Suzuki GSX-R sportbikes dominate the road racing scene here in America. Whether it’s the AMA Pro ranks, or at the club-level, it’s clear the 2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000 is one of, if not, the most popular platform to compete on due in part to its simplicity and how easy it is to modify for racing.
Compared to the other bikes the Gixxer has one of the most standardized riding positions… and that’s a good thing. Sure it’s not the most compact, or even the lightest machine, but from the position of the seat, to the clip-ons and footpegs (which are adjustable like the Kawasaki, KTM and Yamaha) —everything is proportioned well and was universally loved by our testers.
“The Suzuki just plain fits,” confides Hutch. “Suzuki has been building these GSX-Rs for over 20 years now and it shows in just how polished each aspect of the bike is. Aside from the Honda and KTM, this is my favorite bike to ride.”
“No doubt about it the Suzuki has some of the best ergos,” agrees Garcia. “It’s still a little large—maybe not quite as big as the R1 or MV—but I got along with it well and it wasn’t a deal breaker for me.”
When measured on the scale the GSX-R1000 weighed in at 444 pounds with its 4.6-gallon filled. Although that’s four pound less than stock it is still 21 pounds more than the class-leading Ducati and 13 pounds heavier than the lightest Inline Four (Kawasaki). Still, when rolling down the racetrack the center of gravity feels low and it can’t be deemed a ‘heavy’ motorcycle.
(Above) Test rider Frankie Garcia found the Suzuki to be one of his favorite bikes of the class. (Center) The Suzuki impressed with 167.96 ponies arriving at a relatively low rpm (11,800). (Bottom) The Suzuki’s handling can best be classified as ‘average’. It works great on track but it fails to blow us away in any one area.
Lean the Suzuki into a turn and it wasn’t one of the quicker steering bikes. But at the same time, it wasn’t slow either. It’s this kind of predictability that make it so friendly to ride. Once pitched over on its side the chassis delivers a more elastic feel than the racier feeling Aprilia, Kawasaki and KTM, but it still rated positive on our tester’s note pads as evident by the mid-pack scores in many of the subjective handling categories.
“I like the way Suzuki handled,” says Chamberlain. “It was kind of middle of the road for me but it worked. It doesn’t steer as fast as the KTM but it wasn’t bad either. It does everything pretty good and is real easy to ride.”
Through Turn 2 the Suzuki was right behind the Ducati in terms of corner speed at 68.7 mph. It moved back a couple positions through the fast left-hand Turn 8 (94.2 mph), which perhaps could be attributed to its less rigid suspension set-up. It tied with the MV for fourth-fastest through the final turn. After averaging all three points it ranked third-best behind the Honda and KTM.
Even though our testers didn’t think it offers the quickest turning, navigating Turns 11/12/13 demonstrated the Suzuki’s willingness to change directions. Here it posted the fastest side-to-side flick rate of 54.4 degrees per second. It also recorded a respectable lean angle measurement of 49.1 degrees through the Turn 5 Cyclone.
Accelerating off corners was one of the Suzuki’s strong points. The dyno results indicate that the GSX-R’s Inline Four engine pumps out considerable mid-range torque. Despite not producing anywhere near as much twisting force as the torque-rich V-Twins, or Honda, it sure did feel strong. Maximum torque arrives at 10,400 revs with 79.18 lb-ft of twisting force. This aided in its acceleration numbers with it achieving 0.84g off of Turn 6 (tied Honda for fourth) and 0.79g away from Turn 15 (fifth-highest). Some credit goes to the Bazzaz quickshifter, as it was every bit as effective as its Dynojet counterpart and quicker in actuation than the set-ups employed on the Aprilia and Ducati. The rest of the Suzuki’s drivetrain performed without flaw though the final drive gearing was a little too high.
(From full stiff)
Preload:184mm (spring length)
Low-Speed Compression: 2.25
High-Speed Compression: 3
“It gets with the program,” notes Montano. “Mid-range, top-end and over-rev were all excellent. It pulls hard but the power still comes on smooth and doesn’t feel all out of control like the BMW.”
In terms of horsepower the Suzuki impressed with 167.96 ponies arriving at a relatively low rpm (11,800, 1500 rpm short of redline). This was an increase of 16.4 horses over stock which demonstrates how effective the Suzuki’s engine is in race trim. It was also the largest outright gain in the test. Its enhanced top-end punch was the reason it attained the second-fastest trap speed of 161.7 mph down the main straightway (2.5 mph down on the BMW) and the highest speed on the back straight (148.2 mph—1.7 higher than the German machine and a full eight mph up on the KTM).
“With the Yosh pipe the Gixxer came alive,” says Neuer. “It really pulled off corners hard. In fact it was the only bike that would actually wheelie in fourth gear full tuck down the back straightaway. The bike is good. It’s no wonder why so many people race ‘em.”
(Top) The GSX-R awaits fresh Pirelli Supercorsa rubber. (Center) The Suzuki drives off corners hard due in part to its well-sorted rear suspension and strong engine. (Bottom) The Suzuki recorded the third and fourth fastest lap times of the test with Waheed and Siglin at the controls.
Suzuki is the first Japanese brand to fit top shelf Brembo monobloc calipers on its literbike. And based on our experience during the 2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000 First Ride we assumed they were going to work great at Thunderhill. However the Suzuki’s anchors were rated the lowest in the test due to excessive levels of brake fade after just a handful of fast laps.
“The brakes were the weakest link,” reveals Siglin. “I know that’s been a problem with Suzukis for the last few years. At a fast track like Thunderhill where there is a lot of hard braking from fast-to-slow I experienced a lot of fade. And that doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.”
In spite of the inconsistent brake lever feel the brakes still logged respectable g forces in Turns 10 and 14 (-1.31 and -1.36), which tied the Honda for fourth place in the Braking Force score.
Superpole results demonstrate that the Suzuki is an effective racetrack weapon with it logging Waheed’s third-fastest lap time (1’57.42) and Siglin’s fifth-fastest time of (1’55.10). The primary factor that held the Suzuki back from a better result was the brake fade issue and its predicable, but average, handling. If Suzuki could dial in those two aspects the Gixxer would have won this year—no question. Until then, the GSX-R ranks in fourth-place.
- Predictable handling
- Good mid-range and top-end engine performance
- Great ergonomics
- Mediocre handling
- Inconsistent front brakes
- Could have sharper steering
2012 Superbike Smackdown IX Track
2012 MV Agusta F4R Track Comparison
2012 Yamaha YZF-R1 Track Comparison
2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale S Track Comparison
2012 KTM RC8R Track Comparison
2012 Aprilia RSV4 Factory APRC Track Comparison
2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000 Track Comparison
2012 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R Track Comparison
2012 BMW S1000RR Track Comparison
2012 Honda CBR1000RR Track Comparison
2012 Superbike Smackdown IX Track Conclusion