A Short Review of the 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000

04/27/2017 @ 4:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler53 COMMENTS

Finally returning to the sportbike segment, Suzuki enters the 2017 model year with a brand new GSX-R1000 superbike – and when we say “all new” we truly mean it. This is because the only thing that the 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000 carries over from its predecessor is the logo on the fuel tank.

With much to like about the previous generation machine, new doesn’t necessarily mean better. So, to see how the new Suzuki GSX-R1000 goes around a race track, we headed to America’s premier racing facility, the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. 

For our purposes, COTA is the perfect pressure test for a motorcycle like the Suzuki GSX-R1000. If you didn’t keep up with our live blogging from the event, we had a perfect day in Texas to see what the new GSX-R1000 has to offer.

Host to America’s sole MotoGP round, COTA has been built with long stretches that test straight-line speed; it has quick-transitioning esses that test handling, fast sweepers that test the motorcycle’s feedback to the rider; hard-braking zones that test the stability of the entire rolling chassis; and there is plenty of elevation and camber for the electronics to handle.

Put through the demanding gauntlet that COTA offers a motorcycle, the 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000 proved that the Japanese brand hasn’t forgotten how to make a potent superbike. But what about regaining its crown, as the King of Sportbikes? Continue reading to find out.

Engine – Highs, Lows, And Everything in Between

The 998cc “short stroke” inline-four engine on the 20177 Suzuki GSX-R1000 is the main talking point for this new superbike. It makes 199hp at the crank, but thanks to Suzuki’s cleverly designed, and MotoGP-derived, variable valve timing (VVT) setup, this Suzuki GSX-R1000 is no slouch off the corners.

Suzuki’s centrifugal VVT design allows for the Japanese brand to reach for stratospheric power figures at the top-end of the rev range, without sacrificing too much from lower engine speeds.

In practice and on the race track, you still want to keep the revs up on the GSX-R1000 engine, as you would on any short-stroke engine design, but the penalties that come from ignoring this credo aren’t nearly as noticeable on the 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000 as it would be on other models. In short, Suzuki’s VVT is the real deal.

This technology translates into the Suzuki superbike having a sizable amount of thrust out of the slower corners, of which COTA has plenty to offer.

The Japanese brands have all tried to chase outright power, while still maintaining drivability and low-speed torque, and so far Suzuki’s VVT setup is the best answer we have seen. Kudos to them.

However, this doesn’t mean that the engine on the 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000 is perfect. The bike has noticeable vibrations back to the rider, especially as you climb into the peak of the rev range. Modulating all the power that the GSX-R1000 makes is also an issue.

There can also be a lurch in the power delivery from the Suzuki GSX-R1000, especially lower in the rev-range and when you are the lower gears.

This can be dealt with by changing from Suzuki’s very aggressive engine map “A” down to map “B” – though this simple change does not completely do away with the issue, leaving us with wanting different benchmarks in our options.

It should be noted that map “C” was too removed for track use for our tastes, and should be regarded as a good option for street riders, or when riding in the rain.

Suzuki’s SCAS (Suzuki Clutch Assist System) slipper clutch design also leaves a bit to be desired, as the friction zone during hard deceleration wasn’t too our liking, and engaged the rear-wheel far too early and aggressively.

This showed up primarily on Turn 12 at COTA, where one decelerates from 175mph down the back straight to roughly 30mph for the hairpin turn. Dropping a bunch of gears here and letting go of the clutch produced pretty sizable fishtailing moments, though they were free of rear-wheel hop.

With that in mind, we would still rate the gearbox as above-average in its design, being not quite as smooth as others on the market, but also not overly clunky in its operation. On a bright note though, swapping from standard to GP-shift patterns is a very quick and easy process.

Electronics – An Over-Simplified Complexity

As we can already see, one cannot talk about a superbike’s engine now without also talking about the machine’s electronics.

Suzuki has done a good job with the GSX-R1000 in realizing the features that consumers demand from this generation of superbike, and aptly chose to use an inertial measurement unit (IMU) to assist the various electronic rider aids that come on the 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000.

Traction control, wheelie control, anti rear-wheel lift (on the ABS models) are all modulated by the IMU on the Suzuki GSX-R1000.

However, in terms of what settings a rider can actually adjust themselves, Suzuki has left only the engine throttle map and traction control settings available for adjustment, the latter changing the other riding aids as its setting are increased or decreased.

For riders who don’t like to tinker, this might be a welcomed shortcut to using the 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000, and an obvious side-step to suffering from feature overload.

But for those who want to use the very latest in technology available on two wheels, you will be left stuck wondering why Suzuki has limited what we can do with its IMU-powered technology.

The silver lining in all this though is that the engineers and test riders at Suzuki’s factory have done a good job in their basic electronics setup, which should fit the needs of most riders, especially on the street.

Hardcore track enthusiasts however will be wanting more from this overly simplified electronics package, and thus might need to start looking at another brands who offer true access to what an IMU can offer a rider.

Chassis – Hello Old Friend

At 443 lbs wet, the 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000 is not the lightest machine in the superbike category, but it carries its weight very well. Going through COTA’s esses, the GSX-R1000 turns quickly and with ease – it is no supersport machine, but you are not wrestling with the bike either.

Plopped over on its side though, railing through some of the long sweeping turns that COTA offers – I’m looking at you T16, T17, & T18 – and the new Suzuki GSX-R1000 really shines.

Neutral in feedback, stable, and planted – the 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000 only gets out of shape when you ask it too, with the IMU providing a functioning safety net to explore the rear wheel’s coefficient of friction. 

This builds on Suzuki’s history of well-handling machines, and it keeps that lineage with the rider triangle on the 2017 model, which will be familiar to previous GSX-R1000 owners.

The chassis and ergonomics are confidence inspiring for a rider, and I found myself dragging knees through my very first turns on the bike – when I was mentally supposed to be “taking it easy” to learn the machine and refresh my mind on this mammoth circuit. This bike is turnkey fast.

Suspension / Brakes  – Good News / Bad News

A large factor in making the 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000 such a potent superbike is the suspension from Showa, with “Big Piston” forks and a standard rear shock handling the handful of new bumps at COTA with aplomb, while still translating the subtleties found from where the asphalt meets the rubber.

Despite being the lower-spec suspension offering for the Suzuki GSX-R1000 line (the GSX-R1000R gets BFF forks and a BFRC-Lite shock), these Showa pieces held up quite well, and provided excellent feed back while turning.

The same cannot be said for the braking components on the 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000, however.

Easily the weakest point on this new superbike, Suzuki’s braking choices on the GSX-R1000 continue to disappoint, with our machine suffering sizable brake fade after getting on the binders in COTA’s three tough braking zones.

Bleeding the front brakes helped alleviate some of the problem, but even after doing so, and with the lever at its maximum distance away from the handlebar, the bike’s brakes would continue to fade until almost reaching the throttle grip again. 

The calipers on the GSX-R1000 might say “Brembo” on them, and Suzuki’s marketing materials might boast of using the braking company’s new “T-Bar” rotor design (it is actually a hybrid system of t-bars and floating pins), but it is all flash and no substance from our perspective.

Rubber lines and cheap braking components rule the day on the GSX-R1000, and serious track riders should mentally budget for a proper braking system setup – full stop.

TL;DR – Too Long; Didn’t Read It

The 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000 is a huge leap forward for Suzuki, of course you would expect as much from a superbike that has seen an eight-year hiatus in its development cycle.

The new Suzuki GSX-R1000 comes with all the right specs though: near-200hp power, strong mid-range torque, MotoGP-derived variable valves, and IMU-powered electronics. The Japanese brand did its homework, and made sure to tick all the right boxes before releasing its next-generation GSX-R.

That might be the problem with the new GSX-R1000 though – it does just enough to be able to hit all the bullet-point features that consumers expect, without really excelling above and beyond any of them.

Ultimately, what the 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000 lacks is the refinement that comes from experience, experimentation, and iterative change. This leaves Suzuki with a superbike that is good out of the box, but one that just doesn’t quite reach beyond the high-water mark set in front of it.

Is this GSX-R the new “King of Sportbikes”? That’s hard to say, when bikes like the Yamaha YZF-R1 are on the market, and show that extra bit of refinement and detail. I’ll reserve judgment until I have both on the same track, on the same day.

But here is the important part that I can say for certain right now: the 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000 is incredibly competitive on price, in a time when superbike prices continue to escalate with each model year.

Set at $14,599 MSRP (for the non-ABS model), the base model version of the 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000 is very affordable. And when you couple a price tag like that to a strong motorbike like the new GSX-R1000, you have recipe that will see models flying off dealer showroom floors.

The bang-for-the-buck proposition from the 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000 is strong enough that it should make every serious motorcyclist pause and take note. Hopefully, it makes other motorcycle manufacturers take note as well. This is a serious shot across their bow.

Photos: Brian J. Nelson – All Rights Reserved

  • FBMWhite

    Wow that exhaust is really something.

  • paulus

    Tin foil hat time. I wonder if the brake specs are a deliberate long term action. Some of the Japanese companies are aggressively trying to usurp Brembo as the ‘king of brakes’. Race machines using their group company product and more recently, strangely out of character/combo choices on sporty road machines… The brake performance criteria (disk/caliper/line/pad specs) are set by the factories… but Brembo get the bad press for the perceived end product performance. Hat off, time for coffee

  • Guilherme Atencio

    Indeed. That is the most striking design element on that motorcycle, and not in a good way.

  • Chad de Delley

    That exhaust is perfect and here’s why: there’s no stupid bread box under the bike like on most all other Japanese sportbikes, throw on a slip-on (which you’d probably do anyways) and you’ve got a really clean nice exhaust header to tip that will fit underneath race plastics!

  • coreyvwc

    I’m not one for conspiracies, but I do think Brembo might be risking something by continuing to make sub par OEM grade components for the big manufacturers. It’s not just a Japanese thing though, even the OEM Brembo components on my Ducati were pretty lousy! That was a very expensive problem for me to fix…

    Nevertheless, I’m sure Brembo makes a TON of money from those OEM supplier deals.

  • I think it’s more about hitting a price point, while having a perceived higher-spec component, all the while knowing that 99% of the squids who buy the bike won’t know the difference.

  • nothlit

    Great article Jensen, love the new review format.
    From the seat of your pants, would you say the midrange provided by the new VVT system would noticeably give this bike an advantage exiting low or midrange rpm corners compared to the other 4 cylinder bikes?

  • TB

    Speaking of price point, I’ve noticed the rear subframe and am having a hard time unseeing it. It looks like least ‘dressed’ of the current crop of superbikes.
    However, I don’t think it’ll take away from how good the bike is.
    I wonder if the VVT is adding to the vibrations at the higher engine orders to explain the tactile feedback you’ve noticed at high revs vs a non VVT engine.
    Though I’ve been a Suzuki fan for a while I’m not sure if your impressions of the bike has changed my “if I can afford it” scenario which still leans to the R1. But it’s good to see Suzuki trying to bring something new to the table.

  • I think the price point is going to get a lot of riders on this bike, and it should…Suzuki has built a good machine. If you’ve got a couple grand more in your pocket though, I think there are better bikes available.

  • Fivespeed302

    And as you’ve pointed out several times, financing a $16,000 bike and a $14,500 one is nearly the same.

  • Loud_V8_noises

    Looks fat, stretched, and top heavy.

  • Indeed.

  • TB

    Could you share what was wrong with your system and what you had to do to fix it? The question is a bit of research into a theory that just came to mind.

  • coreyvwc

    I own a Scrambler 800 (single front disk), Which suffered badly from brake fade during sporty riding, and had a mushy brake lever feel at all times. To fix the problem I installed a Brembo RCS15 master cylinder, a Galfer Wave rotor brake disc, and HH sintered brake pads. The only original component I kept was the Brembo M4.32 Caliper. It was quite an expensive upgrade, but the brakes work very well now and do not fade anymore.

  • TB

    Thank you. My theory was that to meet an OEM’s performance requirements, mainly around service/ warranty life, the suppliers would have to sacrifice near limit performance for longevity.
    They can’t ask a supplier to build something that has racetrack level performance that also lasts for 25000+ miles because that would probably cost more than what they can pass on to the customer.
    Additionally, if you’re building for an OEM, you’ll be running at a higher rate which might come at the cost of extra QA inspection and rejection tolerances.

    So to try and interpret your situation with my thoughts (I’m sure I’m not 100% right here);
    Mushy brake lever at all times could be from poor bleeding at the factory or ever so slightly sub par quality control of the master cylinder. Not sure if the master cylinder helped or it was the act of replacing and rebleeding as I don’t know how the bore/stroke of the RCS15 compares to the stock part.
    Fade during sporty riding could be from the pads overheating and glazing. Sintered pads would help push the temp limits up and the wave rotors would improve the rate of cooling after application. It would be curious to see how long the pads and discs last, though I’m sure they’ll be fine.

  • Sayyed Bashir

    The Brembo brakes on my KTM 1190 R stop on a dime, almost throwing me off the bike. Couldn’t ask for better brakes.

  • Dustin Nisbet-Jones

    A good description for your common American these days. They did launch it in Texas after all!

  • Dustin Nisbet-Jones

    The quick & dirty version of your reviews are very enjoyable. You managed to pack a lot of detail and opinion into a very short read. The new GSX-R sounds like the bargain litre bike of the decade. Adjusted for inflation, it’s roughly the same price as the very first GSX-R 1000.

  • Thanks Dustin. I’m still refining this format, but I think we’re getting there. Now to write the long-form version for A&R Pro members…

  • Dustin Nisbet-Jones

    Were you also planning on doing the long-form version for the R6 review or is this GSX-R review going to be your first in the new format?

  • R6 will be first, I’ll keep them in order. Hopefully this weekend. I have another Pro story I want to get out first though.

  • Mitchel Durnell

    I don’t think so. But – these Brembo parts don’t share a mold with any other Brembo caliper that I’ve seen, and are 108mm spacing. What if Brembo was actually having a partner manufacture these calipers under an agreement?

  • paulus

    Exactly… KTM/Husqvarna spec/price to the supplier is suitable to provide great brakes on their models.

  • darren636

    this gsxr and Kawasaki zx10r are hideous.

  • Moot

    The bike looks very small. What’s the height and weight of this manbear?

  • Moot

    Also, can’t wait for a review comparing GSXR1000R against this one! :)

  • n/a

    Still better than the Panigale.

  • Superlight

    As I understand it, Suzuki did not spec balance shafts in this new inline 4 engine, which is why the thing vibrates at elevated RPMs. What were they thinking? Inline 4s need secondary balancers to quell vibrations.

  • Superlight

    Totally disagree. IMO from a looks standpoint the Panigale stands alone and above anything Japanese.

  • appliance5000

    With ABS you have to clear the ABS circuit by pressing the pads full in after removing the calipers. If you don’t do that your bleed will not work if there’s any bubbles etc. in the abs circuit.

    My limited experience with Brembo on my duc, is that the stock brembo MC is not so good, and unless the seal is very carefully dealt with, it will eventually mush. If you zip ties the lever for a few hours, things will firm up.

    In terms of fade – I’ve got to think that a change in pads would make a big difference.

  • appliance5000

    when you were fishtailing on downshifts, did you have traction control on? How are the electronic aids linked?IE when you change TC, how does abs etc change.

  • coreyvwc

    Upgrading the Rotors is also a big help when it comes to heat dissipation. The metallurgy and thickness of most Ducati OEM Brembo rotors is not really up to the challenge. Especially when stuck running a single setup like myself.

  • Vladimir Pushkin

    Not toally true. I have removed my balancer on my CBR 1000, and yes it dpes vibrate, but nothing to write home about. It is not really that big of a deal, as long as the crank is properly balanced, which from an OEM it will be.

  • Mak Kah Heng

    Looking good knee down there, Jensen ! šŸ‘

  • Superlight

    I hate the high-frequency vibration from inline-4s – it puts my hands right to sleep. You may be more tolerant of such things.

  • Alclab

    Don’t know of this was due to a particular model for you. I’ve gotten the feeling that despite being a single disc, my Scrambler brakes are above and beyond. They feel even better than the twin discs on my GSXR (which are incredible, but once you actually “pull with intention”)

  • Alclab

    This new review format is great Jensen! Keep them comin’!

  • Mak Kah Heng

    Perhaps a simple change to HH sintered pads and stainless hoses might just clear the problem, as far as my old GSXR 750 k9 (which had crappy brakes too) concerned, that’s the cure.

  • motoschmoto

    For some reason I’ve been noticing triple clamp design. The new R6 has the same totally flat plain triple clamp and the new GSX-R1000 has a pretty plain design as well. Seems like it ‘should’ be a pretty cheap piece of metal to get some design into and is visible in the overall design of the bike. The R1, for example, is gorgeous.

  • motoschmoto

    really cool shot of the black and blue bikes leaned over together too!

  • Ayabe

    On my Triumph I have to get the ECU to release the trapped ABS fluid, even worse.

  • Kings of Beach

    Can this bike pass Laguna Seca sound check in stock trim?

  • Paul McM

    Replacing the front brakes and that giant Electrolux canister will take a pretty big bite out a $2k price differential. I am wondering, also, if the market for this kind of bike is really shrinking in America. Guys in their 50s and 60s are not interested at all. And the younger guys, after suffering a couple crashes, either get out of motorcycling or get a different kind of machine.

  • CBR Sean

    But not a vibration from a Ducati twin?

  • CBR Sean

    You got something on your lips….

  • appliance5000

    Older systems are more complex – don’t know what year your Triumph is. I have no problems with the routine and you can always go the zip tie and tap method. I like abs for sure.

  • TB

    They were probably thinking cost and weight and justified it by having looser targets for handlebar vibrations at higher RPMs. If the problem is big enough they may have left room to incorporate them in later, but only a teardown (or time) will tell.

  • TB

    Good point, I hadn’t considered the ABS side of things at all. Hopefully the assembly process is up to scratch to handle the extra complexity in the job.

  • Superlight

    Ducatis have minimal vibration (they are closer to perfect primary/secondary balance than any inline 4), but it is relatively low frequency, which doesn’t bother me as much.

  • paulus

    From 1 side… (the one most photographed)… the other side looks like they forgot the shock until the morning of the launch ;-)

  • Sayyed Bashir

    According to MO 2/6/17 review of the GSX-R1000R “Noise restrictions in the U.S. will reduce peak horsepower just like the Yamaha R1 and Kawasaki ZX-10R. At 13,000 rpm the intake butterflies close slightly to reduce noise output.”

  • Sayyed Bashir

    Wet weight is 448 lbs, compared to the CBR1000RR which is 425 lbs and the S1000RR ABS which is 455 lbs.

  • Sayyed Bashir

    How is that going to happen? I don’t think Jensen rode the GSX-R1000R at Phillip Island this February. The GSX-R1000R is a track focused bike with Showa Balance Free Forks and Shock, a quickshifter, cornering ABS and launch control. Suzuki meanwhile is pushing sales of the standard GSX-R1000 over the R version.