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
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