly. However, in general, the wheelie control—which uses pitch data from the IMU as well as wheel speed differentiation—is very accurate and responsive. Floating the front over bumps while accelerating hard along the back straight kept the front wheel level enough that I didn’t have to back out of the throttle at all.
17. The upgraded brakes now have slightly larger Brembo T-Drive 320mm rotors. Brembo’s new T-Drive produces a larger contact area between the outer and inner discs and allows 10 mounting points instead of 12, minimizing the weight gain despite the bigger diameter. The T-drive and floating pin-mount also reduces rattle noise significantly. The GSX-R’s Brembo 4-piston calipers brakes have plenty of feel at the lever with good initial bite and linear power, however the brakes are a little soft, and at COTA I did have some fade due to the three long, very hard braking zones. On the street I had no issues at all; owners who ride regularly on demanding tracks with hard braking zones will want to upgrade the rubber lines to steel braided.
18. The 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000 is a huge upgrade for previous versions. As insanely powerful as the new GSX-R1000 is, the most dramatically obvious thing for me is how stable yet agile this motorcycle has become. Last year’s model was one of the best turning liter-bikes of all time, and the Suzuki engineers have produced a sportbike that makes a mockery of the usually mutually exclusive traits of stability and agility. Somehow, the 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000 feels planted, neutral, and confidence inspiring, yet at the same time it also feels incredibly light and amazingly nimble; it feels like a 600—with the power to pull your arms out of their sockets.
Photography by Brian J. Nelson
- Helmet: HJC RPHA 11 Pro Darter
- Communications: Sena S10
- Suit: Alpinestars GP Pro Tech-Air Race
- Protection: Alpinestars Tech Air Race Vest
- Gloves: Alpinestars Supertech
- Boots: Alpinestars SMX Plus
- Helmet: HJC RPHA 11 Pro Darter
- Communications: Sena S10
- Jacket: Spidi Warrior Net
- Gloves: Alpinestars Supertech
- Jeans: Spidi J-Strong
- Boots: Sidi Doha
2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000 and GSX-R1000 ABS Specs
- Engine: DOHC inline-4
- Bore x stroke: 76.0 x 55.1mm
- Displacement: 999.8cc
- Compression ratio: 13.2:1
- Maximum power: 199 horsepower
- Maximum torque: 87 ft/lbs
- Redline: 14,500 rpm
- Cooling: Twin-fan aluminum radiator; aluminum oil cooler
- Valve train: Finger follower, 16-valve; variable timing
- Valve diameter: 31.5mm (intake) / 24.0mm (exhaust)
- Valve material: Titanium
- Crankshaft timing: 180 degrees
- Fuel delivery: Ride-by-wire; electronic throttle bodies
- Exhaust: Titanium
- Transmission: 6-speed constant mesh
- Clutch: Wet multi-plate slip-and-assist
- Oiling: Wet sump
- Final drive: 525 chain
- Frame and swingarm: Aluminum
- Front suspension: Showa Big Piston Fork
- Rear suspension: Showa shock w/ piggyback reservoir
- Front brakes: Radial mount Brembo Monoblock calipers w/ four 32mm pistons; Brembo T-drive 320mm floating disc
- Rear brake: Single piston Nissan w/ 220mm disc
- ABS: Standard on ABS model
- Front tire: 120/70 ZR 17; Bridgestone Battlax Racing Street RS10
- Rear tire: 190/55 ZR 17; Bridgestone Battlax Racing Street RS10
- IMU: Six direction, three axis
Dimensions and Capacities
- Wheelbase: 55.5 inches
- Rake: 23.2 degrees
- Trail: 3.7 inches
- Seat height: 32.5 inches
- Lean angle l & r: 56 degrees
- Fuel capacity: 4.2 gallons
- Curb weight: GSX-R1000, 441 pounds; GSX-R1000 ABS, 443 pounds
2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000 Colors/Availability:
- Metallic Matte Black No. 2 / Glass Sparkle Black
- Pearl Mitra Red, Metallic Triton Blue (standard only)
- Availability: GSX-R1000, May 2017; GSX-R1000 ABS, June 2017
2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000 Prices (MSRP):
- GSX-R1000, $14,599
- GSX-R1000 ABS, $14,999