Big CC’s Suzuki GSX-R1000 K5
You’ll have probably read the H2’s pages and fathom my sense of underwhelming prose. Ridden in isolation, it’s an enthralling time. But up against this stealth Suzuki, Kawasaki’s efforts dwindle into insignificance. From various angles, this K5 looks like any other K5. From the only angles that matter – the cockpit and 100% throttle angles – it’s the most intense two-wheeled experience outside of MotoGP. In its current guise with 12psi of boost, it churns out a measly 300bhp at the rear wheel. With 30psi and race fuel, there’s a more respectable 492bhp and a top speed of over 240mph.
I honestly can’t recall the last time such pre-ride trepidation arose. With a mild sense of self-preservation kicking in, I nominated Alan to test its cornering ability on cold, autumnal roads. Before the second pass of the snapper, the exhaust was down, as was the protruding K&N filter. Even your mum went down, yet Alan was making it look all very easy.
My turn. It feels low, long and deeply awkward, destined for Santa Pod, not Salisbury Plain. There are no indicators and little thought for the road. On start-up, it sounds like your archetypal rough-sounding Gixer with additional badboy noises. As if the full system wasn’t flamboyant enough, it idles at a horrendously high 3,000rpm, which doesn’t make life easy when passing funeral processions or cunningly hunting gusset on a high street. Chuck in some long gearing, and the clutch/throttle needs some abuse just to gain momentum.
You need big balls to ride this bike properly. Mine are big, offset by a small penis, but they’re still not big enough to pacify this fiend. Below 7,000rpm it feels like just another K5, although there’s a sense of debauchery seeping through the ’bars, an intangible sense of caged animal waiting to be unleashed.
Pinning the throttle above 7,000rpm as the boost awakes – in any gear – is like teetering on the edge of death while poking Satan in the bollocks with a javelin. If you’ve seen the film Turbo, you’d be familiar with the starring nitrous oxide-powered snail, who frantically races around like he’s on an intravenous drip filled with the finest meth in the land. That’s the best way to articulate Big CC’s K5.
I’ve never experienced anything so brutal and nothing can prepare you for the chaos. My vision simply couldn’t cope with the sensation overload, and two fingers constantly covered the front brake like a TZ750 rider’s nervous clutch hand would. Unfortunately, the stock (and 10-year-old) Suzuki brakes aren’t a match for the power, more of a Kinder Surprise effort to the Kawasaki’s awesomeness.
That said, it still chews corners. With a swingarm longer than Omar’s, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the K5’s innate handling ability would be buggered. There’s no doubt it’s lost some fluidity but that front-end feeling and K5 assurance is still present, even if the clouds of disintegrating K&N can be occasionally off putting. Given its length, it drops briskly to respectable lean angles before ground clearance becomes an issue. In truth, without the swingarm, it would be unrideable and no amount of wiz-bang electronic control will have the minerals to tame this delivery.
Despite the frenzy, we didn’t see the fuel light until 124 miles were clocked on a full tank, which mainly involved bimbling along at 80mph. Then again, with this tall gearing, the boost doesn’t start playing until 110mph, officer. All this for around £20k.