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Friday, 20 November 2015

The Suzuki GSX-S 1000A - after 2000 km

Well, I've been able to cut loose for the last few hundred km after diligently completing the running in and what a brute it is!  If the Street Triple was a rapier, the Gixxer is closer to a broadsword or battleaxe!  As mentioned in the previous two posts, both the demo ride and delivery trip home were anticlimactic in that it was similar to riding my 2009 Street Triple in terms of ergonomics and nimble handling.  That’s not denigrating the Suzuki but a massive compliment to just how good the Street Triple is as a great all-round bike. In fact, the power to weight ratio of both bikes are not hugely apart and in real world road conditions, we’re only talking fractions of a second differences in performance up to the legal road limit.  The additional 27 kg of the Suzuki isn’t at all noticeable because it’s carried so low.  Mass centralisation was clearly a major feature of the design brief, including a single low, stubby Moto-GP style exhaust system.

I've had the silver and black leathers for years honestly - not a Power Ranger!

Having already said that it’s quite nimble, it’s a bit more flighty and less controllable on bumpy roads than the Street Triple, bouncing around a fair bit.  That's almost certainly because it needs setting up from scratch for my weight and that will happen when everything settles in.  The Triple had lots of attention in that respect and care in setting sag and damping really paid off.  Nonetheless, it’s very good indeed for a sport bike with taut suspension and feels more like a 600 than a 1000.   As mentioned in previous posts, it was noticed that on the most sensitive traction control setting that it actually activates on tight corners when “pressing on” in dry conditions.  You can’t feel it, but the TC warning light flickers on and off showing that it is changing power delivery characteristics.  Rider comfort, at least for a person of my height is surprisingly good and even with stuffed knees; the footpeg height is relatively comfortable.

Forget the claimed top speed of around 250 km/hr on most of the world's public highways, it's the brutal acceleration which is the really impressive feature.  Sport Rider magazine ran it through the standing start 1/4 mile in 10.6 seconds with a terminal speed of 214 km/hr.  With grunt like this, traction control is clearly a real advantage in reducing unfortunate consequences from a ham-fisted approach to throttle control!  It raises the question of how much power is sufficient for everyday road use.  In this instance, to borrow the phrase used by Rolls Royce about their cars; it’s “adequate”!

To slow the bike down after the brutal acceleration, the Suzy is equipped with radial 4-pot Brembos up front and a single pot Nissin out back, with ABS to make the whole thing civilised.  As yet, I haven't had to use the brakes in anger so can't make any objective comments.  On the delivery trip home, they were quite wooden, but the dealer warned me that they would take time to bed in.  I've done one deliberate hard straight line stop, simply to test the ABS as I've never ridden an ABS bike before.  The feeling left me a bit underwhelmed as there was no savage, wedding tackle squashed into the back of the tank-type deceleration. Perhaps that's the point of it - no dramas during heavy braking.

The OEM tyres are Dunlop D214 sport soft compound.  Excellent dry grip but like most pure sport tyres, require heat to deliver maximum adhesion.  That is likely to be problematic for IAM mentoring work in all weathers, particularly wet winters.  However, given that the life of these tyres is likely to be somewhat short, they will be replaced with the outstanding all-weather Michelin PR4’s fairly soon.

Fuel range came as a pleasant surprise.  Range is important to someone who lives a fair distance from the main centres and besides, I hate stopping for gas when on the move!  With a sympathetic right hand, it’s quite possible to get around 300 km or thereabouts.  An excellent feature of the instrument panel is a “range until empty” readout, giving the rider real-time information.  Allied with this are instant and cumulative fuel consumption readings in several different output measurement formats.

Any downsides?
Well, it is a sport bike so a pillion rider is unlikely thank you for the minimalist seat and high rear pegs on anything but a short(ish) run.  If you don’t plan to take a pillion or go very far with one, then they might still walk normally afterwards!

On the GSX-S website forum, quite a few riders have complained that the engine is snatchy off a trailing throttle. Coming from a Street Triple which had a similar reputation, I would have said it's a touch sensitive at low openings but not something which can't be lived with.  On a constant throttle at slow speeds, it is a little lumpy but it’s not particularly annoying.  However, if it’s used for regular commuting in heavy traffic, it might become irritating but in fairness, riding a sport bike in those conditions is not exactly “fit for purpose”!

Another thing which may or may not become irritating is a combination of the exhaust and induction noise.  It's noticeable when rolling off from fairly high revs in the lower gears, there appears to be a harmonic which can be quite intrusive (read loud!) I personally like it up to now but acknowledge that it might not be to everyone’s taste. 

The marketing hype which went along with the bike’s release played quite heavily on the “hooligan” element of the bike’s nature so it’s entirely possible that the induction howl is quite deliberate. Maybe the lumpiness too but more likely to be the consequences of emission controls.

Accessories, plus odds ‘n sods
I’m not big on bling to turn it into a tart's handbag and extras have been limited to strictly practical use.  With its pure sport bias, the GSX-S is not set up to be a sports tourer but a range of aftermarket racks are available to take luggage.  I’ve simply opted for throw-over Oxford bags which have sat unused in a cupboard for several years. The bags have been on for one run of several hundred km, didn't move and didn't affect the handling of the bike.  They don't look too out of place either.  I also have a 10 litre yachting dry bag which can be bungeed to the top of the bags to give additional storage for a few days away.


Oxford expandable bags for touring

For paint protection, 3M matte finish anti-scratch clear film has been applied to the fuel tank and rear cowl.  Absolutely delighted with the workmanship of the guy who applied it.  So good that it's virtually invisible.


Arrows showing edge of matte 3M clear anti-scratch paint protection

A Pyramid self- adhesive front guard extension has been fitted to stop road crap from being fired into the radiator from the front tyre.  R&G crash mushrooms have been fitted to protect the bike in the event of a drop (shudder).

R&G aero-style crash protectors

A handlebar mount for the GPS has been installed and the standard halogen headlamp bulb has been replaced with an identical wattage but higher output Xenon bulb of the type I used on the Street Triple.  This has benefits in terms of visibility in both daytime and night riding.  A small flyscreen is to be added, as much for looks as protection and that’s about it.  Not even sure whether I'll bother fitting the Escort radar detector/screamer setup which I had on the Triple.

OEM 60/55W Halogen (L), Ring Automotive 60/55 Xenon +130 (R)
(Both on dipped beam)

In summary
It’s a beast of a bike and a lot of fun to get to grips with.  As mentioned earlier, very much like a big Street Triple with added steroids.  In some respects, it’s the sort of bike that encourages immoderate behaviour - a sort of “Who you lookin’ at” teenager with acne bike rather than a mature adult that says “I don’t have to prove anything”!  Having said that, it’s also pretty sophisticated in terms of electronics and is a good example of just how far bikes have developed an the last few years.  Value for money?  Heck yes!!   Fun?  In spades!!

Arty-farty photo on our street