Suzuki 2001 GSX-R1000 K1-K2 review

The original bad boy, still mentally fast today
Feels a bit old, engine vibrates and brakes go off

Half a decade or more ago the 2001 GSX-R1000 K1-K2 was the latest 'big thing', a machine which made the likes of the FireBlade and R1 also-rans.

Not to be confused with the 2001 GSX-R1000, the K1-K2's 988cc motor produced more power than the opposition, the chassis handled like a pukka 750 superbike and the looks were very GSX-R. Little wonder it was a massive sales success.

Subsequent models have built on this solid bedrock, and it's funny how bulbous it now looks next to the lithe and silky-smooth 2006 GSX-R, R1 and Blade.

Newer 2003 GSX-R 1000 and 2005 versions have trimmed the fat and beefed up the power. And now the 2007 GSX-R600 K7 gets switchable power settings of 105, 130 and 187bhp.

2001 GSX-R1000 K1-K2 engine

Well, what can you say about this monster? In some bikes the motor would over-power the chassis, not so with any GSX-R1000. Characterful and raspy, there's always an exciting engine note. Looking at a contemporary power curve, in general the GSX-R1000 K1/K2 has the longest and strongest power delivery compared to the opposition. From a dip at 4000rpm, the motor takes off and by 7500rpm it's making between 5-10bhp more than its rivals. Things stay that way until the 10,500rpm peak of around 140bhp. 'Impressive' doesn't come close. Servicing takes place generally every 4000 miles.

2001 GSX-R1000 K1-K2 noise 

Some owners report a tappet-like noise on K3/K4s between 3-7000rpm. Don't worry, it's all part of the GSX-R's raspiness and character. These motors are rocket-proof.

2001 GSX-R1000 K1-K2 clutch and gearbox

Gearboxes are solid - as you'd expect from Suzuki. However, some K3/K4 models suffer a little from clutch slip when hot. Owners report that grooves in the clutch basked can foul the plates, which may require a new clutch and basket (some have had this done under warranty, so ask). Later K5/6 models apparently benefit from lavish amounts of grease on the clutch lifter mechanism that slips into the clutch hub.

2001 GSX-R1000 K1-K2 power

Like early FireBlades, some later GSX-R1000s vary wildly when it comes to outright power output. Some dyno operators say that K5s especially vary from anything between 150 and 170bhp. GSX-Rs - like most fuel-injected machines - benefit massively from decent dyno time and set-up with a Power Commander. Improvements are around 5-10bhp.

2001 GSX-R1000 K1-K2 brakes

The only weak point of the original K1-K2 model. Pads and fluid overheat quickly and the only cure is softer pads and braided hoses. Things improved massively with the K3/K4's radial numbers, although these suffered a little with fade - as did the earlier calipers (GSX-R experts Crescent Suzuki reckon a Brembo master cylinder works wonders on this model...). Later machines were better still. Some K3-K6 machines are reported to suffer from an intermittent vibration from the front brakes at low speed. It's possibly the sintered pads and is nothing to worry about.

2001 GSX-R1000 K1-K2 suspension

Generally of good quality and seems to last well even on the earliest, high-mileage K1s. Do check to see if there's been any damage of the exposed teles. Old flies, bits of grit and the like can eventually foul the fork seals. Do check for ease of movement (bump the front up and down) and check for any oily residue left behind.

2001 GSX-R1000 K1-K2 handling

If you want to raise the rear ride height of a K5 or K6 then the rear shock mount off a 750WT fits and it's 8mm taller. There you go.

2001 GSX-R1000 K1-K2 tyres

Popular choices include the original Bridgestone BT-series (011F and 010E for the K1/K2 and the later 011 and 012 for the K3/K4). K5 and K6 machines came with the ubiquitous BT014s. The K7 will come with the latest-generation BT015s. Another popular choice is the Pirelli Dragon Supercorsa Pro, which provides fast turn-in, high grip and stability. Many owners use these for track days only, although they are road legal. The Corsa III is perhaps the best bet for the road, using Pirelli's three-zone compound with softer shoulders for the track. And they're rated by owners in the wet. Standard street Diablos work very well in most conditions, too. Metzeler Sportec/Racetecs are similarly well-held. These things can eat tyres. Even without track use a rear may last only 2-2500 miles.

2001 GSX-R1000 K1-K2 fuel range/economy

Pretty good for such a performance machine. Ex-ed Bertie got around 130 miles before reserve on his K3. Later K5s can stretch to 150 miles.

2001 GSX-R1000 K1-K2 finish

Soft paint and decals abound but being on a GSX-R1000 means you're normally at the head of the pack and not showered with grit. Fasteners could do with being more resilient to the British winter.

2001 GSX-R1000 K1-K2 comfort

It has to be said that all the GSX-R1000 models are roomy and offer a fair amount of comfort considering they're sports bikes. Perhaps the best compromise of performance and comfort are the K3/K4 versions. But a number of companies offer a range of gel seat inserts which can help big time. Thankfully, they're also now quite tastefully done. If you have piles, try