Buyer Guide: Suzuki GSX-R1000

The ultimate buyer’s guide to the GSX-R1000 written by the people who actually own the bike...

Click to view: Suzuki GSX-R1000 owners reviews, specs and image galleries

GSX-R1000 owners may have a reputation as being two wheel hooligans but plenty still found the time to fill in the on-line questionnaire and speak to us on the phone to tell us about their bikes. That’s what the Buyer Guide is all about – getting the nitty gritty on what bikes are like to live with in the real world. Anyone who thinks GSX-R1000s are just track bikes are in for a shock. Okay, it’s been top dog in the big sports bike category since it was launched in 2001 but it’s actually quite a comfy, practical bike as well.

The big ‘Gixxer’ (urgh!) has been wowing owners for seven years now and regular updates mean it can still boss the race track as well as the road. The original 2001 K1 version stood out for having a monster motor – massive midrange and top-end too as well as excellent handling. The 2003 K3 update had an even more precise, light weight feel while the heavily modified 2005 K5 is still thought by some to be the best sports bike you can buy. Which is quite a discovery.

The latest K7 and K8 models are heavier due to emission regulations but they’re still awesome tools, loaded with the latest track derived electronics. We’ve gathered information from owners, spoken to mechanics, importers and other experts to bring you the low down on what these awesome machines are really like to live with, day to day.

Suzuki GSX-R1000 Specifications

2001

Engine 988cc, liquid cooled, dohc, 16-valve, in-line four Power 143bhp @ 10,500rpm Top speed 176mph
Torque 76ftlb @ 8,200rpm Dry weight 170kg Seat height 830mm Fuel capacity 18 litres

2003

Engine 988cc, liquid cooled, dohc, 16-valve, in-line four Power 164bhp @ 11,300rpm Top speed 184mph
Torque 80ftlb @ 8,400rpm Dry weight 168kg Seat height 830mm Fuel capacity 18 litres

2005

Engine 988cc, liquid cooled, dohc, 16-valve, in-line four Power 175bhp @ 11,200rpm Top speed 186mph
Torque 87ftlb @ 8,500rpm Dry weight 166kg Seat height 830mm Fuel capacity 18 litres

2007

Engine 988cc, liquid cooled, dohc, 16-valve, in-line four Power 185bhp @ 12,000rpm Top speed 186mph
Torque 83ftlb @ 10,000rpm Dry weight 172kg Seat height 810mm Fuel capacity 18 litres

The nuts & bolts

Running costs
The top-dog sports bike daddy is never going to be cheap to run. But the good news is it’s not cripplingly expensive either. A gentle motorway cruise can return 50mpg or more – although most riders get more like 38-40mpg in normal use. Tank range varies from 100-170 miles, typically about 130.

Servicing costs are very reasonable for such a high performance machine, partly as it’s comparatively easy to work on and suffers no major problems. The minor (4,000 miles) is typically around £120, intermediate (7,500 miles) £150-£200 and the biggy with valve clearances (14,500 miles) a pretty reasonable

£300-£350.Insurance is expensive (although slightly less than the Fireblade through some companies for some reason) so get a quote before you buy.

Brakes
Damned rather unfairly on the K1 and K2. When the bike came out the odd extra-fast journo managed to make them fade under very hard track use. For most riders the set-up is fine – or should be but like so many bikes which are a few years old, the brakes need an overhaul and are only working at about 50% as well as they did when new. Before you reach for the AP Racing catalogue, make sure the originals are working perfectly – that means free and nicely greased calipers, healthy pads, fresh fluid, straight unworn discs and pipes which aren’t tired.

If you want more bite a larger master cylinder helps. A Brembo 19/20 master cylinder will make a big difference but you’ll need a different banjo bolt too – the thread pitch isn’t the same as the Suzuki one. The brakes on later models are excellent. Standard brake pads are well regarded but EBC HH are the number one choice among those who want more bite. They seem to wear discs faster and crate more dust though. SBS pads are well thought of too.

Finish
Like so many Suzukis it’s a bit cacka. The first (K1 and K2) machines had issues with the gold Titanium Nitride coating flaking off the fork legs – many were replaced under warranty but the forks seemed to work fine even if they weren’t. The paint is criticised on all models. Pretty much all over the bike it can be rubbed off by some gentle contact from boots or leathers. The tank, swing arms (when they’re painted) and bits at the front which can get stone chips all come in for a slating from owners – Suzuki do a subsidised

Ventureshield kit to protect paintwork and it’s worth having. A good butchers at the paint is a wise way to assess a bike’s true mileage and how it’s been looked after.

Owner Case Study: "I’m a GSX-R1000 junkie – I’ve owned four now!"

Bret Richardson, a 48 year-old print engineer currently has a GSX-R1000K6 he’s put 12,000 miles on...

“I got the bug back in 2002 when I bought a K2. I made some modifications on it and it was great but once it got 13,000 miles on it I traded it in for a K4Z – the limited edition version of the K4 with black paint and gold wheels. I modified that too. It had Öhlins suspension, Oz wheels, an Akropovic exhaust, quick shifter and more.

"Then I got a K5 – the Stealth model with black paint - to try and keep the miles off the K4 but one month I ended up taxing two bikes at once as I had an old GS1000 as well, and that seemed crazy so I sold the K4. I modified the K5 too; Yoshimura full system, Marchesini wheels, Brembo brakes, paint job. I did eight and a half thousand miles in as many months then sold it and got my K6. I’ve tricked that up.

"The wheels from my K5, Brembo discs, Öhlins shock and damper, under tray and a couple of different Yoshi full systems. It makes 176bhp at the wheel. I like the K5/K6 models the best – they fit me perfectly and I’m 6ft and normal build. The K2 was great, the K4 was sportier and smaller but the K5 and 6 are my favourite – they’re just ballistic.”

Tyres
Bridgestone BT-014s are popular. Some riders love them but others have tried them and find them vague and wouldn’t use them again. Michelin Pilot Power 2CT are also widely used and seem to impress pretty much everyone who’s ridden on them. Metzeler Rennsports are spoken highly off too – but aren’t good in the cold or wet, ditto Pirelli Super Corsa Pros. A few owners have tried Metzeler’s M3 Sportec and they get very positive reviews both for track and street use.

Ride hard and you can kill a rear in 1,000 miles and a front in 1,500. While the most careful owners in our survey eek 3,500 from a rear and double that from a front. Average is about 2,000 miles from a rear and 3,500 from a front. Standard sizes are best unlike some bikes where people go down one rear size for faster steering.

Tuning
An exhaust is a popular mod and anything other than a road legal can should be accompanied by a Power Commander, preferably custom remapped by an experienced dyno operator. Yoshimura’s the most popular exhaust brand by a country mile and owners have nothing but praise for them. Quality’s excellent, they’re light and there’s a power increase at the top end, although sometimes at the expense of a little midrange. Original exhausts have plenty of titanium in them, including the downpipes so weight savings aren’t colossal.

Timing Retard Eliminators are another popular mod. The engine’s restricted in the lower gears and sixth – this gizmo fools in into thinking it’s in fifth all the time. Some riders swear by them, others claim they can cause poor running and other problems. It might be that a Power Commander’s a better overall bet.

Modification
Engine tuning is generally limited to an exhaust, Power Commander and TRE, although Simon Fowler wanted even more and nitrous’d his K2. Quite a few people uprate the brakes too. Beyond that there’s a huge range of mods and plenty of people trying most of them. Suspension upgrades and light weight wheels are popular with people who want even better handling. Some people say the K1/2 and even the K3/4 don’t turn in as easily as rivals and these mods can help. Marchesini are popular wheels while Öhlins, WP and K-Tech are the most common names for suspension improvement.

What goes wrong
Very little. There’s the odd problem with the gearbox on the K1-K4 machines. Bikes that get thrashed may suffer from a lack of oil to the selector on the input shaft. A noisy box can mean the damage is already done. In addition there’s a pin in the selector drum which can come lose and wreak havoc – although some Locktite keeps it in place. Needless to say any gearbox problem will be costly to fix so be wary.

The most common cause of clutch problems is the worm drive on the clutch cover filling up with chain lube and grit. Keeping it clean’s an easy preventative measure.

There’s a rubber O-ring on the throttle position sensor which can get dry and cause the secondary injection valve to operate jerkily. Lubricating it at service time keeps things sweet.

The only safety recall on the GSX-R1000 series is the current idle speed control (ISC) valve recall on the GSX-R1000K7 but quite a few K5s and K6s have had their clutch modified under warranty to make it less grabby.

Owner Case Study: "I’ve racked up 36,500 miles on my GSX-R1000 with no trouble"

Tim Girvan, 37, a machine operator, uses his K1 every day to commute as it’s his only transport.

“I absolutely love it. I had a 1991 GSX-R750M before and the 1000 makes it feel like a bloody moped. It gets a hard life but it’s been really reliable. It gets used in all weathers and that can mean commuting home after a late shift at 3am in the snow if needs be. It lives outside, under a cover if it’s lucky.

"I don’t always service it on time as I need it for getting to work – right now it’s 6,000 miles over its service limit. I’ve run it really low on oil before – like it’s needed over two litres to bring it up to the right level. But it’s never missed a beat, and despite all that it’s still been very reliable. The only problem its had was when the starter clutch needed replacing. I’ve done loads of track days on it and the other day I did 500 miles in one day and didn’t have any aches and pains.

"It never ceases to amaze me how capable this bike is, there doesn’t seem to be anything it’s not happy doing. There’s a few web communities serving the GSX-R crowd, but  I tend to go on the gixerjunkies.com forum which has loads of useful information. Good place to find a decent bike, as well.”