2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000R

Editor Score: 88.0%
Engine 19.0/20
Suspension/Handling 14.0/15
Transmission/Clutch 9.5/10
Brakes 9.0/10
Instruments/Controls4.5/5
Ergonomics/Comfort 8.0/10
Appearance/Quality 8.0/10
Desirability 8.0/10
Value 8.0/10
Overall Score88/100

Ah, the legendary Phillip Island circuit, the scene of many epic battles among two-wheel gladiators like Gardner, Rainey, Schwantz, Corser, Stoner, Rossi and Iannone, which has long been on my bucket list of racetracks to ride before I die. With significant elevation changes along 2.76 miles of twisting tarmac on the shores of the Indian Ocean and an average GP speed of more than 110 mph, it would be a challenge to learn on any bike, let alone on Suzuki’s most powerful literbike ever.

Oh, and don’t forget to dodge the seagulls and geese strolling around trackside, nor the goose that flew in front of me while I railed through Hay Shed corner at a buck-10 and missed me by just inches!

The new Gixxer Thou – the sixth generation known internally as the L7 – has some big shoes to fill. A multi-time champion racebike since its 2001 introduction, it’s been the better part of a decade since it was last updated in 2009 (the K9). But based on my ride in Australia, Suzuki engineers have obviously been sweating the details to create what is surely the fastest and most capable GSX-R ever.

2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000 And GSX-R1000R Previews

This test is of the GSX-R1000R, not the standard GSX-R1000 we’ll be riding in a couple of months. With an MSRP of $16,999, this Gixxer is now playing in the big leagues of superbikes, packed full of technology that previously had been mostly the purview of high-dollar European machines. Its 999.8cc powerplant shrieks to 14,500 rpm and catapults the Gixxer Thou to 180-plus-mph by the end of Phillip Island’s front straight.

Colorway choices for the GSX-R1000R are limited to the blue MotoGP replica seen here or a stealthy black version. The standard GSX-R1000 adds red to the color selections. LED position lights above the ram-air ducting is the giveaway you’re looking at the 1000R. The sleek LED turnsignals seen in these pictures unfortunately won’t make it to the USA, as DOT regulations force us to suffer with larger amber-lensed indicators.

Colorway choices for the GSX-R1000R are limited to the blue MotoGP replica seen here or a stealthy black version. The standard GSX-R1000 adds red to the color selections. LED position lights above the ram-air ducting is the giveaway you’re looking at the 1000R. The sleek LED turnsignals seen in these pictures unfortunately won’t make it to the USA, as DOT regulations force us to suffer with larger amber-lensed indicators.

Five Fun Facts About The 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000

The standard GSX-R1000 is new from the ground up and includes a raft of high-tech features like ride-by-wire throttle, variable valve timing, a finger-follower valvetrain, Brembo monoblock brakes and a six-axis IMU (Intertial Measurement Unit). Its price starts at $14,599 and rises to $14,999 with ABS. To that the 1000R adds Showa Balance Free suspension, quickshifter with auto-blipping downshifts, cornering ABS and launch control.

A few clever tricks in the engine compartment bring hand-of-god power to the masses. Most interesting is an inventive variable-valve-timing system that has roots back to the late 1990s when the GSX-R’s project leader, Shinichi Sahara, developed it with his colleague and then implemented it during Suzuki’s original MotoGP program. Sahara-san was the MotoGP technical manager from 2004 to 2010, and this ingenious VVT system, patented by Suzuki, was later adapted in 2012 for use on World Superbike and World Endurance GSX-R1000 racing machines, and then recently to MotoAmerica superbikes.

It’s a remarkably simple mechanical system using an intake-cam-drive gear filled with a dozen steel balls that are spun outward at high revs by centrifugal force along slanted channels. The cam timing at lower engine speeds is in an advanced state for optimum grunt, but once past 10,000 rpm, the system retards cam timing to increase high-rpm power.

Fully featured LCD instrumentation is part of the L7 GSX-R1000 experience. It includes displays for ride modes, TC, fuel remaining and mileage, ambient temperature and a gear-position indicator, among other readouts. The tachometer hump plateaus at the 6000-rpm mark, while a white shift light at the top center of the gauge illuminates as redline approaches.

Fully featured LCD instrumentation is part of the L7 GSX-R1000 experience. It includes displays for ride modes, TC, fuel remaining and mileage, ambient temperature and a gear-position indicator, among other readouts. The tachometer hump plateaus at the 6000-rpm mark, while a white shift light at the top center of the gauge illuminates as redline approaches.

Another simple but clever solution is found in the mill’s intake. The Suzuki Dual-Stage Intake (S-DSI) system is said to offer the advantages of variable-length intake funnels without the added complexity and weight of a movable system. Suzuki’s dual-stage layout in two of the four intake funnels use a longer funnel positioned above a short funnel, with a gap between the two sections.

At lower engine speeds, most of the air flows through the upper funnel, using the longer length to increase low and midrange power. Then at higher revs, additional air flows around the base of the longer upper funnel and into the short lower funnel, increasing top-end thrust. Further aiding breathing is a set of of 2mm-bigger throttle bodies (to 46mm) incorporating one set of injectors in the body, and another set of injectors spraying at their upper ends, directed by the ECU controlling throttle butterflies via a ride-by-wire system.

Also new is the use of a finger-follower valvetrain as developed in F1 auto racing and popularized on motorcycles by BMW with its class-topping S10000RR. It’s a lighter system than a typical bucket-tappet arrangement (said to be 10 grams vs. 16 grams), and its moving mass is further reduced to a claimed 3 grams because each follower pivots on a fixed shaft rather than a bucket placed directly on top of the valve stem. Intake valve sizes go up by 1.5mm to 31.5mm, while exhaust valves transition from steel to titanium and shrink 1mm to 24mm, for a reduction of 8 grams each.

Trainspotter types will notice the gold cylinders behind the fork tubes as confirmation of the GSX-R1000R. The standard Gixxer Thou uses a Showa Big Piston fork instead of the Balance Free fork seen here.

Trainspotter types will notice the gold cylinders behind the fork tubes as confirmation of the GSX-R1000R. The standard Gixxer Thou uses a Showa Big Piston fork instead of the Balance Free fork seen here.

The lighter valvetrain and its precise control, combined with a more oversquare bore/stroke ratio and the abandonment of a balance shaft has allowed the engine’s rev limit to be raised 1000 revs to a lofty 14,500 rpm.

Engineers considered using a crossplane-style crankshaft arrangement popularized by Yamaha in its M1 and R1, and like Suzuki uses in its MotoGP bike, but that configuration forces a heavier engine block to contain the additional vibration and also saps some power relative to a traditional inline-Four crank layout. And with advancements in IMUs that supply excellent traction-control systems, any extra traction delivered from a crossplane layout becomes negligible.

All told, Suzuki claims 199 horsepower at 13,200 rpm when tested at its crankshaft, a number that should translate to about 180 horses at its rear wheel. Torque remains similar to the previous edition at 86 lb-ft at 10,800 rpm.

The GSX-R1000R includes a launch-control function, which we got to test at the track. It’s basically a rev limiter that holds the engine at 10,000 rpm, allowing a rider to concentrate only on how quickly the clutch is released, but It also works with Motion Track TCS to control throttle-valve opening and ignition timing while monitoring front and rear wheel speeds. It disengages when a rider upshifts into third gear or closes the throttle.

The GSX-R1000R includes a launch-control function, which we got to test at the track. It’s basically a rev limiter that holds the engine at 10,000 rpm, allowing a rider to concentrate only on how quickly the clutch is released, but It also works with Motion Track TCS to control throttle-valve opening and ignition timing while monitoring front and rear wheel speeds. It disengages when a rider upshifts into third gear or closes the throttle.

Somewhat disappointingly, Sahara-san told me that noise restrictions in the USA will somewhat clip peak horsepower output compared to the European tuning of the bikes we rode, just like it does with Yamaha’s R1 and Kawi’s ZX-10R in America. Sahara says USA bikes have the same power as Euro bikes up to 13,000 rpm, at which point the intake butterflies close slightly to reduce noise output.

Now, before the internet pundits chastise Suzuki (and America) for nipping maximum power, please consider how often you’re likely to be using full throttle above 13,000 rpm when riding on the street. This noise-abatement strategy is only really an issue if you’re a racer, and if you’re a racer, you’ll be retuning the engine anyway.

Interestingly, I was given a brief look at a dyno chart by one of Suzuki’s German test riders, Jurgen Plaschka, Assistant Manager, Test And Technique. His chart showed the old Gixxer spat out 178 PS (slightly higher than our hp), while the L7 GSX-R churned out 203 PS, one pferdestarke more than the nearly omnipotent S1000RR BMW did on the same dyno. More is more, of course, but the chart’s important distinction is the Gixxer’s significant surfeit of power over the BMW from 9,500 to 13,000 rpm, demonstrating the advantages of Suzuki’s VVT and other power-broadening technology.

Yes, that is an obnoxiously large silencer. On the plus side, it’s wrapped in a lightweight titanium skin and is just a slip-on muffler away from prettiness while maintaining the two butterfly valves in the header pipes, plus another valve in the collector area ahead of the muffler, to help optimize power production over a broad rev range.

Yes, that is an obnoxiously large silencer. On the plus side, it’s wrapped in a lightweight titanium skin and is just a slip-on muffler away from prettiness while maintaining the two butterfly valves in the header pipes, plus another valve in the collector area ahead of the muffler, to help optimize power production over a broad rev range.

Jeez, I just burned a short novel’s worth of words describing the engine before getting to any riding impressions, but I did so because it’s the Gixxer’s motor and the technology inside that is the most impressive part of this all-new bike. It pulls like a rocket powered by crystal meth, and its sonic profile at full song will raise the hairs on your neck as it wails to a previously unheard of 14-and-a-half-freaking-thousand rpm. I saw the speedometer on the nicely readable LCD instrumentation sail past 180 mph lap after lap during my sessions, and that was even without shifting up to sixth gear!

The motor’s not quite flawless, though. Throttle pickup in the S-DMS A mode can be slightly abrupt in slow corners, although it’s completely smoothed out in B mode. Credit Suzuki for allowing the same peak power in all three of its ride modes, making neither of the softer settings just throwaway gimmicks. I preferred the sharper A mode on the racetrack, but I’d lean toward B mode if I was on a switchback-y canyon road.

This latest Gixxer carries over the GSX-R line’s willingness to be mobbed around a racetrack.

This latest Gixxer carries over the GSX-R line’s willingness to be mobbed around a racetrack.

The other aspect of the engine that wasn’t entirely pleasurable was the vibration transferred to my hands. Remember, this is the first GSX-R1000 without a balance shaft – taking another cue from the S1000RR – so additional vibes are going to be part of the package. I could feel the buzz via the handlebars and most prominently through the edges of the fuel tank when tucked in and leaned over. Four journalists I polled said the vibes didn’t bother them, so this minor annoyance for me wasn’t a problem for some others. Still, it’s clearly felt relative to the former engine’s relatively smooth character.

Less noticeable is the the 1000R’s suspension, and I mean that in the best possible way. The fully adjustable Showa Balance Free suspension does a phenomenal job of controlling wheel movement while still remaining supple enough to suck up bumps while leaned over. Suzuki started us out on street settings, which were perfectly acceptable to me while I was getting up to speed on the fast and flowing Phillip Island circuit. Track settings were dialed in for our second session, which firmed up responses and kept the chassis composed while I knocked seconds off my lap times.

Switchgear on the left handlebar toggles through ride modes and traction-control settings.

Switchgear on the left handlebar toggles through ride modes and traction-control settings.

This latest Gixxer steers a bit quicker than the previous edition, although it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly why. One reason is that a 190/55 replaces the flatter, old-style 50 series rubber. The L7 GSX-R has moderately sharper steering geometry but a 15mm longer wheelbase, which might balance their effects. New wheels with six thin spokes replace three-spokers, but we weren’t given specs on their relative weights. The swingarm is 40mm longer but is offset by a shorter distance from the front axle to the swingarm pivot, which is said to improve front-end feedback. The frame itself is 10% lighter and 20mm narrower, and it looks far more diminutive than I’d think a literbike frame could be. Fueled up and ready to ride, Suzuki says the Gixxer scales in at 448 lbs – quite a bit more than the recently reviewed 2017 Honda CBR1000RR, which tipped the scales at 425 lbs.

Top-shelf components are also found in the brake system, with Brembo supplying one-piece calipers and 320mm rotors that combine traditional floating-pin button carriers with Brembo’s floating T-drive mounts. The brakes prove to have slightly less initial bite than some top-end Euro bikes, but it’s not a problem for me, as I don’t mind using more lever travel when grabbing a handful at 180 mph. Sheer power is plentiful.

Showa’s Balance Free Fork is becoming one of our BFFs for its excellent performane. Brembo’s T-drive rotor attachments are lighter yet produce a larger contact area between the disc and the carrier, requiring two less mounts than the dozen conventional mounts formerly employed, minimizing the weight gain from the 10mm-larger discs.

Showa’s Balance Free Fork is becoming one of our BFFs for its excellent performance. Brembo’s T-drive rotor attachments are lighter yet produce a larger contact area between the disc and the carrier, requiring two less mounts than the dozen conventional mounts formerly employed, minimizing the weight gain from the 10mm-larger discs.

The 1000R comes with the new Motion Track Brake System regulated by the IMU. It reduces rear-wheel lift during maximum braking, and it also factors in lean angle. As my speed increased, so did my braking force, and at one point I felt some minor pulsing at the front lever when hammering on the binders into Turn 1. It wasn’t really problematic, but I initially thought I might be experiencing the effects of a slightly warped brake rotor.

For the next session, Suzuki gave us the opportunity to ride the bike with the ABS system deactivated. Oddly, Suzuki technicians had to disengage ABS by pulling a fuse rather than using some sort of switch mechanism. Regardless, the pulsing – probably from the rear-lift mitigation – wasn’t felt again.

In terms of other electronic rider aids, the Continental IMU and its traction-control system proved to be excellent. I really appreciate the safety aspects to TC systems, but they’re annoying when they intervene too soon or too abruptly. Suzuki offers 10 settings, and they’re able to be adjusted on the fly by the mode button on the left switchgear if the throttle is closed; off is also an option. TC3 was close to optimal for my preferences, as it still allowed the rear tire to slide without unwanted intervention. As the stock Bridgestone RS10s got used up, more sliding ensued.

Like all good electronic systems, the Gixxer’s traction/wheelie control can be switched off when desired.

Like all good electronic systems, the Gixxer’s traction/wheelie control can be switched off when desired.

My only gripe with the system is that TC is also the method that controls wheelies. TC3 limits lifting the front tire to just a few inches, which is great for pinning the throttle and allowing the electronics to deliver maximum acceleration on a racetrack. TC2 allows larger wheelstands, and TC1 more again. But I’d prefer to be able to choose the wheelie ability independent of traction-control selection. When I brought this up to Sahara-san, he agreed with me that he’d prefer wheelie control separated from TC, leading me to believe we will see such an electronic upgrade in the future if the product-liability lawyers will allow it.

No gripes at all with the quickshifter’s performance. Upshifts are perfectly seamless, and the auto-blipping downshifter nicely matched revs during downshifts even when they weren’t ideally timed. The system worked so well that thoughts about it drifted away to nothingness. On a slightly related note, the assist/slip clutch has a light pull.

It was great to see 1993 Grand Prix champion Kevin Schwantz at the Gixxer launch. Revvin’ Kevin was even kind enough to share some advice with this slow Kevin, and what a treat it was to have the moto legend point out a few places where I could knock chunks of time out of my laps.

It was great to see 1993 Grand Prix champion Kevin Schwantz at the Gixxer launch. Revvin’ Kevin was even kind enough to share some advice with this slow Kevin, and what a treat it was to have the moto legend point out a few places where I could knock chunks of time out of my laps.

Ergonomically, the new GSX-R has an identical rider triangle to the older one, with bars, seat and footrests in the same positions we’ve enjoyed in years past. Bodywork and the fuel tank are slightly narrower, making the bike feel slimmer. Also narrower, by 13mm, is the front fairing, which allows a bit more wind to hit a rider. However, the fuel tank is 21mm lower, which lets a rider crawl into a modestly sheltered cocoon of still air.

Bridgestone R10 race rubber was fitted to our bikes after lunch, which dramatically upped the grip levels. Their sharper profiles aided steering quickness, and I noticed their stiffer carcass aided front-end feedback. I figured they might be worth a couple of seconds a lap over the RS10s, and Plaschka reckoned they might net even more time.

And the new GSX-R1000R is so capable that I was continuing to find new limits as I extracted new ways to go faster and faster. From what I was able to tell at Phillip Island, going quicker each time out, I see huge potential for this L7 GSX-R platform, both for racy street riders and for pure racers. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Toni Elias or Roger Hayden pull off a MotoAmerica Superbike championship in 2017. And maybe 2018.

Engineers are always proud of the motorcycles they create, but Suzuki’s team seemed particularly proud of their accomplishment with its latest GSX-R, especially considering the typical modesty displayed by Japanese. Yet at the end of the Gixxer’s presentation, Sahara-san quipped: “I would say to our competitors, ‘Who’s your daddy?’”

Yep, the GSX-R1000R is firmly in the hunt for class supremacy. Stay tuned for an epic superbike shootout!

Yep, the GSX-R1000R is firmly in the hunt for class supremacy. Stay tuned for an epic superbike shootout!

2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000R
+ Highs

  • Remarkably strong powerband
  • Stout electronics package
  • Terrific suspension
– Sighs

  • Lots of yen
  • Vibey
  • Stiff class competition

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Suzuki Communities

  • azicat

    It’s great to witness some recovery in the Japanese sportsbike segment again, nine years after the subprime crisis. Looking forward to the Big Four 2017 open class shootout!

    • Born to Ride

      It’d be even better if the they could compare the bikes in a reflashed “offroad-only” state of tune. Supposedly they can all be uncorked 10+ horsepower even in stock mechanical form. I know Honda/Yamaha are especially notorious for strangling bikes by their wiring harnesses.

      That being said, with all this talk of power gains and new technologies, I just want to know which one is the quickest and easiest to ride. My bet is on the Honda with its 425 lb curb weight.

      Bring on the shootout!

      • DickRuble

        Won’t be easy to get all top of the line bikes : SP2, HP4, ZX-10RR, M1, RSV4RR, GSXR1000R, supplied with their each optimal tires…

  • DickRuble

    “‘Who’s your daddy?’” — Kawasaki is your daddy…

    • Born to Ride

      While I got the joke, it would have been better served after winning a championship. The Kawi is deeply entrenched at the top of the podium

      • DickRuble

        However, in STK1000, which is the closest to retail bikes

        RAFFAELE DE ROSA 115 BMW
        LEANDRO MERCADO 111 DUCATI
        KEVIN CALIA 84 APRILIA
        LUCAS MAHIAS 70 YAMAHA
        TOPRAK RAZGATLIOGLU 70 KAWASAKI

  • Old MOron

    Would love to see Rog and Toni at the top of the standings.
    Can’t wait for the shootout.

  • john phyyt

    Nice to compare 1993 GP bike (Kevin Schwantz’s) to current Road bike. Much heavier but more power, electronics , tires .. Maybe quicker around Phillip Island?

    • Kevin Duke

      Interesting question I’ll follow up on. Best 500cc lap there was KRJR’s 1:32.7 from 1999, which compares quite well with best WSB time from Laverty in 2013, with a 1:31.2. Quickest MotoGP time of 1:28.1 from Marquez in 2013.

  • Chris Noblett

    Thanks for the preview!

    Did you get to ride the new Honda?

    If so, do you really notice the weight difference?

    And does this bike feel heavier or lighter than its predecessor?

    • Kevin Duke

      I haven’t yet ridden the new CBR. This new Gixxer feels like it turns a bit quicker than the old one, but there wasn’t an old one to ride back to back to be sure.

  • Vrooom

    And yet I still wonder if this bike is fast enough for me, said no reasonable person ever.

  • kenneth_moore

    It’s always good to see Mr. Duke up on one wheel, wringing out the latest and greatest. Whoever took the photos for you did a nice job.

    The only problem is now I want one…I’ll settle for the 1 R version.

  • DickRuble

    The bike may be fine and it looks better than in the past but the instrumentation is a showcase of busy, confused, idiotic design. km/L — really, on a high performance bike you need that displayed because you worry about your mileage at 180mph? Ambient temperature? You need to go to take the bike out to find out the temperature? Did Suzuki subcontract this design to GM for a design-by-committee?

  • JMDGT

    Vibey. The one word that makes me cringe.

    • Kevin Duke

      YMMV…

      • JMDGT

        One man’s vibey is another man’s silky smooth. You never know.

    • Sebastian Demaria

      s1000 its “Vibey” too..no balancer shaft, thats why goes to 14,500 rpm and new cbr goes “only” to 13,000, lighter crank, higher revs.

  • Mark Vizcarra

    vibes = no sale/deal killer. 99.9% of buyers will not be using this on the track anyways. The engineers should have taken some time to refine the bike.

    You just hope it goes away after break in or a few thousand miles.

    • DickRuble

      Nope.. vibrations won’t go away with break in.. It’s an inline 4 with no counterbalancer. Vibrations are inherent to the design. The Beemers have them too. You want smooth, you need an inline 6.

    • Andre Capitao Melo

      BMW is selling plenty.

      • BDan75

        I treat comments on vibration like I do comments on seat comfort and windscreen buffeting: something to keep in mind, but always subject to personal verification. I’ve been really surprised at how little my S1000RR vibrates, based on what I’ve heard people say. Other end of the spectrum, I don’t recall many reviews commenting on vibration w/ the 1290 Super Duke, but I took one on a 20-minute test ride and it literally numbed my hands.

        In other words, as Kevin said, YMMV…

        • Sayyed Bashir

          When you are on the 1290 Super Duke R, vibration is the least of your worries, staying alive is.

  • Holy crap! Epic new-bike launch. Perks of being the boss!

    • spiff

      There have been a couple cool launches lately.

  • SRMark

    199 HP?! They couldn’t be bold and say 200? But I must say that you’re right in stating that is plenty for the street. And this ain’t my idea of a street bike.

    • Maximiliano Ricardo Elias

      In another web italian page say 202hp in 13000rpm.

      • Kevin Duke

        It has 202 PS, which converts to 199.2 hp.

        • Sayyed Bashir

          Manufacturers are trying to stay below 200 hp on street bikes (at least on paper) so as not to aggravate the authorities,

  • Cameronius Maximus

    Amateur article for many reasons. You damn near lost me at the first incorrect use – or should I say, spelling – of the word “thou.” This isn’t Shakespeare! “Wherefore art thou?” Silliness. I know what you were going for, though using phrases like “That Suzuki Though,” should be beneath someone who writes professionally for a living. Unless, of course, Kevin is in actuality, a 16-year-old girl.

    All that being said, you also botched the calculation of the bike’s horsepower. The article states that Suzuki claims 199 horsepower at the crank, which would mean about 180 at the wheel. I thought it was common knowledge that a bike will lose 10 to 20-percent of its horsepower through the drivetrain. Every bike I’ve ever tuned has lost right around 15-percent. 199 minus 15-percent is just a hair over 169 at the wheel. My tuned 2014 Super Duke 1290 makes 164 at the wheel. Just sayin’.

    If Motorcycle.com could use a pro writer, feel free to hit me up with a salary offer. Otherwise, I’ll stick to reading more grown-up pieces – like “Green Eggs and Ham” or “Horton Hears a Who.”

  • Roy Bentz

    wow took them this long to implement what ever bmws1000rr had to reach 200bhp. half a decade.

    • Maximiliano Ricardo Elias

      BMW only copy Suzuki Old GSXR K5 Engine and frame, yo dont notice the similitudes ???

  • Walter

    “Now, before the internet pundits chastise Suzuki (and America) for nipping maximum power, please consider how often you’re likely to be using full throttle above 13,000 rpm when riding on the street.”

    Are you kidding me– don’t you know how many absolute riding GODS are on the internet LOL

    Very nice review.

  • Old MOron

    Ha ha, I can’t believe I didn’t notice the cooperation between Revvin’ Kevin and Slow Kevin before. To get advice from the champ must’ve been awesome. You should work that into an article some day.