PH2 ridden: 2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000


In a lot of ways, Suzuki choosing to launch the updated GSX-R1000 without any electronic trickery apart from a fuel mode selector was a smart one. With a price tag of £10,999 the GSX-R is cheaper than the rest of the 1,000cc gang by quite a few quid. But better than that it stays true to Suzuki's general ethos. Where Honda has the reputation for safety (it was the first to put ABS on a sports bike), Yamaha for clever engineering (it's the only manufacturer to have a 'different' in-line four) and Kawasaki for down right brutality (ever ridden a 2004 ZX-10R?), Suzuki's sports bikes have a certain 'feeling' that separates them from the competition. Electronics would certainly dilute this.

Looks much like the 600 and 750...
Looks much like the 600 and 750...
A few months back and having ridden the 750 we predicted - hoped, maybe - that the GSX-R1000 would be the rider's bike of 2012. Having slung a leg over the new thousand at the Portimao circuit in Portugal, were we right?

In the pit lane
It's either a positive or negative depending on your point of view, but the new GSX-R1000 looks, well it looks just like the GSX-R600 and GSX-R750. With a 750 and 600 in the same line-up you have to keep looking at the brake calipers to make sure you get on the right bike. A tip here, the 1000 is the only GSX-R to get lovely gold Brembos with red lettering - it is unlikely you will spot the discs are 0.5mm thinner than last year... Other than the calipers and a slight facelift, which includes dumping one exhaust can to save weight, the main changes are inside the GSX-R's motor. Something that isn't instantly apparent.

No electronic aids but all the purer for it
No electronic aids but all the purer for it
On the track
Like the GSX-R750 PH2 rode a few months ago, the 2012 GSX-R1000 feels slightly more sprightly than the 2011 version when it comes to the motor, but it isn't as apparent as on the smaller capacity bike. Unlike a Fireblade the Suzuki has a nice raw edge about it, something that the super smooth Honda lacks. When you ride a 1000 there's nothing wrong with a bit of character and the odd vibration, which is why the GSX-R is so much more engaging. There is a bit of a powerband higher up the rev range but unlike the ZX-10R, which feels a bit gutless low down, the Suzuki pulls strongly in the small figures before going ballistic as the revs rise. But is it that different? Yes it feels more eager to rev, but it's not gigantically removed from the 2011 version, which in many ways is no bad thing - Honda hasn't really changed the 'blade's motor since 2008 and there wasn't much wrong with the 2011 GSX-R1000's engine. Or chassis for that matter.

Blingy gold Brembos unique to the 1000
Blingy gold Brembos unique to the 1000
Suzuki has limited the changes to the 2012 bike's chassis to new tyres (Bridgestone S20) and updated brakes and suspension settings. Having ridden all of the 1000s on track while the Fireblade is probably the most reassuring due to its superbly balanced chassis, the light handling of the Suzuki is a real plus. There is something that clicks with the GSX-R1000 and you always feel really comfortable riding it fast on a circuit. And for 2012 it is even better thanks to the superb new Brembo brakes.

You can, of course, have too much of a good thing when it comes to brakes. The Brembos on the Ducati 1198 are simply too ferocious and make braking quite scary but on the GSX-R1000 Brembo has got it spot on. The new calipers are superb, hugely powerful yet delivering loads of feeling, although they highlighted a slightly soft front end. Braking hard into a hairpin the back end of the GSX-R slewed around quite a lot, probably due to the BPF forks being a touch too soft, or, ahem, the rider a touch too heavy...

Others may be quicker but the GSX-R is more fun
Others may be quicker but the GSX-R is more fun
Where does it stand?
Without the electronic gizmos the GSX-R ultimately will not win the track group tests this year. It certainly isn't as fast as the stunning BMW S1000RR or as balanced as the Fireblade. However, it brings something new to the party - character. Clever electronics can get in the way of what riding a bike is all about - pure two-wheeled enjoyment. In reality all 1000s are way too fast for road riding, so you are splitting hairs when it comes to performance. What matters is how it feels and the emotions it stirs in you. And there's just something likeable about the GSX-R's rawness, more so than the ZX-10R and in some ways more than the Fireblade. A rider's bike? Reckon so.


SUZUKI GSX-R1000
Engine: 999cc, liquid-cooled, DOHC, fuel injection
Power: 180hp @ 12,000rpm
Torque: 86 lb ft @ 10,000rpm
Top speed: 173mph
Weight: 203kg (dry)
MPG: 43 (est)
Price: £10,999


PH2 on track with the GSX-R1000

 

 

 

 

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Comments (33) Join the discussion on the forum

  • bogie 29 Apr 2012

    bikes havnt really got any (or little) faster than they were 5 years ago have they? ..surely the limit of physics/style of bike/tyre grip means theres a limit to how fast you can get to 100mph and then theres the 186mph agreement...cant blame Suzuki for that one

    so that leaves us with headline figures on how fast you can get to 186Mph, or how many electronic rider aids you can fit on to make you 0.3s quicker on your morning commute

    so what can manufacturers do, to make you want to swap your 3 year old one for a new model the same? its not like most people wear them out ..and fewer new riders are coming through each year frown

  • 300KPH 28 Apr 2012

    Im not a fan of Yamahas I was just giving that as a hypothetical example not based on actualy torque/power figures sorry.

    Ok, say take it some one had a nice 2003 zx9r which was only 6 months old and you rocked up in April 2004 on the new zx10r, all anyone could say is wow!

    That sorta of thing is gone now in my eyes maybe with the exception of some of the more expensive Italian machines. Im just a bit dissapointed with the Japanese effort in the last while I guess.


  • blade7 28 Apr 2012

    300KPH said:

    That wasnt the case in if you had the new 04 R1 and you pulled up along side your mate on his 03 version. You had big chunk of extra power, snazzy underseat exhausts, fancy new dashboard etc etc.
    Really ?, I had my cheque book in my pocket when I took a new 04 R1 for a test ride, as far as I was concerned it was a formality and I was buying one, what an anti climax, it was gutless until 7k and my money eventually went to Suzuki.

  • 300KPH 28 Apr 2012

    It doesnt really matter to me how much power the average rider is able to use, these flagship supersport models are supposed to be the cutting edge of the relevant manufacturers technology. There should be continous improvements in styling, weight, power etc etc.

    Its a case now where you can pull up along side on your mates and say, hey look at my new bike, its 6kg heavier then your old model and its lost a load of its bottom end grunt. That just doesnt sit right with me.

    That wasnt the case in if you had the new 04 R1 and you pulled up along side your mate on his 03 version. You had big chunk of extra power, snazzy underseat exhausts, fancy new dashboard etc etc.

    People generally like new models to have extra features and be better than the last version, doesnt matter whether its a car, a camera, a phone, a tv, you see my point.

    If you keep launching models that look nearly exactly the same as the old ones and the improvements if any are debatable then something is wrong. Customers should not be left to question in their mind if the new model is better or not.


  • spareparts 28 Apr 2012

    300KPH said:
    Im actually really dissapointed with all the japanese manfacturers for a good number of years. I think the last time I was excited about new models was 2004, doesnt seem that long ago to me but it was 8 years now. The R1 went from claiming 150bhp to 180bhp;doesnt matter what the reality was, the ZX10R had a 100mph plus 1st gear; slipper clutch and light dry weight, the Fireblade jumped to 1000cc, had a fancy electronic steering damper, RCV type dash, under seat exhaust, moto gp looks, Suzuki had the K4 which was great and they were going to unleash another 16bhp extra at the rear wheel for the 2005 model, pencil sharp styling and their lightest 1000 ever.

    But from there on in things seem to have stagnated, I dont know have any of them really gone much abouve 165bhp at the rear wheel? For the last few years in my head I have always blamed ever stricter emmission regulations but then BMW come along and knock out near 180bhp on the dyno from 1000cc.

    I thought Suzuki would fight back against ther Germans after a 3 year model gap rather than the usual 2 but how wrong was I. Maybe its just me but I think they should hang their heads in shame.

    Now every bike has slipper clutch, radial calipers, fancy steering dampers, adjustable suspension etc etc, the only thing they can take more from race bikes is the electronics. Aprillia/BMW/Ducati are onto this.

    I think the japanese need to go back to the drawing board on two relatively well known concepts, reduce weight and increase engine power. These bikes are the flagship models in their respective line ups.

    In this weeks MCN 1000cc group test I note for reasons outside thier control the R1 and Suzuki didnt make it to the test.
    Agree with all the above.

    The only alternative to any Jap or BMW really is to go Italian. Aprilia and Ducati are not perfect by a long shot, but they do offer more desirability from an ownership proposition I think. Or maybe I'm just getting tired of Jap bikes, despite their superb performance. All Litre bikes perform about the same on the road and will be faster depending on the rider, just with varying degrees of comfort and rideability.

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