Living with a 2003 Suzuki GSX-R1000

It's big, it's old and a bit of a relic. But enough about Bertie, see how he got on with the monster GSX-R1000

August 2003

In just two weeks and a shade over two thousand miles I've tried to give the Suzuki GSX-R1000 as good a thrashing as my pathetic skills could muster, with a track day, a 180 mile-an-hour blast down Bruntingthorpe's two-mile runway, daily commutes and a handful of Sunday blasts.

So, in effect, I've done six-months worth of riding in just 14 days!

After picking the handsome blue and white machine up from our benefactors at the wonderful Crescent Suzuki (01202) 810443), I had just enough time for a 150 mile 'bedding in' trip up north to my rendezvous with a damp Donington Park and the TWO track day.

145bhp mixed with a damp track and a ham-fisted editor would normally end up in an early gravel bath, but surprisingly this was not the case. That monster motor, developing a more than healthy 75 ft/lb of torque was, in fact, just the ticket. I stuck her in third and rolled on and off the throttle and stayed upright while also collecting a few scalps. A big reason for this is the OE tyres. The Bridgestone 012s have the unenviable job of taming the 145bhp that goes through that rear tyre, but they do a top job.

The high silica compound meant that as long as I exercised puritanical control over my right wrist, the tyres would look after me and not tip me on my arse. And, as the day wore on and the track dried out, they excelled themselves again as I upped the pace while following my very own teacher (Niall Mack) for a Donington Park masterclass. Cheers mate! Within a week the bike was nudging through the thousand mile barrier and was booked up for the first service back at Crescent. But first a whizz down Brunters' runway on a helmet launch. Maxing out a bike concentrates the mind wonderfully, and no more so than on the 1000. I managed to see the big 180 on the clocks before I hauled on the anchors.

Renegade Ducati teamsters Sean Emmett and Michael Rutter also had a pop on the GSX-R down the runway (186 indicated) and back up through the twisty infield and came back babbering about just how good this bike is for a standard machine.

By the time I got her to Crescent Suzuki's Verwood facility near Bournemouth, she'd done 1500 miles, so she was ripe for a service and a tune up. After all, 'more than' 140bhp is never enough...

The Verwood branch houses the race team and Crescent's Suzuki performance centre. And let me tell you, this is a biking nirvana set on 15,000 square feet of flooring.  As well as the whole range of Suzuki machines (including various Crescent racing replicas and low seat height versions of the SV family) everything else you could ever want for your two-wheeled career is there, including clothing and kit.

There's even a special performance centre where you can get all the advice you need about Suzukis as well as a coffee area where you can sit down and peer down at the race technicians below spannering everything from your bike to the very machines raced by John Reynolds and Yukio Kagayama. You could spend hours just walking around the place, as the walls are decorated with memorabilia from the team's seven year history, including crashed lids from riders who've ridden under their banner and the various stories attached to them.

The place is so swish, they've even got factory titanium valves on the end of the pull cord to switch the light on and off in the toilets as well as the wrecked piston from the dropped valve that ruined Chris Walker's chances of the 2000 British Superbike title.

I was in the capable hands of Alan Cook, who was going to give my bike a first service and whack on a Yoshimura Tri-Oval titanium system and set it up on the dyno. He reckoned we should see a rear wheel figure of 160bhp after some tweaking. We strapped my blue beastie to the dyno and found that it was pumping out a boisterous 145.2bhp as standard. When the gorgeously sculptured Yoshi pipe went on (£1008.23. You pay for the quality...) a little bit of tweaking and Alan's previous 'dynoarse' prediction came true... 159.3bhp. One thing I had to get with the lovely hi-rise pipe were a set of Yoshimura rear footrest hangers, which pull the pegs up a bit (£144.67) as the standard ones don't fit.

As well as producing massively daft dollops of power, the can looks the business. I also managed to 'liberate' a pair of Crescent crash bungs (£50), just in case like...

All in all I was impressed with the care and attention lavished upon the bike by Alan. Remember, these guys have to do the business as the customer can actually be above you in the gallery looking on!
So what's the score? Well, this thing is a rocket. It's bulkier than, say, a Blade (which isn't a bad thing for me), it handles superbly, brakes well and is comfy enough to do some serious distance. Worst tank range so far is 82 miles before the light came on (at Bruntingthorpe) while the best is 143! (Commute...) Improvements? On a scary 160bhp? (That's more than Chris Walker's 2000 GSX-R750 Superbike...) Brakes are good, but could do with a little more oomph. Apparently a Brembo master cylinder alone works wonders. And how about a Rizla paint job in green?

Check out the latest on Crescent Suzuki at: www.crescent-suzuki.com or www.rizla-suzuki.co.uk

November 2003

THE GAP AHEAD was getting narrower and narrower. Surely the driver could see me? Headlight on full beam, bright orange lid, blue leathers, perfect weather conditions, he won't pull out...

Course he hadn't seen me and of course he did pull out.

Lying over the highside of my beloved GSX-R1000, with my foot rubbing against the still spinning rear wheel, I just couldn't believe it. Despite my biggest ever impromptu rolling stoppie I was taken out by a VW Golf in between the middle and overtaking lanes on the M1 on my home.

Bugger.

Calming the 17-year-old miscreant down: "Sorry mate. Didn't see you. Are you hurt? Mum's gonna kill me," he said, and wheeling the bike to the hard shoulder, it was time to check the damage. Thankfully, as we were only doing around 15mph when the collision occurred, damage was light. A couple of small scratches to the bodywork on the left hand side, a popped-in indicator, a few gouges on the engine casing on that side, a missing gear lever end and a pain in my shoulder were the only evidence to my moment of fear. Apart from my heroic (ahem) riding skills, the real thing that saved the bike from more expensive damage are those Crescent crash mushrooms - the best £50 I never spent...

I could limp home while shifting gears with the remnants of the shattered shifter, but obviously a replacement set of pegs was needed. Our friends at PDQ (01628 667644) supplied me a set of Valter Moto Type 2 rearsets for the bike. I fitted them myself (just about the limit of my technical capabilities) and reckon they look superb. Only thing I have noticed is that they are a bit hi-rise compared to the standard pegs and this makes the bike just a little less comfortable for my 210-mile daily commute, meaning that by the time I'm half way through my journey I have to hang my feet off the pegs to get the old circulation going again in them. Still, they only cost £200 and look the dog's.

The crash has been pretty much the only blip on the best part of 10,000 miles of fun. Well, apart from one glitch, where a loose airbox sensor meant that the bike sometimes cut out at idle (fixed at the 8000 mile service). Star spanner-man Alan Cook from Crescent Suzuki also fixed on the gorgeous Crescent carbon fibre number-plate holder, which is smaller and more pert than the standard bulky item (£99.99). Before the next report, I intend on heading down to the Crescent Suzuki Performance Centre at Verwood, near Bournemouth (01202 820170) to see what other bits and pieces are popular on the big blue machine. One other thing Alan did fit were some SBS brake pads, so I'll let you know how I get on with 'em. Other add-ons? Perhaps some ballast for the front wheel.

I'm on my third set of tyres now. Following on from the original standard Bridgestone 012s, I went for a set of Bridgestone BT-012SS (Around £190 a pair). These have lasted from 4500 miles to 9200 - and there's still a bit of tread left. This use has included the commute as well as plenty of road abuse (in the Isle of Man, see page 60) as well as track days at Mallory Park, Donington Park and Silverstone. The buggers never moved an inch anywhere, felt as secure in the wet as in the dry and didn't square off while commuting, like the old BT56s I used to use. I'm well impressed. As I'm now out of Bridgestone favours, I think I'll try some Pirellis next.

Apart from the crash, one other thing that is a little bit of a pain if you're planning many miles on the big Suzuki is the paint finish. Stripping the bike down after the spill to fit the pegs and give the bike a good clean revealed a number of stone chips in the black fairing sides revealing the white underneath. It's a shame, as the rest of the bike has coped well with the equivalent of two-and-a-half years worth of miles. I may attack it with a black marker pen or call Dream Machine and ask them to do that green Rizla replica I'm set on... What do you Suzuki GSX-R1000 '03 owners think to the bike?