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There are few bikes which evoke a sense of speed and mystery and associate themselves with real life superbikers who have achieved cult status riding them. Our own John Abraham in India is mostly associated with the Hayabusa due to his first Dhoom movie even though he is a brand ambassador of another motorcycle company. However on the world stage it was the Ghostrider who achieved cult status which many have tried to, like more recently – ‘MaxWrist’ who has been going around on public streets on a BMW S1000RR, and even managing to get out of jail to do it again.
For me however, it has been the Ghostrider with his black GSX-R1000. He set the European highways on fire and shared low res videos online via YouTube back then, which made him something of a fabled creature.
In fact his impact on so many motorcyclists was so much, including myself that I unintentionally modelled my likes towards a matte black Hayabusa which I so cherish now.
Though I do not possess the skills or the aura of the Ghostrider it is pretty evident how a bike and rider can shape impressionable minds to such a great extent.
Coming back to the present. I found myself flying to the Kari Speedway in Coimbatore, my first tryst with the famous track. I gather it has played a very important role in shaping a lot of riders and a lot of activities keep happening there. Much before than the F1 spec BIC came up in the north. I guess riding the GSX-R 1000 was an excuse enough to pay a visit. And of course the JK Tyre Championship along with the Gixxer Cup was going on there that weekend as well.
The weather was amazing. The place is surrounded by hills, albeit a little distant, the highest peak of Ooty, a dream hill station of India called the Dodabetta is apparently only 90 kms away. Alas I didn’t have a bike there to go out on the road! Seeing the GSX-S1000 and the Hayabusa parked there gave me a flash of insanity that I might steal one of those and head to the hills. But there was work to be done.
So it was the second time I saw the new GSX-R1000s in flesh, after the INTERMOT last year. There they were – a matte black with red accents looking absolutely fantastic and ‘ghostrider’ ride ready. The other in the traditional Suzuki blue colors – this was the top spec GSX-R 1000R. But I was already in love with the black!
Now, the Kari Speedway isn’t really suitable for 1000cc machines. What I didn’t know is the condition of the track was literally like that of a road with one-way traffic. Bumps et all and with gravel around a few corners ensured that no flirting with the bike was possible. At least I didn’t want to take any chances!
So I first went on the GSX-R1000 without the balance free shocks. The traction level was set at 10. The TC was engaging inexorably and I had to come back into the pits and change the level to 4. The difference was remarkable. I was able to pull the bike much faster without the TC spoiling the party. The bike was fast. Insanely fast. I had to first get used to the track which is pretty technical and not at all flowing like the BIC. This meant a lot of shifting gears (but not so much probably thanks to the SR-VVT, which allowed for variable torque in low RPMs). Caution had to be exercised launching the bike out of the corners. After all a 200 plus bhp litre class bike demands utmost respect.
I could achieve speeds touching 200+ kmph on the front straight, however I paid the price with a tank slapper due to bumps on the track! The bike’s front wheel lifted skywards but somehow landed back on ground allowing me to brake hard before taking the right at the end of the straight. That was one scary moment. I could feel the TC, ABS working in unison to keep me upright at that moment. The GSX-R1000 doesn’t have the quickshift like its R version hence a bit more coordination is required especially on a tight track like this. Since I was far from breaking any lap records and just ensuring I get the bike back into the pits unscathed (to avoid possible lynching from other journalists and Suzuki officials alike since there were only two bikes), I took it easy.
The power is available at all RPMs, again thanks to the SR-VVT, and I dare not test it all the way up to its purported red rev band.
The bike does change corners very fast, but I reckon it will be much faster on a flowing track if ridden by the same rider.
Suzuki were a bit late to the party in upgrading the GSX-R 1000, the last major upgrade was, I reckon, 8 years ago. But they have come back with a bang. The R version has Showa balance free WSBK spec shocks which make it more stable under bumpy conditions and consequently faster too. Both the bikes have an IMU but the R version uses it to apply cornering ABS.
For me the new GSX-R is a great package, however the extra bucks for the R version will translate into faster (thanks to equipment like the quick shifter and BFF shocks) and safer (cornering ABS) riding – be it on the road or on the track.
The new GSX-R1000/ R is available in India for Rs 19,00,000/- and Rs 22,00,000/- respectively (Ex-Showroom Delhi).
The 80s was a transition period for superbikes. Engine technology had developed in leaps and bounds, producing far too much power than the tyres and chassis of the day could handle. The result was big unwieldy motorcycles which were more than a handful to ride. In superbike racing all the Japanese manufacturers were upping the game with their work on the engine. Suzuki took a different path to success, producing a more traditional engine but with a revolutionary frame. While the other Japanese manufacturers were using rectangular steel tube frames, Suzuki developed an aluminium chassis, ditching the traditional steel altogether.
With this innovation the Suzuki GSX-R 750 was born in 1985. Having a conventional engine setup made the bike a favourite among privateers. It didn’t just have phenomenal handling but because of its different frame, it visually stood apart from the competition. The sweet handling characteristic of the ’85 Gixxer has become a hallmark of superbikes from Suzuki. Hiroshi Fujiwara the main designer of this bike set in motion something which holds true even today.
The pinnacle of motorcycle racing sees the Suzuki in the same avatar. The common consensus in the MotoGP paddock is that the Suzuki GSX-RR ridden by Andrea Iannone and Alex Rins is the best handling bike on the grid currently. 2015 had seen the Japanese manufacturer re-enter MotoGP and they tasted success in 2016 with Maverick Vinales sewing up a convincing win at Silverstone.
Motorcycle racing aside, we would love to see the new superbike get a massively overpowered naked a la the KTM 1290 Super Duke R with its 170+ bhp. May not be the most practical motorcycle in the market, but then practicality at times is best shelved!
So what’s new with the 2017 Suzuki GSX-R 1000/R? Quite a lot it seems. In 1985, the frame used by Suzuki set them apart, now it’s the electronics. Though Suzuki is late to the ‘electrickery’ party, it has done a commendable job of getting it spot on.
The new GSX-R 1000 comes with a new chassis which is 20mm narrower at the widest point and it weighs 10% less than the previous model. Suzuki engineers and designers did extensive aerodynamic research and testing in the wind tunnel and on the racetrack during the development of the new GSX-R1000’s bodywork. Bigger discs help with improved braking over the outgoing model as well.
This is the most powerful bike ever built with 202 Ps of peak power and 117.6 Nm of peak torque. But this peak power hasn’t come at the expense of low and mid-range power. Thanks to the Suzuki Racing VVT (Variable Valve Timing), the engine produces oodles of power across the rev range. Suzuki claims that their proprietary system is much simpler than the competition. The simpler the tech, the less chances of failure.
This is why Suzuki says the bike is the ‘Best GSX-R Ever’!
The bike has 3 customisable modes which can be switched on the fly, though one must close the throttle before changing modes. It also gets a Continental Inertial Measurement Unit which is continuously measuring every motion and movement of the motorcycle. This allows for better electronic control during braking, cornering and acceleration.
For real world everyday ease of use, the Suzuki also has an Easy Start System. One touch of the starter button and the bike will roar to life. The rider needn’t pull in the clutch and hold the starter button. The electronics also help in starting the bike in cold conditions.
The R version of the gets even more goodies to go with the extra letter! Launch Control helps to get the perfect launch of the line on the track. You can whack open the throttle and the electronics will only send the required torque to the rear wheel to thrust the machine forward without spinning it up.
The Launch Control isn’t something you expect to use on a regular basis, but the Quick Shifter is. In the R, you can both upshift and downshift without using the clutch or playing with the throttle. This allows for smoother and faster shifting, a boon on the track.
The biggest step-up the R has over the regular is in the suspension. The Showa Balance Free Front Fork and Showa Balance Free Rear Cushion Lite rear shock set the R apart. Simply put, this system gives more consistent feedback by negating the influence of unequal pressure of the oil.
All these upgrades put together make the R a significant step-up over the regular version. Changes which will surely make a difference on a track, on the street though, we aren’t so sure.
A few pictures from Kari, where the Gixxer Cup was also taking place.
Comparison with the competition