Bikes 18 Sep 2015

Review: 2015 Suzuki GSX-S1000F

CycleOnline.com.au test rides the 2015 Suzuki GSX-S1000F.

It’s been a long wait, but we finally have a GSX-R-engined nakedbike in the GSX-S1000, and it’s the product of a lengthy 14-year wait since the release of the groundbreaking GSX-R1000 in 2001.

CycleOnline.com.au rode the GSX-S1000 at the world launch in Spain earlier this year. Like the nakedbike, a faired and fast sports-tourer was missing from the Suzuki model line-up to complement the civilised Bandit and outrageous Hayabusa.

The GSX-S1000F fitted the hole in the range, but we would have to wait a bit longer for it to prove its worth and now – five months on – both the naked and faired GSX-S1000s are in Australia.

After being thoroughly impressed with the GSX-S at the world launch, I was happy to find that these two machines are not all that dissimilar. The difference between the naked and faired GSX-S is in the front-end; namely the fairing, mirrors and headlight. Everywhere else on the bike every detail is the same.

The sporty intent of the faired GSX-S is evident through the amount of components shared with the previous GSX-R. There’s been no concessions for comfort with rubber mounting on the footpegs and handlebars missing, loud exhaust and more sports-than-tourer ergonomics. It all hints at the comfortable superbike you are about to ride.

Image: Keith Muir.

Image: Keith Muir.

The engine is out of the K5 GSX-R, which is the previous generation long-stroke motor. A majority of updates to the engine have concentrated on more efficient combustion so the ‘old’ motor can comply with the latest emissions standards, something that the K7 GSX-R didn’t do so well.

A new piston design, camshafts and cylinder lining has helped to drop the compression ratio and spread the torque lower in the rev range. There’s also a much bigger airbox and efficient exhaust design to control the intake and exhaust flow. It’s a move that has gotten rid a lot of the underwhelming punch that the GSX-R has off the line and at lower rpm.

Instead the GSX-S jumps out of the blocks and there’s strong and smooth delivery right through the rev range. This shift towards better manners at lower rpm hasn’t taken away the top-end speed of the in-line four and it’ll easily allow you to loose your licence in a flash.

The electronics on the GSX-S1000F are a traction control system – the first on a Suzuki sportsbike. The system is the same as the V-Strom 1000, but has three modes of intervention in addition to being able to turn it off. By intervening in ignition timing and air intake delivery the system is a generation behind the latest systems that use gyros and can control throttle position opening.

Image: Keith Muir.

Image: Keith Muir.

But this is an aspect where the latest systems can feel somewhat bland as a result of them interfering too much. Instead the GSX-S’s system allows the rawness and excitement of the superbike engine to come through, but with the safety that traction control brings with it. And when it comes time to stop a massive set of Brembo Monoblocs with Bosch ABS deliver to expectations.

Fuel range could be better for a tourer with the faired F getting a slightly better economy than the nakedbike, obviously, but with a range of around 230km. You could get 260km out of a tank being more conservative with the throttle, but the GSX-S doesn’t inspire rambling along.

The traction control system hasn’t robbed the GSX-S any excitement and delivers decreasing amounts of lofting the front wheel and rear wheel spin in modes 1 to 3. The off function unleashes the beast and when the GSX-S feels most in touch with its superbike roots.

Like the engine, the chassis is GSX-R-based with computer simulation analysis allowing designers to optimise its structure for road conditions. The frame has ended up being lighter than the current ABS-equipped GSX-R and sees the wet weight of the GSX-S1000F two kilos less fully fuelled.

Rake and trail dimensions are a relaxed 25 degrees and 100mm though the full adjustment of the GSX-R suspension is carried over in the Showa Big-Piston fork. At the rear is a KYB shock adjustable for pre-load and rebound. Brakes are Brembo Monoblocs on 310mm discs up front, straight off the 2014 GSX-R1000.

Image: Keith Muir.

Image: Keith Muir.

The smooth, spiraling mountain roads of the world launch did little to challenge the handling of the GSX-S1000S. Being exactly the same chassis there was little doubt the faired GSX would show the same prowess on similar local roads, which it did, but the point to prove for the F was on rough back roads and it did.

Control of the chassis was excellent on bumpy roads with the GSX turning quickly, while always being predictable and stable across bad surfaces. Its actuation is suppler than what a superbike would be, though it’s not at all doughy like some of the more civilised nakedbikes can be.

The styling is in the same vein as the new styled V-Strom and GSX-Rs with obvious cues from the Busa and B-King. The fairing does little to soften the striking stance of the nakedbike bike and it polarises opinions over its looks.

It’s also the fairing that makes all the difference between the nakedbike and the sports-tourer. The twin headlights throw out an excellent beam at night and, without having ridden the nakedbike at night, you’d imagine it’s a better spray of light than its single headlight. The mirrors on the F were noticeably better, but where the big difference comes from is the air it pushes.

Image: Keith Muir.

Image: Keith Muir.

With a seating position that feels like a superbike with a nakedbike handlebar, your head and chest are kept down quite low to the fairing screen keeping a brunt of the air from you. The flares on the fairings sides deflect air around you knees and the faster you go, the better it is.

On an open stretch of NSW back road between Goulburn and Bathurst, the small fairing took the bite out of the cold air. As the sleet started coming in and the roads turned wet, the outsides of my legs got a little wet and as speeds dropped I got wetter. It shows a fairing design built for speed, that’s for sure!

After 600km in the saddle the knee room, room up and down the seat and wide, flat bar left me feeling better than I would have been on anything with clip-ons. Thing is, when it came to the twisty stuff, I had a superbike engine and chassis beneath me optimised to the demands of the road, rather than bumping the rev limiter on the racetrack.

It might be a sports-tourer, but the emphasis is on an exciting sportsbike firstly and a tourer after that. The screen could be bigger, the pillion comfort could be better, but as the market this motorcycle is aimed at know – older, experienced sportsbike riders who still want the thrill of a sportsbike, but in as more practical package – they don’t get a chance to go touring or riding two up very often.

With the nakedbike S and the faired F, Suzuki speaks to two different styles of rider that almost want the same thing with these two new machines. It’s just with the GSX-S1000F it makes that exciting ride a bit more comfortable.

Specifications
Engine type: Liquid-cooled, DOHC, in-line four
Capacity: 999 cm
Bore x stroke: 73.4mm x 59mm
Compression ratio: 12.2:1
Claimed power: 107kW @ 10,000rpm
Claimed torque: 106Nm @ 9500rpm
Wet weight: 209kg
Seat height: 815mm
Wheelbase: 1460mm
Fuel tank capacity: 17 L
Colours: Mat Fibroin Grey and Metallic Triton Blue
Price: $15,790 plus on-road costs
Detailed specs: www.suzukimotorcycles.com.au

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