THE MOD SQUAD
How to unlock this unloved litre bike’s awesome potential...
How to improve Suzuki’s GSX-R1000 K7-8.
Words Jon Urry | Photography Suzuki & Bauer Archive
TEPPING OUT of the shadow of a successful sibling is never easy, and the the successor is often unfavourably compared to its forerunner. That’s exactly what happened with the Suzuki GSX-R1000 K7 – and to compound matters, this generation was also the first to be saddled by stringent emissions laws.
Launched in 2007, the K7 was always going to face an uphill struggle. Not only was the K5/6 generation it replaced simply sublime, but the K7/8 was also forced to carry unsightly, and heavy, twin silencers to conform with new legislation. It was the update that failed to move the GSX-R1000 forward and as a result was one of the more unpopular generations. However it doesn’t take much to transform this sluggish snail into a full-on racing snake... Strip off those ugly, and heavy, exhausts and allow the updated 999cc motor to breath properly and the K7 will reward you with a boost of midrange as well as lighter handling. Allow it to fuel as Suzuki intended and that midrange grows even bigger biceps. Throw in a new set of cams and you are talking Arnie-sized muscles being flexed! This is a bike that rewards minimal investment with maximum gains and for less than £7000 you can easily buy one and turn it into a 190bhp missile. Have we got your attention now? Well let our experts guide you on how to transform this hugely underrated machine into a bike that does its distinguished GSX-R heritage proud...
CHASSIS Darren Wnukoski
“Ah, the wheelbarrow GSX-R1000, which is a cruel nickname because this model is a fundamentally good bike; it’s just hampered by some terrible standard suspension that makes it unstable, unforgiving and harsh. But happily, it’s easily sorted and for minimal money these can be transformed into lovely bikes.
“The K7/8 has a high-speed compression adjuster which basically does nothing at all – seriously, it’s useless, and when you take the forks apart you can’t even work out how it is meant to work, it’s that bad! We put a softer set of springs in the forks alongside a quality fork oil and then tweak this part and change the valving. These modifications allow the oil to flow merrily around the system whereas before it would get choked up, contributing to the harsh ride.
“The standard shock is pretty good, but it does need either setting up or a re-valve. I’d recommend a re-valve as the OE oil is crap and by now the rear shock will be well due a service anyway, so you might as well get it rebuilt to future-proof the bike.
“You don’t need to spend a fortune on the K7/8 to make them work properly. In addition to the normal servicing costs, which are £150 for the forks and £106 for a shock, you are talking £90 to re-valve the forks plus £85 for a pair of springs and £54 to sort the shock. That’s a bargain considering the transformation you will get in the bike’s suspension and its increased stability at speed.”
ENGINE Mark Brewin
“Sorting a GSX-R1000 K7/8 is really simple and there are really good gains to be had with minimal work. The twin pipes aren’t that restrictive, but the left-hand one has a protracted route and the gasses get a bit nipped up, which means the pipes aren’t flowing evenly. My advice would be to whip them off and stick a 4-2-1 system on instead and you should see a nice healthy 172bhp or 174bhp with a re-map on the ECU. Considering they generally start life at 160bhp, that’s an easy 10bhp gain for minimal effort. Stick some open cans on and you can get 167bhp, but I’d always recommend an ECU re-flash. “The ECU has some restriction built into it, which we remove during the re-flash, and we can also get the top-speed restrictor disabled. From this point we sort the secondary throttle butterflies, which are always the root of the issues, and give it more power and a far sweeter throttle response that doesn’t care about EU drive-by noise tests... “The motor on the K7/8 is a really beautiful bit of kit and if you want 190bhp, it’s very easily achieved for just a few grand. You can leave the bottom end alone, just swap the cams and do a bit of light head work and you will have
190bhp with a thumping midrange that would embarrass some modern litre bikes. At that point you would need to look at its suspension, in which case I’d give MCT a bell; Darren’s a genius.”
BOLT-ONS Giles Harwood
“We have seen a big increase in the number of bolt-on accessories that we sell for this era of sportsbike. A lot of our customers have bought later, and supposedly greater, models and then returned to a mid-2000s litre bike as they are nicer to ride, with a far better midrange. They are something of a sweet spot when it comes to litre bikes.
“Just to let you know how popular the K7/8 still is, we have sets of BST carbon wheels ready to go on our shelves for this machine, which make a huge difference to its handling. But you don’t need to go that far, and personally, I’d start at the brakes. “We sell a lot of brake disc and brake pad upgrades for the K7/8 as this is one area where they are lacking when compared to a modern bike. The best in terms of quality and value are the Brembo Serie Oro discs, which are about £200 each. At 5mm, they are thicker than OE discs and their high carbon-steel construction gives them really high friction. They can go a bit rusty if left in the rain, but having sold thousands of these discs, we’ve never had a single one returned. They are brilliant, especially when combined with a Brembo SC pad for road use or an EBC GPFAX for track. And I’d also add in a set of braided lines.
“Generally, I wouldn’t advise anyone changes their calipers on a K7/8, and on most bikes I wouldn’t say swap the master cylinder either, but on this generation of GSX-R it makes a noticeable difference. The Suzuki unit isn’t brilliant and Brembo have cut the price of their RCS radial master cylinder to just over £200, which is great value and a worthwhile addition. The Corta Corsa RCS offers a few extra features, but it is more expensive.
“Once the brakes are sorted, the rest is fine-tuning. A new shock makes a big difference and you can fit a Bazzaz fuelling module if you want modern electronic assists such as traction control and a quickshifter. These bikes respond really well to sensible performance accessories and can be transformed into a brilliant machine for very little investment.” Next month: Get the most from KTM’s naked madman, the 1290 Super Duke R
Yes, these exhausts were considered massive in 2007. Compared to the 2018 model, they’re not so big...
High-speed comp adjuster in the forks is next to useless; both shock and forks could use a re-valve
BST carbon wheels will make a huge difference, but a massive dent in your wallet
Brembo RCS master cyclinder can boost braking