Alicante, Spain – Suzuki is launching its new GSX-S1000 at a world launch, meaning all the world’s press is in attendance. CMG’s Editor ‘Arris flew over to check it out.
This is the technical intro for the bike. If you wish to avoid confusing your head with blurbage that may not mean much to you, please feel free to skip ahead to the Ride.
Technically the whole bike is new, though Suzuki are pushing the GS heritage, right back to the GS750 from 1976. The actual ‘X’ part in GSX didn’t arrive until 1980 with the GSX750, which saw the introduction of the 16 valve head This lineage went on to give us the glorious GSX1100 Katana and then to spawn the GSX-R superbike range too, so we’ll give them the heritage card, even if there has been a bit of a gap between models.
- The base GSX is given to its “sport standards/touring” models such as the GSX1250FA and 650F (the old Bandits),.
- The GSX-Rs signify the “supersports” such as the GSX-R1000, 750 and 600
- The new GSX-S reserved for the ‘Street sports”, i,e. the GSX-S1000 and 750 bikes.
- And the daddy GSX-RR? That’s Suzuki’s new Moto GP bike.
As is the way for this type of bike, Suzuki has reused an older generation motor from its supersport range, in this case the 2005-2008 generation GSX-R1000. It’s likely not a bad choice as it’s the longer stroke of the GSX-R motors and so develops more low down torque at the price of less horsepower higher up the rev range. Although this is not generally what you want for a supersport bike — that is all about the revs — it is exactly what you want for a naked road bike, where you have to cope with real world riding situations.
The motor has been further retuned courtesy of new cams and inlet and exhaust mods, for more low to midrange, though the Suzuki engineers reckon it still maintains the Gixxer’s top end rush. The 4-into-2-into1 pipe comes with a cat, performance valve, shorty muffler and “exciting exhaust notes”.
On the electronics side of things, the GSX-S boasts both three-step traction control with low, middle and high sensitivity (achieved by managing ignition timing and air delivery in the injectors), easy start system (hit the start button once and it keeps spinning until it fires) and ABS. Oddly, there are no ride-mode options which the Suzuki engineers said they didn’t need because:
A) The highest level of traction control effectively takes care of Rain Mode by stopping tire slip in the wet (true).
B) The motors already being tuned for all conditions (fair enough).
The aluminum frame is all-new and is actually lighter than the current GSX-R (it has less power to handle), though the swingarm is taken from the current Gixxer. Interestingly, Suzuki have opted for a Renthal “fat bar”, which is made from aluminum and tapered and usually reserved for off road, but adding a touch of cool in this case.
Suzuki state that the GSX-S is designed for the forty plus, sportbike experienced rider with ergonomics that are sporty with a slight forward lean – but not too low that it’ll strain your aging wrists. Although they claim a lowest in class seat height of 815 mm, when I look over our Compy Comparo chart (ahead) they’re all 815 mm or thereabouts. Apparently a taller accessory seat for lanky buggers like me is in the works too.
Suspension is pretty high spec with KYB fully adjustable inverted forks up front and double four-piston mono-bloc Brembos from the 2014 GSX-R1000 should provide ample stopping power too.
And finally, Suzuki included a bit on the “Crouching Beast” styling concept. “Ready for the hunt” with muscular, layered bodywork and LED position lights to give it a bit of a fanged look. Whether that works or not is up to the paying customer, but I do prefer it over the Transformers/Manga look that Kawasaki has adopted.
The tester’s first person account of how the bike actually feels.
Still half asleep after a poor night’s sleep I struggle to find the flow of the GSX-S as our group streams back and forth through a complex and irregular set of bends deemed suitable for the cameras so that each journalist can get a glory shot to go with their story.
The GSX-S has a noticeable snatch to the throttle when you just come out of a corner, which confounds my mind enough to distract from my flow and sees me ride like a newbie as I struggle to connect with the bike. But that’s the problem with doing a photo shoot 30 minutes into the ride.
At last the deed is done and our group of three Australians, a Fin and a Quebecer head deeper into the mountains that parallel Spain’s southern coast. The pace is spirited to say the least and it takes me a good half hour to realize what I’m doing wrong; I’m thinking.
My mind is awash with trying to find the right corner entry speed, angle, posture, braking … and then, dammit, there’s that snatch again. This is work, but sure enough I’m learning the bike’s character and as I start to tune into it I turn the mental noise down and allow the current of the road to pull me along rather than thrash around within it.
The Gixxer front stoppers seem able to restrain any amount of speed without drama and the chassis holds the forces together and obeys even my slightest of inputs. Despite having no screen, wind flow isn’t noticeable until you break over 110 km/h and which point it feels like a giant hand plops onto your head and starts to pull it backwards with increasing force as the digital numbers flicker up into the 180s and beyond.
The GSX-S has an impressive amount of torque on tap for a four, which pulls me out of a corner and then switches to a howl of power as I go wide open throttle down the short straight of perfect asphalt. It’s a striking depth of range and to be honest, not what I would have expected.
By the time we stop for lunch, the off idle snatch has been smoothed by a delicate wrist and easing the throttle open a tad on the brakes. Taller gears help too, and I’m surprised how well the bike will pull in fifth or even sixth.
Lunch has the effect of relaxing everyone and the post-lunch ride is perhaps the best one as we descend from the hills and back to the Mediterranean coast. The roads relax and the GSX-S can now focus on eating up cars, which it does with satisfaction. Happy times.
The tester’s final thoughts on the bike .
After my high praise of Yamaha’s FJ triple motor last week, I feel like I may need to eat those words a little. I still think the triple motor is a great option of blending the twin’s torque with a four’s flowing power, but Suzuki have done a great job at converting a supersport inline four into a very usable real life street motor, while maintaining that higher rpm sportbike rush.
By adding good ergonomics (though I’m looking forward to the taller seat option) and a great chassis, we have something similar to a Gixxer, but that you can actually ride all day and have a ton of fun in the process. It’s confidence inspiring to boot, and despite my out of tune start and a day cranked at 11, I never scared myself.
Of course, this fun was all had in what must be some of the world’s best motorcycling roads. Squirting in and out of flowing corners all day is definitely the GSX-S’s happy place and sadly Canada struggles to find the same. Sans screen means that higher speeds (over 110 km/h) is best done in spurts, making it not very highway friendly, either.
My only real beef with the bike is the off-idle snatch. True, you can learn to accommodate it and unless the road really doubles up on itself, its presence is minimal. Hopefully this is fixed before the bike hits showrooms in mid to late summer. It will be joined by a full-faired version too, though pricing has yet to be announced, we’d expect somewhere between $12 and $14k to keep in line with the competition.
A comparison of the bike against three of its closest competitors from the CMG Buyer’s Guide
For the GSX-S1000 we’ve opted to look at other inline fours, naked (or close to), around the one litre mark. That gives us BMW’s S1000R, Kawasaki’s Z1000 and Yamaha’s FZ1.
What’s interesting is just how similar all the specs are, with BMW managing to edge an advantage on claimed power and torque figures. Still, according to Suzuki, the GSX-S will just (and I mean just) edge out the Beemer in a drag race. It’s also closest to the Beemer in curb weight and 10 Kilos less than the Zed and FZ.
Unfortunately Suzuki Canada has yet to set a price for the bike. While Yamaha is likely to remain the most affordable (as it does not come with ABS), if the GSX-S is competitive with the Kawasaki (low 13s) I think Suzuki may have a winner. Especially if you’re not a Manga fan.
Check out all the pics that go with this story! Click on the main sized pic to transition to the next or just press play to show in a slideshow.