Live With It: 2018 Suzuki GSX-S1000Z Long Term Review

John Burns
by John Burns
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Old Faithful

As a lifelong supporter of the underdog and a proponent of keeping things cheap and stupid simple, I was a big fan of the Suzuki GSX-S1000 right from the start. Basically, we’re talking 2005 GSX-R1000 with much improved ergonomics, more supple suspension, EFI, and other conveniences of modern life that make deploying 144 screaming inline-Four horsepower a kinder, gentler and more comfortable experience every time you leave the house.

Even though it beat up the Kawasaki Z1000 and the Honda CB1000R in a 2016 shootout – losing out only to Euro nakeds that cost substantially more – the GSX-S did not escape without criticisms: The on/off throttle transition can be jerky, the engine’s a bit flat in the midrange, and some felt too much engine vibration through the grips.

live with it 2018 suzuki gsx s1000z long term review, Our 10 999 all black Z version goes for 200 more than the blue job but gets you a blacked out exhaust fork tubes and other tidbits Suitable for formal occasions
Our $10,999 all-black “Z” version goes for $200 more than the blue job, but gets you a blacked-out exhaust, fork tubes, and other tidbits. Suitable for formal occasions.

With the 2018 model, Suzuki’s addressed a couple of those complaints. A refining of the bike’s EFI mapping is supposed to result in smoother throttle operation, and it does. Those who complained about the old model’s snatchy response (Evans Brasfield, et al) like it much better now, though there still may be concerns re: steady-state fuelling midcorner. For me, she’s fine, since my spastic sport mode means I’m usually either slamming on the brakes or whacking the throttle open. For whacking, the GSX retains its four-way (including off) traction control. For braking, we’ve now got ABS (even if it’s not the latest cornering-sensitive type). Nobody complained about the brakes, but we get beautiful and powerful new Brembo calipers like the ones on the latest GSX-R, squeezing 310mm discs, and fed by uprated hoses.

live with it 2018 suzuki gsx s1000z long term review

I tested these on Socal’s 57 freeway, coming home in the evening after a day in the mountains. Checking my 8 o’clock as I attempted to move into a lefter lane where the 57 meets the 60, I checked it again a half-second too long to see if a truck was moving over into the spot I wanted from the other side… it was. And when I looked back ahead the car in front of me was almost stopped. Dang, I am going to run into the back of that car; this won’t be pretty. My brain had given up but my braking fingers had not – eek eek eek the Suzuki stopped crazy hard but true, 3mm from the new Civic’s bumper. Everybody went on about their business. ABS is worth every penny.

Also for 2018, the bike’s gained a back-torque-limiting slipper clutch, which makes it easier to keep the engine singing along in its higher registers when you’re tearing along backroads, and no, this bike wouldn’t be at all out of place on a closed road circuit now and then.

live with it 2018 suzuki gsx s1000z long term review, Whatever retuning of the ECU took place did positively affect throttle response but it didn t do much to punch up the GSX S s 4000 7000 rpm flattish spot Or its top end
Whatever retuning of the ECU took place did positively affect throttle response, but it didn’t do much to punch up the GSX-S’s 4000-7000 rpm flattish spot. Or its top end.

Suzuki also claimed more power due to reduced pumping losses via new crankcase ventilation holes in the engine block, but our dyno’s not feeling it.

live with it 2018 suzuki gsx s1000z long term review, Elsewhere to mix things up the the color of the foot rests shift lever rear brake lever and hand control levers is changed from silver to black and our Z model gets a black exhaust too Brent J loves the knurled footpegs
Elsewhere, to mix things up, the the color of the foot rests, shift lever, rear brake lever and hand control levers is changed from silver to black – and our Z model gets a black exhaust too. Brent J loves the knurled footpegs.

In cruising around town mode, the GSX-S is the same light, maneuverable, revvy no-frills happy place it’s always been, with an aluminum Renthal Fatbar that gives plenty of leverage while being narrow enough to zot through the narrowest traffic escapes. Any complaints about the midrange power can be negated instantly with a flick downard of the left toe and a rotation of the throttle.

live with it 2018 suzuki gsx s1000z long term review

There’s still a minimal amount of four-cylinder buzz felt through the grips, which only becomes noticeable when you’re spinning the engine up a bit, and over 90 mph in sixth – about 6200 rpm. When you’re riding along in the mountains trying to make time, all the GSX-S’s pieces come together so well you can barely tell you’re riding a Suzuki that ends in “S” instead of “R” – except that the S’s higher, wider handlebar makes it easier to control on tight roads. The Dunlop D214s provide enough traction to get themselves feathered to the edges, front and rear, whilst barely skimming the long footpeg feelers. The knurled and angled-at-the-ends footpegs give great grip for your feet and enhanced control. And I for one feel confident leaving TC in 1 and grabbing injudicious fistfulls of throttle out of every corner.

We may not have the most sophisticated bump absorption, but we do have suspension front and rear that keeps everything on track and under control, which feeds back steering feel and precision that’s light and plenty quick. The new brakes are feely and powerful.

In short, this one sporty motorcycle does it all – and if you wanted to sport-tour, there’s even a GSX-S1000F ABS for not much more money.

live with it 2018 suzuki gsx s1000z long term review, If you d prefer a little wind protection the GSX S1000F ABS is just 11 299
If you’d prefer a little wind protection, the GSX-S1000F ABS is just $11,299.

The 2018 Suzuki GSX-S1000’s only problem, really, is that it’s 2018. The 2016 version, for $9,999, was a great deal and the only place you could get 144 horsepower for under $10k. Now that the price is up to $10,999, for $2k more you might find yourself aboard a new Yamaha MT-10 (nee FZ), a more modern bike with everything the Suzuki’s got, but also electronic cruise control, a crossplane crank that gives a delectable exhaust note, better suspension, greater comfort and, ahhh, isn’t that enough? Then too, for substantially less money, there’s the new Kawasaki Z900, which gives up very little to the Suzuki except for about 20 horsepower. In fact, between you and me, I think for the money I could be every bit as happy on little brother GSX-S750S – which does everything the 1000 does but more smoothly, nimbly and revvily – for just $8,299.

In any case, I’ve managed to put a couple thousand miles on this stealthy sweetheart over the last couple of months. Suzuki’s instant-start deal has her firing up instantly without fail with just one quick poke of the button. There’ve been exactly zero issues with anything, fuel mileage is always between 39 and 42 mpg, the oil sight glass is never low, the Dunlops have plenty of tread left. And I could live happily ever after with this one but I probably won’t because time marches on and we’re never satisfied are we? No.

2018 Suzuki GSX-S1000Z Specifications

Engine Type999cc, 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, 4-cylinder, DOHC
Bore x Stroke73.4 x 59.0 mm (2.890 x 2.323 in.)
Compression Ratio12.2 : 1
Fuel SystemSuzuki Fuel Injection with SDTV
LubricationWet sump
Transmission6-speed constant mesh
ClutchWet, multi-plate SCAS type
Final DriveChain, RK525GSH, 116 links
Suspension FrontInverted telescopic, coil spring, oil damped
Suspension RearLink type, single shock, coil spring, oil damped
Brakes FrontBrembo 4-piston, Disc, twin, ABS-equipped
Brakes RearNissin, 1-piston, Disc single, ABS-equipped
Tires Front120/70ZR17M/C (58W), tubeless
Tires Rear190/50ZR17M/C (73W), tubeless
Fuel Tank Capacity17.0 L (4.5 US gallons)
ColorMetallic Mat Black No. 2
IgnitionElectronic ignition (Transistorized)
Spark PlugsNGK CR9EIA-9 or DENSO IU27D
Headlight12 V 60/55 W (H4)
Tail LightLED
Overall Length2115 mm (83.3 in)
Overall Width795 mm (31.3 in)
Wheelbase1460 mm (57.5 in)
Ground Clearance140 mm (5.5 in)
Seat Height810 mm (31.9 in)
Curb Weight209 kg (461 lbs.) / 210 kg (463 lbs.) California model
Warranty12-month, unlimited mileage, limited warranty
John Burns
John Burns

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2 of 118 comments
  • Busha Busha Busha Busha on May 27, 2018

    I don't know that I agree with the value analysis at the end. If this is overpriced the 750 is super overpriced, having the same cheapish grade suspension and brakes as the much more powerful, similar costing (and lighter?) Z900. MT-10 is a good value on paper, but to the eyes it's a very... "acquired taste". An XSR1000 cannot come soon enough. The price hike is a little bit of a bummer but I think it's still good value. I don't think there's anything else that offers this kind of performance, refinement, spec and comfort at this price point.

  • 19pacman59 19pacman59 on Jan 29, 2020

    I've owned and ridden many many bikes over the years and guess what, I have a 2018 GSX-S1000F. Is it the best bike in its category? NO. Why did I buy it? Because it was all I needed for street riding and the price was excellent. If I would have used the bike for the occasional track days, I would have look at the Street Triple RS or a S1000R or a Tuono or a FZ-10 etc... You have to understand that I did not mention Superbike as here in the province of Québec (Canada), it is very expensive (bodily Insurance) to ride a sport bike (CBR/GSXR/ZX/R1/RSV4/S1000RR etc...) on the road. Buying a bike it is all a matter of individual taste. https://uploads.disquscdn.c...