Living with a 2006 Suzuki GSR600

Hogan spends 12 months with the GSR600

July 2006

I spent a couple of days sorting out my Gilera Nordwest to sell on eBay - baby forces sale and all that. I've owned it for years and have such an emotional link with the old Eye-talian thumper it's going to be tough letting someone else have it.

Two days after I passed my test I rode it from North Devon to Le Mans for the 24-hour bike race. I remember it broke down the day before I was due to leave and I spent 12 hours sorting bits and pieces out on it. My test run to see if everything was okay was the ride to Pompey docks (it ran faultlessly).

So it felt a bit strange having the GSR600 and the Nordy on the same drive. I suppose it would be similar to bumping into an old girlfriend with your newer, lighter model on your arm. So I  did what any grown man would do in the same situation and took some pictures of them together in compromising positions.

The mileage is racking up nicely on the GSR and my commute to the office is turning into a bit of a mini test route. It can sometimes get a bit silly though, and while it's good fun I have had to make an effort not to ride like an idiot every day (does anyone else really struggle when it comes to not being an idiot?). It's hard not to though as there's a gaggle of other bikes I catch up with on the way home, and things can sometimes get a bit out of hand.

Nobody I have chatted to about the GSR600 really knows anything about it and I still haven't seen another one on the road. A quick check with Suzuki shows they have sold around 250 so far since the launch, which is positive, and it's out-selling the Hornet, Yamaha's Fazer and the little ER-6.

I'm still not happy with the fueling, though. Once there's a Dynojet Power Commander available I will fit one, but in the meantime I've kind of changed my riding style to suit. But while I'm aware the fueling isn't great, it isn't anywhere near as annoying as it was 1000 miles ago.

In an effort to remedy the high speed wind blast I've got a Secdem screen to try, but it's not really my sort of thing style-wise. It fits without drilling holes in anything and costs £59.99, so if you like the look of it got to

By the time you read this my second daughter will have been born, so the li'l Suzuki is going to get a bit of a rest. Not for too long though.

September 2006

I've got a new baby. Daisy Fia Hogan was born on 29 May and weighed exactly the same as my Shoei TC-2. A couple of weeks at home flew by in a blur of Tourist Trophy for the PS2, nappies and other baby stuff. Everything about being off was fantastic, apart from being without a bike (well okay, I had a Harley, but you know what I mean).

Anyway, before I knew it I was back in the office. And I was back on my GSR, which had sat un-loved
and un-ridden in my absence. It was great to get hold of it again. Better still, a little bit of legwork,
a small discussion on fueling issues and likely cures saw Dynojet arrange a Power Commander for me (£279.65, 01995 600500) and Scorpion Exhausts a set of funky slip-on cans (£310, 01773 513730).
A day with the chaps at Banjax High Performance (BHP), the only Dynojet-approved dyno dudes in London (0207 377 6333), followed. Setting up the GSR saw a mild transformation in performance - max power is now up 4.1bhp from standard to 90.2bhp at the rear wheel - but a huge change in the behaviour of the bike. Martin at Banjax had worked his magic on the bottom end fueling and all my old gripes about the snatchy throttle and annoying fueling are now but a distant memory.

Before the set-up session, going from open to closed throttle was quite abrupt, to say the least, causing the front end to dive a bit, and although I got used to it after 1000 miles or so, I'm sure more than a few potential buyers would have been put off the GSR on a test ride because of this trait.

I've noticed that the GSR isn't the only bike to be released to the public with snatchy fuelling; Tim's Fazer was very similar - and was also transformed by a Power Commander. I put it down to manufacturers making sure the bikes are fit for noise and Euro III emission tests, perhaps expecting owners to rectify the problems with Power Commanders and re-mapping. It has to be said though, there is something quite cool about sorting your bike and making these little personal touches.

October 2006

This really is my dream job but, due to the lack of scud missiles and AK47-toting Iraqis floating around Teddington and the surrounding area, it has been a while since my adrenal glands have had a full work out. Perhaps because of this I unconsciously decided to let some dozy car driver write off my li'l Suzuki in the hope that it would excite me to the point of puking - just like when I was in the war.

Emotional links between me and the Suzuki were growing stronger, and all the more so after last month's exhaust and Power Commander set-up, plus a very cool set of Renthal handlebars from B&C Express (01522 794262). Fresh, ultra-sticky Bridgestone 002s had only a few days previously been levered on, and I'd noticed immediately the improvement in the GSR's handling. Things were looking up.

Anyway, there I was burbling through Croydon, minding my own business on a gentle commute home, when a guy coming towards me in a Polo decided he liked my side of the road more than his. My adrenal glands still work then... but now my bike doesn't. When I tried to pick the GSR up in the road I realised that the only thing connecting the front end to the rest of the bike was the throttle cable. That's right, the headstock had completely separated itself from the rest of the frame with the impact. Oops. Apart from that the GSR crashed quite well, with a couple of sheared-off bits here and there. It still looks like a GSR, only now a Billy Lane inspired chopper-type GSR.

I did manage to get my own back on Polo man by head butting and shoulder barging the side and roof of his car. I count myself extremely lucky to have come away reasonably unscathed, but if you can't laugh about things that you shouldn't, or treat yourself to a near-death experience every now and then, why bother getting out of bed?

I'm just nipping outside to set myself on fire.

July 2007

My time with the GSR has come to an end, even after Suzuki kindly extended the loan. My relationship with the bike had settled into the period where we were just cohabitating. I was neither excited nor bored of the GSR. The bits that used to really annoy me, the snatchy throttle and the lack of front end feel were issues that I learnt to live with. I'm pleased to say after returning from the Zed 750 launch I still enjoyed getting back on the GSR, managing for the first time in ages to go for a ride on a Sunday morning.

I sacrificed a lay in and was out of the door by six in the morning. It proved to be the perfect time of the day to ride like an idiot, and I spent a few hours with a friend scratching around the back roads of North Kent. The GSR absolutely loves this kind of riding. Above 8000rpm it really does shift and so long as you can put up with the ever so slightly wobbly front end the GSR will provide laugh-a-minute riding. I suppose the main question people will want to know after a year of ownership is would I buy one? And the answer's yes, although on my salary it's not likely to happen until it's become a classic bike. Oh well