The 2005-2007 models of the GSX-R1000 possessed an engine that was loved by many; a 999cc inline 4-cylinder with a long stroke and a will to keep pulling. That engine has been resurrected in the 2016 Suzuki GSX-S1000F. Some titanium components have been swapped for stainless steel ones in effort to drive down cost, but the overall engine remains the same. The idea was to bring the performance of a K7 Gixxer to the streets and stomp out the competition. I’d say Suzuki is three quarters of their way there with the 2016 GSX-S1000F.
The GSX-S1000F hits the streets as a more commuter-friendly motorcycle. The GSX-R1000 (reviewed here) most obviously has its perks, but should you want to preserve the integrity of your back and wrists, perhaps its not the most ideal everyday vehicle. This new, faired model of the GSX-S1000 emerges to fill this gap.
It’s designed well to suit its role. Steering geometry is moderate all around with 25 degrees of rake and a 100mm trail. This yields a bike that goes where you want it to, almost as fast as you want it to go that way. It handles like the child of a sport bike and a tourer: not bad. The fully-adjustable suspension is led by a 43mm KYB inverted fork, which soaks up potholes and other imperfections in the road quite well, while still feeling rather planted in corners.
I can’t say I’m a big fan of its aesthetics. From the profile view, I’d say it looks fresh and exciting. The placement of the headlights in the front are hawk-like, which would be pretty damn cool if it was, well, better. At the moment, the front view of the bike seems a little goofy to me. As a matter of fact, some have commented that the bike’s front-end resembles that of a high-power scooter. I can definitely see that, and it doesn’t exactly increase the attraction for me.
The windscreen affixed to the front didn’t seem to add much in terms of wind protection. It’s not adjustable and seems to direct the wind directly into my chest with the seating position it encourages. That being said, the seating position is very well designed and comfortable. Upright ergonomics take weight off the wrists and keep your attention on the road, not on sore bones. Suzuki has implemented a new feature in the GSX-S1000F: a starter button that you don’t have to hold down. While this would be nice for most bikes, the GSX-S1000F starts up extremely quickly without any hesitation, and the feature is practically irrelevant on this bike.
Last year, riding the GSX-S750 (reviewed here) was a pleasure. It’s a naked that should definitely pose a threat to its competition. Slapping some fairings on the GSX-S1000 gives you the F model, 25lbs heavier than the S1000. The weight difference wouldn’t be a terribly big deal, but it’s rather noticeable. The additional weight is concentrated near the front of the motorcycle, which makes it quite front-heavy. Low-speed manoeuvring is where the effects of this are evident. At higher speeds though, the difference is negligible. The K5 engine inside was bred to fly through the midrange and keep pulling through the top-end, and it shines inside the new twin-spar aluminum frame of the GSX-S1000F. The motor was most definitely my favourite part about this bike, but something felt amiss.
The GSX-S1000F feels a little unrefined. Don’t get me wrong; it performs very well for the price. The ABS model is listed for $12,999, compared to the $12,299 that the fairing-free (ABS as well) version is priced at. That’s not the problem. The problem with the GSX-S1000F is its position relative to its competition. Kawasaki, Honda, and Yamaha have been working hard to achieve a level of polish and quality on their motorcycles. Suzuki seems to be lagging in this department. On the GSX-S1000F, as you accelerate through the rev-range, you can feel the vibration transfer from the footpegs to the handlebars as the engine spins faster.
Furthermore, the initial bite on the throttle is too sharp. Rolling on the throttle without a jerk is rather challenging, and the GSX-S1000F doesn’t have any engine modes to mitigate this. It does have 3-level adjustable traction control, which can also be turned off. Position 3 has the effect of easing the throttle bite by a small amount, but also seeps some fun out of the motor. It’s small things like this that Suzuki needs to take extra effort to smoothen out to pose a serious threat to its competition. The GSX-S1000F didn’t leave me with my jaw hanging, but it left me far from disappointed still. With a little bit of work, the GSX-S1000F will be a force to reckon with.