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Thu 01st Mar '12

2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000 Review - Video

Bike News, Bike Reviews
 

Making the Gixxer thou better than ever

There's a reason why national superbike grids around the world are stacked with Suzuki GSX-R1000s. With 37 championships in the past 10 years, the pedigree and performance potential of the venerable Gixxer speaks for itself. Making up at least 45% of the AMA Superbike field since 2009, the GSX-R has a reputation for winning. Of course, just when you think it can't get any better, it always does. Introducing the 2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000. 

There's a reason why national superbike grids around the world are stacked with Suzuki GSX-R1000s. With 37 championships in the past 10 years, the pedigree and performance potential of the venerable Gixxer speaks for itself. Making up at least 45% of the AMA Superbike field since 2009, the GSX-R has a reputation for winning. Of course, just when you think it can't get any better, it always does. Introducing the 2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000. 

 

Leaner and Meaner

 

Along with the switch to the single muffler design this year, the under-engine chamber is also gone. The 4-2-1 stainless steel exhaust gains a little pipe length before meeting with the titanium exhaust canister. Following these outward updates the remaining changes come from within, focusing primarily on the engine, but also on the chassis. The design goals for the new engine include reducing weight, improving low- and mid-range torque, better throttle response and higher fuel mileage. Interestingly, though, Suzuki didn't highlight increased peak power as an objective for the new mill.

 

Using finite-element-method (FEM) and fatigue-analysis techniques borrowed directly from MotoGP, the new GSX-R's pistons are 11% lighter and yield a slightly higher compression ratio of 12.9:1 (from 12.8:1).To help the engine breathe better and reduce pumping losses, pentagonal crankcase vents replace the box-shaped vents seen on the previous model.

 

New camshaft profiles include slightly more lift on the exhaust side, and valve-overlap duration has been shortened a smidge as well. The four-valve-per-cylinder layout is retained with the valves still made from titanium. The revised cam profiles along with the retuned exhaust and subsequent ECU recalibration is said to give the newly updated GSX-R1000 engine a broader torque curve than before without losing any of the top-end hit from the previous model.

 

Using finite-element-method (FEM) and fatigue-analysis techniques borrowed directly from MotoGP, the new GSX-R's pistons are 11% lighter and yield a slightly higher compression ratio of 12.9:1 (from 12.8:1).To help the engine breathe better and reduce pumping losses, pentagonal crankcase vents replace the box-shaped vents seen on the previous model.

 

New camshaft profiles include slightly more lift on the exhaust side, and valve-overlap duration has been shortened a smidge as well. The four-valve-per-cylinder layout is retained with the valves still made from titanium. The revised cam profiles along with the retuned exhaust and subsequent ECU recalibration is said to give the newly updated GSX-R1000 engine a broader torque curve than before without losing any of the top-end hit from the previous model.

 

What About T/C?

 

After reviewing all the improvements to the new GSX-R1000, one glaring omission from the list is traction control. The latest trend in sportbikes these days is equipping a motorcycle with T/C from the factory; it's like a right of passage in the eyes of the general consumer. With the amount of power today's literbikes put out, surely an electronic safety net is needed to protect riders from themselves, right?

Suzuki doesn't think so. Its philosophy is to engineer a motorcycle with handling characteristics that will communicate to the rider and warn them if the rear is spinning. Like the Honda CBR1000RR Suzuki's stance on T/C isn't to simply incorporate the system just because its competitors are doing so. It's definitely a technology being researched (and surely being developed behind closed doors), but we'll have to wait for a future model before we see it in production.

 

 

Own The Racetrack

 

To see if its newest creation lives up to its "Own The Racetrack" tagline, Suzuki invited journalists to Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida to put the new GSX-R1000 through its paces. We were greeted with gloomy weather and under constant threat of rain. Rain tires weren't needed, but the standard Bridgestone Battlax Hypersport S20 tires were replaced with the more track-oriented Racing R10. Front tire size remained the same, but the rear 190/50-17 S20 was substituted for a 190/55-17 R10.

 

Sitting on the new GSX-R feels instantly familiar to all the GSX-R models I've ridden in the past. You sit "in" rather than "on" the Suzuki. Immediately noticeable once the new G1K is rolling is the bump in low-end power. Homestead's infield layout consists mainly of slow- to medium-speed bends that lead to sizable straights, and squirting out of these turns on the new Suzuki reveals the increase in grunt within the engine.

 

I'll admit to being suspicious when told why traction control was missing from the GSX-R. With a host of electronics already equipped, including the Suzuki Drive Mode Selector system, I figured adding T/C would be a natural next step. Excuses or not, the connection between throttle and rear tire is superb, as the sometimes-damp conditions would cause the rear to spin when accelerating. It was never an issue, however, and controlling the slide was a simple matter of modulating the right wrist.

 

Speaking of S-DMS, in its latest iteration it's no longer needed to press and hold the button to change modes. Now, a simple tap does the job and it can be done on the fly. After riding in A mode for much of the day, tapping to B mode reveals distinct steps in power. The first pull starts from idle to 3000 rpm, then from 3000 rpm to 10,000 rpm. During both of these segments, power delivery is noticeably softer than A mode. Once the engine is spinning above 10,000 rpm full power is restored, kicking in with a force hard enough to scoot you back in the saddle. C-mode neuters power to the point where it's simply not fun to ride anymore.

 

While this latest GSX-R1000 continues Suzuki's evolution of refinement, unfortunately this wasn't reflected in the gearbox - shifting was notchy and harsh at times. Deliberate pressure on the shifter during clutchless upshifts was crucial to a successful gear change. Gearing felt tall for this particular track, as rarely did I need more than third gear, even on the oval portion of the track, though this is more an indication of just how powerful modern literbikes have become.

 

Braking power from the new Brembo monoblocs is everything we've come to expect from the brand. Monstrous stopping ability is a simple matter of squeezing the lever harder. Modulation was equally impressive, making it easy to trail-brake right to the apex.

 

Thanks to the Big Piston Fork, composure under braking was equally excellent. After that, however, finding confidence in the front end was a struggle. The changing weather conditions or the concrete patches in every turn could be partially to blame, but it was an issue I heard other journalists also mumbling about. Having not ridden its predecessor for some time, it's hard to judge the new Gixxer's flickability, though it does feel on par with the rest of its Japanese contemporaries in this department. 

 

 

Article by: Troy Siahaan, Photography by Andrea Wilson  www.motorcycle.com