Suzuki GSX-S1000F: First test!

By Marc Potter
marcpotter Tested every new bike since 1994, loves anything on two wheels, runs Potski Media, ex-BikeSocial boss. Recently discovered elbow-down riding - likely to end in tears.

Maybe the first and last time you'll see a GSX-S1000F pretending to start a TT?
Suzuki's new GSX-S1000F is an all-new sports tourer with the emphasis very much on the word sports. Suzuki launched it today on the Isle of Man TT course. Bike Social boss Marc Potter rode it. Here's his full test.

When Suzuki unveiled the new GSX-S1000F at the Cologne Show last year I must admit that I wasn't sure about the way it looked. The naked one looked sleek, the faired GSX-S1000F a bit bulbous.

But after a day riding the new 145bhp GSX-R1000-powered sports tourer, I reckon the £9,999 bike is one of the year's best motorcycles. It handles, it's comfortable, it's fast, it hauls on the straight and it attacks corners. It's a sports bike in a sports tourer frock, and one of the surprise bikes of 2015.

Forget what you think the Suzuki GSX-S1000F looks like, and what you think it might be, because after a day riding it around the challenging Isle of Man TT circuit we can reveal it's a fantastic road going sports bike.Testing the GSX-S1000F at the European press launch

It may be Suzuki's latest, greatest sports tourer, but when Suzuki GB boss Paul de Lusignan says it's a sports bike for road riders, you better believe it.

There's no greater test for a road bike than a lap of the Isle of Man TT circuit, which is where Suzuki arranged the launch, with former TT winner and the guy who trains TT newcomers, Milky Quayle, as the lead rider.

What he doesn't know about riding fast hasn't been discovered yet, and what he doesn't know about the Isle of Man TT course hasn't been discovered yet either. He has literally done thousands of laps and over the last week has become a big fan of the GSX. It's a good call, and a great bike. 

VIDEO: from the launch:

The engine in the GSX-S1000F is from the Suzuki GSX-R1000K5 that ran between 2005 and 2008 and it's an absolute gem. Always one of the favourite sports bike engines of its time, the motor in the retuned GSX-S1000F, also shared by the GSX-S1000, is a beauty in this guise.It makes a claimed 145bhp but rumour has it the bike could be making an actual 162bhp at the crank on the dyno. It certainly feels more than the 145bhp claim. It's silky smooth too.Suzuki's GSX-S1000F at the Isle of Man, taking in the view at Guthries.

Why Suzuki would launch a bike and claim it has less power than it says on the paper work beats me, but whatever the reason, it pulls hard, has astonishing mid-range and enough top-end to make you giggle.

Even coming up from the Ramsey hairpin, out of the Gooseneck and up to the Bungalow, on one of the steepest parts of the mountain course, it pulls hard. I saw an indicated 150mph on the bike and there's a bit more to come. Either way it's more than enough.

Get it in the sweet spot and use all the revs to 11,000rpm on the digital dash and it screams.

It may be retuned but it's smooth at speed and makes a great induction noise.

In town the throttle feels a little over responsive, and a touch snatchy, but it's a small blight on an otherwise astonishing motor.

It feels like a sports bike.

It's not a sports bike, and it's not obviously in the same league of power as some of the latest, greatest 200bhp sports bikes, but in the real world, or even in the speed-limit free world of the Isle of Man it's more than enough. The kind of real world OMG we're getting a move on way. Rapid acceleration but without feeling genuinely scared like the 200bhp crew and their mind warp factor.

It feels like you can use every last bhp of the bike and there's something really satisfying about that. It's super quick, make no question of that.

The gearbox is slick, the gearing is fairly tall, which makes it relaxed at speed and it's comfortable too.

But more than the engine and its general all-round brilliant nature, it's the chassis that impressed. It might look like a sports tourer, and you'd expect it to be soft and squidgy and maybe a bit lardy. But it's far from it. The bike feels incredibly well-balanced, light and agile. It more than lives up to Suzuki's claims.

The extra weight of the faired bike means there's more oil in the forks of the bike, and a stiffer rear compression setting in the rear to firm it up. Plus, engineers say the fairing gives the bike 20kg more down force at the front at 200kmh than the naked GSX-S. It means the bike is more stable in a corner and feels way more planted.


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At slow speeds it's as easy to manage as a big friendly learner bike, and at high speed you can turn it in hard.

We did some high speed photos at the Bungalow, a notoriously grippy but very bumpy, fast left hander. Some faired or naked bikes in this class would feel a bit light at the front when chucked on its side. But not with this.

You can peel it in hard on the brakes, shift down to second and run your knee through the kerb. The Brembo brakes are powerful and give loads of feel, the ABS rarely kicks in except for in an emergency, just the way you want it.

The bike remains stable and feels good over the mid-corner bumps and I never scraped a peg all day, despite having massively long hero blobs and traveling at speed on the TT course. Respect.

On the way out of the corner the traction control means you can nail it against the stop, using the electronics to help and then roll it on flat out on the run up to Hailwoods.

The traction control has three different settings. For sports riding level one is the answer.

Traction control works a treat and the GSX-S1000F is way more flickable through bends than it looks.

It lets you get on the gas hard, lifts the front wheel over crests like on the run down from Kate's Cottage to the Creg-ny-Baa, but always gives you the reassurance that he electronic gurus are looking after you.

With it turned off the bike is a brilliant wheelie bike, if that's your thing. Level two is good for more cautious riders, and level three? Well, I never tried it. But maybe it's good in the rain?

The Dunlop D214 tyres work exceptionally well too and heat up quickly, with good wear and mean the traction control has an easy time. The bike is firm, but not horribly so, and under braking there's a nice amount of fork dive to out the weight not front wheel.
GSX inspires confidence even in tricky conditions.
At slower speeds you never know the traction control is cutting in, on level one at least it helps you ride faster, smoother, safer, just as a good traction control system should. And this system is way more advanced than anything Suzuki has on its current traction-control equipped bikes - the Suzuki V-Strom 1000.It can be turned off, even if the ABS can't.

But in all honesty, even riding quickly behind TT God Milky Quayle, our guide rider for the day, it rarely ever cut in. It's incredibly capable at covering ground fast and would smoke the Kawasaki Z1000SX on a quick lap of the TT, or any fast Sunday morning ride. 

Where it may not be as good as the Z1000SX is that it doesn't have the option of luggage, like the Kawasaki does, and the pillion seat is designed for a quick trip than big distance touring. That may be important to some people looking for a rapid, comfortable bike in this class. 

It could smoke its nearest rival, the Z1000SX

But Suzuki designed it this way and made it more for the guy who wants something a bit more upright than a Sports bike, but wasn't so buttered shout touring or taking a pillion often.

You could call it a soft sports bike, but that would be disrespectful, because it's not.

Suzuki have made a cracking bike, and it could never be called soft. It offers an intense sports bike experience when you wind the whick up, but can sit comfortably on A-roads at speed.

The wind protection defies that small screen and the riding position puts you in an almost adventure bike riding position, with high bars.

The clocks and switches are easy to use, its got a quality finish, and the mirrors even work. And the more time I spent with it the more I liked the way it looked, especially in the MotoGP blue colours.

Suzuki are on to a winner with this bike, make no doubt about that.

TECHNICAL DETAILS

ENGINE:
The motor is a retuned version of the Suzuki GSX-R1000 motor from 2005 to 2008. It’s a motor that is widely regarded as the pinnacle of the GSX-R1000 range as it’s fast, torquey and brilliant for road riding with loads of mid-range torque. It has a long-stroke design with a 73.4mm bore and a 59.0mm stroke.

In the GSX-S1000F it includes new pistons that are claimed to be 3% lighter than the 2007 GSX-R, new cam profiles to broaden the spread of power, iridium spark plugs to improve throttle response, and Suzuki Composite Electromechanical Material cylinders to reduce friction. There’s a new 10-hole injector fuel injection system, and a new exhaust system with 4-2-1 system which exits under the engine. It features a servo-operated butterfly valve which opens depending on throttle and gear position to improve engine response at low revs.

To keep the bike cool there’s also a new bigger radiator designed to be cooled by air directed off the bike’s lower fairing.

Traction control switches between three different levels.TRACTION CONTROL:
Suzuki’s traction control system is a three way system using a feed from the throttle position, crank position and gear position to detect wheel spin and reduce power via the ignition timing and air into the engine.

It checks the conditions every 4 milliseconds and is designed to let riders ride fast without compromising their riding enjoyment.

The three modes are 1, 2, and 3. 1 is the lowest sensitivity allowing rear wheel slide, level 2 is for regular road riding, and level 3 is for wet or cold riding conditions and increases the level of traction control to suit. It’s all operated on a handlebar switch with your left thumb. 

CLOCKS:
The full LCD instruments includes every kind of gauge you could ever want from speedo, to tacho, trip meters gear position, fuel consumption, traction control, a fuel gauge and a clock, and more. It also features a race-style ‘peak hold’ function which shows peak rpm of the last revs achieved when downshifting.

EASY START SYSTEM:
Just like the GSX-S1000, you no longer have to hold the clutch in when starting it, except when the bike is in gear. It uses a new starter system which means you can push the button once rather than hanging on to the button to make it start.

CHASSIS:
The new design aluminium beam frame chassis is designed to be fun-to-ride with agile handling for road riders. It’s got a steering head angle of 25 degrees for quick steering.

The chassis is lighter than the current GSX-R1000 frame, and also features a rigidly braced swingarm with design elements taken from superbikes.

The riding position is designed to be sporty yet comfortable and features the same footpeg and handlebar positions as the naked GSX-S1000.

SUSPENSION/BRAKES/WHEELS:
Full-adjustable KYB inverted forks with radial mounted Brembo calipers at the front. The calipers are taken from the 2014 GSX-R1000 and are mated to 310mm discs. There’s the option of ABS too powered by BOSCH.

The rear shock with linkage adjustable for rebound damping and spring pre-load, but not compression.

It features new six-spoke wheels fitted with a 190/50 x 17 inch rear tyre and a 120/70 x 17 front Dunlop D214 tyres. Steering the bike is a Renthal fat bar.
Suzuki's styling sketches show their Crouching Best concept.
STYLING: ‘Crouching beast’:
When it comes to styling Japanese engineers and stylists often come up with bizarre concepts. The Suzuki GSX-S1000F is one of them. Suzuki says its overall shape is inspired by a beast crouching for a hunt. Hmm.

There are LED lights below the dual headlights to give it a distinctive front end and the design is intended to be classy. The bodywork is also designed to be rounded in its shape but also aggressive say Suzuki.Suzuki's new GSX-S1000F is an all-new sports tourer with the emphasis very much on the word sports. Suzuki launched it today on the Isle of Man TT course.TECHNICAL SPECS – Suzuki GSX-1000F

Engine

4-stroke, 4-cylinder, liquid-cooled, 999cc, DOHC. Bore x stroke: 73.4mm x 59mm

Power

143.5bhp@ 10000rpm

Torque

78.2ft-lb @ 9500rpm

Suspension

Front: Kayaba inverted telescopic, coil spring, oil damped.  Fully adjustable 43mm forks

Rear: Kayaba link type, coil spring, oil damped. Adjustable for preload and rebound damping

Brakes

Front: Brembo caliper, twin disc

Rear: Nissin caliper, disc

ABS optional

Tyres

Front: Dunlop D214 120/70 x 17

Rear: Dunlop 190/50 x 17

Dimensions

L: 2115mm

W: 795mm

H: 1180mm

Wheelbase: 1460mm

Seat height

810mm

Weight (wet)

212kg, 214kg with ABS

Fuel capacity

17 litres

Colours

Black/red, metallic grey, metallic blue

Price

£9999 with ABS

GSX is a treat to ride round the TT course, and a brilliant road bike.
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