Suzuki GSX-R1000 Revamped and Ready to Rumble

The Suzuki GSX-R1000 platform is arguably the most successful of all the open-class weapons in this bike review. With seven AMA Superbike championships, a World Superbike championship, numerous regional titles, and a cult following that borders on the edge of a religion for some members, the Gixxer is destined to be a success no matter what we write about it here. Yet Suzuki brings an all-new GSX-R1000 to the Smackdown skirmish for 2007.

In contrast to the iron-fisted soldier approach of the ZX-10R, the 2007 Suzuki GSX-R1000 is best described as a bare-knuckled brawler. Rather than going for the knockout strike from the beginning the Suzuki pummels the opposition with an array of features that separate it from the group. Comparing the power and torque curves of the new and previous generation Gixxers reveals that the ’07 features a bit more over-rev than the ’06 and as a result sacrifices some low-end grunt for its broader spread of muscle, although peak horsepower output has been increased considerably. This change in philosophy is intended to get the bike around the track quicker by making it easier for the rider to go fast consistently – a fact we discovered to be true during our evaluation.

Compared to the CBR and ZX, the GSX-R is lacking some balls below 9,000 rpm but there’s a method to this madness. The Gixxer curve mimics the R1 in that the Suzuki also has a dip through the 6,000-8,000 range – although it doesn’t feel as mundane as the Yamaha because it comes out of the hole with authority, then tapers off through the middle before coming on like gang-busters when the tach needle sweeps past nine grand.

“I felt the ’06 model may have had a slight power advantage in the lower midrange over the new model,” explains the insightful Mr. Earnest, “but once on top there seems to be a slight power advantage favoring the new bike.”

Like the power delivery of the R1, the GSX-R doesn’t feel as likely to spit its rider off when the throttle is twisted during the drive out of a turn. On the track the Suzuki is still as much of a smooth-running, fire-breathing monster as there ever was though. It still boasts a superb combination of manageable power delivery, light steering and nimble chassis to ensure it’s capable of handling any type of track it gets tossed around on. Despite tipping the scales at a portly 436 lbs, the heaviest of the group and 14-lbs over the lightweight CBR, it still manages to hold the weight well and maintain a level of balance that encourages its rider to tip it in harder and faster lap after lap.

“Suzuki has been the leader on the track for a while now with its excellent chassis, brakes and super strong motor,” declares the speedy Mr. Earnest. “The GSX-R1000 launches off the slower corners with authority and makes good power high into the rev range. Excellent feedback from the rear tire allows the rider to roll-on the gas hard, spinning the tire in a controllable manner, which enables controlled exit slides. I definitely feel the GSX-R is the best track package of this group.”

Earnest isn’t the only rider to feel that way either. “The motor freakin’ rips,” agrees Moore. “It had the best rear wheel traction and felt like a damn 600.” Considering Jimmy has spent a significant part of his career at the controls of various open-class machines, it’s safe to say he has a good idea what he is talking about.

Making big-bores feel like supersports seems to be the goal of every literbike manufacturer these days. The combination of a short wheelbase and aggressive steering geometry, relaxed a bit compared to last year, definitely make it easy to toss through Buttonwillow’s technical layout. But Suzuki is the only manufacturer that provides a switch that reduces power output by over 30%, effectively rendering the mighty Gixxer thou to newbie bike status for those of us willing to actually flip the switch.

In case you haven’t heard, the GSX-R comes with a unique industry-first variable engine management system coined the Suzuki Drive Mode Selector (S-DMS). The new system has three different settings which, according to Suzuki, allows the rider to adjust the bike to road conditions with the push of a button. This feature has received more than its fair share of interest from the public, so here’s what we found out about it.

We took a brand new GSX-R1000 off the floor of our local dealership and tested the bike on all three settings. What we found was a bit of a surprise. First of all, compared to our test unit, the brand new zero-mile Gixxer didn’t even make the same power as our weakest official test unit, the CBR. Examine the results on the accompanying dyno chart if you wish, but in a nutshell the difference between A- and B-modes are minimal. However the C-mode cuts out a whopping 40 horsepower off the bottom line, rendering it as flaccid as a 600cc sportbike.

“The A,B,C feature is a new addition this year,” Earnest reports. “With the bar mounted switch making power delivery variable at the touch of a button, it was at the least entertaining. In C-mode the bike felt almost 600-like, likely a welcome feature for riders new to literbikes. It’s the “A” button for me please.”

There really is no reason to flip the switch at the track, except when it’s wet or to antagonize your buddies by out-riding them on the cruiser setting. That is unless you’re lucky enough to incorporate it into some form of traction control. Why else would it be there, really? Perhaps Suzuki has its sights on classes that only allow OEM features to be utilized in its rules. That being said, maybe it will play a role in the AMA Superstock championship? Who knows for sure, but that’s the rumor we’re spreading.

What we know for sure is that the Suzuki is at home when the track is twisty. It was bested only by the lightweight Honda in the Low-Speed turns and took top billing in the High-Speed stuff. Suspension received high marks as well and it was one of the bikes that required minimal adjustments to the 43mm inverted fork or single rear shock in order to suit the wide variety of riders in our sample.

After the track time was in the books the Suzuki had established itself as the bike to beat again with the only poor showing being its under-achieving 310mm rotors and radial-mount braking system. So, if a contender is going to have any chance of keeping it from sweeping the evaluation again, it was going to have to happen on the street.

Unfortunately for the competition, the GSX-R1000 is just as excellent on the best canyon roads of Southern California as it is on the track. The riding position is more upright than the other three bikes, wind protection is good, and the seat is comfortable over the long haul. Those are just a few key attributes that make it a good streetbike. It is notable that the GSX-R is one of the only bikes left with a usable amount of storage space beneath the passenger seat as well.

This bike feels like it is ready to rumble whether you’re heading to the track or to your favorite canyon. On the track, there is nary a curve it takes exception to, sweepers are gobbled up with abandon, esses are connected with relative ease, and the suspension is not too fickle. These facts help propel the GSX-R to the top of the heap on the track but it lacks that killer instinct on the street. Sure, it’s still a bad-ass, but it doesn’t have that unrefined nastiness that we like in a literbike. If it’s ridden at a pace worthy of earning some jail-time, the Gixxer, like each of the other bikes here, is more fun than a barrel of greased monkeys.

However, reality dictates that the majority of the street riding doesn’t take place at 10-grand and that’s where the Suzuki really starts kicking in. Fortunately for the GSX-R the streets generally have a few corners, some bumps, and a freeway somewhere between home and the canyon. There, in no man’s land, between the carpool lane and the stop-lights are where it makes up for any perceived faults in its street-going game plan.

“The triangle relationship was typical Suzuki, rider-oriented and now with the addition of adjustable foot pegs it will fit a wider variety of riders,” Earnest is eager to report. “The appearance is the standard generic GSX-R look with the addition of the new and hideous dual exhaust system.”

The aesthetics have never been a strong suit for the GSX-R in the eyes of MCUSA test riders and it’s the same story again this year. Like we said about the Kawasaki though, it really is up to the consumer to choose which bike they prefer to look at. But that won’t stop us from taking a few cheap shots under the guise of constructive criticism.

“Keep in mind all the Japan offerings are so close, we’re making judgments and sharing opinions after going over every aspect of these bikes with a fine-tooth comb,” reiterates stunter Steeves. “That being said the worst thing about the Gixxer would have to be the looks. It desperately needs an Oprah fashion-emergency makeover crew to slap some style in its face if Suzuki ever hopes to compete with the good-looking Yamaha R1.”

That may be so, but until Oprah’s entourage invades Suzuki R&D the public will have to be content knowing that the 2007 GSX-R1000 has almost everything an open-class motorcycle can possibly offer. It boasts the highest horsepower output, high-tech aerodynamic bodywork, slipper clutch, an informative information system (also known as a dashboard), electronically controlled steering damper, and the 3-way adjustable pegs to go along with its highly ranked chassis and cornering prowess.

That’s a combination that’s tough to beat, but the other bikes in Superbike Smackdown IV gave it a valiant effort. The question everyone wants to know is whether or not the Suzuki GSX-R1000 will retain the title for a third consecutive year, or will its added weight and comparatively soft power curve drop it out of contention? Check out the conclusion page for an answer to that question as well as a few parting thoughts on one of the most anticipated comparisons we’ll do all year.