Big CC’s Suzuki GSX-R1000 K5

Fast Bikes - - FEATURE -

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.

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