2003 GSX-R1000 Motorcycle Preview

Motrorcycle Preview: 2003 GSX-R1000

The more pressing question for those of us who agonize over such things is why? Suzuki already had the liter-class super-sport market in a submission hold with the old GSX-R1000, so why start over? Call it a preemptive strike against the other 1000cc Superbike platforms that will show up as 2004-spec models. That's Superbike as in World Superbike. "We wanted an answer to the upcoming World Superbike rule changes allowing 1000cc fours, and we're also anticipating that same thing happening in AMA Superbike," Suzuki Press Relations Manager Mark Reese says.

Thus, the maximum GSX-R's skin, heart and bones are suitably transfigured for global domination. No, Virginia, that's not a Hayabusa. Stacked headlights in the GSX-R1000's prow do show a certain family resemblance, but the inspiration is more aerodynamic than artistic. Lessons learned from Suzuki's star-crossed '02 GSV-R MotoGP racer reshaped the new fairing and fenders, but it's what's up front that really counts. Ram-air nostrils migrate 20mm closer to the centerline of the fairing where all the high-pressure atmosphere congregates to pressurize the 10.2-liter airbox more efficiently at ludicrous speeds.

Having left its 144-horse boot-print on every other big sportbike's butt, the 988cc four didn't need much help. What it gets are a few detail tweaks. Combustibles enter via a pair of two-barrel Suzuki Dual Throttle Valve (SDTV) throttle bodies replacing the previous quartet of EFI mixers. Slotted velocity stacks nix intake pulsing to smooth midrange power delivery. Other upgrades improve reliability under pressure. Ventilation passages between the cylinders even up crankcase pressure beneath the cylinders, and the hydraulic cam-chain tensioner gets a new internal oil passageway.

There's more drama in the chassis and rolling stock. Frame geometry is status quo-24 degrees of rake buffered by 96mm (3.8 inches) of trail-but under that sexy black paint are main frame spars now extruded with three internal ribs. The resulting structure is stiff exactly where it needs to be and lighter everywhere else. A simpler bolt-on subframe is welded up from four extruded aluminum bits. The upcoming race kit will include an adjustable swingarm pivot.

You detail freaks have already spotted the radial front calipers. For everyone else, mounting bolts aligned with each caliper's centerline reduce flex and other nasty aberrations of physics, theoretically putting a tighter, more consistent squeeze on the rotors when you grab a big handful. Stronger calipers mean smaller, lighter rotors. Replacing the '02-spec 320mm front discs with 300mm bits makes for a lighter front wheel and less turn-in effort, which is a good thing when you're flicking something this fast.

Upgraded suspension aims at keeping both wheels under precise control at speed. The 3.5- x 17.0-inch wheel and 120/70 radial bolt to a fully adjustable inverted 43mm cartridge fork, replete with a swank, Diamond Like Carbon (DLC) coating to reduce stiction and look menacing at Starbucks. Out back, an equally adjustable piggyback-reservoir shock is in charge of the 6.0- x 17.0-inch rear wheel and 190/50 ZR17 radial.

Suzuki says the whole package weighs in at 370 pounds sans precious bodily fluids; that's 4.4 pounds lighter than the '02 model and presumably bad news for anybody on a CBR954RR, YZF-R1 or ZX-9R. Maybe the best news is the asking price for all this trickery: $10,499, a measly $100 more than last year. The line forms to the rear. No cuts.