2017 SUZUKI GSX-R1000R

Beard model Ben­nett hops on a 2018 model GSX-R for a back-to-back com­par­i­son...

Performance Bikes (UK) - - CONTENTS - Pho­tog­ra­phy Ja­son Critchell, Suzuki & John Ben­nett JOHN BEN­NETT

ONE MONTH IN and al­ready the GSX-R has started worm­ing its way into my af­fec­tions. I had pre­vi­ously con­vinced my­self sport­bikes were a waste of time on the road: far too fast and just frus­trat­ing to ride due to their weak midrange and li­cens­ing-los­ing po­ten­tial when un­leashed.

I’m pretty sure that still rings true. How­ever, my lit­tle blue bun­dle of joy is slowly con­vert­ing me. Open­ing the garage door, the choice be­tween Su­per Duke and Gixer is get­ting harder to make.

This month, I was in­vited by Suzuki to an event at Le­ices­ter­shire’s Brunt­ingth­orpe Prov­ing Ground. It’s a five-hour round trip from Chops HQ but the prospect of tak­ing my lightly fet­tled GSX-R around the cir­cuit and com­par­ing it to the stock 2018 ver­sion was too good an op­por­tu­nity to miss.

The 2018 bike is mostly un­changed for this year apart for some tweaked colour schemes (the white is gor­geous) and some sub­tle changes to the front brakes. This was first no­ticed by Johnny and Ben when they were test­ing tyres last month. My bike was to be used as a wheel donor un­til it be­came ap­par­ent my wheels didn’t fit the 2018 was used for the test­ing. It seemed the disc thick­ness was dif­fer­ent on the new bike, and not just be­cause of pad wear and tear.

A few laps around Brun­ters at silly speeds con­firmed my brakes are much softer than the 2018 bike’s and the lever would travel an alarm­ing dis­tance to­wards the bars when brak­ing from 160 for the right han­der at the end of the run­way. A quick chat with the Suzuki bods con­firmed that the caliper in­ter­nals are re­designed for this year, and that the disc ma­te­rial and thick­ness has in­deed also been tweaked.

‘Caliper in­ter­nals, disc ma­te­rial and thick­ness are all changed for this year’

I was also keen to see if the mods Chris and Austin had per­formed over the last 11 months had im­proved the feel of the bike. The most ob­vi­ous im­prove­ment I no­ticed over the stock bike was the sus­pen­sion. My forks have been low­ered through the yokes to raise the front of the bike, calm­ing the front-end han­dling, which on the stan­dard bike does get rather slap-happy when you’re heavy on the gas.

My bike still has re­ally good turn-in; in fact, there doesn’t seem to be any neg­a­tive ef­fect from this ad­just­ment. If you have a new GSX-R, I’d rec­om­mend this mod (plus, it’s free – bonus!).

I’ve re­ally no­ticed the im­prove­ment in rid­ing po­si­tion af­forded by the Gilles Su­per­bike School footrests, too. They also of­fer a more sta­ble plat­form for ones trot­ters. Over­all my bike just has a much more re­laxed feel to it; I felt much more at home on it than on the crate-fresh bike. I just need those new brakes retro-fit­ted...

I’ve not only been thrash­ing the pants off the bike this month, I’ve also started the mod­i­fi­ca­tions. No, don’t get too ex­cited, I’ve only fit­ted an R&G tail tidy (sexy though it is). The stan­dard tail is prop­erly at­tached to the bike and does re­quire a con­sid­er­able amount of ef­fort to gain ac­cess to the bolts which re­tain it. It’s not too dif­fi­cult a job, though, and only a small amount of knuckle skin was lost in the process. Plus, the end re­sult was well worth the pain.

The £102 R&G kit comes with ev­ery­thing needed for the in­stal­la­tion (as you would ex­pect) and also op­tional blanks to re­move the in­di­ca­tors com­pletely. The wiring is all plug-and-play, which makes the whole job pos­si­ble in just over an hour. I did re-use the stock in­di­ca­tors as even though they are quite large they are al­ready LED and not too ugly. Per­haps I can change those later to some­thing a bit more at­trac­tive, but to me, at the end of the day, an in­di­ca­tor is an in­di­ca­tor...

Next on the ‘to do’ list is to find a rear hug­ger and per­haps some choice car­bon ac­ces­sories just to re­move a lit­tle of that black plas­tic. By the time you read this I will have also com­pleted my first ‘proper’ track­day on the bike so I’ll at least be well on the way to need­ing a new set of brake pads...

John rates the 2018 bike’s brakes highly

Brunt­ingth­orpe test pit­ted old (right) against new (left)

Higher front end of his mod­ded 2017 bike makes it no less ag­ile, yet much eas­ier to live with

New R&G tail tidy has sorted that prob­lem

Here comes an hour of mild swear­ing and knuckle abra­sion...

Stan­dard num­ber­plate hanger is a mon­stros­ity

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