What to look out for...
Owners and mechanics highlight the weak spots
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.
9 GENERAL CONDITION
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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