The launch of the all-new GSX-R1000 is critical to Suzuki, as the GSX-R line has been emblematic of the engineering might at the Japanese company since the game-changing original GSX-R750 in 1985 – and more than 1 million GSX-Rs have been produced since. So, prior to us sampling the wicked new Gixxer Thou in Australia, Suzuki flew us to Japan to give us insight into the facilities and processes required to develop a production superbike competitive with the best in the world.
Our first stop was Suzuki’s Motorcycle Development Center in the Hamamatsu area, about an hour’s ride on a Shinkansen bullet train from Tokyo past the iconic and snow-capped Mount Fuji. The Ryuyo facility, located in central Japan on its southern shores, has roots that stretch back to 1964 when it first became operational. In 2005, the town of Ryuyo was merged into the expanded city of Iwata.
The Ryuyo complex is a necessary stop for every motorcycle and ATV produced by Suzuki. More than 1,000 employees work here to develop and hone powersports vehicles like the new Gixxer Thou. The large facility includes numerous buildings which sadly were off limits to nosey journalists. So, we didn’t get to see the wind tunnel and whatever secret stuff is going on inside, but we did get to see one of the 20 test benches for operating motorcycles on a dynamometer. On the day we visited, a new GSX-R1000 was being run on the dyno.
In addition to multiple buildings, the Ryuyo complex also includes a multi-purpose test track with a variety of configurations and surfaces to evaluate motorcycles. In its longest layout, the track is 4.0 miles (6.5 km) in length. Also part of the complex is a full-on motocross track and other off-road areas for developing dirtbikes and ATVs. Company reps say that about 70-80% of Suzuki’s motocross bikes are sold in the USA.
The track includes a set of timing lights to log acceleration runs. Suzuki’s chief test rider, Yuichi Nakashima, says the new Gixxer can do a standing quarter-mile in just 9.8 secs; the previous version could manage only a 10.0-second E.T.
The trip to Ryuyo was a treat that provided rare insight to the backdrop of Suzuki’s developmental processes for its motorcycles – even though we wish we could’ve seen more of what was going on behind all those closed doors! Next up on our tour is the Takatsuka engine factory, then finally to the Toyokawa assembly plant where the engine joins the frame and a new GSX-R is spat out about 90 yards down the line. We hope you come along with us!