Suzuki has taken its formidable superbike package and honed it to a razor-sharp edge in the form of the 2009 GSX-R1000.
Less than a week after its European debut, the US market got its first close-up look of the 2009 GSX-R1000 last night at the Rio Hotel in Las Vegas. With AMA road racing champions Ben Spies and Aaron Yates on hand for its introduction, the feared literbike that has produced 46 straight wins in AMA Superbike for Suzuki has been completely revamped by the Japanese marque for 2009. The new GSX-R1000 is more svelte, more aerodynamic, and more powerful than ever.
Providing the punch is the most compact GSX-R engine yet. Changes to the 999cc liquid-cooled four-cylinder powerplant start with a 1.7mm-shorter stroke. The shorter distance the chrome-molybdenum connecting rods have to churn is aimed at increasing performance at higher rpm. The downdraft intake manifolds have been shortened by 10mm which should increase power output in the higher rpm range as well. The Suzuki Ram Air Direct airbox has been redesigned and is lighter than before and will benefit from the larger air intakes in the nosecone of the front fairing.
To give the Gixxer Thou a boost in low- to mid-range power, the combustion chamber has been reshaped, increasing the bore by 1.1mm. Changing the shape of the chamber allowed Suzuki to increase the size of the intake valve to 31mm (up from 30mm) and the exhaust valve to 25mm (up from 24mm). The DOHC engine also received new cam profiles, shortening up the intake camshaft and moving the cam angle sensor used by the engine management system. Moving the sensor to the center of the exhaust cam as opposed to the left end of the intake cam was instrumental in reshaping the cylinder head.
The more compact engine of the ’09 GSX-R1000 allowed Suzuki to shorten up the mainframe, bringing in the wheelbase by 10mm in an effort to make it even more nimble in the corners.
The case length of the engine was reduced front-to-rear in part by triangulating the input and output shafts on the six-speed transmission with the crankshaft. This shortened the distance between the crankshaft and the countershaft to 59.6mm. The new configuration of the transmission shafts also simplified the crankcase assembly, eliminating 16 screws in the process and shaving 670 grams from the engine weight.
Suzuki did away with last year’s hydraulic clutch and went with a cable-actuated system. Besides skimming off a little more weight, Suzuki hopes that the new arrangement will improve feel and feedback at the lever for riders.
On the chassis side, the ’09 GSX-R1000 continues to utilize a twin-spar cradle frame with five cast aluminum-alloy sections. The swingarm uses three castings and is arched so that the new swoopy dual exhaust could be tucked in tight to the bike. And while the chassis’ design hasn’t received a major makeover, the new, more compact engine allowed Suzuki to shorten up the mainframe, decreasing the space between the steering head and the swingarm pivot. The main spars are also reshaped to accommodate the contours of the new mill. This allowed them to stretch out the swingarm to 33mm despite bringing in the wheelbase by 10mm.
The engine oil cooler has the same trapezoidal shape as the radiator which allowed Suzuki to narrow the lower fairing and decrease drag.
Suspension on the front end has also been updated thanks to collaboration between Suzuki and Showa. Instead of using a conventional inverted fork with an internal cartridge assembly, the stanchion has been eliminated and has been replaced with a single, 39.6mm upper piston that rides against the inside wall of the inner fork tube. What Suzuki calls its new Big Piston Frontfork (BPF) is claimed to reduce stiction and controls compression better and works to give better feedback to riders. The 43mm inner fork tubes have a carbonized titanium coating aimed at reducing stiction as well. Rebound and compression valving adjustment screws sit in small recesses at the end of the fork caps, while spring preload adjustments are at the bottom of the fork leg assembly. The BPF system is also 720 grams lighter than the previous fork arrangement.
Reigning in the new Gixxer Thou’s formidable power are dual floating 310mm discs with radial-mount calipers. The conventional bolt-together calipers have been ditched for new, race-proven monoblock forged aluminum-alloy front brake calipers that are 205 grams lighter than the bolt-ons. The radial-pump front brake master-cylinder is smaller, down to 17mm from 19mm, and more weight was pared by using lighter cast aluminum wheels, front and back.
The 2009 GSX-R1000 is poised to return Suzuki to superbike supremacy. I smell the makings of a good Smackdown brewing.
And while the 2009 GSX-R1000 has undergone a slew of internal changes, what everyone’s going to notice first is its new chiseled appearance. The fairings front-to-back are sharp and angular and are mirrored by the fuel tank’s wicked lines. Even the swoopy cans have a ridge in them. The upper fairing has been widened to give the rider’s upper body and hands better wind protection while big black air intakes on the front of the bike look like the nostrils of an angry bull. The multi-reflector headlight protrudes from the front and the high- and low-beam halogen bulbs are stacked and centered between the position lights. Another nice touch are the front turn signals that have been integrated cleanly into the rear-view mirror mounts.
With a more compact engine, revised chassis and a claimed 11-lb drop in weight, the 2009 GSX-R1000 looks poised to once again challenge for superbike supremacy. Lighter, faster and better looking than ever, the bar has been raised. Will the other three Japanese manufacturers that comprise the Big Four have an answer to the Suzuki assault? We’ll find out in MotorcycleUSA’s Superbike Smackdown VI.
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