The new 1000cc naked roadster of Suzuki was one of the most anticipated bikes of this year. Since Suzuki is a bit behind the game in this category, there was lot of pressure but they have got it right this time. The new GSX-S1000 is fast, agile and cheaper than its rivals. The iconic long-stroke K5 engine of the 2005 GSX-R 1000 has a distinctive sound and the design is sharply styled. But can it challenge the KTM Super Duke R and the BMW S 1000 R?
2015 – it’s a big year for Suzuki: the 30th Anniversary of the GSX-R750, the 10th Anniversary of the GSX-R1000 K5 and the 35th Anniversary of the GSX range. And what’s the best way to celebrate this if not a brand new naked roadster that combines the spirit of the GSX-R with street sensibilities. But Suzuki needed to come up with something really good because the list of the competitors is quite long: Honda CB1000R, Kawasaki Z1000, Yamaha FZ1, KTM Super Duke R, Aprilia Tuono V4 and BMW S 1000 R.
The bike is designed to look wild and aggressive and the combination of black and body coloured parts emphasise the bike’s assertive, sporty attitude. Suzuki created an all-new lightweight frame that’s very compact. If you’re taller than six-foot, this compactness might be an issue. Riding position is more upright than on the GSX-R and the lower footrests give you more legroom. Thanks to the compactness, the bike is reasonably light – it weighs 209 kg (460 lb) without fuel, only 4 kg heavier than the GSX-R 1000.
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The most interesting part of the bike is its engine. Suzuki decided to use the old K5 engine, the one found in the legendary 2005 GSX-R 1000. This K5 engine has the same capacity as the new one but it features longer-stroke dimensions, which are better suited to generating the low-rev torque required for a naked roadster. However, Suzuki upgraded the inline-four in many ways.
The 999cc engine got a new, finely tuned fuel injection system that employs Suzuki’s original SDTV (Suzuki Dual Throttle Valve) 44mm throttle body, iridium spark plugs for more linear throttle response, new pistons and exhaust system. The detuned GSX-R engine has plenty of low-rev torque but don’t loose momentum above 7,000 rpm. With its 144 hp at 10,000 rpm, the bike might seem underpowered on paper but these performance numbers still make the naked bike competitive with its Japanese rivals. The engine has impressive midrange power: it pulls from 2500 rpm and accelerates hard through 5000-6000 rpm. The four-cylinder has a maximum torque of 80 lb-ft. at 9,500 rpm. The sound of the standard exhaust system is addictive and the intake noise is great.
The rider can choose from three traction control settings but it can be switched off if needed. It’s a very easy system that is operated by a left bar toggle switch. The system monitors front and rear wheel speeds, throttle position, crank position and gear position 250 times per second and quickly reacts if necessary. Mode 1 is lowest sensitivity level most suitable for skilled riders or in good grip road conditions. Mode 2 is next sensitivity level suitable for most riders and road conditions. Mode 3 is highest sensitivity level suitable for not so great road conditions.
The suspension is pretty stiff but it’s still comfortable at a relaxed pace in town. The bike has a lightweight main frame and aluminum-alloy swingarm, fully adjustable damping, rebound and spring pre-load 43mm KYB Inverted front fork with 120mm stroke and link-type rear shock unit with 63mm stroke. A single Showa rear shock features externally adjustable rebound and compression damping, along with adjustable ride height. There are 6-spoke lightweight cast aluminum wheels mounted to Dunlop radial tires. Because of the compactness, the bike is very manageable at standstill and it feels quick, agile and entertaining. The engine reacts in lower gears a bit abruptly but it’s not as annoying as on the Yamaha MT-09 on its sharpest mode. The brakes are good, too: 310mm floating-mount dual discs mated to Brembo mono-block front brake calipers with 4 opposite 32mm pistons. The ABS system is optional.
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The bike has virtually no wind protection because of the tiny instrument panel. Despite this, the Suzuki stays very stable at high speed. The digital instrument display is easily used but not very stylish and the tacho numbers are difficult to read while riding.
The GSX-S is a great large naked bike. It’s light-weight, agile handling, good-looking and has competitive price – the 2015 GSX-S1000 ABS costs £9,499 in the UK and is available in three colours: blue, red and grey. It may be a bit underpowered and hasn’t got as many electronics options as the competition but the riding experience is one of the best in the class. It’s hard not to like the newest naked Suzuki.