By AZLAN RAMLI
BY the time I picked up this bike at Suzuki Malaysia, it had been many years since I borrowed a current, four-cylinder 1.0-litre bike of the “super sport” category, which is commonly referred to as superbikes. Of course, I’ve occasionally sampled such bikes belonging to friends but only for very short and very careful rides, for just a few minutes.
Why didn’t I ride this kind of bike more often and further then, since I could have borrowed them from the many generous local bike companies and even dealers? Simply put, their typical and purposely limited practicality turns me off. On a 199hp sixth-generation GSX-R1000 like this one, it’s all about rapid, bam-bam-bam dashes, both rider and machine playing with (and respecting!) the laws of physics.
When Suzuki Malaysia offered me to keep this GSX-R1000 for a few days, I gladly accepted it, since the Klang Valley was still in Phase 3 of the Movement Control Order then, meaning the roads were still not so busy. So, I needed to quickly and safely be up to speed (pun not intended, it just came so easily) to match such a machine, for an enjoyable few days with it.
For some motorcycle manufacturers, especially the “Japanese Big Four” and sometimes their European rivals too, the full-faired, 1.0-litre, four-cylinder super sports bike is their flagbearer, despite other more expensive, luxurious and accessory-decked models in their respective product range.
They are made to do just a couple of things – to be very quick in terms of acceleration, outright speed, braking and cornering on paved roads – and represent their manufacturers in the many road race series around the world, such as the Superbike World Championship, the best advertising platform for not just that litre bike (especially when it wins races) but the manufacturers’ overall brand image and products too.
Hence, their manufacturers invest in the best brains they can afford to build them, constantly searching for the best material, technologies and innovations for every successive 1.0-litre sport bike, which will always be each manufacturer’s quickest and most powerful.
While you can easily see the equipment and accessories on scooters, mopeds, tourers, cruisers and “adventure” bikes, the goodies that went into a bike like this Suzi are mostly unseen, concentrated under the aerodynamic skin; one needs to ride it to experience it. Only on the race circuits will they be fully appreciated. While they are impractical and even terrible for urban environment (this Suzi has a low rpm assist that prevents it from stalling when accelerating from standstill), they are awesomely fun along quiet bendy backroads and wide, open highways.
Unlike riding on cruisers and adventure bikes, you (and your suffering pillion rider) can’t turn your head much to admire the view along the way on this bike. For your own and everyone else’s safety, you need to maintain your spatial awareness at all times, while focusing on your lines, deceleration and/or braking points, gear positions and your body positioning on the straights and corners, to fully enjoy them. Go too slow and less adrenaline is pumped, and your wrists, elbows and shoulders may ache. On this Suzi, the fun and thrills are only through speed, lots of it and such an experience is highly addictive.
Simplest super sport
There are two variants available in our market, this GSX-R1000 and for about RM11,000 more, the GSX-R1000R that has some extra performance-oriented features. A quick check on its immediate rivals indicated that the Suzi is the least powerful, but don’t let that turn you off if you are in the market for your first litre super sport bike.
In fact, I highly recommend this bike for you. A seasoned super sport bike rider may scoff at its mere 199 horses and 117.6Nm of torque, but that is more than sufficient for me, if I put myself in your armoured shoes.
Aside from the usual buttons and switches for lamps, indicator, horn and the starter, this Suzi has a pair of buttons for you to easily choose your combination of its 10-level traction control and three riding modes, which are governed by a six-axis inertial measurement unit (IMU) by acclaimed expert Bosch. There is nothing else you need to programme, adjust or set, unlike on some of its rivals. Its factory-set Advanced Showa Balance Free Front Fork (BFF) and rear suspension are good enough for me to really enjoy the few days I spent on the Suzi. Adjust the mirrors, shift into first and off you go!
The GSX-R1000 is powered by a compact, liquid-cooled, double overhead camshaft, 999.8cc, inline four-cylinder engine. The lump is designed with a high level of top-end performance plus strong low- to mid-range power, with the Suzuki Racing Variable Valve Timing System (SR-VVT) increasing high engine rpm power without losing low- to mid-range power, when needed, while emitting a unique and thrilling whirr.
With its six-speed close-ratio transmission, the bike has a lower primary gear ratio compared to its predecessor for stronger acceleration. It is equipped with a bi-directional quick shift system that allows for clutch-less upshifts and downshifts.
The shifter linkage can also be easily set up for reverse pattern, enabling GP-style shifting even with the quick-shifter in use.
A programmable shift light on the main instrument panel sends out a visual alert to me, to shift when a certain engine rpm is reached.
The bike is equipped with the Suzuki Clutch Assist System (SCAS) multi-plate, wet clutch which acts as a slipper clutch during downshifts and increases pressure on the plates during acceleration to smoothen engine braking and lighten the clutch lever pull.
To match its performance, the Suzi’s suspension works is complemented by the stopping power from Brembo four-piston, radial-mount front brake callipers and an anti-lock brake system.
Should you get a bit over-enthusiastic when approaching corners or junctions, its Suzuki Motion Track anti-lock brake system provides rear wheel lift mitigation under heavy braking.
Despite my rusty-ness, I was already comfortable and confidently enjoying this GSX-R1000 after less than 10 minutes and a handful of corners; it rained almost immediately after I left Suzuki Malaysia’s office and I had mistakenly set the bike at its most aggressive riding mode, with the traction control at its mildest! It really is an easy bike to live with.
For both the roads and race tracks, this RM99,289 (suggested retail price without insurance and registration, with two years or 20,000km standard warranty, whichever comes first) ride is probably the easiest machine for you, if you are looking at upgrading to the super sport category.