2007 Suzuki GSXR-1000 Review

Suzuki's Superbike Improves Upon Perfection

Suzuki GSXR1000

K-Man75/Wikimedia CC 2.0

It's hard to improve upon what is widely considered superbike perfection, but Suzuki has managed to endow their fourth generation GSXR-1000 with even more power and technology-- while sacrificing only an incremental gain in weight.

The previous K6 model earned itself a sterling reputation among hardcore canyon carvers, but do the new K7's technological goodies satisfy the most demanding of sport bike riders? We took out the latest GSXR-1000 to the test and came away impressed with its blend of high performance and evolutionary refinements.

Strong Enough for the Track, But Made for the Street

The Suzuki GSXR-1000-- like its fierce competitors which include the Kawasaki ZX-10R and the Honda CBR1000RR-- is a race-bred performance machine with outrageous performance best suited to the track.

And while the $11,399 Suzuki packs even more power, handling, and braking ability than its capable predecessor, this latest iteration boasts a host of race-inspired mechanical improvements intended to keep it at the top of the crotch rocket heap-- even if 95% of riders are not skilled enough to fully maximize its potential.

Suzuki engineers started by refining the GSXR-1000's most obvious component: its 999cc 4-cylinder powerplant. Because every ounce of weight counts in this hyper-competitive field, the GSXR underwent a push-me-pull-me series of weight losses and gains: hollow camshafts and a more compact Suzuki Dual Throttle Valve system (SDTV) shaved some pounds and produced slightly more power, but increasingly stringent global emissions and noise regulations forced the Gixxer to gain a second exhaust.

A new aluminum alloy chassis lost a few pounds, but the K7's new hydraulic clutch counteracted the weight loss. Also adding heft was a new, speed-sensitive steering damper designed to add stability at high speeds.

The net sum of the poundage game? The 2006 model weighed in at 365 lbs (dry), while the new and improved version gains quite a few mechanical improvements and a dry weight of 379 lbs-- an overall gain of only 14 pounds. All factors considered that's not a bad tradeoff, but how does it ride in the real world?

Riding the Gixxer 1000 on Public Roads

Throw a leg over the new GSXR-1000, and you might not be hit over the head by its racing roots. Fire it up, and its sharp throttle response and snarling exhaust note start to reveal some of its aggressive nature. Pop it into gear, lean forward, and grab the handgrips, and the aggressive riding posture will start to give you an idea of what this purebred machine is capable of.

As you twist the throttle, power delivery comes on strong. In spite of twin exhaust cans, the exhaust note becomes increasingly raspy as revs approach the middle of the powerband, which eventually terminates with a stratospheric redline of 13,750 rpm. Midrange power is torquey, and when this bike is nudged ever so slightly it responds eagerly and aggressively, graduating to outrageous gobs of power at high rpms.

At full throttle the front wheel lifts and the Gixxer's beastly personality is revealed; acceleration is flat out hardcore and verges on scary. Riders who choose to twist the throttle all the way are pulled back so hard they risk falling off the rapidly accelerating bike.

The GSXR-1000's ride is firm, but not punishingly so. The coil spring-equipped inverted telescopic forks are equipped with adjustable compression and rebound damping, while the rear link-type suspension features fully adjustable spring preload and rebound damping; this is all fairly standard for this class of bike, and the

Suzuki's ride at softer settings is still busy, but not abusive. Handling is nimble and relatively compliant for a liter bike, a function of the GSXR's lightweight and outstanding suspension tuning.

Stable Steering, Secure Downshifts

Aftermarket steering dampers reduce high-speed steering wobbles (which can produce scary "tank slappers,") but traditional dampers not only require manual adjustment, that setting must be used across many different speeds. Suzuki incorporated a speed-sensitive damper into its '07 GSXR which controls the flow of oil via a solenoid, automatically providing looser steering at low speeds and stiffer steering at higher speeds.

At higher speeds the dampening makes the GSX-R feels more stable, and its steering is a bit more isolated from road irregularities and vibrations. Though the increased feedback might make it a bit more work to throw the bike aggressively into the corners at speed, the added stability is a welcome tradeoff for what could potentially be twitchy steering. Also aiding stability is a slightly longer wheelbase, which keeps the Gixxer's turns more predictable and controllable.

The addition of a slipper clutch aids aggressive downshifts by smoothing out the difference between engine revs and rear tire speed. The slipper clutch-- or, as Suzuki calls it, the "back-torque limiting clutch"-- enables abrupt release of the clutch lever without worrying about locking up the rear tire, a confidence-inspiring touch that makes it all the more inviting to ride the GSXR hard and fast.

Rounding out the impressive performance package are 310mm front brakes that provide strong stopping power, without feeling grabby or difficult to modulate.

Adjustable Engine Management Keeps You Out of Trouble

Though the GSX-R1000 is capable of remarkably high performance, the latest iteration features impressive engineering that makes it more refined for the rigors of the real world.

For starters, a new engine management system enables the inline 4-cylinder powerplant to operate in three different modes. The default is "A" mode, which makes 100% of the power available at all times.

Feeling like you don't want to attack every bend in the road like it's an apex at Willow Springs? Use the thumb-operated to toggle up or down to "B" mode, which offers tamer power delivery, but will provide all 160 horsepower (measured at the wheel) if the throttle is twisted to full blast.

Riding in the rain, or simply feeling a little gunshy? Switch to "C" mode, and the Gixxer becomes even more manageable, with even more sedate power delivery, and less overall thrust-- even under wide open throttle.

Though not quite as sharp-edged and robust as mode "A," mode "C" is surprisingly gutsy for everyday use, and provides more than enough power for passing, merging onto the freeway, and even showing off at the stoplight.

Though some have likened mode "B" to the equivalent of a 750cc engine and mode "C" to turning the GSXR-1000 into a 600cc, "C" actually feels more powerful than a 600. "C" mode makes the Gixxer entirely capable for most road circumstances, with the added benefit of keeping you an extra step away from sliding the rear out during hard acceleration in turns or maybe slightly reducing the fine of a big fat speeding ticket.

Too Much Technology, or Just Right

So, all this technology begs the question: Have all these advances made the 2007 Suzuki GSXR-1000 a better bike or has it lost some of its hardcore edge?

For a vast majority of rider seeking a lightning-quick crotch rocket, the new Gixxer's trick engine management, a slight bump in horsepower, confidence-inspiring slipper clutch, and electronic steering damper offers more ways to tear up the pavement while maintaining better bike control.

Though track day purists might decry the electronic gadgetry as hampering their tire-shredding ways, one must remember this is a race-inspired bike that, at the end of the day, is really intended for the road.

And, while the GSXR-1000 is capable of awesome track performance, the buck stops on public pavement, where its easy to use demeanor and awesome performance make it an undisputed winner.

The Whole Package

The GSXR-1000's mechanical enhancements and impressive refinements once again make it one of the top contenders in the liter bike category, but if the Suzuki lacks one grand slam element, it might be its styling.

Not as slickly voluptuous as the Yamaha R1 or as chiseled and muscular as the Honda CBR1000RR, the GSXR-- in spite of its updated bodywork-- lacks the visual panache to distinguish it in a crowd of superbikes.

However, if the Gixxer's familiar looks don't quite do it for you, that shouldn't stop you from enjoying the view from the GSXR-1000's cockpit as you ride what is arguably one of the best sport bikes on the market.