What to look out for...

Own­ers and me­chan­ics high­light the weak spots

RiDE (UK) - - Buying Guide -


Th­ese are tough units — you’re far more likely to have trou­ble with mi­nor sen­sor and elec­tri­cal faults than any­thing me­chan­i­cal. All they ask for are fre­quent oil changes and the odd tweak of the valve clear­ances. And if you run them on qual­ity su­per un­leaded, they’ll not need much valve tweak­ing any­way. Track­day reg­u­lars (and some road rid­ers) fit a man­ual cam­chain ten­sioner. There’s no per­for­mance ben­e­fit but it re­duces noise in between clicks.


No fun­da­men­tal problems, beyond the usual grem­lins with fuel in­jec­tion sen­sors and fault codes. Most problems come from af­ter­mar­ket alarms caus­ing problems and age­ing con­nec­tions and wiring. Cor­roded con­nec­tors, bad earths and over­heated charg­ing cir­cuit wiring and con­nec­tors are pos­si­ble sources of grief on early bikes. There’s the pos­si­bil­ity of water ingress to fuse box (and oc­ca­sion­ally, ECU) in tor­ren­tial rain. There were sto­ries of clutch switch fail­ure as well. You can by­pass it to get you home, but the ECU will put it into low power mode.


All mod­els from K5 to L3 had a po­ten­tial prob­lem with a brake master cylin­der com­po­nent cor­rod­ing and giv­ing off gas into the fluid. K7 mod­els were re­called for a po­ten­tial prob­lem with the idle con­trol sen­sor and ECU set­tings. K9 to L1 bikes were re­called for a prob­lem with the side stand mount­ing bolts which could come loose and in­ter­rupt the switch con­nec­tor, cut­ting the ig­ni­tion. L1 to L4 mod­els had a po­ten­tial prob­lem with the left side chain ad­juster block, which could slip and let the wheel swing round, pos­si­bly let­ting the chain fall off.


Strong when new, although even the later monoblocks fade un­der hard use on the track. That’s more down to pads than the brakes though — af­ter­mar­ket race-spec pads give more power for longer, at the ex­pense of feel. The calipers do need reg­u­lar clean­ing though — they’re prone to dust build­ing up on the pis­tons and caus­ing them to stick. At ser­vice time, re­move the pads from one caliper at a time and use the lever to gen­tly push the pis­tons out un­til you can see enough to clean them (use a bit of wood to stop them pop­ping all the way out). They should all move at the same rate, but usu­ally one or two will drag more than the oth­ers. Use a tooth­brush and brake cleaner to gen­tly re­move all trace of de­posits.


Most own­ers head straight for an af­ter­mar­ket ex­haust and dyno set-up. From the K7 on­wards, the com­pro­mises nec­es­sary to get through noise and emis­sions tests are ev­i­dent — a bit less of that thump­ing midrange. You can get it back though, but it’s more than just end cans — get rid of the cat­a­lysts in the mid-sec­tion, which means a new link pipe and a Power Com­man­der or sim­i­lar to al­low fu­elling changes, and a proper dyno set-up.

Some rid­ers reckon swap­ping to a 190/55 rear tyre in­stead of a 190/50 helps sharpen the steer­ing a bit, es­pe­cially on longer wheel­base K7/K8.


The body­work’s very prone to stone chips (so is the ra­di­a­tor — worth fit­ting a stone guard), but it’s the fin­ish on the engine and brack­etry that can re­ally make a GSX-R1000 look tatty. It’s hard to get it look­ing nice again once the rot takes hold, with­out whole­sale dis­man­tling and re­fin­ish­ing. If you’re look­ing at a used bike — even a very re­cent one — then take a good look at fas­ten­ers and engine paint, es­pe­cially what’s hid­den be­hind the body­work.


It’s high qual­ity kit but a lot of rid­ers — es­pe­cially lighter ones — find that stan­dard set­tings leave them shaken not stirred on bumpy roads. There’s enough ad­just­ment in the stan­dard in­ter­nals to find a com­pro­mise for most road rid­ers. So a set-up by a spe­cial­ist to suit your weight and style is well worth the in­vest­ment. For bikes with Showa BPFS, many own­ers said they thought the ac­tion was harsh when new, but ran it­self in and soft­ened af­ter a cou­ple of thou­sand miles.

On all mod­els, reg­u­lar fork oil changes are es­sen­tial — not just for per­for­mance but be­cause old con­tam­i­nated oil can wear through the ul­tra-thin anti-fric­tion coat­ings on the stan­chions. Also worth reg­u­larly clean­ing be­hind the lips of the dust seals — grit gets caught there.


Swingarm and sus­pen­sion piv­ots and head bear­ings tend to be sparsely lubed from new and of­ten ig­nored by own­ers (and deal­ers — there’s no spe­cific ser­vice re­quire­ment for reg­u­lar greas­ing). Worth a squirt of oil ev­ery now and then on brake and clutch levers and both ped­als, too.


Big fast bikes wear stuff out fast so it makes sense to check all that stuff care­fully. A lot of GSX-R1000S find their way onto the track, which is fine for the odd track­day and it’s even fine to buy a ded­i­cated track bike if you know that’s what you’re buy­ing. But don’t get caught out by a track hack with shiny body­work. Check for lock­wiring, gravel rash un­der the skin, chipped wheels from con­stant tyre chang­ing and worn/chewed sus­pen­sion ad­justers.

“All they ask for are fre­quent oil changes and the odd tweak”

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