Earlier this season I threw a leg over Suzuki’s new-to-North America GSX-S750 and returned the bike nearly 2,000 kms later. I’m a huge fan of naked sport bikes, finding that they offer the best of all worlds with reasonable comfort for long days exploring new riding routes, but enough performance chops to keep my heart pounding in my chest.
The GSX-S750, while neither as light nor as powerful as its primary competitor from Yamaha nevertheless presents a wonderfully rideable machine that gave this rider the confidence to chase down more powerful and expensive bikes on some twisty back roads. If I’m honest, though, it’s this bike – the 2016 Suzuki GSX-S1000 – that really had me excited this year. As good as the 750 is, it was intended to be an appetizer to hold me over until I could get my eager mitts on the 1000 model.
And can you blame me? Not only is the bigger G-Sex sibling more powerful thanks to its ’05 GSX-R1000 engine, but it’s also actually lighter than the 750! In fact, Suzuki claims a best in class weight for the aluminum frame GSX-S1000, and when compared to direct competitors like the Kawasaki Z1000 or Honda CB1000R, that’s certainly the case.
But back to that engine for a moment. Starting with the 2005 generation Gixxer 1000 K5 motor with its longer stroke than the current GSX-R1000 engine means greater responsiveness. In updating this engine, Suzuki tossed in some lighter pistons and a new camshaft among other fixes to the airbox and exhaust (which sounds really good, by the way). All this amounts to a ripping and smooth power delivery (145 horsepower at 10,000 rpms and 78.2 lb-ft. of torque at 9,500) to the chain via a quick-shifting, narrowly-spaced 6-speed.
Suzuki has tuned the traction control system we first experienced last year with the V-Strom 1000 to add a more sporting level of intervention. Canadian GSX-S1000s come standard with ABS (Stateside, a base model can be had without) working in concert with a pair of floating 310 mm rotors front, and a single 220 mm rear disc. Front calipers are by Brembo, rear by Nissin. And rolling stock is a 120/70-17 front and meaty 190/50-17 rear Dunlop Sportmax.
On the road the GSX-S 1000 is loads of fun, as expected. The engine pulls eagerly and smoothly and the steering, while very quick, is still stable on long, high speed sweepers. If there’s one complaint, it is the fueling and throttle, which are very snatchy at low speeds. It’s as if going from no fuel to some fuel can only be accomplished via a toggle switch. Once rolling along, fuel delivery is smoother, but the low speed transitions on and off the throttle are annoying in traffic, and scary in tight corners.
This was made even more apparent when I swapped bikes with my brother and his ’14 Aprillia Tuono whose fueling is unbelievably precise, allowing the rider to more confidently man-handle the considerably more powerful Italian bike. But then, considering the thousands of dollars more you need to spend on one of the fancy Euro naked bikes (take your pick from Tuono, Monster 1200 or S1000R), a few concessions should be expected compared to the $12,299 CDN. And really, there aren’t many concessions. The GSX-S is capable, light and decently comfortable for moderate touring duties. The styling varies between flamboyant in blue to stealthy in charcoal, or the vibrant and sporty black and red of our press bike.
The 2016 Suzuki GSX-S1000 fits into a great sweet spot in the market, bettering the performance of the Japanese competitors, yet undercutting the price of the European brands. For those who are considering a naked bike, this exciting new offering from Suzuki needs to be a must-ride consideration.