Used Review: Suzuki GSX-R1000K2

This month, TWO finds that living with the first breed of GSX-R1000 is easier than you think.

Suzuki's GSX-R1000 made a huge impression on the biking world when it came out in 2001, as it totally outstripped the performance of all other superbikes of the day. If you wanted to be king, you had to own one.

Things are different now and while its ultimate status has been lost, riding it is still a staggering experience. In real terms, the GSX-R is miles better than most who own it.

It's stood the test of time really well and as long as you're careful, there's no reason you can't snap up a good 'un and look forward to some long and trouble-free service from it.

Many were bought by nutters who gave them a good caning from day one: avoid these! However, because of its cult status of being the 'best you could buy', a lot were owned by posers who never used even half of what the Suzuki had to offer. Those guys simply wanted to feel good about having the current king of superbikes in their garage. These are the bikes you want to buy.

What reasons made it so good? The main one is the massive engine power the GSX-R has - most record 150bhp or even more at the rear tyre on the dyno. Then, when you realise the four-cylinder motor only has to push a bike with an anorexic dry weight of just 170kg, it's not hard for the numeric combination to make you shiver at the prospect of riding it.

This incredible power to weight ratio suggests the 1000 could be a complete monster to get on with. And, in the wrong hands it can be. But in reality, as long as you use your loaf and meter the throttle to suit the conditions, not only is the bike quite manageable, it can actually be quite friendly. This broadness of character makes it much more of an all-rounder than you'd expect and riding it fast on either road or track, bimbling through town, scooting off to the South of France or just using it as everyday transport are all easily possible with the 1000.

The heart of any GSX-R is the inline four-cylinder engine. It has huge power and, more importantly, power virtually everywhere within its rev range, regardless of what gear you're in. Add to this the fact the delivery is very linear and the fuelling from the injection system is nigh-on perfect, and gaining speed couldn't be easier or more civilised.

This is why it's very important to be careful with your right hand. Get too keen with the twistgrip too quickly and the readings on the digital speedo can come as a big shock - it can quite often read something like 30mph more than you're expecting. Cruising along at even a heady velocity like 130mph is easily possible without realising it. And, in this world of Gatsos and other licence-threatening pace-measuring devices, surprises of this type can be literally life altering.

But the madness that makes almost any other road vehicle's pace seem pedestrian by comparison can, with care and attention, be dished out more carefully. Select higher gears sooner by short-shifting and keep the tacho needle a little lower round its face and the GSX-R's motor can behave like a gent, making slower speeds straightforward and unintimidating. Chugging through towns or cruising along with no sense of urgency are calm and easy options.

The Suzuki's handling is just as versatile. It's quite a big bike physically by today's standards, but that can't disguise its light and flickable character. Carving through corners is an almost automated affair thanks to the racy spec of its chassis and suspension. And the standard-fitment steering damper makes even the fastest progress steady and stable at the front-end. Though it should be said that on a cold day the viscosity of its oil can make slower speed turns feel heavy and ponderous. Fitting an adjustable aftermarket damper makes life a lot easier.

Speaking of modifications, the standard brakes can benefit from a pad change and braided lines to improve power and feel. Without them, the stoppers can leave a little to be desired when you're riding hard.

Pushing on over longer distances isn't something most will need help with though. The roomy riding position is quite relaxing and the seat and fairing do a good job of making life on the Suzuki comfortable. Only the really gangly long-legged sorts will feel the need for rest, thanks to the fairly high-set footrests. The rest of us can tour far and wide without much need for impromptu resting. Good mirrors, decent underseat storage and bungee hooks all aid the civility and convenience of the bike still further.

The example we rode, a 52-reg, 4000 miler, had obviously benefited from a doting previous owner and was in mint condition. On sale for £6395 at Riverside Motorcycles in Northampton (01604) 417010, it's a fine example of an exceptional motorcycle that's well worth a look.

Drawbacks aren't in too much evidence but still need to be noted. The main one is the expense of constant hard riding. Do that, and bills for tyres will be high and regular - not to mention speeding fines if you don't exercise a degree of self control. And insurance isn't exactly modestly priced either. In fact, it'll be tricky to get cover at all if you're under 25. Finally, the GSX-R's flimsy finish demands plenty of love and attention to keep it looking shiny and bright.


Many have been thrashed so inspect every bike carefully

Grabbing clutches can be cured by fitting a wave washer between the plates. See a Suzuki dealer

The titanium nitride coating on the forks can wear. This is only cosmetic and rarely causes any problems

Race cans can be fitted without altering the fuel-injection mapping. The ECU automatically compensates

If you fit a full race exhaust and remove the powervalve, re-route the wiring from its sensors. Otherwise, the injection system will not run perfectly

Power Commander or Yoshimura EMS units clean up the fuelling at low and medium rpm

The throttle cable connecting the twistgrip to the SDTV servo can break making the engine run rough

Finish is weak Stickers peel and the paint can chip easily.

Fit an adjustable steering damper to help low speed steering

Fit crash bungs and frame protectors.

If the fuel-injection warning light stays on after starting, the throttle position sensor needs changing.


Famous for its staggering performance the GSX-R1000 may be. But behind the supercar-slaying speed lurks a much more relaxed animal that fits into the real world quite nicely. And on that basis the rapid all-rounder might be a bit more suited to your needs than you'd expect.