The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 4.0
With a light, sporty chassis and a powerful 16-valve engine based on the unit from the legendary GSX-R1000 K5, Suzuki’s naked contender has plenty going for it. The GSX-S1000 can’t match the high-tech electronics of some super-nakeds but it’s quick, agile, fun to ride and competitively priced. Suzuki seems serious about recapturing its reputation for exciting bikes. The GSX-S and its faired derivative the GSX-S1000F look like an excellent start.
Reasons to buy
- GSX-R1000 K5-based motor is torquey and powerful
- Aluminium-framed chassis give agile handling
- Price is competitive with rivals such as Z1000
At a glance
Essentially the GSX-S is the stripped-down GSX-R1000 that many Suzuki fans have been hoping to see for years. And unlike the steel-framed GSR750, which is built to a budget rather than being a true naked GSX-R750, the GSX-S1000 keeps the super-sport model’s aluminium frame design. Its styling – in blue, red or grey paintwork – features aggressively shaped radiator shrouds, and includes the headlamp surround and a belly-pan. A short, single silencer adds to the racy look.
The GSX-S feels like a sporty naked bike from the moment you throw a leg over the seat, which at 815mm is fairly low and thinly padded, and lean forward to the slightly raised, black-finished Renthal Fatbar. It’s a compact bike but provides a bit more legroom than the GSX-R1000, as well as a much more upright riding position. This is a benefit at slow speed but at higher speeds the compact instrument panel gives very little protection, even by naked bike standards
Large-capacity naked bikes aren’t designed mainly for practicality, and if that’s what you’re looking for, then this bike’s faired sibling the GSX-S1000FA, which at £9,999 is only £500 more expensive, would be a much better bet. But for good weather or relatively short distances the naked bike is fine. Its 17-litre fuel capacity gives range of over 120 miles, it seat seems reasonably comfortable, and it’s light enough to be reasonably manageable in town.
Performance & braking
The long-stroke GSX-R K5 engine is detuned slightly, with new camshafts, pistons, intake system and exhaust, but still produces a hefty 144bhp as well as lots of midrange grunt. Performance in the lower gears is marred slightly by a slightly snatchy throttle but this is less noticeable at higher speeds, and doesn’t prevent the Suzuki from being a blast to ride. It’s seriously quick, feels even quicker thanks to its exposed riding position, and has powerful and reliable braking thanks to Brembo monobloc front callipers and an efficient ABS system.
Ride & handling
Chassis performance is as sporty as you might expect of a light naked four whose twin-spar aluminium frame is slightly lighter than that of the current GSX-R1000, whose aluminium swing-arm it shares. Aggressive geometry and fairly firm, well-damped suspension combine to give light, agile handling that is complemented by respectably grippy Dunlop D241 rubber and adequate ground clearance. Suspension control and ride quality are both good, though the Suzuki can’t match the refined feel of some super-nakeds and has no semi-active option.
As the GSX-S is based on a litre-class sports bike you couldn’t expect it to be especially cheap to run, but it should prove no more expensive than its class rivals. If you use the substantial performance the Suzuki will use plenty of tyres and brake pads, and drink fuel at under 40mpg, though more gentle riding will improve on that figure. Then again, if you’re going to ride it gently you might be better off saving even more money and buying a GSR750 or another less hardcore and expensive naked.
There’s no reason to think the GSX-S will give problems. The GSX-R1000 K5 wouldn’t have earned its stellar reputation without being reliable, and the GSX-S motor is in a lower state of tune so is under less stress. Similarly the chassis should also hold up well. Suzukis don’t have a particularly good record for finish quality, though, so keeping the bike in good condition is likely to make a significant difference to its reliability and longevity.
Warranty & servicing
Although it’s based on a ten-year-old engine the GSX-S unit benefits from a few reductions in frequency of servicing, compared to the K5. Suzuki recommend oil changes every 7500 miles, plug replacement at similar intervals, and valve clearance adjustment at 15,000 miles. Most naked sports bikes don’t cover huge mileage so for the majority of owners an annual service will be sufficient. Like other Suzukis the GSX-S comes with a two-year, unlimited mileage warranty.
As a simple naked bike the GSX-S has minimal equipment but it does come with ABS as standard, and has a compact LCD display that gives plenty of information although it’s not especially legible. This is also Suzuki’s first sporty bike with traction control; the system has three levels of adjustment and has to be turned off before attempting the wheelies that that bike is effortlessly capable of. Accessories include a flyscreen, coloured bars, engine protectors, pillion seat cover and a classy Yoshimura EVO silencer.
The GSX-S1000 is a fast, light and fine-handling naked sports bike with the heart of a GSX-R. It’s the stripped-down Gixxer that Suzuki should arguably have built years ago, and although it’s not cutting-edge it provides plenty of thrills at a reasonable price.