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Kagayama’s Alstare Suzuki GSX-R1000

Monday, November 30, 2009
Alstare Suzuki GSX-R1000 World Superbike
Once stood up one could tell the Suzuki has some serious power, but a restrictive TC system held much of it back, cutting in very quickly.
Alstare Suzuki GSX-R1000

Due to the Alstare boys only opting to run one bike (compared to two from most other teams) we nearly missed the opportunity to get on the Suzuki as half of the journalists were turned away. Thankfully in the ninth hour a spot opened up and we threw a leg over the Suzuki before they could think twice about it. And a big throw it was, as no question the Suzuki is the largest feeling machine of the group.

Everything from the wide bars, to the square-shaped, handmade tank which protrudes out between one’s legs, to the large fairing and high bubble windscreen gives the impression that you are on a big machine. And one twist of the throttle reveals an equally large engine. Large in terms of horsepower, as she’s got some serious kick, but also large in terms of mass, resulting in a much heavier-steering machine than the other six in this test. One can feel its rotating mass fighting you at turn-in, making for an extremely physical machine to ride.

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This was driven home as I entered the track behind former 500cc GP World Champion Wayne Gardner aboard the diminutive Aprilia RSV4. While I could easily stay with him on the brakes and for most of the way down the straight, when it came to the tighter sections of the track there was no question he could put the Aprilia exactly where he wanted and when he wanted, whereas on the Suzuki I was somewhat along for the ride, just doing my best to guide it in the general direction I wanted to go.

The dash and shift lights are well set-up and easy-to-read, a good thing as the LCD rev-counter climbs quickly with some serious arm-stretching acceleration to follow. Only downside? They had the TC turned up quite high, presumably to keep the less experienced jurnos from crashing, and it limited corner-exit drive greatly, keeping one from steering with the throttle in any way. Some easy computer work could remedy this, but considering they had a two-day test following our ride, no doubt they wanted to keep the bike in one piece.

Alstare Suzuki GSX-R1000 World SuperbikeAlstare Suzuki GSX-R1000 World SuperbikeAlstare Suzuki GSX-R1000 World Superbike
(From left) Handmade swingarm with Nissin brake; Big radiator for a big-power engine; New paint for 2010 with Dark Dog sponsorship.

Alstare Suzuki GSX-R1000 World Superbike
Nissin front brakes were awesome.

As mentioned, braking power was nothing short of awesome from the monobloc Nissins. Not the best of the bunch, but by no means shabby. A quick dab of the right-hand lever and your eyeballs were against the helmet windscreen and it was everyone one had to stay upright. Where it lacked some was feel and feedback. Though providing loads of power, trail braking to the apex wasn’t the most confidence inspiring.

On the other hand, mid-corner prowess was the Suzuki’s strong point, as once on its side the GSX-R was planted and stable, giving ample rider feedback and relaying each and every bump right to the passenger’s hands. And while in this area it doesn’t get too much better, there’s no doubt the GSX-R needs some work several other places, something that could be easily seen in this year’s results.

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Comments
Jeff -Lap Times?  December 10, 2009 09:00 AM
Great review as always, Steve. MCUSA - you really have a great resource in Steve Atlas, I do enjoy his writing and reviews. Question: what were your lap times on each bike? How did they compare to the lap times during the WSBK race at Portimao?
GSX-R Rider -Exhaust  November 30, 2009 12:03 PM
Why do some racers run dual exhaust, shown here, while others run single-sided exhaust (like Mat Mladin)?