THE R FAC­TOR

Cycle World - - News - By Don Canet

Suzuki GSX-R1000R vs. Yamaha YZF-R1 in a road and track matchup pit­ting Suzuki’s flag­ship sport­bike against the win­ner of our 2017 Su­per­bike Com­par­i­son.

CAN THE R-SPEC GIXXER TOP­PLE THE R1?

When con­duct­ing our 2017 su­per­bike com­par­i­son (“The Wait­ing Game,” Au­gust) a great deal of con­sid­er­a­tion went into the se­lec­tion of bikes to be in­cluded. Fore­most, only the most re­cently up­dated su­per­bikes were pit­ted against the pre­vi­ous year’s win­ner. This set the stage for a po­ten­tial three-peat by the Cy­cle World Ten Best Su­per­bikewin­ning Yamaha YZF-R1.

While the R1 is avail­able in three per­for­mance tiers, we view the mid­dle child as the “stan­dard” mem­ber of the R1 fam­ily and in turn went with an Aprilia RSV4 RR and Honda CBR1000RR, each of which also have a higher-spec sib­ling aligned in price and spirit with Yamaha’s $22,499 YZF-R1M.

Things were not quite as straight for­ward when choos­ing among the all­new 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000 mod­els. On one hand the flag­ship GSX-R1000R has an MSRP of $17,199 that’s only $500 more than our R1. But as pointed out by a Suzuki rep­re­sen­ta­tive, the base­model GSX-R1000 has been a plat­form of choice for sev­eral road­race com­peti­tors at the na­tional level. This is due largely to the ex­ist­ing knowl­edge base for set­ting up its Showa Big Pis­ton Fork in prepa­ra­tion for rac­ing and to forgo a learn­ing curve work­ing with the R-model’s Showa Bal­ance Free Fork. Con­sid­er­ing the base-model GSX-R has legs in the rac­ing world gave it a foot in our door.

As de­liv­ered, both GSX-R mod­els share iden­ti­cal en­gine and chas­sis spec-

ifi­ca­tion with the dif­fer­ences be­yond the fork be­ing the R’s light­ened up­per triple clamp, Showa Bal­ance Free Rear Cush­ion lite (Bfrc-lite) shock, added im­ple­men­ta­tion of IMU yaw and roll sen­si­tiv­ity (pitch only for base model), launch con­trol, lighter bat­tery, a cou­ple of styling touches, and a bidi­rec­tional quick­shifter.

While the R1 went on to top the field yet again, the ques­tion re­mains how might the GSX-R1000R have fared in a shootout?

Join­ing me in an­swer­ing this R ques-

tion was Chris Sieben­haar, a for­mer AMA pro­fes­sional road­racer and Ja­son Prid­more STAR mo­tor­cy­cle school in­struc­tor we have pre­vi­ously en­listed as a co-tester in our “Sib­ling Ri­valry” test (July 2016) that pit­ted the 2016 Yamaha YZF-R1 against its lower-priced YZF-R1S brother. Our plan en­tailed fit­ting both bikes with Bridge­stone Bat­t­lax R10 ra­di­als for a track test at But­ton­wil­low Race­way Park, fol­lowed with a road ride on their stock fit­ment RS10 tires.

We spent the bet­ter part of an early Au­gust Sun­day at a sold-out Track­daz event (thanks for squeez­ing us in, fel­laz) seat hop­ping be­tween the two bikes through­out sev­eral 20-minute A- and B-group ses­sions. The dif­fer­ence in en­gine and han­dling char­ac­ter be­tween this pair of liter-class in­line­fours be­comes ev­i­dent at the crack of the throt­tle. “Whether tak­ing off from a stop, rolling out of pit lane, or ex­it­ing a cor­ner, the smooth tran­si­tion from off throt­tle to neu­tral to ac­cel­er­at­ing is flaw­less bot­tom to top,” Sieben­haar noted of the Suzuki’s su­perb fu­el­ing and in­tu­itive throt­tle re­sponse. Abrupt ini­tial re­sponse re­mains the num­berone gripe that has dogged the cur­rent­gen R1 since its 2015 in­tro­duc­tion. Even rid­ing in the less edgy Power 2 mode, the R1 can’t match the GSX-R’S de­gree of con­nected throt­tle con­trol.

But­ton­wil­low’s turn two has a tight key­hole-shape en­try and an in­creas­in­gra­dius exit. This sec­tion of track show­cased another Suzuki strength as each bike’s tall stock gear­ing saw sec­ond-gear revs dip be­low 5,000 rpm at the cor­ner apex. The R1 tended to lurch and mo­men­tar­ily un­set­tle its chas­sis if added care wasn’t ex­er­cised dur­ing ini­tial throt­tle ap­pli­ca­tion, and de­liv­ery felt soft dur­ing the ini­tial phase of the exit drive.

While the Suzuki en­joys a siz­able midrange torque ad­van­tage of roughly 10 pound-feet over the Yamaha, once be­yond 8,000 rpm it’s ad­van­tage R1 all the way to each bike’s 14,500-rpm rev limit. Sadly, it’s game over for the

Gixxer as revs sur­pass its 11,000-rpm power peak, elec­tron­i­cally hob­bled with ECU pro­gram­ming that re­sults in a 15-hp lin­ear de­cline across the re­main­ing 3,500 revs. Short of an af­ter­mar­ket ECU flash, we sug­gest di­al­ing the ad­justable se­quen­tial shift light ar­ray to cue timely short shifts.

Sieben­haar and I each found the Suzuki’s Showa BFF front end in­cred­i­bly com­pli­ant over mi­nor pave­ment rip­ples and bumps. This left the R1 feel­ing harsh by con­trast on track but less so dur­ing our road ride once sus­pen­sion damp­ing had been di­aled to each bike’s base­line street set­tings.

“The up­graded Showa sus­pen­sion is ex­tremely ca­pa­ble and can run a very quick clip on track,” Sieben­haar said of the GSX-R. When run­ning a slower pace on out­laps or trail­ing a B-group gag­gle, the Gixxer chas­sis in­stilled an un­matched level of con­fi­dence and ease of use. The R1 felt more like a stal­lion born to gal­lop than trot, a trait that be­came ev­i­dent late in the day as tripledigit mid-af­ter­noon heat thinned the herd al­low­ing clean “hot” laps to gather com­par­a­tive times recorded with a Vbox dat­a­log­ger.

The out­come saw the R1 flex its top-end might. This along with its more com­pre­hen­sive and con­fig­urable elec­tronic aids, un­flap­pable chas­sis com­po­sure, and rear grip al­lowed the R1 to shine when push­ing the pace. Data

anal­y­sis re­vealed the R1 at nearly a sec­ond per lap quicker along with achiev­ing an ex­tra mph or two of peak speed on the straights. It also didn’t ap­pear to lose mea­sur­able ground on cor­ner en­try de­spite Suzuki’s fan­tas­tic auto-blip down­shift fea­ture, some­thing the R1 still lacks.

Quar­ter-mile runs us­ing each bike’s launch con­trol had the R1 in front with a quicker ET and trap speed.

While we found the Suzuki saddle and ride qual­ity slightly more com­fort­able on the road, the R1’s cross­plane en­gine con­fig­u­ra­tion of­fers a but­tersmooth con­trast to the rel­a­tively buzzy na­ture of the tra­di­tional 180-de­greefir­ing Gixxer.

All said and done, the new GSXR1000R is well worth ev­ery cent of the $2,100 pre­mium over its base coun­ter­part. Its sus­pen­sion epit­o­mizes plush yet con­trolled han­dling, the quick­shifter is the best I’ve yet tested, and the ad­di­tion of cor­ner­ing ABS thanks to the IMU’S added func­tion­al­ity is a safety bonus. One can ar­gue that it might be a flash shy of class supremacy, but the same af­ter­mar­ket so­lu­tion ex­ists for cur­ing the R1’s throt­tle re­sponse woes.

Once again the Yamaha YZF-R1 has met the chal­lenge.

2017 SUZUKI GSX-R1000R

…THE NEW GSX-R1000R IS WELL WORTH EV­ERY CENT OF THE

$2,100 PRE­MIUM OVER ITS BASE COUN­TER­PART.

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