The all-new 2017 GSX-R1000 is “a huge impact model for us,” Takeshi Hayasaki, president of Suzuki Motor of America, told us at the Gixxer’s launch earlier this year. As such, part of the new GSX-R’s media launch included tours of Suzuki’s three main facilities in Japan where we could witness the care and precision that goes into each bike’s development and its production.

Suzuki Factory Tour Part 1: Ryuyo Test Facility

First off was a trip to the Ryuyo development complex you can read about in the link above. Our next stop was the Takatsuka engine plant in the Shizuoka prefecture where crankcases, crankshafts, cylinders and heads are mated and and assembled prior to their installation in Suzukis built at the Toyokawa production facilities located about 30 miles away.

Fun Fact: The Suzuki Loom Works, a textile company, was established in 1909. Suzuki’s first motorcycle, the unfortunately named Power Free, debuted in in 1952.

The engine factory at Takatsuka consists of nearly 2 million square-feet on a facility sprawling over nearly 10,000 acres. Amazingly, the factory is staffed by just 264 employees that operate 28 production lines. Four lines are dedicated only to crankshaft production, and each can produce 200 cranks a day.

Fun fact: Suzuki’s workforce consisted of 15,000 employees in 2016. About 91% of Suzukis are sold overseas.

It was a treat to be given access to Suzuki’s engine factory to see up close the scrupulous care that goes into building its powerplants. A Powerpoint presentation begins our tour.

Engine production is segmented into three areas: 250-1000cc Twins; 50-650cc Singles and Twins; and 250-1800cc four-cylinders, Twins and Singles, including the GSX-R1000, M109R and Hayabusa. Suzuki tells us that it typically takes 90 minutes to build a four-cylinder engine and it requires 90 minutes to change a line to another model. One line at Takatsuka is dedicated to the GSX-R1000 engine, and up to 200 Gixxer Thou engines can be produced each day.

I could’ve spent an entire day watching the phenomenal precision and efficiency of workers assembling engines at the Takatsuka facility. Come along for a walk-through of the factory to see GSX-R1000 engines being built in the pictures and captions below.

The GSX-R1000’s forged steel crankshafts arrive in rough condition, as seen on the far left. Basic machining at Suzuki is the next step, which includes the cutting of gear teeth and bearing surfaces. Then the entire crank is heat-treated before the final machining and finishing touches are applied. Seen on the right is the production-ready piece ready for installation in its engine block.

After machining and heat-treating, the crank dimensions are checked for minute tolerances on this precision measuring tool.

The Gixxer Thou’s crankshaft oil holes are inspected by humans with a tiny camera to be sure they are free from obstructions because of the extreme high-performance nature of the bikes; engines in lesser models are checked by machine.

Next, we walked to an adjacent building where the engines are assembled, passing by pallets of parts from reputable subcontractors like Mahle and Denso. Here, a GSX-R1000 cylinder head is put together by fastidious workers.

Gear-sets are assembled by hand…

…before being installed in the engine block.

The compact nature of the GSX-R1000’s engine is readily seen in this photo. Notice how short it is front to rear, thanks in part to stacked transmission shafts that keep the mill very dense.

The block is nearly ready for its cylinder head.

An assembled clutch basket awaits installation prior to bolting on the cylinder head.

The timing chain is prepared for connecting to the camshafts in the soon-to-arrive cylinder head.

Once the cylinder head is placed onto the engine block, a computerized machine applies torque to all head bolts simultaneously to mitigate any warping as the two surfaces mate with each other.

The meticulous care displayed by Suzuki’s workers was evident at every station along the production line.

Electrical systems are prepared prior to the installation of the fuel injection’s throttle bodies. Intake ports remain covered to prevent contaminating debris from entering the engine.

Another GSX-R1000 engine is nearly complete. Note the white gloves used by all factory workers that ensure cleanliness and to remove the risk of contamination of sensitive parts.

And that’s the end of the line, at least as far as we have pictures to illustrate the process of building the GSX-R1000’s impressive engine. Stay tuned for our tour of the Toyokawa factory where Suzukis are assembled and prepared for customers around the world.

  • Andrew ‘Kiba’ Schaeffer

    Hamamatsu isn’t a prefecture…
    Shizuoka is, though.

    • Kevin Duke

      Ha! I’m wrong and you’re half right! Hamamatsu is in the Shizuoka prefecture, but the Toyokawa plant is in Aichi. 🙂 Seriously, thanks for IDing the issue!

      • Andrew ‘Kiba’ Schaeffer

        No problem at all. But while yes, Toyokawa is in Aichi Prefecture, Takatsuka is in Hamamatsu in Shizuoka Prefecture.
        So this needs another fix lol: Our next stop was the Takatsuka engine plant in Shizuoka Prefecture where crankcases,

        • Kevin Duke

          Jeez, I’ll get it right eventually! Thanks again!

        • Johnny Blue

          Who cares? It’s somewhere in Japan. Most people, myself included, can’t even pronounce it properly. It’s enough to know the GSX-Rs are made in Japan and they don’t come from Fukushima.

          • Kevin Duke

            Well, it’s important to me to be 100% accurate, so I’m glad to have it sorted now!

          • Rocky Stonepebble

            Rear Admiral Roger Lane-Nott was the commander of a nuclear submarine (HMS Splendid) during the Falklands War. Later, he became Formula One Race Director & Safety Delegate.

            During a tour of Buenos Aires to confirm the suitability of the track for the upcoming (1996) Formula One Grand Prix of Argentina, his hosts asked if he had ever seen Buenos Aires before.

            Roger Lane-Nott replied: “Only through a periscope.”

            Perhaps that should be the theme of your answers whence chastised about Japanese nomenclature or geographical accuracy.

            🍻

          • michael32853hutson@yahoo.com

            LOL! i remember when a bike floated over here from Fukushima on a mass of flotsam(i live on the West Coast,we were looking for stuff to be coming here,with trepidition)

          • Johnny Blue

            It was a new GSX-R 1000 in a crate? I’m moving to the west coast! Maybe I’ll ‘fish’ one out of the water one day!
            Hm… I learned a new word.. flotsam… thanks!

          • michael32853hutson@yahoo.com

            sorry no,it wasn’t a Gixxer in a crate! but now that you brought it up i can’t remember what kind of bike it WAS-now i have to go try to find it…

          • therr850

            It was a Harley. The Motor Co offered to recondition or rebuild it but the owner, Japanese, turned them down. I believe it is on display at the H-D museum in as found condition.

          • michael32853hutson@yahoo.com

            it was a 2004 Harley Davidson Night Train(i thought that was something to drink!)-it washed over to British Columbia from Miyagi prefect,according to the 2012 article

          • michael32853hutson@yahoo.com

            also though there was some flotsam involved,the bike cheated! it was in a styrofoam storage container with some golf clubs and other miscellaneous stuff

          • Johnny Blue
          • michael32853hutson@yahoo.com

            before i went teetotal last year,i figure a i drank a few…!

          • Starmag

            I saw it in the Harley museum in Milwaukee.

          • michael32853hutson@yahoo.com

            the guy sold or donated it? but he was so happy when it showed up!

          • Starmag
          • michael32853hutson@yahoo.com

            wow! i might have taken Harley up on their offer,but then i didn’t lose 3 family members…so for him it was a memorial to all the victims of the storm-nice!

  • Starmag

    The discipline that it takes to mass produce a really high performance engine and make it reliable is amazing to me.

    • Douglas

      The simultaneous coming together of imagination, science and art…..and meticulous attention to detail.

  • DickRuble

    Ha! Let’s hear how Joe Schmoe will bore out and and rebuild this engine in his garage.

    • Born to Ride

      Suzuki has always been wonderfully proud of their manufacturing process. I remember watching a full on documentary of the building and testing of I think the 2006 GSXR1000. I wouldn’t dare tear it apart unless it was broken. When are we getting the VVT Gixxus with “balance free” suspenders?

    • Sayyed Bashir

      That’s the same thing I thought. People work on their engines all the time without giving it a second thought. Most don’t even use a torque wrench. Their motorcycles probably don’t have to win MotoGP, WSBK or MotoAmerica.

      • therr850

        And they probably don’t have a warranty.

  • michael32853hutson@yahoo.com

    cool! i saw a video recently of the BMW factory where almost all of the operations were automated;good to see hands on at Suzuki-white gloves at that

  • Rob Mitchell

    Thanks very much for the article and all the interesting photos. Being an old engine recognitioner with an associate diploma in mech engineering I really am enjoying the articles. I’m as jealous as anything of your tour. Thanks also for calling the engines not motors.

  • Rob Mitchell

    PS This is why Suzuki have earned their reputation for reliability.

  • Roy Bentz

    They should have used a TFT dash on K17 Gixxer.
    Next years model should have showas electronic suspension for higher spec model.

  • kenneth_moore

    Another fascinating look behind the scenes. I look forward to the next installment.

    Did your hosts talk at all about their production management methodology? My company has adopted much of Toyota’s processes and techniques, like 5S, QCPC, etc. Its remarkable how advanced Japanese manufacturers were in this area over the US at one point.

    • Kevin Duke

      No, sorry, I didn’t hear them talk about that aspect.