About a year ago, I was in the market for a naked bike sporty enough to hang with the current crop of superbikes. Yes, these old bones are starting to feel the toll of sportsbike ownership. I mean, I’m not old per se, but the point of having a full on crotch rocket has started to fade in my eyes. I’ve been doing less and less track days per year and I was riding scarcely on the streets due to the fact that my body ached every time I swung a leg over my beloved Aprilia RSV. Fortunately, the current generation of nakeds seemed exciting enough to get my attention. These new wonderfully powerful brutes seem to have created an entirely new ballgame above the cut of the previous generation naked class.
Considering my budget and preferences, the hunt was down to only 3 bikes. My choices were between the Kawasaki Z1000R (Z1KR), Yamaha MT09 (EMTEE), and the Suzuki GSX S1000 (GIXXUS). Yes, both the big Zed and the MT had more bling on them being equipped with the Ohlins rear shock for the Z1KR and the high-tech electronics package of the EMTEE, but I wanted a platform that could be developed into what I really wanted… a sportsbike with upright bars.
Studying all the bits from all three bikes, I’ve come to the conclusion that the GIXXUS had the sportiest chassis, strongest engine, and the best bang for my buck therefore being the best base platform that I could develop easily without spending much. I mean come on… a K5 engine in a twin spar aluminum chassis that is lighter than the contemporary spec GSXR? How could you top that? It has the same swingin’ arm as the GSX-R, fully adjustable forks, Brembo front calipers and a slipper clutch for less than 650 grand. Sure, it has a parts bin 2-way adjustable rear shock but that shouldn’t be so bad. Or so I thought.
With my mind made up and the misus on board (Man, what a miracle!) with the purchase of a brand new bike, I set out to put a down payment on the GIXXUS at Wheeltek Suzuki in Makati. I’d like to think that I didn’t have time to pick it up on any day other than a Sunday but the truth is that I was just so excited to get the bike as soon as I could so I twisted the dealer’s arms just so they would release the bike on a Sunday.
Come “D Day,” I was at Wheeltek Kawasaki bright and early. They had to release my GIXXUS at their Kawasaki store across Gil Puyat Avenue because they didn’t have any personnel at Suzuki on Sundays. As soon as I swung my leg over the GIXXUS, I knew I made the right decision. Riding it through a traffic-free EDSA was such a delight! It felt light and agile, had more power than I could handle on any public road and felt like I could ride it for hours on end without anything feeling sore.
On my first ride up our favorite playground, I was immensely satisfied with how the bike performed although the suspension felt super stiff. I was initially concerned about the OEM Dunlop 214s on my hoops but soon found that they had excellent grip despite the lack of feedback. The stock Brembos lacked the strong initial bite I have become accustomed to coming off my old Aprilia RSV but definitely had enough stopping power to bring me to a quick halt when I need to.
Over time, I felt the suspension ease up. I guess it took some breaking in before it settled into a bit too soft of a ride for my preference. I also started to get irritated by the jerky fueling the GIXXUS had at low RPMs. There was this on and off feeling, making it a bit of a handful mid corner as it would jolt the bike forward every time I opened the throttle which upset chassis stability.
On my first trackday with the bike at Clark International Speedway, these small problems started to become more apparent. Even after having set the suspension to my weight, the rear shock was just squatting too much making the bike go wide in corners as you may see in the photo below.
I also had rebound damping issues on the rear shock as even with the rebound setting turned almost fully closed, tire wear was still indicative of the issue. I also noticed that my traction control light almost certainly always lit up on anything but a smooth road. The twitchy throttle almost felt dangerous at times snatching my confidence further and further away at every corner.
All that being said, there is one department that the GIXXUS absolutely does not disappoint! That gem of an engine is truly an awesome showcase of engineering. The amount of power it has on tap had me battling out the straights with super bikes and euro super nakeds. Having determined the areas for improvement, I then set out to work on the bike with what little budget I had for go-fast bits. My primary concern was fueling, so I researched and read about why it was so and found that the snatchy throttle was due to Suzuki’s need to comply to Euro 4 emissions standards. To get to the gist of it, basically, the bike shuts of any fueling or at least part of it at idle to reduce emissions, so I needed a way to bypass that and add a bit more fuel to the lower revs. I first had my sights on a Dynojet Power Commander but then learned that an ECU reflash was a more practical solution.
I brought the bike to Motorad WRD Racing Performance along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City.
Rad Ramirez convinced me to take out the catalytic converter and switch to a BMC Air Filter for optimum results. I felt that the stock can sounded pretty good so I decided to leave that alone as I didn’t want it super loud anyway.
With both mods done, it was now time for the Woolich Racing ECU Reflash. The Woolich Racing ECU reflash would enable Motorad to tune the bike at every level and take out any restrictions it had to make the fueling as crisp and smooth as possible while giving the bike some extra juice.
I also decided to get the Woolich Racing Race Tools package, which is also available at Motorad Racing and Performance. The package included a Quick Shifter, Anti Wheelie, Launch Control and a Pit lane Limiter. I would have gotten the Auto Blipper if only the GIXXUS was equipped with ride-by-wire technology but sadly, it did not.
Rad and his team then started tuning the bike on the Dyno to see the actual results. The power gains were huge! Almost 10 HP and 2 Ft lbs of torque as you can see on the graph. On my first test ride out, it was undeniable that the reflash cured the twitchy throttle and I instantly had a buttery smooth and crisp throttle control. It was like night and day and I swear I heard angels singing in the background as I went through the Commonwealth Avenue stop and go. Yeah I was happy, and couldn’t wipe the grin off my face when I brought the bike back to the shop. Next on my agenda was to replace the rear shock. Going through the GSX-S1000 forums, I came across a guy who replaced his rear shock with a KYB 4 way adjustable unit. Unable to afford an Ohlins, or WOWhlins as we call it, I soon followed suit and ordered the same unit from Ebay. It has low and high-speed compression damping adjustment as well as rebound and preload.
It wasn’t a direct fit. Motorad had to fabricate new brackets to install the KYB unit on the GIXXUS’ chassis. The minor surgery was all worth it and Motorad did such a clean job; one would have to look really hard to notice it. Rad and his team did such an awesome job on the GIXXUS that I am now a regular customer.
Special thanks to Rad Ramirez and his team!
On my next ride round the track, the bike was noticeably cornering so much better! It was holding a tighter line and was super smooth on the throttle. I had to be careful coming out of corners as the slightest provocation lifted the front wheel without hesitation. To say that I was happy is an understatement. If you compare this photo to the previous track day photo on the same corner, you would notice that the bike was holding its line much better allowing me to hit the apexes with ease.
Over the next few months I was riding faster and harder on our local playground with the bike taking me to new heights of confidence. As I rode more and more aggressively, I found myself wanting to tweak the ergonomics to get me to a more truculent stance. Fortunately, one of my club mates started a Pro-Taper handle bar craze in our group. I soon got my hands on a Pro Taper Evo Carmichael bar thanks to my good buddy James Mirasol. Having installed the bar, I soon decided to trick out the aesthetics of the bike to make it look more in line with my taste. Some rubber paint, new LED turn signals and a new set of tires (Metzeler M7RRs) turned the bike into something that looks so much more sinister.
With all these mods done, I’m proud to say that we’ve turned this already good naked bike into a proper Super Naked with just a minimal amount of moolah. Now it’s as hard as any Euro Super Naked that can slice and dice any mountain pass or track along with more serious Super Bikes. I still have a few more things on my list to make the GIXXUS even more awesome:
- Is to get stiffer springs and a re-valve as the new rear shock has exposed the softness of the front end.
- Sintered brake pads and steel braided hoses to get that initial bite that I’m used to having.
- Shorter levers to make it look even more badass.
Other than these three things, the GIXXUS is purrrrrfect!
Here’s a quick rundown of the modifications I had to do to get the bike to this level.
- Cat delete
- BMC air filter
- Woolich Racing ECU Reflash / Dyno tune
- Woolich Racing Race Tools (Quick Shifter, Launch Control, Anti-Wheelie and Pit Lane Limiter)
- 4 way adjustable KYB rear shock with piggyback reservoir.
- Pro Taper Carmichael Rise Handlebar
- Street fighter style mirrors
- LED turn Signals
- Tank Grips
- Fender Eliminator
- Painted most of the red to matte black
- Metzeler M7rr tires