may be a bizarre title, but bear with me and it may make some sense.
Last year, you may
remember, we waxed all lyrical about the GSX-R 1000 K4. It
was a monster - savagely fast, massively powerful and as easy
to ride as an easy to ride thing. Well, this year's K5 model
takes the game up a level. Or two.
On the basis that far
too much is clearly not enough, Suzuki's engineers have extracted
more power and torque out of the 1000cc motor. And made it
more accessible to boot. And because the old bike was, at
168kg, a bit of a porker, they shed some weight. And made
the brakes even better. And made it more comfortable. In fact,
they've made a completely new bike.
Opinions are divided
on the looks, especially of the exhaust. All I can say is
that it looks much, much better in the flesh than it ever
will in pictures and it sounds much nicer than a production
exhaust system has any right to sound.
is, sadly, a fairly short test. Premier Suzuki in West Wickham (0208 777 8040) loaned us their demonstrator
for a couple of days while we were waiting for a longer test.
Then things got in the way. The ground, mainly, as you'll
shortly be able to read elsewhere on the site. Anyway, during
the test we managed to commute, have a bit of a hoon and ride
up to Birmingham in the sunshine. And back in the pouring
rain. At night. Lovely.
First thing you'll notice about this bike is just how comfortable it is.
Everything fits really well. You don't need to be a contortionist
to get on, the seat is nice, the pegs are high but not unreasonably
so and the clocks are really, really nice to look at. The
only minor fly in the ointment is the mirrors which, while
good for the class, simply don't tell you enough about what's
coming up behind you.
The next thing you'll
notice is the noise. Oh. My. God. Someone at Suzuki clearly
went on the "Evocative motorbike noises" course.
And passed. With merit. Because the GSX-R 1000 sounds fantastic,
even with the stock can. Loud enough to be interesting, deep
enough to be inoffensive and agressive enough to make people
get out of the way. And yet still legal.
I'm grinning like an
idiot as I pull away and start my first journey. Yes, a rush-hour
commute through the middle of London. And guess what? For
a bleeding edge sports missile the GSX-R is surprisingly good.
OK, so I'm used to commuting on a GSX-R 750 anyway but the
1000 should just be too wide, too heavy, too damn' powerful,
right? Um, no. A slightly overenthusiastic application of
throttle sees a large slide going round Marble Arch but that's
my fault entirely. No, the only real drama comes when some
vigorous acceleration sees the front come up rather hard as
I change gear. As I'm changing from fifth to sixth at this
point it's a little, um, exciting and warrants a major attack
of circumspection for the next few miles. Filtering through
traffic is easy, the controls are light and the bike is massively
stable throughout the performance envelope.
An opportunity for a bit of free riding shows the handling to be a revelation
- at least the equal of it's smaller GSX-R siblings and far
better than any other four cylinder bike I've ridden. The
brakes are astonishing, hauling the big bike down from stupid
speeds and making the front tyre howl with just a couple of
fingers' pressure. And as for the performance. Well, I don't
think I need to say too much about it. Quite simply, this
bike is a missile. I was actually rendered speechless by the
sheer ease with which it gathered speed. In any gear at all.
It's just incredibly fast and yet remains strikingly easy
That's a bit of a double
edged sword, I'd say. Because although the new GSX-R 1000
is by no means intimidating it has the capacity to get even
a moderately experienced rider into a whole load of trouble
very fast indeed. Corners and other hazards come up quicker
than you imagine they ever would, and although the bike has
probably got the handling to get around fine, the rider may
A longer ride showed
a surprisingly comfortable side to the bike, though the practical
bungee hooks of the old model have disappeared, making securing
luggage a bit of a challenge. But that's hardly what you buy
a bike like this for, I guess. And coming back in the driving
rain showed that actually, ridden with a bit of respect it's
pretty docile. The headlight is OK as well, though I do wish
someone at Suzuki's horn department would go on the same course
as the exhaust and intake guys because the thing they fit
sounds like it belongs on a Tomos moped.
I mentioned the mirrors
earlier. Forget it - on the open road you needn't worry what's
behind you because it isn't about to catch you up and, in fact,
if you can see it you probably just passed it. Though it might
be nice to see the blue lights behind you before they set-up
a roadblock, of course.
the long and short of it is this. If you're an experienced
rider and have a modicum of common sense then there is, in
my opinion, no better motorcycle on the road today. The GSX-R
1000 K5 will do everything you could reasonably ask of it
- though fitting knobblies and taking it green laning might
just be pushing it a little - and do it far better than you
can to boot. It's blindingly, stupidly fast and incredibly
easy to ride at 9/10ths all day. Even at 7/10ths you're still
going quickly enough to pass pretty well anything and to get
nicked if you're not on the ball. Open the throttle and it's
Milennium Falcon fast, though mercifully devoid of Wookies.
But if you're someone
who needs the biggest and fastest bike but perhaps, in the
cold light of day, lacks the experience to make the most of
it, I'd respectfully suggest you look elsewhere. Because it
may be mild mannered Doctor Jekyll at first, but take any
liberties and it will instantly and viciously snap into nasty,
aggressive and frankly terrifying Dr Hyde. Who might just
pull your arms off and beat you to death with the soggy ends.
Thanks again to Premier
Suzuki of West Wickham, Kent for the loan of their test