2017 SUZUKI GSX-R1000R
Beard model Bennett hops on a 2018 model GSX-R for a back-to-back comparison...
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