First ride: Suzuki GSX-S1000 review

A simple super-naked to challenge the S1000R and Super Duke R

SUZUKI is a bit behind the game in the super-naked class. A year after the launch of BMW's S1000R and KTM's 1290 Super Duke R, the Japanese marque has just entered the fray with GSX-S1000.

After a long test ride on the all-new 2015 model in southern Spain, I can tell you it was worth the wait.

No, it doesn’t have 177hp like the Super Duke R. Neither does it have a complete (optional) electronics package like the S1000R. And it doesn't look like it came from the 'Dark Side of Japan'. But it does offer all the fun you expect from a super-naked.

A big part in that is played by the silky smooth, rev-happy engine, taken from the 2005 GSX-R1000 K5 and retuned. At 143.5hp, it's got enough power to satisfy former superbike owners, especially when it's so broadly spread over the rev-range.

Torque surges between 2,000 and 6,000rpm, while the real fun-zone is from 7,000 to 10,000 on the small digital dashboard. Around the 9,000 mark, there’s an aggressive top-end punch, even at 130mph in sixth gear.

Combine this with a decent rolling chassis plus some sticky tyres, and you’ve got a recipe for hooliganism.

As well as a stiff aluminium Deltabox frame and well set-up suspension, the GSX-S1000 also offers a small but useful electronics package.

It consists of two optional elements only: ABS and traction control, in my opinion the most valuable electronic safety-gadgets on any bike. While the ABS cannot be switched off, it’s very easy to adjust the TC. You just press a button with your left thumb and select one of three modes offering varying degrees of intervention. 'One' is the least invasive and 'three', or 'wet mode', the most. Alternatively you can opt for 'off'. You have to close the throttle before the mode will actually change.

Under a hot sun, on grippy asphalt, with Dunlop Sportmax D241 tyres on the six-spoke aluminium rims, I didn’t really need the TC though.

Only on the famously slippery Spanish pedestrian crossings, with the traction control on level three, did the TC light illuminate on the dash as the electronics gently intervened.

The brakes lack some initial bite. There's plenty of stopping power but you need to push the adjustable lever just a little harder than you would expect from a double 310mm Brembo set-up.

The instrument panel is quite small, with a lot of information crammed in, so it takes some time to get used to. I won't say it’s cluttered but you sometimes need more than a split-second to find your trip meter or fuel level, for instance. The rev-counter and gear indicator are easier to locate, as is the big speedometer, so you’ll always know exactly how much you’re speeding.

The riding position is very compact. At 5'7”, I felt perfectly at ease with my chin on the tank and the pillion seat supporting my backside. If you’re taller than six-foot, the compactness might be an issue.

The same goes for the knee angle, which is rather acute, even by sports bike standards.

But the 810mm-high seat does offer a lot of space to move around, while the wide, Renthal Fatbar handlebars give plenty of leverage to tame some Spanish twisties, which is exactly what I did.

I’m not a big fan of knee-down riding on public roads, but the combination of the GSX-S1000 and these roads just begged for it.

Steering this Suzuki into any corner feels incredibly light and easy, with confidence-inspiring stability. No matter if you face hairpins or long, winding roads - the GSX-S will handle it with the best. For tighter manoeuvres, in the city, it has a useful steering angle, unlike most faired bikes (and the S1000R).

The throttle takes some managing. It's not a ride-by-wire system and the response is very aggressive. It's a little on/off, bordering on twitchy, and requires a smooth, fluent wrist. In town it got annoying and I found myself selecting one gear higher than I normally would. That helped but the throttle response is the first (and probably only) thing I would really like to change about this Suzuki.

Some larger and heavier journalists complained about the suspension being too soft but I didn't find it so. It was rigid enough for some hard road riding and still comfortable at a relaxed pace in town. I didn’t feel any need to fettle with the fully-adjustable fork, or the shock, which is adjustable for pre-load and rebound damping.

It did bottom out, twice, due to over-enthusiasm on my part, so it might need adjusting for the track. Removing the very long hero blobs on the foot-pegs would probably also be helpful.

It’s hard not to like this new Suzuki, especially at £8,999 plus on-the-road charges, or £ 9,499 with ABS. There's also the GSX-S1000F, identical apart fron the addition of a full fairing, at £9,999.

The GSX-S1000 might seem underpowered on paper, without as many electronics options as the competition, but the riding experience puts it on a par with the best in the class.

Model tested: Suzuki GSX-S1000

Engine: 999cc in-line-four

Price: from £8,999 plus on-the-road charges (£9,499 with ABS, £9,999 for fully-faired GSX-S1000F)

Power: 143.5hp @ 10,000rpm

Torque: 78.2lbft @ 9,500rpm

Kerb weight: 209kg

Tank capacity: 17 litres

Seat height: 810mm

Colours: candy red/black, metallic blue, matt grey

Read our Suzuki GSX-S1000F review here.

Read our Suzuki GSX-S1000 UK road test here and watch our video review here.

Read our Kawasaki Z1000 review

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