Would I glance at this bike every single time I walk through my garage and smile?

For me, very few naked bikes pass this test but plenty of sportbikes do. I like fairings. However, I’ve busted my back twice. I’m 40. I think it’s time for a nakedbike – without losing the fun of a sportbike.

Somehow the curves of the GSX-S tank and the radiator shrouds, from a certain front three-quarter angle, remind me of my old GSX-Rs and Hayabusas. I was thinking about the bike after I saw it and then later sat on it, and I could not help but think about it a lot more. I’m almost the perfect target market for Suzuki, according to their press kit – 40-years-old, sportbike rider, experienced, don’t like gimmicks or too many gizmos to play with, seek quality and style in a motorcycle and appreciate easy to ride, great handling and smooth power delivery these days on the street instead of outright performance.

A wild, bold and aggressive look was the brief for designer Shinji Tamura – with the look of a crouching beast, not a Transformer or Manga styling… With a target rider above the age of 40, a touch of class and style also had to go into the design process.

A wild, bold and aggressive look was the brief for designer Shinji Tamura – with the look of a crouching beast, not a Transformer or Manga styling … With a target rider above the age of 40, a touch of class and style also had to go into the design process.

This is a big year for Suzuki – the 30th Anniversary of the GSX-R750, the 10th Anniversary of the GSX-R1000 K5 (that powers the GSX-S) and the 35th Anniversary of the GSX range. I had a K5 GSX-R1000, and now 10 years later, I’m able to buy a bike with a chassis that suits my old bones but still has that K5 engine I loved.

While the GS750 was Suzuki’s first four-stroke inline-Four, it was the GSX range that kicked off Suzuki’s 16-valve lineage. The original concept of the GSX series from the 750E to the 1100S Katana was high performance yet with a broad powerband, nimble handling and great durability. Suzuki has continued this tradition with the new GSX-S1000. The GSX family starts with the new GSXRR MotoGP bike (Prototype), then the GSX-R comes next (Racing) followed by the GSX-S (Street Sport) and GSX-F (Sport Standard).

040115-2016-suzuki-gsx-s1000-details-alicante_012 copy

The GSX-S concept combines the spirit of the GSX-R with street sensibilities, which I recently put to the test. After spending a full day testing the GSX-S in the Spanish sunshine, I’m convinced Suzuki has pretty much nailed that brief.

The Ride

I really did not know what to expect of the GSX-S – but I was hoping it wouldn’t be too boring, yet not too crazy. For me, it had to be just a nice, fast, easy ride. As soon as I sat on the bike, I knew I would like it. The riding position made me feel familiar and at home. You sit “in” the bike not “on” the bike, and the Renthal Pro Taper bars are at a perfect level in relation to the seat.

The fuel tank is nice and tall, and the footpegs roomy. It’s a very neutral and relaxed riding position. The controls fall to hand nicely.

040115-2016-suzuki-gsx-s1000-your-picture-alicante_141Firing up the bike requires a single push of the button rather than holding it down, and no clutch-in is required as it is with most Suzukis. The GSX-S idles with that lovable GSX-R raspy growl. It sounds smooth but angry. I blip the throttle as I hop on, and a short, sharp note fires out of the stubby exhaust tip. Nice. Exciting. Fun.

It takes just a few miles to be completely comfortable on the GSX-S. Initially short-shifting through the smooth, positive gearbox as we make our way out of Alicante to the hills, the bike’s midrange power is impressive. It pulls from 2500 rpm like a freight train and accelerates hard through 5000-6000 rpm, with a very meaty mid-range area. The intake noise is howling and addictive and the exhaust is one of the best-sounding standard pipes I can remember hearing. I would only change it for style, not for sound.

The road opens up briefly and I glance at the dash – we’re averaging 100 mph in top gear en route to the photo shoot. So, with some room ahead, I drop down to fourth gear and take it to the rev limiter. The acceleration makes me laugh inside my helmet – along with the fact that I’d be arrested in Australia for this hooning! Its top-end power doesn’t match the K5 GSX-R1000, but it seems on par with a GSX-R1000 K1 – more than enough for a bike with no fairing.

Acceleration is really impressive – this bike is a V-8 with handlebars – it just keeps on pulling harder until the limiter cuts the fun. The only issue I am dealing with is an abrupt initial throttle snatch from a closed throttle. It happens at any rpm and can only be dampened using some rear brake preloading prior to opening the throttle. I’m hoping this is a pre-production issue with the ECU/tune of the bike. Once that initial “snap” is dealt with, the throttle is fantastic – a real one-to-one feeling with the back tire.


There are three traction control settings to choose from as well as “Off.” It’s a very easy system that is operated by a left bar toggle switch, with the level displayed on the dash.

The TC system monitors front and rear wheel speeds, throttle position, crank position and gear position 250 times per second and quickly reduces power output when spin at the rear wheel is detected. Mode 1 allowing a certain level of wheelspin, suitable for fast sport riding in dry conditions. Mode 2 activates earlier – it is for normal riding conditions and is the mode I used most during the test. Mode 3 is for wet or cold conditions.

Gixxer K5 v2.0

The GSX-S1000 powerplant has been refined and re-worked from the mighty K5 GSX-R engine to complement the new nakedbike. Basically, it is the same 999cc lump as the 2005-2008 powerplant that got such a cult following, designed to give more acceleration and throttle response. The K5 engine was chosen as it has a long stroke for better midrange than the current GSX-R engine. Bore and stroke remains 73.4 x 59mm, allowing for a compact combustion chamber and flat-top pistons. Cylinder angle is 23 degrees. There are some new parts – such as FEM (Finite Element Method) pistons that are 3% lighter, and new camshafts are designed to optimize valve timing for the street. Iridium spark plugs heighten spark strength and therefore combustion efficiency, contributing to higher power, more linear throttle response, easier start-up and a more stable idle.

040115-2016-suzuki-gsx-s1000-GSX-S1000AL6_cut_model_2 copy

The cylinders are SCEM plated (Suzuki Composite Electrochemical Material) to improve heat transfer and durability. The compression ratio is 12.2:1 versus the GSX-R K5 ratio of 12.5:1 over the previous model’s (K4) 12.0:1. Valve size and port shape is unchanged.

The gearbox remains as per the GSX-R1000, and the back-torque-limiting clutch is also retained.

040115-2016-suzuki-gsx-s1000-GSX-S1000L6_engine_1 copy

GSX-R1000 K7 44mm throttle-bodies are used, utilizing the SDTV (Suzuki Dual Throttle Valve) system, where the secondary valves are servo controlled. The injectors are 10-hole long-nose units. The airbox is all-new, as is the exhaust system, which features equaliser pipes between cylinders one and four, and two and three. The catalytic converter is at the header collector box, which then joins the large volume exhaust chamber. The stubby muffler features a flapper valve, or SET (Suzuki Exhaust Tuning) system. Throttle position, gear position and engine rpm determine the opening of the servomotor driven valve, controlling pressure waves for optimum performance.

The gearbox ratios and overall gearing suit the K5 power plant well, and I would not change the final gearing at all. There is also plenty of engine braking but no rear wheel hop on downshifts, thanks to the back-torque limiting clutch. The ride position is comfortable, but, like any naked bike without wind protection, sustained high speeds can be a pain in the neck.

The first corners I arrive at turn out to be the photo location – so despite being unfamiliar with the bike and it being quite early in the morning, I have to style it up for the shoot on a range of awkward, narrow, low-speed double-apex corners! The GSX-S chassis is so nicely balanced with a natural, confidence-inspiring feel that I am able to get straight into the knee-down action shots, despite cool tires. Cornering the GSX-S is effortless.

040115-2016-suzuki-gsx-s1000-your-picture-alicante_034In fact, it out-handles the GSX-R in these conditions. Where I look, the bike follows. It makes riding a fun experience – not a tiring or draining one. Ground clearance is fantastic, and even at knee down angles the footpegs only touch if there are bumps mid corner. No matter which riding position I chose (various combinations from upright to hanging off), the GSX-S just got on with the job of tracking nicely through the turns, again proving the good chassis geometry.

The bike is really stable, and there is no sign of wiggle or headshake even when accelerating hard out of turns or over crests. Changing direction is not a problem, either, as I discover a few times. The first situation is a large boulder that has fallen on the road – and I am flat-out in second gear when I see it, quickly changing line while already committed to the turn – with no problem. I do not run wide, I simply steer around the boulder. I might have gone straight into that rock on a lesser bike. The GSX-S helped me save myself from a big crash by dodging a car that had crossed over to my side of the road – this is a great-steering motorcycle.

The GSX-S borrows the 4-piston Brembo monoblock calipers from the current GSX-R1000 and uses dual 310mm rotors. The loop I’m riding is one of the hardest tests of front brakes I’ve ever come across on the road, almost 100 miles of non-stop hard braking, hairpin after hairpin, a lot of it downhill – and the brakes do not fade at all, despite me squeezing them so hard I’m using the excellent Bosch ABS almost every corner entry. The brakes do lack some initial bite, and they need a good, hard squeeze at the lever, but this is a good setup for a naked bike with road-based fork settings. Any sharper on the brakes would mean a change in those springs and settings. The rear brake is great for cornering assistance, and I’m using it like a throttle for the tight parts as I carry some trailing throttle – due to the harsh on/off fueling I mentioned earlier.

Despite the heavy braking and acceleration, riding the GSX-S is not tiring at all. The ride position allows me to really utilize my legs, and the tank gives me support on the brakes, not to mention the big, wide Renthals. The standard footpeg position suits me, and the seat is comfy – no aches after five or six hours in the saddle.


After a quick lunch stop somewhere on the side of a mountain, I head off with the group, this time hoping for some bumps to properly test the suspension. I’m soon screaming along flat-out on a bumpy, snotty goat track of a road. The GSX-S remains stable and composed, but the suspension does not give the control that higher-spec suspension would. However, I’m being fussy here. The shock is basic and there is some fade, but I wouldn’t feel the need to swap it for an aftermarket unit until it is worn out. If I were going to do some track days or sport-touring, I would go for a higher quality aftermarket unit though. The forks are good without being fantastic. There is good support there on hard braking and good damping control – they just got a bit overworked on the fast, bumpy sections. I went up just two clicks of front compression during the test, to slow down initial dive on the anchors. I didn’t feel the need to make other changes to the settings throughout the test loop. On the fast, smooth sections, as well as the slower stop/start smooth sections, the suspension settles quickly and gives good support to the bike, no complaints there at all – it’s a good set-up.

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The switchgear is easy to use, and the traction control can be switched between the modes while riding. Once the mode is selected, it is confirmed the first time the throttle is closed fully. The LCD dash is in the line of sight, and its readouts for speed, TC setting, trip, time and gear position are easily visible. However, the tacho numbers are difficult to read while riding.

It’s the little things that make riding the GSX-S so easy, like the sidestand that naturally falls to foot when you want to flick it down to park. The seat is wide enough to give support but narrow enough to aid sport riding. The fuel tank is quite big and tall, so it’s nice to rest an elbow on for some one-handed freeway cruising or just to chill out for a while – and there is no heat from the engine or exhaust to cook you while you ride.

The GSX-S is not overly complicated – it’s got a throttle, brakes, handlebars and a strong engine. These things are the basics we all need to make us smile and I am still grinning thinking about the GSX-S1000.

+ Highs

  • Fabulous Gixxer K5 motor
  • Excellent balance of sport and comfort
  • Shredded kneepucks without a sore back
– Sighs

  • Price-point suspension
  • Tach difficult to read
  • Not yet in America

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The GSX-S1000 isn’t due to arrive in North America until sometime in the summer, at which point we’ll get our chance to sample the big Gixxus for ourselves. Pricing has yet to be determined.

2016 Suzuki GSX-S1000 ABS
Engine Type Liquid-cooled, four-stroke, forward-inclined inline four-cylinder, four-valve per cylinder, DOHC
Engine Capacity 999 cc
Bore x Stroke 73.4 mm x 59 mm
Horsepower 146 hp at 10000 rpm (claimed)
Torque 80 lb-ft. at 9500 rpm (claimed)
Compression 12.2 : 1
Fuel System 43mm throttle-bodies, 10-hole long-nose fuel injectors
Clutch Back-torque limiter wet multi-plate
Transmission 6-speed constant-mesh
Final Drive Chain
Front Suspension 43mm KYB fully adjustable telescopic fork, 4.7 inches travel
Rear Suspension KYB link type single shock with rebound and preload adjustment
Front Brakes Dual 310mm semi-floating disc, Brembo radial-mount 32mm four-piston caliper
Rear Brakes Single 220 mm disc, one-piston Nissin caliper
Front Tire Dunlop D214 120/70-17
Rear Tire Dunlop D214 190/50-17
Seat Height 31.8”
Rake/Trail 25°/3.9”
Wheelbase 57.5”
Ground clearance 5.5”
Curb Weight (Claimed) 456 lbs. (458 lbs. for California model); +5 lbs. with ABS
Fuel Capacity 4.5 gal.
Colors Metallic Triton Blue

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  • Old MOron

    Is this a US scoop? Nice work, MO.
    I’d be a potential buyer of this bike.
    Look forward to some MOronic comparos.

  • BryanTai

    I don’t know. Suzuki better start going into crisis mode now, even though it’s abit late already. There are so many excellent rivals in this Naked category. FZ9, Striple/S3, Monster, S1000R, S1000XR, CB1000R, KTM Super duke….just name a small few (skipping Brutale, RnineT, those that are diff flavors). If u are not number 1 (or 2) in a general category, at least have 1 thing stands out. And I cannot see a single thing stands out with this bike. How about making a lightest I4 naked. What about hiring top dollar design/custom_builder and make the prettiest one with touring in mind. What about getting best electronics in there. There are ways to get out of this cycle boom alive (my money’s on yamaha would get out of this buying boom really well ), but if they still deliver same thing, get ready for division wide acquisition/restructuring.

    • Josh

      FWIW I would choose this GSX-S1000 over the CB1000R. . .but then again I’m happy with my FZ-09!

    • Don

      This new suzuki is said top off Honda CBR and kawasaki z1000. Watch a video from MCN. YouTube clip from German dyno shows its horsepower and torque lines are identical to BMW S1000R from 2k-10k rpm (bmw continues to pull a bit more to 12k rpm). What other electronics that you desire more? Isn’t that TC and ABS good enough?More isn’t always better and necessary. I think Suzuki has delivered a winner here in a fun, exciting, practical, and affordable package. Speaking of style, I love the fairing version more than this naked.

      • Craig Hoffman

        The “F” variant styling is more to my liking as well. Not really a fan of the “droopy nose” look that seems to be the current trend.

        I bet this new Zook makes a sweet platform for owner installed mods like power commanders and exhausts. You would not believe the change in the FZ1 (+18 hp in the midrange, over 20 hp at the top end) with a full exhaust, ECU flashing and a Power Commander. It goes from limpin’ to rippin’ 🙂

        The K5 engine is well known as a powerhouse that responds to tuning. I expect it will put out 80 foot pounds at the wheel and at least mid to high 150s horsepower and fo course sound awesome with a quality pipe like an Akra. Something about a big GSXR with an exhaust – they just sound the business. They growl and howl beautifully!

      • Glenn Lutic

        Affordable? Whats the price?

    • Stuki

      Instead of lightest, or prettiest, what’s wrong with simply being the best…. 🙂

      Less flippantly, half of sportbike riding America grew up, and have the best memories of their riding “careers,” riding GSXRs. A bike that faithfully translates what made Gixxers so belowed into a package more suitable for ageing bodies, can’t help but being pretty darned high on many people’s list of “best.”

      Coming from a Gixxer, twins are tractors, no matter how powerful. The triples also lack the racing wail that is the calling card of a GSXR with a nice pipe.The unbalanced S1000R is a buzzbomb, which combined with a still rather long reach to the bar, misses the comfort mark set by the KTM, CB, Triumph etc., and by the looks of it, this GSXS. As does the Tuono and the new Buell, although both of those will almost certainly be flat out “faster” in competent hands. The Kawis (Z/Ninja) are less modern sportbikes, and more updated BigBikes from the pre-Baba era. Etc., Etc…..

      Not trying to disparage the other bikes or anything, but if the target market really is middle aged sportriders, out to relive the memories of their younger years with fever compromises as far as comfort and convenience goes, this one sure sounds like it has a lot going for it.

      • BryanTai

        I’m just a 30 something beginner, but I grew up remembering the busa being the most powerful thing w/ 2 wheels, thinking only crazies or superhero ride on busa. And yes, GSXR was something special back in the day even when honda/ducati was dominating the motogp. I just want them to create something truly special. Europeans have long enjoy brisk sales w/ styling/history even their motor/cost-per-performance couldn’t compare with japanese, and yamaha/honda w their superbike program/investment can still claim the throne on speed, kawis are running strong with outrageous H2 and other odd but special creations. I just want suzuki come back w/ something and say ‘this is the bike with the best xyz bar none..’ Just think outside the box and do something crazy. New riders coming on board might not be as educated as older riders, with attention to quality and longevity (it is after all a toy to them), and when friends ask them,’so whats so special about this bike?’, it’s just tough to say ‘oh its has fewest compromises and good quality…’.

        • Y.A.

          I think it’s better for Suzuki to focus on what’s fun within the context of being a good value. They could put their big bang GSXRR engine/electronics in a street bike and charge $500K for it… wouldn’t really mean much IMO. This thing, with K5 cams, upgraded shocks and forks and a pipe will be fun as hell. Will it be as high tech as the S1000RR or as soulful as a Monster 1200? Probably not, but it’s still a ~130RWHP naked with good geometry and decent weight for what I’m hoping is not a lot of money. I think this will be the best bike in the class, not for having the most bells and whistles, but for bringing the most value in fun per $$$.

      • Shawn McDermott

        S1000 has more refined things and IVe ridden it in Iron Butt.

    • halfnelson_73

      Not sure how any manufacturer wouldn’t benefit from a “buying boom”.

    • dinoSnake

      I can name a few things about these new Suzuki models that stands out from the crowd that you mention:

      1) Most important, as noted in both the specs and the ad copy: lowest seat height in the class. With only a few exceptions, almost every bike you mentioned has a seat height over 32.5 inches and the ones below that threshold don’t offer the combination of factors I’m just about to list

      2) ABS and TC STANDARD. As noted, all the electronically-enhanced bikes you mentioned are damn tall.

      3) GSX-S1000F is the lightest fully-faired model with all the aforementioned specs

      4) Good reliability. The Suzuki engine is a known quantity for good long-term reliability. The KTM, the Agusta and the Monster…less so. I would hope to get 50,000 miles out of the Suzuki before anything major needs attention, can’t say that for those European makes.

      In other words, unlike some of the bikes you mentioned, the new GSX-S1000 models (especially the S1000F) look like they can actually *go* places beyond the 45 minute ride to the local biker hangout. The catch? The S1000F’s tail, being so high, might not be hard luggage friendly – if that is the case, a REAL downer. I’m hoping that this bike, unlike the silly-oversized Concours and the just-a-bit-bulky Ninja 1000 (“just-a-bit-bulky” is me comparing it to a Ninja 900), is just the right size for average-sized solo riders like me who actually spend entire days out *riding*.

      The industry is awash with 11/10th sized “touring” bikes for those willing to put up with the extra lard – BMW seems to be the only company to understand where I’m coming from (ironic, that BMW is making their bikes *smaller* while everyone else is upsizing),

      • Dale

        not really true. BMW K1600 is heavy like a Harley thought it isn’t slow.

  • Craig Hoffman

    Ya, the Super Duke and other bikes are awesome, but one has to love a “good enough” bike with a highly proven and truly killer engine that they can actually afford. I have a modded ’06 FZ1 and love it. I suspect from riding old K5 GSXRs and what the writer said about this bike that I would love it even more.

    It sounds like Suzuki did not neuter or otherwise wreck what is truly a classic engine. Bravo!

    • Ramoblast

      Hey, I just bought an 06 FZ1, what mods have you done?

      • Craig Hoffman

        Scroll down to my reply to Don below. 🙂

  • Sentinel

    I sure hope they get the off idle throttle issue sorted.

    • Jim Heller

      I am hoping for the same ^^

    • Daniel Parsons

      this was the same issue with the GSR 600 and it should be just as easily solved. i will let you know when i pick mine up in may

      • Sentinel

        Please do!

        • John James Wells

          I’ve got one now, what a bike for the money £9400 abs al6 . When I test rode it I knew within minutes that I would buy it, and it feels like more than 145 bhp to me. Turns you into a hooligan and I’m 59yrs old! Feels like its on rails. Go and test ride one if you can, you’ll love it!

          • Sentinel

            Sounds great! Congrats!

          • Dale

            Have you experienced the throttle issue as mentioned in the article?

          • John James Wells

            Hi Dale, yes after a week and doing about 200 miles its starting to get annoying and dare I say a little dangerous. I’ve tried a smoother approach,higher gears etc, even softer suspension settings to no avail. If you take a bend at high speed that has bumps you find your right hand flexs up and down with suspension and it jerks quite violently. Suzuki have got to do something,it’s definitely a Flaw, so I’m taking mine back to dealer to try and get it sorted. Other than that its a great bike, hope this helps regards John

          • Superbig

            So has this issue been fixed? I’m planning on buying this bike as soon as it’s available, but that issue you mentioned scares me. I had the sane the emblem with the FZ09 , so I didn’t buy one.

          • John James Wells

            No problem still there, but not so annoying now, I’ve sort of adapted to it. I’m Sure Suzuki will sort eventually.saying that please don’t let it put you off, it’s a fantastic bike

      • Ron L

        May? In the states? I hope. Most of the clueless sales guys tell me late summer. One said maybe June.

  • Jason Evariste Cormier

    Sounds like they got this one more or less right versus the overly neutered GSX-S750 (and it weighs practically the same as its little brother, if the claimed figure is to be believed). 80 lb/ft from a litre sounds like a hoot. Glad to hear it’s not a dud, though I fear it will still become an also-ran in this category given how far the competition has progressed in the past few years.

    • artist_formally_known_as_cWj

      You rode a s750?

  • CrashFroelich

    Jeff, very useful information. Just wondering, would you mind sharing your “dimensions” for those of us to whom riding position geometry is important?

  • Tony Mitchell

    Can somebody say “wind”?

    • Tinwoods

      Yes, we all can, but many of us still enjoy a naked upright versus the wannabe-racer crouch-over.

      • Tony Mitchell

        I have to agree. I am so over sport-bikes.

    • Daniel Parsons

      can someone say GSX-S 1000 F

  • Y.A.

    I might have to stretch the budget for this one, if it’s a ton better than a used Speed Triple or Z1000. This sounds really good.

  • Citizen Bidet

    I don’t understand Suzuki’s corporate thinking sometimes. Given the gixxer engine’s legendary status, and the fact that many found their way into the early streetfighter builds, Suzuki should have absolutely owned this category for the last ten years. Anyway, they are here now, and I think their offering looks pretty good. I happen to like the style, and I’m also a big fan of the K5 engine. And Suzuki are usually pretty competitive on both initial price and ongoing service costs. Sure, the S1000R, Tuono and SD 1290 are absolute weapons, but if you are not a regular at the track you are not using their full potential; indeed, rev out a bike like a Tuono on public streets and you will go to jail. Me, I’d be willing to trade those last few revs and horsepower off for everyday usability on the proviso that the new Suzuki holds its own on things like acceleration and maneuverability.
    It’s definitely on my test ride list for a new bike this year.

  • Reid

    Again, why can’t the OEMs make a bike just like this but style it in such a way that it won’t look immediately dated (in a bad way) 10 years from now? A Honda 919-looking bike from every Japanese manufacturer with their best retuned or detuned or whatever 1,000 cc four-cylinder engine would really make a lot more sense given their intended demographic. Young’uns (other than me) don’t generally want bikes like these. Older guys have more discerning tastes…or maybe they used to.

  • Varga Akos

    In the article you state 44mm throttle bodies, down at the specs it’s 43mm, Typo?

  • dustysquito .

    Not the prettiest looking naked bike I’ve seen lately, but it’s still nice to see more manfuacturers acknowledging that there’s a market for a bike without $5000 worth of plastic parts to be destroyed every time it tips over.