That Suzuki was working on a new GSX-R1000 is no secret. Besides the glaring fact that the bike hasn’t seen a major update since 2009, there’s also the “GSX-R1000 Concept” (click here for the concept unveil) that Suzuki showcased at the 2015 EICMA show a year ago. The machine on display looked production ready and Suzuki revealed a smorgasbord of tasty details, but since Suzuki had that “concept” label on the bike’s name, nothing was set in stone.
At last Suzuki has finalized the specs for the new GSX-R1000 and it’s more track-oriented GSX-R1000R stablemate, and to make sure we received the most accurate and up-to-date information possible, Suzuki flew us to its headquarters in Hamamatsu, Japan, to meet with the team that designed, engineered, and developed the new GSX-R1000. Spoiler alert! The one piece of info that Suzuki hasn’t announced is price. Odds are it’ll fall in line with the competition, meaning somewhere in the $16,000 to $17,000 range.
Without a doubt, what makes a superbike “super” is its engine. For the new bike Suzuki’s aim was to “increase top-end power without losing low- and mid-range power,” says Kunihiko Kiraoka, Suzuki’s engine design chief.
Indeed, the 2017 bike’s claimed output of 199.3 horsepower is a big improvement over last year’s stated 182.9 hp peak, while torque rises ever so slightly from 86.0 lb.-ft. to 86.7 lb.-ft. Raising peak performance without denting torque is no easy task, and to achieve those goals Suzuki had to reach into the toolbox of its recently revitalized MotoGP team and cull a few key features from the GSX-RR. Variable valve timing (on the intake cam only), finger-follower valve actuation, servo-controlled exhaust crossover pipes, and ride-by-wire throttle are all MotoGP technologies that are confirmed for the new Gixxer. Technologically speaking, the Gixxer is fully up to speed.
The engine’s top end sees some significant changes. Lightweight F1-style finger followers (as used on the BMW S1000RR) replace the shim-under-bucket arrangement of the previous model, which helps the engine rev up faster and spin higher. Redline is now listed at 14,500, up 1,000 rpm from the previous bike.
Also helping the new GSX-R rev faster and higher are revised bore and stroke dimensions. Bore grows 1.5mm from 74.5mm to 76.0mm while stroke is reduced from 57.3mm to 55.1mm, making this the most over-square Gixxer-Thou to date. Despite those bigger holes, engineers succeeded in making the motor 6.6mm narrower—one of many changes made to reduce the GSX-R’s overall dimensions.
The bigger cylinder bores unshroud the valves, improving flow enough to permit the use of smaller, lighter titanium exhaust valves while making room for larger intake valves. New pistons with friction-reducing DLC-coated wrist pins push compression from 12.9:1 to 13.2:1, helping to maintain the Gixxer’s legendary midrange punch.
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Suzuki isn’t specifying how much VVT retards the intake cam, but the mechanism we examined looked to swing through about 6 to 8 degrees of rotation, which should be enough to significantly alter engine character across the rev range and go a long way toward the performance goals that Kiraoka-san presented. The phaser doesn’t appear on the exhaust cam since the biggest gains were achieved with intake timing only, says Suzuki’s engine experiment manager Eiji Sasaki.
More power means more heat, so the 2017 bike’s radiator carries a second cooling fan to help dissipate thermal energy while a redesigned water jacket encapsulates more of the combustion chamber and valve pockets for improved cooling, all while reducing the coolant volume by 400cc.
Larger, smoother ram-aim ducting feed a new airbox with stacked intake funnels above the number 1 and four cylinders. In essence this is a passive attempt at the servo-controlled variable-intake technology Yamaha first introduced on the 2007 YZF-R1, a system that allows intake-track length to change with engine speed.
Feeding all four funnels are new secondary fuel injectors located in a vertical position in the roof of the airbox. These showerhead injectors aim straight into the intake and improve atomization, especially at high engine speeds. The intake-track bore is visibly more streamlined now that the GSX-R is fully ride-by-wire. The upper, servo-controlled secondary throttle valves—a hallmark of Suzuki engineering since the technology first appeared on the 750 in 2000—are gone, leaving just one servo-controlled throttle butterfly and one injector to interrupt intake flow through each throttle body.
Exhaust refinements include additional header-crossover pipes and a new, larger muffler to help meet Euro 4 sound limits. Previously the Gixxer’s exhaust had a balance pipe between cylinders 2 and 3 only and it was always open, but now the head pipes exiting cylinders 1 and 4 are joined as well and both banks are connected via servo-controlled butterfly valves as on the BMW S1000RR. By isolating the individual cylinders at low speeds and then bridging opposing cylinders at higher rpm engineers are able to harness the torque-enhancing benefits of the other pipe’s pressure waves.
Final-drive gearing is shorter, with the rear sprocket growing from 42 to 45 teeth. The gearing change is meant to improve acceleration as well as offset the effect of a taller 190/55-17 rear tire. A narrower 525 chain replaces last year’s 530-series chain, saving weight. The clutch, previously a traditional slipper, is upgraded to the popular slip-and-grip setup.
Major changes were made to the chassis as well. The frame is an all-new design that Suzuki say is “significantly lighter and more compact” and is said to improve handling and stability. The engine was rotated back in the frame, effectively reducing its installed length by over 20mm. Engineers took advantage of that extra space to design a 40mm-longer swingarm for more mechanical grip and stability, while the headstock angle is steeped slightly to 23.2 degrees and trail is reduced 3mm to 95mm. A longer 1,425mm wheelbase (up 20mm compared to last year) spans the gap between six-spoke wheels. The new rolling stock is the first departure from the traditional three-spoke design since the GSX-R1000’s inception in 2001.
Suspension is the same Showa Big Piston componentry introduced in 2012, but Suzuki’s more track-oriented GSX-R1000R will come equipped with Showa’s latest BFF (Balance Free Fork) and BFRC (Balance Free Rear Cushion) shock. This is the same race-inspired suspension setup applied to Kawasaki’s ZX-10R (click here for Ari's First Ride review) for 2016, with special damping circuitry designed to eliminate the momentary lack of damping that occurs as the fork or shock change their direction of travel.
The huge Brembo monoblock calipers hanging from the fork should look familiar to GSX-R fans, but they squeeze larger 320mm Brembo rotors that are fixed to their carriers with a combination of traditional buttons and Brembo’s new “T-drive” retainers which are said to be more effectively transfer braking force from the disc to the carrier. Sadly, the radial master cylinder and those big, beautiful calipers are still plumbed with rubber brake lines.
Electronics are a major factor in today’s superbike arms race, and the GSX-R1000 is finally properly equipped. When the “Concept” Gixxer was revealed at EICMA in 2015 it wasn’t clear if the bike would employ an inertial measurement unit to inform its various electronic systems. The production bike will feature a six-direction, three-axis IMU that contribute data to the GSX-R’s new ten-level traction-control system, called Motion Track TCS. Suzuki Drive-Mode Selector returns, now accompanied by the Low RPM Assist and Easy Start System found on the 2017 SV650.
Complimenting the 2017 machine’s many new electronic functions is a new two-color digital dash that’s rife with information and data regarding various systems’ settings and status. A bar-graph tachometer extends up the left side of the display and across the top. Of all the outdated aspects to be found on the previous GSX-R, that massive analog tachometer is one feature we would have liked to have seen retained. Digital tachs just never seem to be as effective at a glance.
Finally, Suzuki totally reworked the GSX-R’s bodywork. By today’s standards the old bike felt big, so designers set about reducing the bike’s dimensions and streamlining all surfaces. We didn’t get to ride the 2017 bike but we did sit on it, and it feels noticeably smaller. The tank top is almost an inch lower (and the tank now holds 0.4 gallons less gas) and the bike is quite a bit narrower between your knees.
Those two factors make it much easier to achieve a full tuck and get “under the paint.” The tank flanks are reshaped to make it easier to move across the bike, while the seat is 0.6 inches higher. The turn signals return to the fairing sides in the front and shift to the rear fender at the back, while both the tail light and headlight are LED units. The headlight unit is drastically smaller, making room for larger air intakes that are positioned closer to the bike’s nose, where pressure is the highest.
From its narrower total width to the much thinner tail section, the 2017 GSX-R1000 appears slimmer and more aerodynamic. The new mirrors are said to be more aerodynamic, and the front brake lever is even slotted to reduce the chance that wind pressure will cause brake drag at triple-digit speeds.
The GSX-R1000 will be available in early 2017 in two configurations: the base GSX-R1000, with or without ABS, or the track-focused GSX-R1000R. That bike will only be available with ABS (with a cornering ABS function) and will also have a bi-directional quickshifter, launch control, upgraded Showa suspension, a lighter top-triple clamp, and a lightweight battery.
Despite the 2017 machines additional components (IMU, ABS pump and plumbing on equipped bikes, etc.), Suzuki has succeeded in reducing the model’s curb weight. While the 2016 non-ABS GSX-R1000 had a stated curb weight of 448 pounds, the 2017 non-ABS machine is said to weigh just 441. The ABS-equipped bike carries a curb weight of 445 pounds, while the GSX-R1000R is expected to weigh 448 pounds with a full tank.
While all the technical specs are official, one critical piece of data is still unkown, and that’s price. Suzuki says that info will be finalized once bikes are bound for the port of Los Angeles. In any case, the 2017 machine seems well positioned to “gain back the ‘King of Sportbike’ crown” as one of the engineers put it. But we won’t know until we ride it!