GSX-R war

p32 New model v 1987 bike

Motorcycle News (UK) - - NEWS - By Michael Neeves CHIEF ROAD TESTER

We’re here at Phillip Is­land on a 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000 and, like a guided mis­sile rock­et­ing on to the front straight, noth­ing on this planet seems faster.

The Suzuki’s fancy elec­tron­ics stam­mer to con­tain 199bhp of blue and yel­low may­hem and like walk­ing bare­foot on boil­ing sand the GSX-R1000R’S Bridge­stone R10s dance and shimmy on the siz­zling track sur­face.

Dig­i­tal num­bers on the LCD dis­play click past 180mph and we swoop into the first turn. Brush the brakes, snick down two auto-blip-as­sisted gearchanges and throw it on its side at 120mph through this aptly-named Doohan Corner.

A quick squirt of full throt­tle power launches the new 1000 to South­ern Loop and the trac­tion con­trol holds a slip­ping back wheel in a sil­i­cone-con­trolled drift. Down an­other gear and keel into this long left-han­der, I’m en­joy­ing the feel and pre­ci­sion of the GSX-R’S new chas­sis.

Back up to fourth and down the chute to Stoner Corner. The anti-wheelie sys­tem gen­tly tugs the front tyre back to kiss the Aussie tar­mac and in the blink of an eye it’s full power trail brak­ing into the sec­ond gear Honda Corner.

It’s im­pos­si­ble to crash on the brakes with cor­ner­ing ABS and as the front tyre reaches the limit of ad­he­sion you feel the lever pulse in your right hand, re­leas­ing brake pres­sure and bal­anc­ing grip.

Warp-speed roller­coaster

Danc­ing sub­limely in my hands through this warp-speed roller-coaster tour of the Is­land, the Suzuki rails through the long, sec­ond gear Siberia, de­mol­ishes the flat-in-fourth Hayshed and scram­bles over Lukey Heights be­fore div­ing deep into the clutches of the slow, down­hill MG right han­der.

This mod­ern mar­vel of a su­per­bike pum­mels your senses with speed and with all those elec­tron­ics help­ing you con­trol trac­tion, wheel­ies and gearshifts it’s all per­formed in rel­a­tive safety. All you have to do is line the big Suzuki up and let it rip.

Phillip Is­land’s piece de ré­sis­tance is the seem­ingly never end­ing fourth gear Turn 12 – the one-handed, tyre-smok­ing Me­landri one that cru­ci­fies rac­ing

‘That old Gixer shows that big power isn’t every­thing’

tyres. The Suzuki’s rear Bridge­stone does its best to har­ness the sheer grunt of the new Vari­able Valve Tim­ing mo­tor here, but it doesn’t stand a chance. So it’s TC to the res­cue again and full throt­tle mad­ness back on to the straight, strad­dling the bright blue and white exit kerb, eyes on stalks. As the track drops away and the anti-wheelie holds again holds the front wheel serenely an inch off the floor in fourth and it’s off on an­other dream lap.

Back on the old warhorse

Rewind two weeks and I’m rac­ing Carl Cox Motorsport’s Suzuki GSX-R1100 here at the Is­land Clas­sic

That old 1989 ‘7/11’ hy­brid – that’s an 1100 en­gine in a 750 frame – isn’t in the same league as the new GSX-R1000R in terms of power, chas­sis and elec­tron­ics tech­nol­ogy. It’s 20mph slower along the straight, has a strange up-and-over frame and none of the re­fine­ments that make the new GSX-R1000 so safe and easy to ride.

But that old warhorse is faster than the shiny new GSX-R to the tune of three sec­onds a lap – GSX-R1100 1m 40.6s, GSX-R1000R 1m 43.4s. How can that be?

The old Gixer shows that big power isn’t every­thing and elec­tron­ics aren’t a one-way ticket to blis­ter­ing lap times, but we know that al­ready. We tested an R1 against an H2 at Rock­ing­ham a few years ago and the su­per­charged mis­sile was three sec­onds slower, with both on the same con­trol tyres.

Sure you need a de­cent amount of power to de­mol­ish straights, but for a cir­cuit’s curves, cor­ners, kinks, hair­pins and chi­canes you need grip, han­dling and pre­cise steer­ing. A mod­er­ately pow­er­ful bike with sweet han­dling and lots of grip doesn’t need mon­strous bhp or sil­i­cone im­plants.

The old GSX-R1100 gives away 40bhp and a NASA com­puter’s worth of elec­tron­ics to the new bike, but it’s 21kg lighter, has rac­ing Öh­lins sus­pen­sion, full race Pirelli slicks and com­pe­ti­tion brake pads.

De­spite its ex­treme and eye-wa­ter­ing per­for­mance the GSX-R1000R is a bog­stock road bike, so it’s soft, smooth, safe and friendly. The GSX-R1100, on the other hand, is raw like an open wound. The steer­ing is crisper, the chas­sis has more feel and there’s a ton more grip from its Pirelli Su­per­bike SC1 rac­ing slicks. Just com­pare the lean an­gles of the two bikes in the pic­tures to see which has more grip. The 1100’s Brem­bos are more tac­tile, pow­er­ful and con­sis­tent with­out brake-by-wire and in­tru­sive ABS get­ting in the way.

Of course the rider’s brain has a lot to do with speed. Rac­ing the GSX-R1100 I just wanted to win, to over­take the bloke in front, so you take more risks - trail the brakes for longer, lean over fur­ther and squeeze the power on sooner.

Dif­fer­ent mind­set

Rid­ing a new su­per­bike on a track­day re­quires a dif­fer­ent mind-set. The last thing you want to do is step off it when you have to ride home. Of course, con­vert the new GSX-R1000R into a racer, line up on the grid with 30-odd other like-minded lu­natics and it would eat that old GSX-R1100 alive.

You’ll al­ways need a fair amount of power to get around a track quickly, but it’s more im­por­tant to have a pin-sharp chas­sis. A ma­chine car­ry­ing as lit­tle flab as pos­si­ble, with dy­namic sus­pen­sion set-up, race-grade brakes and the stick­i­est tyres you can lay your hands on will al­ways shine in the cor­ners and lap faster. Race-tune the rider’s brain and you’ll be faster still.

2017 GSX-R ready to rock in its car­peted pit garage

Neeves in ac­tion on the Carl Coxbacked GSX-R1100

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