Let’s face it; naked bikes have never really been the go-to bike for us South Africans. Our bread and butter are Adventure and Superbikes, so it’s not that common to spot a big capacity naked bike heading out with the guys on a long Sunday morning breakfast run.
The fact is, not everybody wants an Adventure or Superbike. Some just don’t feel it’s the bike for them and it surely won’t accept their hooligan-ish needs.
The Suzuki GSX-S1000 is clearly aimed at the group of riders that a) Love to be naughty and b) They want Superbike-like performance but don’t want to be in pure agony after 200km.
While Suzuki has sort of brought this bike to market a few years later than expected, it sure does make for one mean argument. For starters, the engine is based on the legendary GSXR 1000 k5/k6 (possibly the best Superbike made by Suzuki to date) and, while it has been reworked with different cams, different pistons and runs at about 1500rpm to red-line, it’s still an incredibly smooth engine making a healthy 145hp. The engine is obviously tuned for street-like performance and offers usable front wheel lofting power in its midrange which runs up pretty healthily to its red-line at 11500rpm.
With its overall seat height at a low 810mm, most people will be able to flat foot it without any problems. The foot peg to handle bar ratio is ample, with room for even the biggest guys. My 1.9m frame never once felt cramped on it, especially not like it feels on a GSXR1000.
The 43mm Showa forks are both adjustable in pre-load, compression and rebound with the rear shock being adjustable for pre-load and rebound only. I found the shocks coped fine on our country roads; however, I would just up the pre-load ever so slightly for my weight as the front had a tendency to get a little wiggly at higher speeds. While I never had any hint of tank-slappers, even after some fast wheelies, one has to note that there is no OEM steering stabiliser on the bike. Not a deal breaker and I probably wouldn’t fit one either, if it was my personal bike.
When riding the GSX-S1000, I can’t help but notice how good the stock exhaust sounds. It just happily sings along until you start winding her up, where she starts to get angry. And boy can she get angry. Luckily there is a 3 mode traction control, which is calculated by the differences in wheel rotations front and rear. Mode 3 being the most intrusive and intervenes very quickly when leaned over in the turns. It’s unobtrusive and subtle. The only way you know it’s doing its job is the dash light flickering every now and then. For day to day, they (Suzuki) recommend setting 2 and for track days or sport riding number 1, which will allow a little bit of wheel-spin. Neither of the modes will allow you to raise the front wheel more than about 10cm. For that you have to disable it completely and it’s easily done by closing the throttle, pressing select buttons and navigating up or down. The stoppers both feature ABS and the fronts are twin Brembo units, while the back is a Nissin unit. The front Brembos are the highlight and work very well.
The tank holds 17l and, according to the on-board computer, is good for about 220km. Our average consumption came to about 14km/l when playing and roughly 16km/l riding a little more sedately. Obviously the biggest gripe with nakeds is, in fact, that they are naked and that you get attacked by the wind. The headlight cowl is so well designed that I was happy to sit at 150kph all day, with wind only becoming a bit of a pain (in the neck) at higher speeds around 180kph. Flat out top speed would be estimated at around 250ish kph, and that’s if you can hold on.
The Suzuki GSX-S1000 offers great value for money and a very good alternative if Superbikes aren’t your thing, but you still want to enjoy a decent litre bike.