The ’05 GSX-R is a terrific package that won the street portion of our shootout, and it brought that same winning ‘tude to the racetrack.
Suzuki GSX-R1000 – 1st Place (92.4%)
The winner in the street category of this comparison is no less armed to do battle against the rest of the contenders at the racetrack. Blessed with nimble yet stable handling, a powerplant that’s the equal of the compelling lump in the ZX-10R, and the most enviable racetrack history of any Japanese model line, the Gixxer Thou comes out swinging a very big stick.
Since we’re discussing motorcycles, let’s begin with the Gixxer’s motor. In a nutshell, it doesn’t get better than this. Perhaps Becklin said it best.
“Power down low: great. Power in the midrange: great. Power up top: great. Power is great. The most impressive part is the pull you get from one corner to the next. Sure the top-end rush is cool, but this thing can get you from the end of one bend to the start of another almost as fast as your brain can handle.”
Yep, only the truly brave and speed-addled won’t be satisfied with this titanium-valved monster mill. “I swear, the devil lives on the last quarter-inch of the Suzuki throttle cable,” Becklin adds. “When you pull the trigger, you best be prepared.”
No less impressive is the Gixxer’s driveline, which was given nearly universal high marks for the way its transmission gears mesh from one to the next, with or without assistance from its clutch. And speaking of clutches, the GSX-R‘s slipper unit works at least as well as the Kawi’s, leaving one less thing to worry about when caning this hyperbike.
One small aspect of the GSX-R that became bigger by its numerous mentions concerned its riding position. It’s not that it’s bad, per se, just different. Everyone mentioned how its pegs are less rear-set than the others and, combined with its low seat height and narrow bars, it felt slightly odd.
“The GSX-R’s pegs were placed too far forward and the bars are tucked in and swept back a little too much for my liking,” BC quibbles. While Chamberlain’s gripe centers around how the bike feels, Roberti believes its clip-on placement actually has a performance disadvantage. “The handlebars are narrow so it’s hard to get leverage,” says the Fast One. “I could’ve gone faster on it if its bars were wider.” Evidence of this comes from Roberti’s Vbox data that shows the Gixxer ranked fourth in terms of maximum lateral g-force in right-hand corners.
Although the Gixxer didn’t log the best lap time at PIR, it was the quickest way down the quarter-mile.
That aside, the Gixxer received high marks for its handling prowess, as it provides the best balance between high- and low-speed cornering capabilities. It’s nearly as quick in tight corners as the ZX and pales behind only the train-stable 999R in the fast stuff. This GSX-R is both responsive and obedient.
“The bike was agile entering corners and stable as you carved though them,” says BC.
“I was impressed with the GSX-R’s ability to change direction mid-corner,” DB jumps in. “I got into corners too hot several times and the Suzuki would just take my overly excited steering inputs in stride and get me back where I needed to be.”
“The strong point on its chassis and suspension is the front-end feel and stability,” Becklin continues. “I never felt uncomfortable with what the front was going to do. You get a lot of feedback from the front tire, and that’s comforting on a bike this quick.”
Braking is yet another area in which the Gixxer excels. Their power and feel were judged to be the best of the Japanese brands, and Roberti says the low Cg of the rider/bike package helped it maintain stability when braking heavily.
The only thing resembling a problem with the Suzuki was its appetite for rubber. Its back tire was balling up heavily under the abuse of 153 horsepower, and both Becklin and Roberti complained about a lack of rear grip.