Living with a 2009 Suzuki GSX-R1000

Hoyles finds his youth again with Suzuki's mental GSX-R1000

June 2009

Just when I start thinking that I’m all grown up, a bike like this comes along and proves that I’m still a fair way off reaching cerebral maturity.

Last year’s experience with BMW’s fast but unwieldy K1200S truly made me realise that I’m not yet ready for anything other than a pukka sports bike. And they don’t get much more pukka than the brilliant GSX-R1000K9.

So, I’m going to kid myself no longer and go back to the roots I laid down in the nineties. The Suzuki doesn’t need a great deal to make it a better bike, but within a fortnight of picking the bike up I’ve changed the standard tyres in favour of Michelin’s quite frankly amazing new Power One hoops. Over the next few months I’ll be letting it breathe more easily, giving it as much fuel as it wants (rather than what Euro III emissions rules dictate), helping it to handle and steer even more naturally and, above all else, I’m going to make it look the absolute dog’s danglies.

Those hideous exhausts simply have to go so I’m currently on the lookout for some black carbon fibre loveliness – so far it’s looking like Devil or Yoshimura might just fit the bill. Then of course, there’s the back end to tidy up with a new numberplate hanger and old-school dinky plate. Then there’s the big piston forks to pull apart, try to understand, attempt to get back together and then try to improve. It’s going to be an interesting year packed with all the things I love about biking – growing up will have to wait just a little bit longer. Full report next month.

DATE RECEIVED: 27th March 2009
TOTAL MILEAGE: 758 miles

July 2009

Well, I’ve not really had much chance to ride the GSX-R1000 this month. With so much to organise for our trip to Assen and the rest of the month spent fetching bikes in the van, the GSX-R has been sat in the garage while I’ve been tearing the arse out of a bunch of 600s all over northern Europe. The 200 miles I have managed this month have been between Peterborough and Islington, so other than what the GSX-GSXR1000 K9 is like up and down the A1 (very comfortable by the way, if a little tricky to keep at licence-friendly speeds) there’s not a great deal I can say with much in the way of conviction about the finer points of the handling or engine.

There’s one thing that’s getting a little frustrating though. With the Suzuki being a new model for 2009, getting hold of any go-faster bits hasn’t been easy. I’d eyed up a sexy little French number to replace the rocket launcher exhausts, but then trying to communicate with Devil exhausts in France was harder than trying to communicate with the dead, so eventually I gave up and decided to look elsewhere.

Yoshimura would have been a little obvious for a Suzuki so, after a fait bit of internet browsing, I decided on a Leo Vince. Everything is beautifully engineered, right down to the last bracket. Well almost, as the last bracket wasn’t actually in the box. A quick call to the ever helpful Bob Pearson at Moto GB Distribution (0845 094 1934) and the heatshield brackets should be with me by the time I get back from getting wet and trying not to crash at Pembrey.

There are still a few more bits I’m keen to try on the Suzuki, but it’s a case of being patient and waiting for things to be made. In the meantime our esteemed editor has been experiencing the joys of Suzuki’s latest flagship machine for himself.

It’s funny how a thing as simple as a motorbike can help somebody revert back to type. One minute he was singing the praises of the Met police traffic division afer spending a few days with them, the next (following a ride home on this here GSX-R) he was banging on about wheelies and racing tuned Porsches at lots of miles an hour down the A3. You definitely don’t get that kind of fun out of a BMW GS Adventure.

John’s initial concerns about the pipes ruining the fuelling have proved unfounded. Modern bikes use air/fuel sensors that instantly recognise that the bike is breathing easier and optimise themselves. Sure, some time on the dyno would ensure everything is bang on, but it revs really cleanly, pulls well from 3000rpm and at 8000rpm the thing goes mental, the front end screaming for the clouds like a homesick angel. We made a couple of videos to show the difference in sound between the standard pipes and their Leo Vince replacements. Not only are the aftermarket items prettier, I’m sure you’ll agree they sound an awful lot better too; road-legal but sweet.

DATE RECEIVED: 27th March 2009

August 2009

It’s been an up and down month for me this month. Highsiding the Fireblade at Oulton Park, dislocating my collarbone and generally bashing myself about being this month’s fairly obvious low. But on the Suzuki side of the garage, things are going pretty well, if a little slowly for my liking.

Frank Wrathall at Dynojet UK came up trumps with a Power Commander V to get the mapping sorted out to suit the gorgeous road legal titanium Leo Vince end cans and the catalyst eliminator.

As expected, with the catalytic converter removed, the bike was running a little on the lean side so, rather than wreck the valves and pistons, I got Rob Simpson at RJS Superbike (01455 845611) to set up the fuelling to see what kind of power the big GSX-R would poke out, freed from the shackles of environmental responsibility.

Not quite as expected, the gains in terms of sheer horsepower were fairly minimal, to be honest, with a steady 3-4bhp gain across the rev range all the way to a peak figure of 163.01bhp compared to the 160.7bhp we got as stock.

Eagle-eyed readers or, as I’m often known, ‘anoraks’ may have spotted that on the very same dyno just a month or two ago, we had 164.99bhp from our bog standard press fleet test bike. And this bike, now with £1500 worth of goodies bolted on, is making less. The only reason we can come up with for those absent four-and-a-bit ponies is that the weather was much colder when we tested the press bike – surely it couldn’t be that Suzuki’s press bikes are a bit ‘special’? Now that Roger Simmonds has left, those days are long gone.

Regardless, our GSX-R1000 is now a much smoother ride. The midrange delivery feels fatter and getting back on the throttle mid-corner is a far less edgy affair. All in all, the improvements made might not have resulted in earth shattering headline horsepower figures, but I’m more than happy with the way the bike performs and would bet a week’s wages that the extra confidence on the throttle at big lean angles will translate into faster lap times.

Speaking of big lean angles, I’m also happy to report that the Michelin Power One tyres are still working brilliantly and are doing very well to resist the motorway’s best efforts to square them off. All being well, I’ll be back on a bike in less than a fortnight and back on the spanners even sooner than that.

DATE RECEIVED: 27th March 2009
TOTAL MILEAGE: 1987miles

October 2009

My first few runs into the heart of London had me thinking I’d made a poor choice of longterm test bike, if I’m being honest. Masses of horsepower allied to a sublime chassis seemed to lead me into far too much temptation on my often-convoluted route to avoid the straight-line boredom of the A1, a route that not only had me risking my licence but also kept making me late for work, despite the somewhat enthusiastic speeds. The grin-inducing performance seemed to be rather wasted on the last ten, traffic-heavy miles of my commute, too. But I’ve since worked out that it’s me that’s got problems, not the bike. I can’t blame Suzuki for my lack of self-restraint, just as I can’t fault Showa for producing forks that make me want to hammer the front end in to each and every curve of my daily route into the city.

So I’ve had a word with myself and decided to consider the GSX-R as a dual-purpose machine, thinking more about the bike’s strengths than my mental weaknesses. Having had a quick spin on Ben’s stupidly wide GTR1400, the Suzuki now feels like the ultimate town bike. It’s fairly narrow, the mirrors don’t clash with the traffic and, short-shifting through the gearbox using the recently fattened torque, I can pretty much ride it everywhere in third like a big twist-and-go scooter. The GSX-R steers more than quickly enough to dart in and out of gaps and always has bags of acceleration on tap for those snap decisions. So actually, in town, it’s perfect.

Not that I love the Suzuki for its commuting ability of course. On those rare days off, the GSX-R has made me want to ride purely for the sake of riding again. It’s a feeling I haven’t had for a long time, not since my mid-twenties when funds finally allowed me to enjoy the then-new Yamaha R6 for no better reason than to wear out tyres and burn petrol. Speaking of tyres, I’d just like to thank Dunlop for sending me a set of their new Qualifier II tyres. So far they’ve worked well across my wide-ranging requirements. Thanks also to Webbs of Peterborough for squeezing them onto the rims in double-quick time on a Saturday and at (typically) short notice.

DATE RECEIVED: 6th April 2009
TOTAL MILEAGE: 3670 miles