THIS MONTH I HAVE MOSTLY BEEN… “Say­ing good­bye.”

Fast Bikes - - LONGTERMERS -

So long, farewell and, auf wieder­se­hen – good­bye. That’s right folks, it’s that time al­ready. It’s time to give the GSX-S back; our stolen sum­mer to­gether has now come to an end. We’re part­ing as friends, rather than lovers – the Suzuki has been a willing rather than en­thu­si­as­tic part­ner in crime, a re­li­able com­pan­ion more than a soul-mate.

The GSX-S’s time with me has ended the same as it had started, blast­ing round my old haunts in Lin­colnshire, re­liv­ing a mis­spent youth dodg­ing cow shit and John Deeres in the quaint rolling hills of the Wolds. And for en­gag­ing in such an­tics, the Suzuki per­formed per­fectly well. The 109bhp de­tuned GSX-R mill served up just enough per­for­mance to be en­gag­ing and fun, but never in­tim­i­dat­ing while nav­i­gat­ing the ‘Shire’s nar­rower back roads. The steel chas­sis may be a bit ba­sic, but over­all, the han­dling proved to be pretty de­cent on smooth roads. De­cent enough to scuff knee slid­ers, to not get to­tally left be­hind by sports bikes when it’s twisty and to ex­plore – if not ex­ploit – the grip dif­fer­ence be­tween sports and tour­ing tyres wet or dry. Un­for­tu­nately, bumpier roads high­lighted the Suzuki’s big­gest weak­ness – cheap sus­pen­sion. Al­though re-hash­ing a 13-year old engine qual­i­fies as a ma­jor cost cut­ting mea­sure, the orig­i­nal GSXR750 engine was so good in the first place, GSX-S own­ers aren’t go­ing to feel short changed by it. That’s not true of the GSX-S’s sus­pen­sion though. I guess Suzuki didn’t find any old K5 Gixer forks or shocks when they went root­ing about in the back of the stores for GSX-R en­gines. Shame, be­cause proper ad­justable forks and a shock would el­e­vate the GSX-S from a re­spectable to an ex­hil­a­rat­ing ride.

Al­though the Suzuki’s ‘mod­ern’ styling never re­ally turned my head, I’m willing to ac­cept that looks might be this bike’s big­gest as­set. Young and old, al­most every­one seemed to think the GSX-S was a hand­some beast. I did ap­pre­ci­ate the richly flaked metal­lic black and blue paint­work though, when the sun caught it just right, the Suzuki did stand out. It’s been years since I spent any time on a naked bike ca­pa­ble of a good turn of speed. I’ve al­ways grav­i­tated to sports bikes, or tour­ers if I wanted to go, er, tour­ing. But the Suzuki did surprise me with its jack of all trades char­ac­ter. I was con­vinced that a com­plete lack of fair­ing would make for an im­prac­ti­cal bike. I was to­tally wrong. Apart from full-on tour­ers, most faired bikes just di­rect wind blast onto the rider’s head and shoul­ders. Un­less you want to ex­plore the last 30mph of the GSX-S’s top speed, the lack of screen to crouch be­hind doesn’t cause an is­sue, even on long rides.

In fact, given the chance, I would have been quite happy to use the GSX-S as a tour­ing bike, the rid­ing po­si­tion and seat were eas­ily com­fort­able enough for 200-300 miles per day. Once equipped with an SW Motech tank bag, com­mut­ing and spend­ing week­ends away were well within the Suzuki’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties. Adding ex­tra lug­gage ca­pac­ity in the form SW Motech Blaze pan­niers put Europe within reach. Who needs a £16k GS when a sub-£8k naked can get you to the Alps and back and prob­a­bly be more fun in the process? It’s been a good year. Cheers Suzuki.


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