The 1000cc Supersports class is where the ’big four’ Japanese manufacturers like to play hard and fast, with flagship four cylinder machines battling it out for supremacy.
Back in the Jurassic era, Kawasaki ruled the roost with the GPZ900R, until bikes like the GSXR1100 Suzuki and Yamaha FZR1000 EXUP moved the stakes higher. In the 90s, Honda had it all their own way for half a decade with the 899/918cc Fireblade series, then along came the Yamaha R1 – bye bye Blade…
And now a new challenger, the GSXR1000 looks set to put Suzuki at the top of the hill for a few years – faster, lighter, smoother than all the rest. But is it really that good? Insidebikes took the Gixer 1000, `Blade, R1 and the Kawasaki ZX9R for a windswept and interesting day out at Darley Moor race circuit to find out.
Suzuki GSXR1000; The ultimate eighties remix.
Once upon a time, way back in the 1980s when big hair was good and people thought Tracy Ullman was funny, there was a demented mother of a bike called the GSXR1100. A stripped down, brutal handling, blue and white rocketship, that took the sportbike class into another, 160mph dimension, the original gangster GSXR was a rough edged sort of sportbike, that helped establish the cult of the Streetfighter in the early 1990s.
But the lairy nature of the old GSXR beast was one of the reasons that many bikers formed an orderly queue for Fireblades and FZR1000 EXUPs when they appeared on the streets. The Suzuki was always a bit too pepperami for some bikers, particularly those who were coming back to two wheels after a lengthy break. Not everyone enjoys being scared at high speed.
But the new generation Gixer 1000 is proof that Suzuki have learned from past mistakes, and have a refreshing attitude to their customers; basically they give them what they want. So the GSXR1000 is very much a big brother of the superb 750 four from the same company; light, agile in the twisties and possessed of excellent brakes. It also looks far more durable in its overall finish than any 80s GSXR.
The Suzuki undoubtedly has the most power out of these four, judged purely on seat of the pants riding. Suzuki aren´t claiming an official peak figure, but several dynos have suggested the engine makes around 145bhp, at the rear wheel, which translates into something mental like 160-165bhp at the crank. Serious lunge then, all designed to shift a lightweight 170 kilo (dry) chassis.
More usefully, the digital fuel injection system allows the Suzy rider to apply that power without big problems, even on a damp and decidedly slippy Darley Moor track. We were the first people to use the circuit this year and slicing through the scenic coating of green moss that had bloomed along the main, 140mph plus, main straight, was a good test of nerve, and tyre traction.
Even gassing the Suzuki hard in second gear out of the hairpin, then short-shifting into third at around 9,000 revs didn´t get the bike sliding, twitching or upset in any way. The Gixer´s power delivery is so smooth is reminds you of a Honda CBR600/929, which for my money, is as good as it gets. This is an amazingly fast bike, yet controllable – almost novice friendly.
Join the love train
What makes the Suzuki feel so addictive is the way it handles all that furious performance when it comes to cornering. It totally flatters the rider, shoving armfuls of torque back when you twist the throttle – no matter which of the 6 gears you are in at the time. Driving out of tight corners is always, always, incredibly easy. The chassis also has that much mentioned `neutral ‘ quality, which allows you to flick your way through faster chicanes with 100% confidence, even in the wet.
Nothing seems to faze the aluminium alloy frame, 43mm USD forks, or Kayaba monoshock, there is no drama, no hint of a wobble. The twin 6 piston brakes also have a steady, progressive feel, in that they never ’grab’ at the disc, which was a fault on the first of the modern ’seat hump’ GSXR750s, back in `96.
What all this adds up to is a fluency, a balance, which lets the rider concentrate on going faster than ever before, yet retain a safety margin, a comfort zone. Does that matter? I think so, because there´s no doubt in my mind that a few riders have binned their R1s/Blades/ZX9s/996s etc. for the simple reason that panic has overtaken confidence, at the wrong moment, just as the bike approaches a bumpy bend. The result; crashing alone, for no apparent reason, on a top `biking road.´
The Suzuki then, combines raw power, complete with that authentic old school Gixer engine snarl, with simply the best blend of handling and braking that money can buy, in an off-the-shelf motorcycle. It is a unique experience to ride, because it marries speed with a feeling of safety, which is a brilliant marketing strategy.
No matter what you thought about Suzuki’s in the past, you must try this bike before you blow your cash on a new hatchback, kitchen extension or rival sportsbike. I defy you not to love the surprisingly spacious riding position, the low centre of gravity, the supremely potent brakes, or the sheer lunacy of unleashing 140bhp in about two seconds from a standstill. All this stunning engineering, for just over nine grand, is incredible – a genuine bargain compared to exotic Italians, or one-off specials, that promise so much, but actually deliver something less than perfection.
One day, another factory will outdo the GSXR1000 in terms of overall, mind-numbing, blistering performance. That´s progress. But for now, this is the new boss; the best sportbike on the market.
Get Suzuki motorbike insurance for the suzuki supersports gsxr1000.
|Engine||water cooled, four stroke, four cylinder|
|Claimed power (bhp)||160bhp|
|Chassis||Twin spar aluminium alloy frame|
|Front suspension||43mm front forks, multi adjustable|
|Rear suspension||monoshock, multi adjustable|
|Brakes||twin 320mm front discs, six piston calipers, single 220mm rear disc, twin piston caliper|
|Wheels/Tyres||120/70 17 inch front, 190/50 17 inch rear|
|Fuel capacity||18 litres|
|Current price||£9,300 (est)|