This Suzuki is so small you would be forgiven for mistaking the GSXR 1000 for a GSXR 600. The first thing that catches your eye about the Suzuki GSX-R1000 K5-K6 is the chunky silencer. There’s been a lot of comments about this and while it isn’t my favourite exhaust I’ve got to say anything is better than the standard big aluminium, round dustbin that bikes usually have hanging off the side of them. I guess it’s just a case of getting used to it. And on this GSX-R1000, I think I will.Get past the pipe and you start to spot the nice little touches on the Suzuki. The pegs are lovely, really race styled, with a tiny little hero bobs tucked away underneath. The seat unit is really neat and tidy and the integrated indicators look great, as do the front ones which are built into the mirrors. And the new fairing, with its interconnecting panels, works well, much better than the old bland, flat fairing. According to Suzuki this tidying up of the sticky-outy bits has reduced the frontal area by 4% and cut the aerodynamic drag of the bike by 5%, which isn’t bad going. When you hear this you may be concerned that Suzuki will have diluted the look of the GSX-R, which was always has a strong family connection. But fear not, it still looks unmistakably GSX-R, although slightly anorexic with it.And it sounds unmistakably GSX-R as well. Turn the funny castle styled key in the ignition and the engine still has that GSX-R growl about it. The airbox still makes the same noises and there is still the slight vibration from the motor. All of which help give GSX-Rs their character.In the update Suzuki has completely re-designed the GSX-R1000’s motor. It’s now a genuine 1000, well as near as it can be at 999cc compared to the old bike’s 988cc, which gives it more torque as well as power and the rev limit has been raised by 1500rpm to 13,500rpm. In addition it has titanium valves to help the motor rev faster as well as a new shape combustion chamber, re-enforced crank and con-rods, slipper clutch, dual-injector throttle bodies and a re-designed gearbox with different gear ratios.When I arrived at the track Kevin Schwantz, who was there as an official Suzuki man, told me that the whole of the back section of the circuit, a total of 12 corners, could be taken in just one gear, second. I thought that he was just having a laugh with me but after a few laps I found out that he was right.The new engine’s extra mid-range and over-rev means that you can definitely hold a gear for longer without the need to change. Being a bit of an anorak I counted the number of gear changes I made on a complete lap and where on the same circuit last year on the 2004 R1 I made 12 changes, this year on the Suzuki I made just seven. What does this show? Well for a start I need to get out a bit more often but also the flexibility of the new engine. With the R1 I was swapping between second and third all the time, with the Suzuki I just left it in second. In the whole of the back section I only changed gear once on the Suzuki. Incredible.Suzuki has obviously taken a look at the new breed of 1000s and taken the best bits from each one to offer a superb compromise. Where the Fireblade is often accused of being a bit bland as the power is so linear and R1 just hits you and throws you back in the seat the GSX-R has a compromise of power and usability, helped by the excellent fuel-injection which I couldn’t fault or find any flat spots in.Driving out of corners the Suzuki just lays the power down with virtually no wheel spin, which is partly down to the excellent Bridgestone BT014 tyres but also the new chassis. Despite it looking so small there is actually a surprisingly large amount of room on the GSX-R. Compared to the old machine you are pushed closer to the bars thanks to the shorter tank but you also have loads of space at the back of the seat, which makes tucking in and moving around the bike very easy. And despite the pegs actually being lower than last year they are 17mm closer together as the middle of the bike is skinnier. When I first heard this I though they would be touching down everywhere, like on the R1, but because they are closer together they don’t at all, which is clever.When it comes to the corners you can climb all over the bike and practically put yourself where you want on the bike as there is so much room, which helps balance the bike in corners. Want to get some weight over the front coming out of corners? No problem. Want to put some more weight over the rear? Easy, just slide back in the seat.When questioned the Suzuki men were slightly vague about exactly has been done to the chassis and all that was said was that the frame and swingarm’s rigidity had been adjusted to go with the shorter wheelbase. Well, from what I can tell what ever has been changed is spot on.After I stiffened the showroom suspension settings slightly by adding two clicks of compression front and rear and a bit of pre-load at the front to help with the braking it was pretty much faultless. The first corner at Eastern Creek is frighteningly fast and a real test of braking, turning in and mid-corner stability and the GSX-R felt like it was on rails around it, even better than the R1 I rode last year. Stunning.With the old bike I could never quite get the front to do what I wanted under braking, it always seemed to judder no matter what I did. Although all that Suzuki has changed with the forks is the friction-reducing coating on the forks this problem is now completely gone, something I can only attribute to the new chassis balance. There is a feeling of a lot more control and stability when braking hard, something which is undoubtedly helped by the slipper clutch, which is as good the excellent one on the ZX-10R.Digging a bit deeper into the chassis development Suzuki kept using the term ‘concentrated vehicle mass,’ which is basically the same as Honda’s ‘mass centralisation’ theory. Basically get the weight of the bike as near the centre of gravity as possible to give the best possible chassis balance, which is probably why Suzuki hasn’t lost as much weight as the others.During the technical presentation Suzuki claimed to have lost 3.5kg, despite it only weighing 2kg less than before at 166kg. Being a Scot I’m good with numbers so I questioned this and was told that as well as the brake discs being bigger the fairing weighs more but the actual placement of the weight has also been changed with the new chassis to make it more central.So is the GSX-R1000 going to be the bike to beat? Well there is no question it has GSX-R DNA. It looks a lot more interesting than the old model and I really like what has been done with the bodywork. The engine keeps the GSX-R sound and feeling and has improved on what was already a very strong motor with a better spread of power and more over-rev while making the chassis much more balanced.It staggers me that they keep improving these bikes, but they do. Suzuki has basically looked at the competition and copied the best bits of them all. Its taken the Honda’s balance chassis, R1’s engine, ZX-10R’s size and slipper clutch and put it all together in a brilliant package without holding back on anything. It will be the one to beat.
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