A litre-class sports bike with bet­ter er­gonomics and a more re­laxed mo­tor. In­ter­ested?


HERE’S THE THING. LITRE­class superbikes are con­sid­ered the pin­na­cle of the twowheeled uni­verse and for good rea­son. They are the clos­est you will come to rid­ing a laser­guided su­per­sonic mis­sile and pack tech­nol­ogy that wouldn’t seem out of place in a NASA lab­o­ra­tory. Their sole pur­pose is to get you to the hairy edge of what’s pos­si­ble on two wheels, to al­low you to per­form the two-wheeled equiv­a­lent of laser eye surgery. There’s one prob­lem with this though. I be­lieve that in the quest to achieve the fastest, most sharp, most track-fo­cussed tool, these bikes make proper sense only on a race track. Off it, they are heav­ily com­pro­mised.

The prob­lem lies with ac­ces­si­bil­ity. To achieve strato­spher­i­cally high power out­puts, man­u­fac­tur­ers tend to go ex­plor­ing the up­per reaches of the power-band and that means that in or­der to en­joy it to the fullest, the rider needs to rev the balls out of the en­gine. On a pub­lic road, this is silly, not to mention ter­ri­fy­ing. Then there is the track-bi­ased setup. The chin-down, bum-up rid­ing po­si­tion and the back break­ing sus­pen­sion setup for sharper han­dling, aren’t con­ducive for rid­ing more than a 100 kilo­me­tres at a stretch.

So, what do you do when you want the kick of a litre class bike but don’t need the pain that goes along with rid­ing it in real world con­di­tions. Suzuki says they have the an­swer in the GSX-S1000F. It is the odd-look­ing child of a faired su­per­bike and sport tourer. Suzuki calls it a Sport Roadster. We call it time to find out.

How’s your butt feel­ing to­day?

Ok, so the rid­ing po­si­tion is sporty but not to an ex­tent where your wrists and lower back will be in agony af­ter an hour. The seat is su­per sup­port­ive — wide with good cush­ion­ing and is set low so shorter rid­ers can eas­ily place both feet on the ground. The foot­pegs are set lower than on the com­pa­ra­ble su­per­bike but are high enough to al­low you good lean be­fore the hero blobs start spark­ing.

What else? The Ren­thal fat bars are just right. It has the per­fect reach that has you canted a bit for­ward and pro­vide ex­cel­lent lever­age to make slow speed turns ridicu­lously easy de­spite the bike’s 214kg kerb weight. Suzuki also seems to make some of the best dig­i­tal con­soles in the mar­ket – they are large, leg­i­ble and crammed with in­for­ma­tion yet masked to seem like a fa­mil­iar af­fair. The switchgear too is sim­ple – there’s just one mode but­ton on the right to switch be­tween trac­tion con­trol modes, and the bike also gets Suzuki’s one-touch starter but­ton. Also know that the rear seat is too nar­row and you will end up hav­ing an un­happy girlfriend if you de­cide to take her for a long ride. The ab­sence of lug­gage mounts is an­other downer.

Beauty lies in the eyes of a biker

Looked at from be­hind, you will ap­pre­ci­ate the sharp tail, stubby ex­haust and mus­cu­lar tank, but as you walk to­wards the front, the de­sign theme seems lost in trans­la­tion. The ‘crouch­ing beast’ in­spired fairing just isn’t up there with the cur­rent de­sign trend and feels medi­ocre in the age of ‘In yer face’ de­signs. So, while it might not be to ev­ery­one’s tastes, it is func­tional. That fairing weighs 7kg but adds 20kg of down­force and gives the bike a more planted feel at speed.

The bike is quite prac­ti­cal too. The en­gine does not run too hot thanks to a liq­uid-cooled oil cooler (yes, the oil cooler has its own coolant jacket) and though the float­ing wind­screen is non-adjustable, it works rel­a­tively well at higher speeds pro­vided the rider adopts a semi­crouched po­si­tion.

The fairing weighs 7kg but adds 20kg of down­force and gives the bike a more planted feel at speed

A corker

The S1000F’s sport bike cre­den­tials come from its en­gine. Sit­ting be­hind that fairing and a lit­tle ahead of your crotch is the leg­endary K5 en­gine from the leg­endary last gen­er­a­tion GSX-R1000. If you don’t know about the leg­end of the K5 Gixxer, please go back to rid­ing your Avenger. On the flip­side, if you do know about the leg­end, you’ll want to know that there are changes to the en­gine to suit the S1000F’s char­ac­ter. Here, the en­gine gets lighter pis­tons and new cam pro­files. It is an old mo­tor but the rea­son I think it makes sense for this bike is be­cause of its long-stroke na­ture. The fact that it makes peak power at 10,000rpm and peak torque at 9500rpm makes it more ac­ces­si­ble than most superbikes too. The en­gine is tuned for low- to mid-range punch and post 3000rpm it picks up strongly. Power de­liv­ery isn’t as bru­tal as some com­pa­ra­ble V-twins but rather a smooth lin­ear flow of torque, typ­i­cal of an in-line four. There’s also an ad­di­tional shove com­ing past 8000rpm.

There is a wee bit of ini­tial hes­i­ta­tion when you open the throt­tle but this is a mi­nor quirk and some­thing you learn to work around. Post that, fu­elling is smooth and the trac­tion con­trol works non-in­tru­sively.

It has three trac­tion con­trol modes which ad­just throt­tle sen­si­tiv­ity with the third mode suited for wet road con­di­tions. You also have the op­tion to switch it off com­pletely. The mo­tor makes 145bhp which might be con­sid­ered ad­e­quate for a litre-class en­gine but it is the way the power is made ac­ces­si­ble that mat­ters here. It may not feel the most pow­er­ful but it does feel the most us­able. The ex­haust note is an added bonus — a pure-bred in-line four growl that in­fuses an added tim­bre as you go higher and fi­nally cul­mi­nates into a pierc­ing wail. It is one of the best stock sound­tracks avail­able out there and it is so good that I stopped mid­way through a hot ride to check if this par­tic­u­lar bike was run­ning an Akrapovic sys­tem. I did wish that it had a slip­per clutch as an op­tion at least as you have to re­sort to blip­ping the throt­tle dur­ing down­shifts to keep the rear wheel in check.

Fram­ing it up

The frame is all-new while the swingarm is from the cur­rent GSX-R1000 and its fully adjustable KYB forks pro­vide ex­cel­lent feed­back. Mid­corner bumps tend to un­set­tle the rear a bit but it never gets hairy. The Dun­lop Sport­max tyres, once warmed up, pro­vide su­perb grip and on the whole, the S1000F is as easy to ride as a 600 and can be as much fun too. It grips well in corners and though it lacks the pin­point ac­cu­racy of the GSX-R1000, its sta­bil­ity and poise in­spires you to push the bike harder. The front brakes are Brembo monobloc units with the rear mak­ing do with Nissin units and though ABS can’t be turned off com­pletely, it is non-in­tru­sive and even dur­ing hard-brak­ing, re­fuses to elicit chat­ter from the rear wheel.

The Suzuki GSX-S1000F re­tails at `12.7 lakh (ex-Delhi) which is quite a lot of bang for buck if you fac­tor in the prices of litre-class sports tour­ers and superbikes cur­rently sold in In­dia. It does miss out on some tech and top spec cy­cle parts as com­pared to its laser surgery sib­lings but those come into play only when you are rip­ping the track. Come to think of it, most of the time, in­stead of road trips and track rid­ing, you will be spend­ing more time ne­go­ti­at­ing the ur­ban crawl or rid­ing down to the near­est twisty sec­tion and here is where the GSX-S1000F ex­cels – in the real world, while keep­ing you com­fort­able on the sad­dle. So if you are an ex­pe­ri­enced rider who has had his fill of crotch rock­ets and want to set­tle down for some­thing more prac­ti­cal with­out sac­ri­fic­ing a lot on per­for­mance and dy­nam­ics then the GSX-S1000F is wor­thy of your at­ten­tion. ⌧

The ex­haust note is a pure-bred in­line four growl that in­fuses an added tim­bre as you go higher

SUZUKI GSX-S1000F En­gine 999cc, in-line 4-cylin­der, liq­uid-cooled Trans­mis­sion 6-speed, 1 down, 5 up Power 145bhp @ 10,000rpm Torque 106Nm @ 9500rpm Weight 214kg 0-100kmph 2.7sec (est) Top speed 241kmph (limited) Price (ex-show­room, Delhi) `12.7 lakh

Main: Sporty er­gonomics are good enough for sub-250 kilo­me­tre rides. Right: Han­dling is right up there with litre-class superbikes

Main: De­sign-wise, the S1000F seems to play it safe. Bot­tom left: Top-spec Brembo monoblocs pro­vide feel­some brak­ing. Bot­tom: The con­sole is a sim­ple, leg­i­ble af­fair

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