Suzuki has ruled the liter-class sportbike scene since it released the original GSX-R1000 way back in 2001. In the past half decade we’ve conducted these Superbike Smackdown motorcycle comparisons the big-bore Gixxer has only lost twice. The most recent being last year’s Superbike Smackdown V in which Honda finally aced them for top billing.
Not a company to concede to defeat, Suzuki initiated its biggest platform revision to date. In fact, every single component of the Suzuki (with exception of the gas cap) is new. For further insight into the individual changes and how it compares to the bike it replaces check out our 2009 Suzuki GSX-R1000 First Ride article. Although the Gixxer Thou has been redesigned from the ground up, GSX-R loyalists should know it still maintains that GSX-R1000 legacy.
The updated styling on the 2009 Suzuki GSX-R1000 is immediately noticeable, and most of our group aren’t keen on the Gixxer’s new sihoutette. Sure, there are particular aspects that we think look cool, like its pointed front-end, not to mention its more aggressive headlight and ram-air cutouts in the front fairing. We also dig the creases in the fuel tank and tail section making the bike look like it was built for speed. What no one really likes, however, are the stylized dual mufflers. We’re also not very fond of the way the shape of the side body panels with all those goofy looking ventilation slits in which you can see a bunch of hoses. I would have preferred to see designers use cleaner, more elegant side panels like those adorning the 1198 and the R1.
“My biggest complaint with the new Gixxer is that it looks silly,” agrees Wallace. “Over the years Suzuki’s changed the appearance around but they still have that same look. I think you just have to either drive a lowered Honda Civic or be a
hard-core Gixxer fan to really appreciate its styling.”
Plant your butt inside its cockpit and you won’t be shocked by any radical riding ergos as the Suzuki’s feel quite similar to last year’s and only one step away from the near ergonomical perfection of the Honda. While more compact than its predecessor, in this slim-and-trim company it still feels bulky, perhaps even more so than Yamaha’s R1.
Even though the Suzuki is all-new, out on the road it feels like an old friend. Everything from its wide thick seat, big protective windscreen, useable mirrors, precise gearbox and slipper clutch, all remind you why GSX-Rs are such awesome street bikes. This time around though, everything is sharper and more polished.
“Over the years the basic GSX-R design seems to always return,” says Hutchison. “This year is no different, despite what appears to be a much different looking bike. It still has the longer-nose and distinctive tail section. There’s nothing wrong with the bike, in my opinion, other than the mufflers and they even grew on me after a while. If you are going to avoid buying this bike because of its looks though, you’re a yahoo because once again it’s a brilliant open-class motorcycle.”
Despite what the Suzuki’s 460 lbs curb weight would lead you to believe. It is actually a very sharp handling motorcycle.
Although the Suzuki has the tallest first gear, good for around 102 mph on the speedo before the rev limiter comes in, launches from a stop require the least amount of clutch work – even compared to the low-geared Honda. Slam open the throttle and the Suzuki hurls itself forward with voracity, yet due to its near-perfect EFI settings the increased velocity feels deceptive. That is until you look down at the instrument cluster and see a 1 followed by two rapidly changing digits on the digital speedometer. Even better is the robust engine roar from deep inside its fuel tank. Of the three conventional-firing Inline-Fours, under acceleration the Suzuki creates the most raucous sound of the troupe.
While there’s no doubting that the Suzuki gets up and goes, it still lacks the ultra-potent mid-range of the CBR1000. Yet it isn’t that far off and once you get the engine zinging closer to the 13,300-rpm redline it really takes off. The GSX-R clocked the second-fastest quarter mile time (10.01 seconds) at a trap speed of nearly 142 mph, which confirms the Suzuki’s updated top-end biased engine.
“Make sure to respect these motorcycles, especially one with the gnarly top end like the GSX-R,” explains Hutch. “I still can’t believe anyone can just go buy one of these things with no formal training. Seriously, these bikes are so insanely fast that you hit warp speed in under 10 seconds. But on the Gixxer it feels like 5 seconds. It’s sick.”
And that’s why Suzuki’s Drive Mode Selector (S-DMS) is back again. Designed to enable less skilled motorcyclists ride the GSX-R1000 without each and every 156 horsepower unleashed at the twist of your wrist, the S-DMS is more than a gimmick. The system defaults to full-power A-mode in start up, with a rider selecting between B- or C-mode via a left-hand side trigger. While we appreciate this feature, for a person who thrives on thrill, A-mode is all that you’ll ever use.
Suzuki’s S-DMS drive mode system returns and allows the rider to select from three different engine power output maps depending on road conditions or individual rider experience. For us though we like the Suzuki best in full-power A mode.
We were impressed by the Suzuki’s outstanding fuel economy, averaging almost 38 MPG for top honors in this comparison. This pushes its range to upward of 160 miles with its 4.6-gallon tank, making the Gixxer well suited to hypersport communting.
Like Kawasaki’s 2009 Ninja ZX-6R Supersport, the big-bore GSX-R employs Showa’s new Big-Piston Fork (BPF). Despite its apparent racetrack-oriented design, the fork pays dividends on the street. Most notable is the GSX-R’s exceptional balance and composure, especially while really mashing on the front brakes. The rear suspension is equally adept at maintaining control when you simply cannot restrain yourself and huck a mile-long wheelie down the 405 freeway– not that we’d condone doing anything like that. Together, the suspension makes the bike feel like it’s on rails.
Also impressive is just how composed the Suzuki’s chassis remains in all road riding situations. Considering the
Our test riders weren’t big fans of the GSX-R’s updated styling. The consensus was that you have to be a hard-core Gixxer fan to dig the new styling.
engine’s copious amount of power and how well the bike maneuvers from side-to-side you’d expect a hint of headshake, but that’s simply not the case. In terms of outright stability, it doesn’t get much better than the Suzuki.
When it comes time to shed-speed, the Suzuki’s radial-mount Tokico brakes have loads of power and feel. In fact the GSX-R’s, Ninja’s and CBR’s all feel surprisingly similar and you’ve got to aggressively squeeze them to discern any noticeable difference.
An updated instrument panel also graces the new Gixxer and while looking cool, it isn’t the easiest to read. Specifically, the tach numbers are spaced too close together. Conversely, the speedo is large and clear and like the Yamaha has a bright programmable shift light and dual trip meters.
Despite the bevy of changes made to the new Suzuki, we found it to be quite similar to the bike it replaces and that’s a good thing. It’s a little faster, a little more nimble, and its exceptional chassis balance has to be felt to be believed. It’s that good. Plus it delivered the best overall fuel economy, making it a formidable street bike.