Yoshimura Limited Edition Suzuki GSX-R1000 | SHORT SHIFT

Is buying this literbike in a tuxedo better than modifying one yourself?

They say: Designed to set you apart. We say: Black is the new black.

Something about a black tie just makes everything feel a little more important. And if there ever was a statelier superbike, we don't recall it. Yoshimura's Limited Edition Suzuki GSX-R1000 is pinstriped, badged, tastefully polished, and part of an exclusive club. More on that in a minute, but first let's discuss the foundation.

Stops as well as it goes; gold Brembo calipers suit the Limited's accents.

Underneath the formal wear is mostly the same GSX-R1000 we’ve come to appreciate. And we’ve had time to get acquainted. In 2009 it was redesigned from the ground up, and in 2012 it lost 4 pounds of body fat with a slew of updates including high-compression pistons and revised cam timing, a switch from Tokico to Brembo brake calipers, and shedding the dual mufflers for a single, right-mounted unit.

And so it has been for the flagship Gixxer, small evolutions to improve upon what has always been a successful sportbike, on both streets and racetracks around the world. Riding the GSX-R1000 is as pleasing as ever, with the classic Suzuki intake howl heralding a fat midrange pull and a stout top-end rush. As with most superbikes these days the gearing is a little tall, meaning by the time the engine has you smiling you’re liable to be over the speed limit.

The dash is simple yet informative, but it’s starting to look a little dated.

Fortunately, the GSX-R is tame and able in the bottom third of the rev range. Fueling is largely flawless and, if for some reason you aren’t in the mood for the full helping of power from the 999cc powerplant, a toggle on the left bar switches among three ride modes—A, B, or C. Ergonomics are agreeable too. A sloped but reasonably plush seat pitches forward toward moderately wide-set clip-on bars, and adjustable rearsets let you choose (within reason) desired footpeg position.

The twin-spar frame flares out to embrace the four inline cylinders and spreads the rider’s knees much more than some of the competition, especially twins. It gives the rider something to squeeze when urging the bike along a twisty road, though, which the big GSX-R is happy to do. Fully adjustable Showa suspension—a 43mm fork and monoshock—delivers a desirable compromise of comfort and feedback, always encouraging you to lean a little more.

The carbon-fiber exhaust on the Limited looks and sounds wonderful.

With this many years of development and refinement, everything is where it should be and familiar. Maybe too familiar. Arguably to combat the perceived normality, the folks at Yoshimura R&D cut loose on its version of the GSX-R1000, though perhaps not in the way you’re thinking. This isn’t a fire-breathing, barely controllable beast but rather a fully legal representation of what an analog literbike can be. The fact that it’s “legal” is key, actually; since this bike is sold through Suzuki dealers (and has a warranty) it has to pass Federal EPA and CARB (California Air Resources Board) standards to be 50-state legal.

That means unlike the kid your buddy’s daughter is dating with a no-name slip-on pipe that makes 120 decibels and zero sense, this GSX-R won’t sweat in the parking lot of the DMV. The jewel of this Limited is the custom, carbon R77 exhaust that offers a sharper bark than stock but still passes the federal sound test. Other equipment upgrades serve mainly to keep the exclusive paint job off the ground but are mostly CNC machined and exquisitely finished.

The gold-anodized bits that distinguish this Limited are everywhere. Functional ones like spools for a race stand, bar ends, crash sliders, and case guards are most noticeable. The accents continue to axle adjustment blocks and steering stem nut, among others. Gold logos and matching pinstriping on the wheels also help set these 45 GSX-Rs apart. But, yes, there is a premium to pay.

While a base model GSX-R1000 sells for $13,899, settling in near the bottom of the price range for a modern superbike, the Limited Edition Yoshimura GSX-R1000 will go to dealers with a suggested retail price of $18,995. On one hand it’s a lot of coin for a bike that has gone generally unchanged since 2009; on the other hand it’s a pretty exclusive club to join, with only 44 other owners.

Beyond this particular motorcycle, getting the government’s seal of approval represents a serious R&D and financial investment for Yoshimura, which speaks to the company’s commitment to operating in the aftermarket without the usual “off-road-only” legal dodge. It’s unlikely the market for loud pipes is going away, but it will take the prestige and strength of a major supplier to show what’s possible when playing by the rules. Yoshimura has done that and made it look good.

tech SPEC

A standard GSX-R1000 with an EPA-approved carbon exhaust and a handful of cosmetic upgrades.
[Aprilia RSV4 Factory][], [BMW S1000RR][], [Ducati 1299 Panigale][], [EBR 1190RX][], [Honda CBR1000RR SP][], [Kawasaki ZX-10R][], [Yamaha YZF-R1][]
PRICE $18,995
ENGINE 999cc, liquid-cooled inline-four
MEASURED HORSEPOWER 151.5 hp @ 11,600 rpm
MEASURED TORQUE 72.1 lb.-ft. @ 10,350 rpm
FRAME Aluminum twin-spar
FRONT SUSPENSION Showa 43mm fork adjustable for spring preload, compression and rebound damping; 4.7-in. travel
REAR SUSPENSION Showa shock adjustable for spring preload, compression and rebound damping; 5.1-in. travel
FRONT BRAKE Dual Brembo four-piston calipers, 310mm discs
REAR BRAKE Nissin one-piston caliper, 220mm disc
RAKE/TRAIL 23.5º/3.9 in.
WHEELBASE 55.3 in.
SEAT HEIGHT 31.9 in.
MEASURED WEIGHT 450/423 tank full/empty
CONTACT [yoshimura-rd.com][]
6/10 Stars - A very exclusive, slightly improved GSX-R1000 with a Panigale price tag.

Yoshimura Katana 1135R | Performance Pedigree

Yoshimura has a history of limited-edition streetbikes. For example, when Suzuki announced it would discontinue the Japanese-market GSX1100S and released a “Final Edition,” Yoshimura Japan got its hands on five examples to turn into this stunning 1135R. Engine tuning is the company’s DNA (creating nearly 150 hp wasn’t the challenge), so the engineers turned to the chassis as well. A custom swingarm, custom triple clamps, more than a dozen changes to the frame, magnesium wheels, and upgraded suspension improved handling while shaving off nearly 100 pounds.

Perhaps most interesting was the way Yoshimura chose to sell this handful of ultra-exotic Katana memorial pieces. The first five customers with $35,000 wasn’t good enough; potential buyers had to apply for the right to purchase with a report of riding history and display a passion for motorcycles. Enthusiasts only, indeed.

Stops as well as it goes; gold Brembo calipers suit the Limited's accents.
The carbon-fiber exhaust on the Limited looks and sounds wonderful.
The dash is simple yet informative, but it’s starting to look a little dated.