2017 Suzuki GSX-R 1000R Test – Back in the game

The Suzuki GSX-R 1000R is poised for racetrack dominance

Suzuki is now back in the game with an all-new GSXR1000. Suzuki’s GSXR series having been outdated, out gunned and not appearing at all technologically advanced when compared to other Japanese manufacturers like Yamaha’s R1M and Kawasaki’s ZX10R which were introduced in 2015 and 2016 respectively. If ever a revolution was needed, now was the time. Suzuki did just that with this all-new 2017 GSX-R1000R, which is a higher spec R-version of the regular model. I’ll talk about the differences later on between the R and the standard version.

Getting to see the actual 2017 GSX-R1000 made me realize the amount of effort Suzuki went though in the creation of an all new flagship sportbike. Suzuki did this in a bid to wipe the floor with the opposition. They brought out their big guns with the development of its new GSXRs, utilizing the latest design software, using the company’s smartest brains in a no holds barred approach. They hit the nail right on the head with this bike.

I was given the very first opportunity to test this R-spec version at our local circuit here at the Clark International Speedway. First thing that will catch your attention is how slim this bike is. It is so narrow that it makes other 600cc motorcycles feel humongous. The bike does feel small. At a glance, it has an all-new LCD display, LED headlights, LED running lights and an obnoxious looking muffler. But this bike’s a different beast from the preceding model. Having raced a whole season on a Suzuki GSX-R1000K6 sometime in 2007 at the Shell Advanced Superbikes and winning the championship on one, gives me a direct comparison on how the older GSXRs handled. They actually say the K5/K6 models were the best of the GSXR1000 series ever to come out of the Suzuki Factory in Hamamatsu, Japan. I can attest to the fantastic handling and power characteristics of the GSX-R1000K6, being known to be the best of the GSX-R series. I won the championship on one, beating European and other Japanese brands. Now, this new bike simply blows the door off in terms of its power and electronics segment. Handling may be a bit similar to the 2006 model I raced long ago, but the differences stop there. This bike simply reminded me how the 2006 model handled. Was very light, flickable, and stable. The reason for that was because the 2007 model, or K7, was hit with the Euro3 emission requirements. That meant the chassis, motor and overall design was configured to give way to exhaust emissions making the bike a have longer wheelbase to accommodate a more efficient power-sucking 4-into-2 exhaust which incidentally was much heavier, increasing the overall wet weight and decreasing the power of the 2007 and current models.

Suzuki is now back in the game. This is the GSXR we’ve all been waiting for. The all-new 2017 GSXR, and when I say all new, I mean really all new from the ground up. All new chassis, all new engine, all new electronics and new overall sharper compact design just made this the best handling, most powerful and lightest GSXR1000 mass produced. I’ll give you a run down on my track experience later. But first I will let you know why this is the best GSXR1000 ever made. Let’s start with the frame. The GSXR’s twin spar frame is all-new and is the lightest and most compact frame ever seen on a GSXR. It’s 20mm narrower than its predecessor and weighs like 10% less…the bolt on subframe like all GSXR before is now 38% lighter and swingarm is 25mm longer to add stability at high speeds! That is the reason why the bike looks and feels so narrow.

The bike (R Version) is also equipped with electronic aids such as Bi-Directional quick shifter which means you can keep the throttle pinned on upshifts and completely neglect the clutch lever on downshifts. It gives a very seamless engagement at full and closed throttle shifts. It is also equipped with Launch control that is controlled by the 6 axis IMU- Inertial Measurement unit which incidentally, also controls the traction control at extreme lean angles and cornering ABS. Yes, you can apply brakes while cornering.

Brakes are new as the new Brembo calipers are 10mm larger than previous models. Now let’s go to the electronics hardware. Riding this bike at full whack on the CIS circuit makes you think that this ain’t a Suzuki GSXR! Due to the fact that more expensive European brands only carry this kind of electronic hardware and software. With ten levels of traction control, 3 drive mode selectors that can be altered on the move as long as the throttle is shut. If I imagine the bike I’m riding is the more expensive German counterpart, I could have been easily fooled. This bike is that good and it makes you believe you are using a more expensive flagship sportbike from another competing manufacturer. On the mechanical side, this is where it gets interesting. Suzuki employed a system that is directly derived from their MotoGP efforts which is the VVT System. This VVT- variable valve Timing is really nothing new as other manufacturers have used the system for years.  But, Suzuki’s is one of the simplest examples out there. According to Suzuki, It consists of slotted radial grooves on the intake cam sprocket that allows ball bearings to move outwards under centrifugal force, against an opposing guide plate with straight grooves. So when the balls spin outwards at 10,000rpm, the position of the camshaft is altered, retarding the intake cam timing which significantly gives fantastic top end power… When the revs drop, the balls simple detract and the timing goes back to suiting low and mid performance for easy riding. It is a simple engineering design to gain top end power when needed in a seamless, linear characteristic that other manufacturers have yet to perfect. Suzuki has done well in this department.

Another is the motor. The heart of the GSXR is the motor and Suzuki put a lot of innovation in this engine through the help and assistance from their MotoGP efforts. They claim both torque and peak power has significantly been increased over the outgoing model. They employed MotoGP inspired finger followers that have replaced the conventional bucket type tappets, saving some weight in the process and allowing engine to rev higher and produce more power.

The R spec version is also equipped with top of the line suspension from Showa. Balanced free forks and balance free cushion rear shock. These forks and shock feature an external reservoir, which equalizes oil pressure above and below the shock main piston to help cushion the forces applied to the suspension.

The standard model doesn’t get the Bi-Directional quickshifter, no balance free forks and rear shock, no higher spec race oriented tires, but the rest is included in the standard model, though we didn’t have the standard model on hand to test. Nevertheless, even the standard GSXR1000 will give the competition a hard time. Suzuki Philippines brought in two R-spec models but only one was used during the test. These are the exact units used in the 2017 Suzuki GSXR1000 world press launch in Melbourne’s Phillip Island Circuit. The Suzuki Philippines engineers gave me a rundown on the power modes and electronic aids needed for me to do a race simulation on our local circuit. All power modes were set to max and electronic aids set to least intervention. The Bike had a set of new Bridgestone RS10’s and tire warmers were installed to maximize my first test lap on the bike.

Sitting on the bike, as mentioned earlier, made me feel like I was sitting on a 600 or even a much smaller bike as some 600’s do feel like liter bikes nowadays.

As soon as I Ieft the paddock, I had to scuff and break in the brand new tires a couple of laps. On the 3rd lap, I was close to my racing pace and the bike simply handled beautifully in all stock form. Brakes were very good but maybe a different pad compound will dramatically improve my late braking antics. The electronic aids were kicking in so seamlessly; top end power was so linear and strong. When asked how the power compares to my current sportbike, my answer was this: give this bike a less restrictive exhaust system, minor ECU mods, stickier tires, better gearing and this bike can and will leave the competition behind. It’s that good especially looking at the price point of view. This will be the flagship sportbike to buy versus your hard earned peso ratio. Suzuki has done an excellent job on this all new GSXR1000R and they are finally back in the game. It’s one bike I would love to own, race and win on…again.

I would like to thank Wheeltek honchos Roscoe Odulio, Bobby Orbe and of course Suzuki Philippines for giving me the opportunity to be the first Motoring media to lay hands and do a track test on this sublime 2017 GSXR1000R.

Engine: Inline 4, DOHC, 16 valve, 4 stroke, liquid-cooled

Displacement: 998cc

Max Power: 199 hp @ 13,200 rpm

Max Torque: 86 lb ft @ 10,000 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed

Seat Height: 835mm

Fuel Capacity: 17 liters

Dry Weight: 206 kg

Top Speed: 280+ Km/h

Price:TBA