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Suzuki GSX-S1000GT (2022) | UK rain-test and review

GSX-S1000GT-Visordown-Review

To find out how the new Suzuki GSX-S1000GT handles a typical UK tour, we set off for Scotland and a sample of the North Coast 500

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Sports Tourers
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Suzuki GSX-S1000GT (2022) tested in true Scottish weather! | £11,599 | 150bhp | 226kg

BACK in the day, there were bikes that roamed the planet that offered true sports bike handling dynamics, bags of comfort and more than enough room for two people, plus luggage.

Fast forward to today and they have all been pretty much killed off by the seemingly unstoppable march of the adventure bike. And while pretty much any bike can be sporty, and all of them can do the touring thing, there are many of these true, long-distance sports bikes left to choose from. Enter the new 2022 Suzuki GSX-S1000GT as it steps into a class that holds just a handful of competitors.

The new GT has been designed and built hand in hand with the naked GSX-S1000 and as you’d expect, the two bikes do share a significant amount. For starters, the pair share that legendary 1,000cc inline four-cylinder engine and common chassis and wheels are used. From the seat of the bike though, the two are vastly different.

SUZUKI GSX-S1000 GT (2022) Walk Around

SUZUKI GSX-S1000 GT (2022) Walk Around | Suzuki GSX-S1000GT 2022 Launch | Visordown.com

Suzuki GSX-S1000GT price vs the rivals

The new 2022 GSX-S1000GT comes in at £11,599 OTR and comes in three colours, Metallic Triton Blue (as ridden), Metallic Reflective Blue, and Glass Sparkle Black. Each bike comes complete with a three-year warranty.

A point of note is that the panniers and mounting kit will set you back another £900, although Suzuki claims there is a good reason for this. The firm's market research told them that of the people who actually bought sports touring bikes, many didn’t even use the cases, while even more didn’t opt for them. For the purpose of this comparison, let’s assume we are buying the panniers, so the price point of the bike will sit at £12,400.

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The Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX Tourer for this year already comes with panniers (the stocker doesn’t) and that’ll set you back £12,499 OTR. The Kawasaki comes in around 10kg heavier than the Suzuki and gives away just under 10bhp to the new GT.

Another bike that seems to be a natural rival to the new Suzuki is the BMW R1250 RS, and once you’ve spec’d the luggage for that model you’re only around £700 above the asking price of the Suzuki. The Beemer is around 14bhp down on the Suzuki and weighs in around 16kg more than it.

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Suzuki GSX-S1000GT engine

Powering the GT is an inline four-cylinder that has powered hundreds of thousands of Suzuki new bike sales during its fifteen years of service. In that time, the K5 inline-four has been gently updated to meet ever-changing emissions regulations and in this latest form the unit produces 150bhp and 79lb-ft of torque.

Upgrades for both the GSX-S naked and GT include ride-by-wire throttle, SDMS engine modes, switchable traction control and cruise control. To start with, the throttle and fuelling of the engine are perfect, with a turbine-like mid-range delivery that makes third and even fourth gear overtakes a breeze.

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Smoothing out the downshifts is a new to the range assisted slipper clutch that works well on the slick Scottish roads of the press launch. As with any slipper clutch, the system allows the bike to run lighter clutch springs that should translate to a lighter lever feel. The heavy clutch feel is something I noticed on the GSX naked press ride and again, it’s a three-fingered heave on the lever that’s needed. That said, you won’t really need to use the clutch on the move very much, as the quickshifter is exceptionally good at its job. It's slick at selecting cogs and blending the RPM of the engine to the next gear and amazingly works just as well around town as it does when hammering along a twisty B-road.

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Push the Suzuki out of the mid-range and toward the 11,500rpm redline and you’ll be rewarded with a soundtrack that’ll make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Like most Suzuki’s the induction howl of the engine when it's on-song seems like it's been crafted in a recording studio, and you’re not far wrong. The bike was tested in an anechoic chamber during development to check its aural ability. If this was the X Factor the GT would be getting a big Simon Cowell-style thumbs up from me and it’d be through to the Judges Houses already!

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Suzuki GSX-S1000GT suspension, brakes, and handling

Like the engine that nestles within, the frame of the GT is a familiar item and one that has carried the GSX-S range for a number of years now. It’s a case of ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ and I can see why. Sure, Suzuki could pour a couple of billion Yen into developing a new item that may be marginally lighter, with slightly improved rigidity and so on. In truth, there is really not a lot to dislike about the one they’ve got.

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One new change for the GT variant is the introduction of a new sub-frame. It’s a beautifully crafted tubular item that wouldn’t look out of place on some uber-expensive Italian sports bike. In truth, the new kit has a simple yet important job. With two-up touring on the cards, that new seat has to carry a rider, passenger and all their pants, socks, clothes, and toiletries. It also allowed Suzuki’s engineers to lower the frame rail slightly, meaning plusher and more padded rider and passenger seats could be used.

The press launch for this bike was a two-day tour of Scotland, taking in the highlands, the NC500 and Loch Ness. The route was chosen as it's right in the wheelhouse of what the GT is going to be doing once it's released into the wild.

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In authentically Scottish style, the first six hours on the bike were a washout with heavy rain and drizzle being the flavour of the day. Although that wasn't to the detriment of the bike. When it comes to splashing through puddles on roads that are colder than a mortuary slab, the GT is bloody brilliant. I said it on the GSX naked launch – another wet one, thanks Suzuki! – that the grip and feel in the wet was exceptionally good, and it's improved further with the GT.

The suspension is the same as the naked with revised spring and damping rates to give a plusher more forgiving ride. The suspension settings mated to simple yet effective electronics and that dependable delivery make this an ideal year-round UK companion.

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Day two of the press test was a much dryer yet slightly chillier affair. We woke at Fort William with a short blast over to the Dalwhinnie Distillery ahead of us – no tasters though for obvious reasons. The cooler tarmac wasn’t anywhere near as wet as day one but had that nervy sheen to it that screams ‘lack of grip’!

After taking it easy for the first few miles, I manage to work a modicum of heat into the Dunlop Roadsport 2 hoops, and we begin to make progress. It’s really the first proper chance to stretch the legs of the GT and it doesn't disappoint. Initial turn-in is a tiny bit sluggish, although that’s the fault of the tyre profile, not the bike. In fast sweeping though turns the big Suzuki has a touch of old-school analogue charm about it. It’s far enough over to the sporty side of riding but without giving away points on the comfort and usability side. The wide bars look vast when your sat in the seat and a little ungainly, once you are on it and on the move though, the extra leverage you can exert through the front end means they make a lot more sense than clip-ons.

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There’s a reassuring amount of dive on the brakes when you call the four-piston Brembos into action, noticeably more than its naked sibling. Once off the brakes and back on the power in the mid-corner, it’s all very well behaved. Like the naked, the GT’s suspension can be a bit flummoxed on really fast wash-board undulations. But it's really the only fly in the ointment I can find.

Away from the blur of the heather-covered moor and back in town, the GT transforms from a mile-munching sports bike to an easy-going daily driver. The wide bars are mated to a ginormous amount of steering lock that makes tight manoeuvres supremely easy. Add to that a low seat (810mm) and narrow step over, and even the shortest of riders – me basically – will find nadgery inner-city stuff an absolute doddle.

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Suzuki GSX-S1000GT comfort

Suzuki’s sole purpose with the front end of the GT was to slice a hole in the air that is big enough to fit a rider, passengers, and panniers through. The fact that it looks futuristic and striking is simply a bi-product of that process.

With the stock screen on the GT is okay, although you will experience some turbulence around your shoulders and head unless you tuck in all time. The much taller and oblique optional screen would be top of my Christmas list if I was thinking of landing a GT in my garage this winter. Screen aside, the rest of the fairing does an admirable job of keeping the rain and weather off you. It’s never going to be that warm hug of a bike that a big adventure machine is, but the addition of heated grips will make this an excellent winter explorer.

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Before the ride, Suzuki mentioned the bike’s mirrors and how the design had been done in such a way that almost double as handguards. I’m not sure I could feel them working, although if you took them away, it might be more evident.

One thing I can say about the mirrors is that they are extremely good for looking behind you – and that’s not something I get to say very often! They are chassis-mounted meaning there is barely a hint of vibration through them, even at silly speeds along challenging roads. They are a bit of a reach, especially for a short arse like me, although it’s a small price to pay for perfect rearward visibility.

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Suzuki GSX-S1000GT equipment and technology

Like its naked sibling, the Suzuki GSX-S1000GT does not come with IMU control of the ABS of traction control, and there aren’t umpteen levels of ABS intervention of multi-faceted wheelie control to call upon. The SIRS (Suzuki Intelligent Ride System) brings together the electronics you do have, but keeps them separate at the same time. They aren’t linked to any overarching riding mode, so any engine power and traction control level can be combined.

You cycle through the functions and highlight the one you want to adjust, then use the up and down buttons to increase of reduce the intervention level. And so long as the throttle is closed it can all be done on the fly. The cruise control needs to be armed on the right-hand switch cube then adjusted and reset on the left.

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Crowning the cockpit is a 6.5’ TFT screen that is well laid out and easy to read. The rev-counter is a nice touch – it’s a digital replica of an analogue one, and the trips, fuel, speed and gear indicator are all super easy to read.

With the dash comes a smidgen of high-tech in the form of Bluetooth connectivity. The system hooks up to the new Suzuki MySpin app that’s on Apple and Android. Once hooked up you can get turn-by-turn navigation, call answering (with a Bluetooth headset) and much more.

Suzuki’s tech guys did set the system up on the launch bike I rode, although Toad the fat-fingered fool managed to cancel it all while trying to change riding modes.

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What we liked about the Suzuki GSX-S1000GT

  • Wet and dry handling are brilliant
  • Comfort is very good
  • Manners around town are almost scooter-like
  • The engine is still a gem – despite being older than some of our readers!

What we didn’t like about the Suzuki GSX-S1000GT

  • Clutch is fairly hefty
  • The OE hoops aren’t bad, more sporty tyres are available
  • Heated grips are a £300 option!

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Suzuki GSX-S1000GT verdict

The Suzuki GSX-S1000GT will for many riders be a breath of fresh air in the market. Many former sports bike riders are being belligerently forced from their R1s and GSXRs, and into the waiting arms of the adventure bike sector. For these people, the idea of useable performance and everyday comfort of the Suzuki GSX-S1000GT will no doubt appeal.

Oddly one of my dislikes of the GSX-S naked after riding it was that I’d have liked it to come with some IMU control. I think that for that bike, in that sector, it just seems to make sense. Here though with the GT, I don’t think it actually needs it. For starters, it's in a pool of basically a handful of machines and secondly, in the two days of riding, I didn’t really need it. The plush set of the bike seems to have melted away any worries.

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Some will cry that Suzuki doesn’t innovate, or that they haven’t built an exciting bike since the mid-1990s. I’m not sure I agree. To me, it seems that Suzuki is just economical with what they have. They battle at the value end of the market, and massive amounts of development work before a bike is launched just eats into the bottom line and pushes that price up. And it’s not like their bikes are massively needing any expensive tech or innovation to start with. When your raw ingredients are this good to start with, you’re always going to bake a nice tasting cake!

The Suzuki GSX-S1000GT is set to land in the next month or so. To find out more speak to your local dealer or head to: bikes.suzuki.co.uk

Pictures - Jason Critchell