2009 Suzuki GSXR-1000 Comparison Track

Steve Atlas | May 7, 2010
2009 Suzuki GSX-R1000 Track Smackdown
Suzuki GSX-R1000
MSRP: $12,199
Curb Weight: 460 lbs.
Horsepower: 160.89 @ 11,800 rpm
Torque: 77.55 lb-ft @ 9900 rpm
Quarter Mile: 9.940 @ 143.3 mph
Racetrack Top Speed: 149.50 mph
Superpole Best Time: 1:57.49
Overall Ranking: 4th Place

Since this motorcycle was all-new for 2009 and there are no 2010 models available, it seems redundant to say that the Suzuki GSX-R1000 comes into this test totally unchanged, but that’s the scoop. Due to the current economic situation, Suzuki opted not to bring any of its 2010 GSX-R line-up into the U.S. in the hopes dealers would clear out their existing overstock of last year’s bike in preparation for 2011. Has it worked? Only time will tell if the plan pays off, but for our purposes, this bike still kicks ass.

Besides updated colorways the Euro and Canadian-spec 2010 GSX-R didn’t receive changes anyhow, so it wasn’t like we were missing out on anything. To see everything that was changed for last year, be sure to read the 2009 Suzuki GSX-R1000 First Ride to get up to speed. As for how it fared in Smackdown this time around…read on!

Like always, climbing aboard the Suzuki is like going home to Mom’s for a home-cooked meal. Instantly feeling comfortable, knowing exactly what to expect from its familiar layout and performance, the bike does everything well. Everyone seemed to be comfortable on the Gixxer, the only obstacle seemed to be the effort it took to get it set-up on Dunlop tires. Once it was dialed in, it was so fast and smooth. That’s the main area that sticks out: That venerable GSX-R1000 engine. Even with the BMW in the field the Suzuki’s engine is hard to ignore.

2009 Suzuki GSX-R1000 Track Smackdown2009 Suzuki GSX-R1000 Track Smackdown2009 Suzuki GSX-R1000 Superbike Smackdown VII Dyno Graph
Due to the current stock in U.S. dealers, Suzuki opted not to import 2010 GSX-Rs. So for our shootout we used a “new” ’09 model. Note the peak horsepower at of 160.89.

Grab a handful of the right grip and the seamless acceleration will stress your arms hard all the way from down low to redline. The Suzuki is easy to control but at the same time extremely fast. While the BMW pulls harder above 9,000 rpm, the Suzuki can match it in the lower rev range when it comes to seat-of-the-pants feel. It’s accelerates off the corner like a monster. You can tell there’s a ripping engine between those big frame-spars but Suzuki has also done well to keep it controllable.

Perfect fuel injection is a big part of this, with not the slightest hiccup from 1400 rpm to 14,000 rpm. On the dyno it pulls a solid 160.89 hp and 77.55 lb-ft of torque. Although last year it did well in straight-line track speed, for some reason this time around the Suzuki was unable to post impressive top speed numbers, with a best of 149.5 mph, only the KTM being slower. This was very surprising considering that on the other hand, when it came to corner-exit acceleration, the Suzuki is right at the front. The GSX-R exits Turn 6 with 0.77g and comes out of Turn 15 at 0.74g.This compares to a best acceleration of 0.78g from the BMW out of Turn 15 and 0.80g exiting Turn 6 from the Kawasaki.

At the safe confines of El Toro the Suzuki engine was unleashed and once again, where it was right on the mark. With a durable and easy-to-use clutch, combined with its smooth, linear power delivery, the GSX-R1000 was one of the four bikes which we were able to get into the 9-second range by posting a best pass of 9.940 @ 143.3 mph. It was also the most consistent bike of the entire group, as every single run was within mere hundredths of a second. Just for reference, the BMW was quickest at 9.68-sec, followed by the Honda with a 9.706-sec pass and Kawasaki’s ZX-10R, which was just a hair in front of the GSX-R at 9.878 seconds.

“Of all the regular Inline Fours, the Suzuki feels like it has some of the best top-end power as well as very good low and mid-range torque off the corners,” says Sorensen. “It has a seamless power curve throughout the rev range, making it very easy to control.”

2009 Suzuki GSX-R1000 Track Smackdown
The Suzuki lofts the front with ease exiting the final turn at T-Hill, Earnest at the controls.

Hensley agrees: “It’s like that comforting cohort that lets you know immediately you’re on an Inline Four. It’s odd too, but with all the innovations in engines lately, that familiar high-pitched whine suddenly sounds unique. Funny how things come full circle; what was bland and commonplace last year now sounds like music to my ears.”

Equally impressive was the Gixxer’s transmission. No doubt the best engaging and easiest to shift of the bunch, only the BMW tied it for top spot and the Bavarian bike uses a speed shifter. The slipper clutch on the Suzuki is just as flawless, allowing one to be ham-fisted and very late while downshifting into just about any corner without complaint. It’s no surprise that the Suzuki works so well on the track.

When it comes to the chassis, it may not be the most agile, the most stable or the smallest. But while the GSX-R1000 may not be the best at any one thing, it is quite good in all of following areas. And the result is a motorcycle that is easy to ride fast. The bike turns easily, is very predictable and rarely, if ever, gets out of shape, no matter what situation it is put in.

And while we weren’t able to get the set-up perfected, its best Superpole time was still mid-pack. A 1:57.49 in Sorensen’s hands was quite easy to come by for the former 250cc GP champion. Not to mention, last year the Suzuki was almost a full second quicker, so we know the potential to be a class lap-time leader is in there somewhere.

2009 Suzuki GSX-R1000 Track Smackdown2009 Suzuki GSX-R1000 Track Smackdown
The ease of which one can put the Suzuki where they want it, when they want make it one, makes it one of the most versatile bikes of the bunch.

“There may be smaller-feeling Vs in the group, but of all the inline bikes the Suzuki has the smallest feel on the track,” Sorensen continues. “Effortless transitions left to right and very composed under heavy braking were some of the key features of the Suzuki. The bike seems to work better and give more rider feedback as you push harder.”

Young racer Garcia was very fond of the Showa Big Piston Fork (BPF) that is fitted stock on the GSX-R1000. “Suzuki’s BPF fork performed great,” he says. “It was really solid when braking deep into the corners and stable all the way through the turn, never doing anything out of the ordinary. The Suzuki definitely has one of, if not the best OE fork of the bunch.”

In terms of on-track chassis data, the Suzuki held the second-highest corner speed through Turn 2 at 71.2 mph, while also producing a solid 1.0g of grip mid-corner; only the Ducati had a higher corner speed in Turn 2 at 72.5 mph. Maximum lean angle in the final set of corners was a class-leading 51.5 degrees. Though due to what may have been too much lean angle, like the Ducati its corner speed through there suffered and was only mid-pack at 46.8 mph, the exact same as the 1198S. Max grip was part of the reason for the Turn 15 corner speed issues as well, as it could only hold 1.1g though the apex, another middle-of-the-pack result.

The GSX-R brakes got mixed reviews. While there’s no question the outright power and initial bite is impressive, it suffers from Suzuki’s trademark growing-lever-syndrome, making it hard to be accurate when adjusting the lever. The problem is you never know how much it will expand. This gets especially bad as the pace increases during long runs, as it extends then overheats and fades, causing the lever to come back in. This issue aside, out at El Toro the GSX-R’s braking power was respectable, finishing in fifth place in the 60-0 mph braking analysis with a best stopping distance of 127ft, tying it with the KTM.

2009 Suzuki GSX-R1000 Track Smackdown
Suzuki’s GSX-R1000 was second in last year’s shootout and tied with Kawasaki for fourth this year.

Sorensen didn’t have complaints about the growing lever and found the binders to be strong and provide ample feedback. “The Suzuki brakes are one of the best stock units of the bunch, good initial bite and progressive ramp as you get into them harder,” he says.

There really isn’t much the Suzuki does wrong – a growing brake lever aside. And even that didn’t bother everyone. And while it may not be on the cutting edge in any one area, either, much like Mom’s home cooking the reassuring feel is reassuring. But at the same time, it’s no gourmet meal. At least it wasn’t at my house. And while the GSX-R is very balanced, easy to ride and well fuel injected, it doesn’t stick out as king of the hill.

It was ranked by most as being right in the middle across the board and as such it’s no surprise that is exactly where it finished in the final standings – tied with the Kawasaki for the fourth spot.


Steve Atlas

Contributing Editor |Articles | Professional-grade speed and an attitude to match, Steve Atlas has AMA racing creds that are even more extensive than his driving record.

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