Buying a Used 2012-2016 Suzuki GSX-R1000 Sportbike

What to watch out for when buying a used late-model Gixxer.

2012-2016 Suzuki GSX-R1000
2012-2016 Suzuki GSX-R1000Photo: Suzuki

What wins on Sunday sells on Monday, but success on the track doesn't always translate to all-around goodness on the street. One exception is Suzuki's GSX-R1000, which won nine AMA Superbike titles in the 2000s and eight MotoAmerica Superbike nationals in 2016. Despite lacking the technical sophistication of class competitors like Yamaha's R1 and Ducati's Panigale (the GSX-R1000 didn't even get ABS until 2015), the Suzuki's road manners stand out even if its digital credentials don't.

That’s not to say the 2012 R1000 wasn’t an improvement over its predecessor. It was the first year for a new 4-2-1 exhaust with a titanium muffler, lighter pistons and tappets for quicker revving, revised cam profiles, and higher compression. Brembo Monoblock calipers with larger pistons squeezed thinner and lighter Sunstar rotors, and three ride modes tailored the FI mapping to the conditions. A Big Piston fork and Showa shock were standard, as were adjustable footpegs, a rare feature on sportbikes.

In 2015, perhaps as a nod to the competition, the R1000 got ABS but otherwise stayed pretty much unchanged. From the beginning the 999cc four banged out around 160 hp, and wet weight hovered around 448 pounds. Still, the Suzuki had a lock on “also-ran” in many literbike comparos.

On the street the Gixxer proved an amiable partner in crime. The seating position accommodated tall riders, and the suspension’s soft settings glided over road warts. Still, some testers found it woefully behind the curve. Our own Aaron Frank, on his first ride on the 2012 model, wrote, “Suzuki wants us to think of this as the last hairy-chested, non-electronic superbike, but by modern standards, the Gixxer doesn’t feel especially hairy. Compared to the nosebleed-fast BMW S1000RR or knife-fighter-agile Aprilia RSV4 and Ducati 1199 Panigale, the once-mighty GSX-R1000 feels almost tame.”

Thanks in part to its low MSRP, and seductive zero-interest financing through Suzuki, the GSX-R1000 became a favorite nonetheless. Today it’s a common sight on back roads and in club racing where its cost-effectiveness and reliability weigh more heavily than high-speed hairsplitting.

The GSX-R1000 seems almost indestructible, but there are a few issues to watch out for when shopping for used ones. Hard use by trackday riders or clumsy street squids sometimes shows up as gearbox trouble. The thin front brake rotors are sometimes intolerant of overheating, and they warp, causing pulsing at the lever. New rotors are the only solution.

Leaking or sagging suspension could be a tip-off that there are a lot of stunter videos in the seller’s YouTube favorites. Hard landings after wheelies can compromise the fork seals, so look for oil or signs that it was cleaned off.

As with any sportbike, be aware of mismatched colors on the body panels, torched tires, and dry, saggy chains; all are signs the bike has had a hard life and should probably become someone else’s problem, not yours. Also, be sure to cast a skeptical eye over the paperwork if it looks sketchy. Sportbikes are popular targets for bike thieves who sell them off cheap and leave you trying to explain to the cops why your bike is on their hot sheet. Lastly, this generation could get cheaper soon what with an all-new 2017 bike on the horizon.

CHEERS
Exhilarating performance and handling undimmed by electronic interference. Raw and uncut.

JEERS
Behind the electronic curve, not as flashy as the competition. Some see it as the perennial also-ran.

WATCH FOR
Poor shifting, warped brake rotors, crash-damaged bodywork, saggy or leaking suspension.

VERDICT
Maybe not the best literbike, but very far from the worst. Podium finisher in the Bang-for-the-Buck GP.

VALUE
2012 /$8,760
2013 /$9,335
2014 /$9,830
2015 /$10,435
2016 /$11,090

Also Smart...

2001–2002 Suzuki GSX-R1000
2001–2002 Suzuki GSX-R1000©Motorcyclist

2001–2002 Suzuki GSX-R1000
Roomy and fast, the only real weak spot was the brakes; swapping out the pads and keeping the fluid fresh were necessary for reliable performance. Vibration and noise in the midrange plagued some bikes, but it was usually nothing serious. Engines were otherwise bulletproof.

2005–2006 Suzuki GSX-R1000
2005–2006 Suzuki GSX-R1000©Motorcyclist

2005–2006 Suzuki GSX-R1000
Said by GSXperts to be the most desirable model in the R1000's history, the K5 was the lightest, and many say the best handling. It hit the sweet spot in nearly every performance category and as such is a rare find on the used market; it might even be worth more than some of the newer models.

2009–2011 Suzuki GSX-R1000
2009–2011 Suzuki GSX-R1000©Motorcyclist

2009–2011 Suzuki GSX-R1000
All in all a step backward from the awesomeness of the legendary '05–'06 model. Heavier, slower turning, so-so brakes. New short-stroke engine came with softer midrange. Same great GSX-R reliability, though fit and finish could have been better.