Suzuki GSX-R1000R

Fast Bikes - - GROUP TEST -

I t’s no co­in­ci­dence that the 2017 GSX-R1000R won on its Bri­tish Su­per­stock rac­ing de­but – in the hands of Richard Cooper straight from the crate – and leads the cham­pi­onship at the time of writ­ing. Nor is it a shock that Mickey Dun­lop jumped aboard his su­per­bike and man­aged a 125mph stand­ing start on his first lap of the TT. It should, there­fore, be no shock that the road-spec Gixer was so fast at SBOTY, but to be so close to the Aprilia was a mi­nor, earth rum­bling bomb­shell.

There’s noth­ing Gucci about the Suzuki. From looks and fin­ish, to build qual­ity and brakes, suave ri­vals out­class the GSX-R in most de­part­ments be­fore the wheels even turn. The dash looks like Ca­sio was clos­ing a fac­tory and of­fered Suzuki its stash of old com­po­nents for a bar­gain, and there’s al­ready some fluffy cor­ro­sion on this month-old press bike. But, fuck it, it’s all about the rid­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, and there’s re­ally some­thing very spe­cial about smash­ing the granny out of it, an in­tan­gi­ble edgy, raw and bal­lis­tic con­duct to the Gixer that’s so bloody in­volv­ing.

Much of this lies with the VVT engine. Whereas the Fireblade’s poor dyno per­for­mance feels slow in re­al­time, the Suzuki’s mod­est num­bers prove en­tirely ram­pant, clock­ing the fastest ter­mi­nal speed at the end of the start/fin­ish straight and, more im­por­tantly, feel­ing bloody fast. It makes all the right noises; rat­tly, metal­lic, can­tan­ker­ous noises that you would have never ex­pe­ri­enced, urg­ing you to twist the throt­tle harder and fur­ther, although we’d like a slightly more re­fined set of power modes to pre­vent the jerky throt­tle mid-RPM.

Con­ven­tional in­line four-pots have, his­tor­i­cally, lacked ex­cite­ment and char­ac­ter, re­quir­ing a cross­plane or vee for­ma­tion to get the juices flow­ing. Suzuki ob­vi­ously has a new fleet of moto-al­chemists at the fac­tory. While its ri­vals were lim­ited to one gear per cor­ner, the Gixer swag­gered into tighter bends with the abil­ity to run taller gears, such is the grunt on tap through­out the rev range. In true Gixer her­itage though, life is bet­ter dur­ing an in­tense top-end and flirt­ing with the lim­iter.

Be­com­ing bet­ter with speed and com­mit­ted rid­ing is a rare and fan­tas­tic trait to brag. But, with an engine and other com­po­nents that push bound­aries in 2017, hav­ing a brak­ing sys­tem from the Juras­sic era sim­ply isn’t good enough and se­ri­ously hin­dered the GSX-R’s lap time. Not only did the ABS be­come too in­tru­sive (you can’t dis­able the sys­tem) and bug­ger cor­ner en­try, the lever came back to the ’bar within four laps and con­tin­ued to suf­fer in the heat of the Al­garve.

Thank­fully, there’s a chas­sis that can cope. The Suzuki isn’t as in­trin­si­cally racy and nowhere near as stiff as the Aprilia or Yamaha, with more flex and weight trans­fer as you’d ex­pect from a Ja­panese man­u­fac­turer. The whole ride is a lot softer and more for­giv­ing, yet some­how doesn’t sac­ri­fice agility and re­lies on one of the sex­i­est front-ends in the busi­ness. It whoops the Aprilia in change of di­rec­tion and high-speed steer­ing – a key facet at Por­ti­mao – which is one of the rea­sons why the lap time was so

im­pres­sive. The bal­ance of the bike and the way in which it main­tains a su­per­nat­u­ral ful­crum, re­gard­less of in­put, is also vi­tal.

Its pace cer­tainly isn’t as in­tu­itive as the RSV4. The GSX-R was the only bike of the podium hunters that we thought re­quired set-up tweaks. While those Showa BFF forks pro­vide a plush stroke and heav­enly con­trol, the shock suf­fered, par­tic­u­larly on the exit of turn 5 where the bikes are ac­cel­er­at­ing on the side of the tyre. Its elec­tronic aids are as good as any­thing out there though, sub­tly tidy­ing slides and di­min­ished grip, but the shock

started pump­ing away in ex­treme thrash­ing con­di­tions.

There are pal­pa­ble GSX-R el­e­ments waft­ing through the ’bars but the L7 is on an­other level of per­for­mance and out­right pace. Bravo, Suzuki.

THE RIDE IS SOFTER AND MORE FOR­GIV­ING, YET SOME­HOW DOESN’T SAC­RI­FICE AGILITY...

Looks con­ven­tional, rather than Gucci... Argh, our eyes! It’s a rock­et­ship!

Suzuki is back, bitches!

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