The new GSX-R 1000R
I loved the previous model GSX-R 1000. I rode it for over six years doing many more laps annually than during any of my racing years. My bikes are work tools, although I change the oil and filters regularly (Motorex/Hiflofiltro) and of course tyres and brakes, they don’t get anything else but a wipe down. None of the old GSX-R’s broke on me. The old model was raw, had lots of bottom and mid range power, no electronics and a good chassis, just like all the good, fast bikes I’ve ever had. Top end power was what let the old Gixer 1000 down against the latest releases, so I was looking forward to the new bike.
My 3 new GSX-R 1000R’s were delivered to the annual Track Sense Slovakiaring event. I fitted my new Yoshimura mufflers from Performance parts Ltd and my trusty, well used Brembo master cylinder to my bike.
Once on circuit my first impressions were that the suspension was very smooth and soaked up everything. I’m sure this is exactly what you want on the bumpy streets from village to village but on a smooth racetrack it’s a ‘hard as wood’ feeling that gives me the feedback I want from the tyres. The other main first impressions were that the shifters both ways (shifter and blipper) were incredibly smooth and a pleasure to use.
As I progressed through the running in process I got a more clear impression of the engine, and I wasn’t so impressed. Sure it needed a remap because I’d changed the muffler from the big original one and it still had the Catalytic converter in the pipe, but where was all the hard hitting mid range power that punched me forward? Why wasn’t the rear tyre protesting and the front tyre lifting and shaking like all the fast bikes I’ve ever ridden? The top speed down the long straight was indicating close to 290 kmph before I hit the brakes which is very fast on a bike with mirrors and lights but I wasn’t convinced it had the acceleration to run with the fastest bikes. And the ABS….I’ve hated every ABS I’ve ever tried and this was no exception. Once I started pushing hard into turns the lever kicked and the brakes released.
The first thing I attempted to improve for circuit riding was the soft ride. The forks fitted standard are the best OEM forks I’ve used but I always need harder fork springs and my Ohlins shock hadn’t yet arrived so I did the only thing I could…. I wound up the preload front and rear 3 turns from the book recommendations and closed the compression front and rear a 1/2 turn. I instantly liked this change. It gave me some feel and confidence. The other noticeable improvement that came from making the suspension harder was the ABS. Because the rear wasn’t hopping off the ground as early the ABS didn’t kick in so early. Performance Parts Ltd have now sent out another Yoshimura part that disables the GSX-R ABS with no warning lights etc (and its cheap too!). I plan to test the ABS back to back once I have fitted the harder front springs and Ohlins shock. One thing I am happy about is that the ABS lever feel is not too spongey like I’ve felt on some ABS systems. On my bike with the Brembo Master cylinder it actually felt good enough that I plan to keep the complete ABS system on with standard lines (which saves me a lot of work) and then test the Yoshimura part to see if ABS ON or OFF is better. I’ll keep you posted on that.
We all moved onto Brno circuit where the real test began. I had a fast client to work with on a very nice looking, fully prepared R1 that had just done 2:08.4 on fresh tyres. I fitted my favourite Dunlop KR’s for the summer heat.
The first thing I saw was a big surprise… my ‘out of the box’ bike stayed with his prepared bike when punching off the turns! I thought this was where I felt my new GSX-R was weak? I stayed with him no problem top end wise, but I never doubted that. The shifter felt awesome. Like it’s completely integrated into the system so the engine and shifter each know what the other is doing. Super smooth.
The blipper was less perfect as I rammed it down through the gears at a much higher RPM and speed. Nothing major, it did everything it was supposed to and made it so easy that I felt l was cheating, but at high RPM it was no longer perfectly smooth and could detect a small clunk on each down shift. I smoothed that out with the clutch. I only did this because of my mechanical sympathy. From a purely riding point of view I really didn’t need to. The gearbox felt like all my GSX-R’s. Perfect, although I found first gear too low for the big GP circuit so didn’t use it (I like using 1st gear) but this short 1st is probably better for the street and for national circuit slow turns and hairpins etc.
As the laps clicked off I could see (in my mirrors) where he was strong and where I was making ground on him. I should have been making ground on the brakes but I wasn’t confident my bike would stop if I braked at 100%. Whenever I tried the soft fork springs would dive, the rear would lift and the ABS would make the brakes release (terrifying and infuriating) so I stuck to braking at about 85/90% effort. I had to find another strength to use. To my surprise the strength I found was in the exact the area I thought was weak! Acceleration off the turns. As the tyres dropped off in the heat the smooth engine delivery that fooled me into thinking it was slow (but in truth it’s fast) is very effective at getting the power to the ground while keeping control. This smooth, linear delivery (without an extra hard punch of power anywhere in the RPM range) makes it feel less impressive but accelerates well without lifting the front, or upsetting rear grip and stability. It had just proved to me that the big, hard hitting bottom and mid range punch that I love so much was actually a disadvantage as it makes 1000’s harder to ride and more difficult for rear tyres to maintain grip. This new bike is simply easier to ride.
Over the event I tried the traction control on many settings, and turned off. The higher numbers hold the acceleration back, especially during half lean acceleration. The real positive from the electronics for me was how the traction control made it easy to manage riding on a rear tyre that was dead, which I often need to do to finish a day. Normally it’s a juggle and takes some skill with the right hand but the traction control made it smooth and easy.
Although I didn’t have the correct suspension settings in the bike for circuit use / my riding and weight, I loved the first impression I got from the chassis. It feels smaller than a 1000 and does absolutely everything well.
OVERALL FIRST IMPRESSIONS
I don’t like the ABS during hard, straight line braking but feel that it actually works well during hard trail braking. (More tests needed once suspension upgraded for circuit use). With small upgrades the ABS Front brake lever feel is good enough for me to leave the whole system on, which surprised me. The calipers, discs and pads are all Brembo and very good.
The Shifter and blipper are absolutely awesome tools. I love them. I think the blipper may need a slight adjustment from Suzuki to perfectly suit fast circuit riding.
The lean angle sensitive anti wheelie and traction control makes it easy to manage the rear tyre and manage riding a 1000 hard.
The front forks feel very good. The suspension may be great for the street but the springs are too soft for me and the rear shock has no ride height adjustment so I want an Ohlins shock as always. A shock change would not be necessary for the street.
The chassis gives a small bike feel and straight away gave me a great first impression (more tests needed once suspension upgraded for circuit use). Everyone who rode these 3 new bikes (including me) was happy with the riding position and position of controls.
The new GSX-R is going to make it possible for a lot more riders to enjoy riding a 1000 on track, the riders who have until now not enjoyed the difficulties normally associated, which I’d guess is the majority of people.
Stay posted. Part two of this test (track bike) will be done as soon as I have tested the bike with all the track specific modifications.