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2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000 First Ride

Friday, February 10, 2012

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2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000 - First Ride Video
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2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000 - Tech Video
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(Above) See what it’s like to ride Suzuki’s updated GSX-R1000 in the 2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000 First Ride Video. (Below) Get an inside technical analysis of the new Gixxer 1000 in the 2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000 Tech Review Video.
Visit any motorcycle road race and you’ll notice Suzuki’s GSX-R1000 sportbike is the most prevalent machine on the grid. The Suzuki literbike has carved a niche based on its immediate out-of-the-crate performance, not to mention how straightforward it is to convert into a full-on racer. The 2012 model gets a mild update to make it more proficient.


The basic architecture of the liquid-cooled Inline Four, including bore/stroke measurements and capacity remain unchanged. What has changed is the operating efficiency and overall responsiveness through a combination of mechanical and electronic revisions.

Inside, four new pistons were fitted that are both lighter and more durable. Each one features a reshaped crown and skirt said to boost low-to-mid power as well as being quicker to rev. In turn, the compression ratio has also increased slightly. New camshafts were also installed and each of the 16 valve tappets (metal actuator between camshaft and valve spring) are lighter too. The engine case also receives larger ventilation holes (like the 2011-plus GSX-R600/750) said to reduce mechanical pumping losses.

Thankfully, Suzuki finally ditches its twin muffler exhaust system that it began implementing in ’07 for a more traditional single muffler terminating on the righthand side of the bike. The pipe continues to use a 4-2-1 configuration with the headers fabricated from stainless-steel and the muffler from titanium. The heavy belly-mounted pre-chamber was also eliminated and the mid-pipe lengthened to complement the powerband. Lastly, new ECU settings help give the engine a smoother, more linear spread of power throughout its 13,300 rpm range.
The GSX-R1000 now benefits from the use of Brembo monobloc front brake calipers.
Suzuki engineers dropped four pounds of weight off the 2012 GSX-R1000.
The GSX-R steers into corners with minimal effort and is generally a very easy literbike to ride.
(Top) The GSX-R1000 now benefits from the use of Brembo monobloc front brake calipers. (Center) Suzuki engineers dropped four pounds of weight off the 2012 GSX-R1000. (Bottom) The GSX-R steers into corners with minimal effort and is generally a very easy literbike to ride.


Historically braking performance has been one of the weakest links in the Gixxer 1000’s pedigree. So the big news is the replacement of the inconsistent-feeling Tokico front calipers for monoblocs sourced from Brembo. The new binders continue to be actuated through rubber lines and a radial-mount hydraulic master cylinder with no anti-lock option. Another change is the fitment of 0.5mm narrower thermal-resistant rotors.

The front suspension was also modified with the tip-to-tip length of the fork decreasing by 7mm and travel by 5mm. Valving was also changed to give the fork softer action through the initial stroke. The fork continues to offer three-way adjustability for spring preload, compression and return damping. Another small change is the front axle that is marginally lighter and is secured via a nut as opposed to the previous inner-thread design. The four-way adjustable shock has been untouched. Lastly, new tackier seat covers were fitted on the rider and passenger seats to enhance grip. As usual the GSX-R continues to feature adjustable rider footpegs.

The new Suzuki rolls on the latest Bridgestone Battlax Hypersport S-20 Front Tire (120/70-17) and Bridgestone Battlax Hypersport S-20 Rear Tire (190/50-17). The tires were engineered to Suzuki’s specification and utilize a uniform compound up front and a dual-compound rear. All said and done the ’12 spec GSX-R1000 weighs in at 448 pounds with a 4.6-gallon tank of fuel (four pounds less than before).

Visually the GSX-R appears much sharper in part to the less cluttered look of the single exhaust, as well as the new graphics including red accents on the wheels and side panels.


Pin the throttle and it’s quite obvious how much more ‘free revving’ the engine feels. It’s not any faster than the previous model in terms of outright power but indeed it has a greater appetite for piling on revs. And you’re going to need ‘em as the motor doesn’t offer the same degree of low-end bark as the previous generation engine (2007-2008). It does however make smooth, useable power at all rpm, but it lacks any power hit or crazy warp drive acceleration surge like other bikes in its class.

This can be a good or bad thing depending on rider preference and/or tire selection, but for a high-level rider harder hitting top-end power is always a good thing on track – especially when your accelerating on the fat part of the tire. For those that feel that the powerband is too intimidating Suzuki continues to employ three engine power modes (A/B/C) that allow for reduced engine power based on track conditions or rider skill/comfortability.

Just when we thought that throttle response and engine fueling settings couldn’t get any better the new 1000 proves otherwise. Simply put, this is one of the best running GSX-Rs we’ve ever ridden. While it doesn’t make use of adjustable throttle sensitivity modes like other literbikes you’ll never miss it.
The ergonomics and control layout are well proportioned and work especially well for riders of above average height.
The GSX-R steers into corners with minimal effort and is generally a very easy literbike to ride.
(Top) The ergonomics and control layout are well proportioned and work especially well for riders of above average height. (Bottom) The GSX-R steers into corners with minimal effort and is generally a very easy literbike to ride.

Suzuki GSX-Rs have always offered a high-level of character for a Japanese-built Inline Four and the latest iteration continues this trait. The engine has a ridiculous amount of charisma releasing a racy air induction howl and exhaust roar whenever the twist grip is pulled. Sure, it doesn’t make the bike any faster, but it feels like it.

In terms of handling the biggest improvement is the new front brake set-up. Lean on the lever and you’ll notice that there isn’t much initial bite – a big plus for riders without lots of riding experience. However stopping power ramps up progressively the harder you pull back on it. Plus the anchors are very consistent feeling and fade-free. Though it is important to note that it takes a lap or two to build enough heat in them to receive that pleasing lever feel.

The attitude of the bike felt more favorable than past years and we love the way the cockpit and controls are laid out. It feels compact but not overly so – a boon for taller than average riders. Steering effort is minimal and we were impressed by how well the front suspension performed offering great compliance over bumps and feel at lean. Some of this may be attributed to the fitment of Bridgestone’s latest R10 road race tire that worked well at the front. Stability is great too with the bike resisting the urge to head shake too much. We were less enthused with the way the shock reacted under acceleration but that may be attributed to the lackluster performance of the rear R10. The back end still works okay – offering a high-level of feel – it just wasn’t as well set-up as the front of the motorcycle. As usual the rest of the drivetrain including the six-speed transmission and slipper clutch performed flawlessly.

Traction and wheelie control are still missing from the GSX-Rs arsenal but based on the current level of engine and chassis performance some riders, myself included, will never miss it. The balance of motorcycle and the harmonious relationship between engine and chassis allow the rider to manipulate the bike easily and make up for the lack of electronic wizardry.
Engineers have improved upon the already good throttle response and engine fuel settings. The 12 GSX-R1000 is the best running GSX-R weve ever tested.
Engineers have improved upon the already good throttle response and engine fuel settings. The ’12 GSX-R1000 is the best running GSX-R we’ve ever tested.

Make no mistake about it: the ’12 spec GSX-R1000 is an improved machine and worth the $200 price increase ($13,799). It certainly isn’t the fastest thing on the road nor the lightest in stock form. However it does continue to offer racers and track enthusiasts a competent platform to go race especially now that it has competent racing-grade braking components.

2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000 Highs & Lows
  • Strong, consistent and easy-to-use brakes
  • Smooth, manageable powerband
  • Excellent engine sound and character
  • Needs more power--everywhere
  • Rear suspension takes time to set-up
  • Could be lighter and less expensive

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2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000 Specs
The 2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000 retails for  13 799-a  200 increase over the 11 model.
Engine: Liquid-cooled 999cc Inline Four, 16-valves
Bore and Stroke: 74.5 x 57.3mm
Compression Ratio: 12.9:1
Fuel Delivery: Electronic fuel-injection
Clutch: Wet multi-plate slipper clutch; Cable actuation
Final Drive: Chain 17F/42R
Six-speed; chain final drive
Frame: Twin spar aluminum
Front Suspension: 43mm inverted Showa BPF fork; 3-way adjustable for preload, compression and rebound damping; 4.9 in. travel
Rear Suspension: Showa gas-charged shock; 3-way adjustable for preload, compression and rebound damping; 5.1 in. travel
Front Brakes: 310mm discs with radial-mount Brembo monoblocs
Rear Brake: 220mm disc with dual-piston caliper
Tires: Bridgestone S20; 120/70R17, 190/50R17
Curb Weight: 448 lbs.
Wheelbase: 55.3 in.
Rake: 23.5 deg. Trail: 3.86 in.
Seat Height: 31.9 in.
Fuel Capacity: 4.6 gallons
MSRP: $13,799
Colors: Metallic Mat Black No.2 / Glass Sparkle Black; Metallic Triton Blue/Glass Splash White
Warranty: One year, unlimited mileage

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Kharris   March 23, 2012 06:55 AM
Correction.... "prevalent"
Kharris   March 23, 2012 06:54 AM
I completely disagree with your opening statement Adam, or you should add that the GSX-R1000 is the most per leant motorcycle in AMA racing. The only reason GSX-R1000s won so many races here in the states is because 18 out of the 20 bikes on the grid were GSX-R1000s! I don see any GSXRs winning in World Superbike.... Where the real racing happens.
Superlight   February 15, 2012 09:46 AM
wildpig, no, this Suzuki is not "clearly superior" to the BMW S 1000RR, not to mention the new Ducati Panigale. I've been wiating for years for the Euros to beat the Japanese at their own superbike game; it looks like this will be the year...
wildpig   February 14, 2012 12:34 AM
clearly superior to any bmw made at a far less price with dealer support and parts on hand,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
Rucuss54   February 13, 2012 01:42 PM
If you want a Japanese bike with the latest tech get a ZX10R or fork over $2000-$4000 more for a Euro bike, you have to pay to play.
nakedfreak   February 13, 2012 12:03 PM
Wow, never thought I'd see the day where one of the "lows" for the GSXR1000 was "needs more power--everywhere." I love gixxers so it's sad knowing that this new one wont win any shootouts in the next few years. Just a few years ago, the gsxr1000 was the first literbike with radial brakes ('03), then the first literbike with variable power modes ('07) and then the first literbike with BPF froks ('09). Now, it doesn't have TC, ABS and gives up 20 HP to the BMW. Tough times for a Suzuki fan.
GhostRider11   February 13, 2012 04:59 AM
And yet another band-aid for the BIG-4 in Japan. So they plan to just tweak the 1000s enough to say they have a 'NEW' model to sell again. For the 600s (Suzuki 750s) and the 1000s, they need to just make a production race-bike already... just make it comfortable enough for the daily commuter to enjoy as well. After-market racing parts are not cheap! They average track-day/road racer doesn't have the money to buy race kits worth thousands of dollars any more. If they could, a lot of the Pro-Racers wouldn't be without a ride these days. The BIG-4 need to wake up. The US and Europeans sportbike markets want extreme performance and (in some cases) styling for their buck. BMW and Ducati are doing just that... and their sales figures show it.
Superlight   February 11, 2012 06:41 AM
I still find this interesting. The Japanese superbikes are making incremental yearly improvements while the Europeans are busy pushing the technological frontiers (compare this bike or the "new" Honda to the Panigale). Talk about a role reversal!
Piglet2010   February 10, 2012 06:54 PM
Where is the stoppie picture showing us how well the new front brakes work?
guambra2001   February 10, 2012 06:38 PM
I think I would take the new Honda over this one
HokieRider   February 10, 2012 04:56 PM
Kudos on the First Ride video. I feel the production quality was the best by far. I love that you use the author throughout and not another voice-over person. The sequence and quality of the shots were superb, and dare I say artistic at some points. If all your videos follow suit, I will be a very happy viewer.
screamer69   February 10, 2012 04:55 PM
oh yea, and class leading power and traction control to boot..
screamer69   February 10, 2012 04:51 PM
i hope they come out with a new one next year...they used to have a new one every two years and it'll be twice that long by then..
alang   February 10, 2012 04:51 PM
nice write up. If you get a factory ride, I want your job!