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2016 Suzuki GSX-S1000 ABS: First Thoughts On Our Test Bike

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We have had our long-term 2016 Suzuki GSX-S1000 ABS for a few days, and I thought it might be interesting to discuss first impressions before our full review. We will discuss the technical details of this bike in our full review, but you can find out many of those in our preview article. At this point, understand that this is a brand new naked (there is a sister, faired version) with a 999cc inline-four engine derived from the K5 GSX-R 1000 (with several changes we will discuss later).

This is a sharp knife. Not for the unskilled hand. These are the first thoughts I had aboard the new Suzuki naked. Rated at 145 horsepower, the power comes on quickly with very sharp throttle response. The suspension wasn’t cooperating, initially, with some wallowing over bumps and poor absorption of chop. Fortunately, I had plenty of adjustments available (the fork features compression, rebound and spring preload adjustments, while the shock makes do with spring preload and rebound only), so I started tuning.

Frankly, I don’t know if the suspension settings were stock or, perhaps, set by another journalist, but both ends were rebounding too quickly, and the front end appeared to ride a bit low in the travel. I slowed rebound at both ends and added a small amount of compression and spring preload to the fork. I also added some spring preload to the shock.

I was very impressed with how responsive the suspension was to these changes. The wallowing is gone, and the balance feels much better. At 210 pounds with riding gear on, here is where I ended up: Fork Rebound – 5 clicks out from full hard on each fork leg (adjustment is at the top of the fork tube). Fork Compression – 5 clicks out on left leg, and 6 clicks out on right leg (adjustment is at the bottom of each tube). Fork Spring Preload – even with third line (after adding 2 turns). Shock Rebound – 3/4 of a turn out from full hard. Shock Spring Preload – collar set on 3rd hardest ramp.

I will experiment with additional changes, and let you know where we finally ended up in the full review. Keep in mind that the optimum suspension settings can vary depending on rider weight and skill level.

Frankly, this is a very exciting motorcycle for us here at MD. It is reasonably priced compared to the competition ($10,499 U.S. MSRP for our ABS version and $9,999 for non-ABS), is one of the lightest bikes in the category (461 pounds wet, including 4.5 gallons of gas) and comes with a very stiff aluminum frame, the adjustable suspension we just discussed, and those killer Brembo front brake calipers (much more about that later). On the road, so far, we are impressed.  Stay tuned.

69 Comments

  1. Ed says:

    I wonder if the looks could be improved by removing some plastic? Is that big Z shaped hunk of plastic covering the radiator from the side really necessary? I think I’d rather look at a few hoses and a wire or two than that.I don’t understand why manufacturers feel like the have to dress up their “naked bikes”
    Maybe I’m just old but swoopy plastic body parts just look cheap to me. Sort of defeats the purpose of a street fighter.

  2. bad Chad says:

    With that kind of power to weight ratio, I suspect I my name would either be on a headstone, or preferably , on the states License Suspend list!

    A man has got to know his limitations. I struggle mightily to ride anywhere near the speed limit with 75hp, can’t even wrap my mind around twice that!

  3. Mr.Mike says:

    This looks like a fun bike for around town and day trips, but I’d like to also be able to pack stuff and go cross country – and because of some styling choices this bike doesn’t look like it would accommodate that very well. Pity. It seems pretty capable otherwise and the price is good.

    • mickey says:

      You have to wonder how hard it would be for mfgs to offer a different rear subframe and seat that would accommodate a passenger and luggage, and make these bikes actually usuable for guys to go sport touring on? Couldn’t be THAT hard to figure out.

  4. Bill C says:

    Ho-hum. Another UUJM (Universally Ugly Japanese Motorcycle)

    I wonder if I can fit the suspension and front brake to my 2008 Bandit? That’s all it needs to bring it up to date in my opinion!

  5. YellowDuck says:

    If it was riding low in its travel at the front, why did you add spring preload to the rear? Was this a typo?

    • Dirck Edge says:

      I did add 2 turns of preload to the fork (corrected article to reflect this). Part of my goal was to get more weight on the front end, and slightly steepen the steering geometry, so I could not add much spring preload to the front (it would defeat this). In other words, I needed to raise the rear relative to the front.

  6. George says:

    Initial image bring back memories (nightmares) of the Gladius. Didn’t they fire the design team that styled the Gladius? They certainly should have fired them. If they didn’t and they let them screw up another motorcycle then Suzuki really has their heads in the wrong place.

    • VForce says:

      Totally agree. they really cocked up the styling on this one almost as bad as the Gladius. You would have thought they would have learned. This is, from everything that I have read, an incredible naked sportbike, but the styling is a major turn off.

      Especially those radiator shrouds. Whoa.

      Suzuki has had some gorgeous naked bikes before… the 1991 Suzuki Bandit 400 was one of them. The original SV650 pretty nice also.

    • Gary says:

      I disagree. This new bike is not necessarily my cup o’ tea, appearance wise, but it beats the he77 out of the Gladius.

  7. Bill says:

    I’m curious, about this type of bike in a 1000cc spec. The upright, dare we say touring type of bike, in a 1000 usually has some kind of passenger in mind vs. a sub-1000 engine size. But yet, the passenger accommodations on this bike seem to be a bit sparse.
    I know its a sport bike conversion like the Tuono, but still…..

  8. notarollingroadblock says:

    Where do my soft bags, sleeping bag, tent, and sleeping pad go? Suzuki calls this a “standard”, but the standard I want can do light touring and is sporty when not loaded for the road (so the Bandit 1250 doesn’t fill the bill). I guess the ADV bikes are the new “standards”.

    • Tom R says:

      Guess this bike is for motel camping.

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        “Guess this bike is for motel camping.”

        The best kind of camping there is!

      • Joe Bogusheimer says:

        I don’t know how you’d even pack enough for much more than an overnight trip, staying at a hotel, on this bike. Other than a tankbag I don’t know how you’d put any luggage on it. It would be a trick to put a soft tailbag, even, on this bike, nevermind saddlebags.

        It strikes as more of a factory “streetfighter” than a standard. It wouldn’t have seriously impacted the bike’s sportiness to provide some decent passenger accommodations or facilities for attaching luggage.

  9. mickey says:

    Having owned several Szukis I’ve always found them to be great values.. Motors, transmissions, running gear have always been first class. Where Suzuki fails imo is in chintzy decorations, plastic chrome, tabs that break off, premature rust on bolts. They don’t age particularly well from an apprearance perspective, but they will run and run and run some more.

    Not sure how I feel about the appearance of these new Zukes, but I know they will be good motorcycles from a users stand point.

    • Tom K. says:

      Agree with Mickey on all counts. It will be interesting to see if some customizers can come up with some low cost fixes to improve the appearance of these, the running gear sounds like it is very desirable. But sooner or later, you have to get on and off it. Sheesh.

  10. matt says:

    Suspension that doesn’t totally suck? Wow, that’s a nice change of pace.

    > Shock Rebound – 3/4 of a turn out from full hard

    Underdamped as usual. I bet it’s not rebuildable which is a shame. If the aftermarket can provide a decent shock for $600, then the OEM bloody well ought to manage the same thing since they’re buying in quantity.

  11. Tom says:

    What an incredible bike for the price! Question: are all motorcycle drivers narcissists? I mean, everyone obsesses over the looks of a bike. Why does that really matter? What matters is handling and horsepower, comfort and brakes. Give me a bike, any bike!!!

    • Bill says:

      Amen Tom, I ride a vstrom, ugliest bike made, but i don’t have to look at it when I’m riding it…

      • red says:

        Not anymore.. there’s a new ugly kid in town.

        • Half Baked says:

          If you don’t care for the styling of this machine then it probably isn’t intended to appeal to your particular demographic.

          • red says:

            That’s not true since I love naked/standards and appreciate the performance offered here. Wish they could have stuck with more traditional look. Something like the old Bandit-N would have been perfect. Or Yamahas new XRS700. And just because it’s ugly doesn’t mean I wouldn’t consider it.. vstrom owner here.

        • Snake says:

          I think you should look at the black/red livery, IMHO it looks great (at least in the GSX-S1000F variant). I’m not sure why the moto scribe pool only gets the blue…

      • Mr.Mike says:

        Addition of a skid plate and side cases rebalances the visual weight of the VStrom, making it look pretty good, in my opinion.

    • mickey says:

      I think we are attracted to motorcycles much like we are attracted to women, cars or clothes for that matter. We like looking at the things we associate with and prefer them to be pleasing to our eye.

    • Norm G. says:

      Question: are all motorcycle drivers narcissists?

      Answer: yes.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      It matters because a motorcycle is an object of art and passion, not just a utilitarian tool like a hammer. Come to think of it, my hammers look pretty cool, too. Much better than hammers from my dad’s day.

      In any case, when you have two products that are for the most part very comparable and meet your needs, visual appeal is a great differentiator. For example, I’d much rather ride my hammer than a KLR650.

  12. hh says:

    Another really ugly bike…maybe there is the alternate plastic company out there, or should be..the last few years has seen some really ugly bikes..yep the B King was way ahead of its time..now they are starting to mix adventure styling with anime cootie.

  13. notarollingroadblock says:

    You’ve got a little Hotel California album cover thing goin’ on in the background there Dirck. Thank’s for the mega-zoomify option on this pic. I was looking for it on the bumble bee Yamaha a couple days ago…

  14. Bill says:

    Hmmm, maybe the B-King was ahead of its time….

  15. Butch says:

    Great write up.
    I’ve owned several Suzuki’s old and new and while I’ve never been impressed with the fit, finish and especially the gauges, they’ve always seemed to offer a big bang for the buck if you will.
    Fully adjustable suspension and the engine performance definitely puts it squarely in the “Buck Banger” category.
    Should sell well.

  16. Gary says:

    Lots of reviewers of this bike criticize the on/off fueling. Might be worth a phone call to see if the aftermarket has developed a remap. I’ll bet they’re working on it like crazy.

    • saddlebag says:

      Most new bikes have this issue. Undoubtedly to meet some environmental regulation. And people wonder why Volkswagon put emissions cheating features in their cars. It’s so the damn things run properly. I pity the fool who takes their car back under recall to get the “environmentally friendly” map installed.

      • Gary says:

        There is some truth to what you say. But it is possible to do it well. Witness what happened to the FZ9. Yamaha did a poor job of fuel mapping at first, then got it right the second time. Granted, it will be increasingly difficult to meet emission regulation as they become more stringent. But it currently is doable. Witness the many bike makers who still seem to be doing it well.

      • MGNorge says:

        VW took a shortcut and got caught, plain and simple. As mentioned, emission control and smooth running motors are not mutually exclusive.

        • peter h says:

          It’s not a shortcut, it’s a crimimal offense and I hope that happens.

          • notaVWapologist says:

            Peter h is right. There is no excuse for what VW did. I’ll never be buying another Volkswagen again.

          • Tom K. says:

            Winterkorn, Sargeant Schultz and Captain Klink are headed for the Russian Front as we speak.
            If the allegations are true, then what else would a manufacturer have to do in order to be levied with the maximum EPA fines? If I’m on the jury, only knowing what I know now, it’s $18B penalty time. Plus, the damages from the owner’s lawsuits and recalls will be huge as well. But it’s the damage to their brand, to their future sales, which has the potential to drive VW out of the American market. The Germans are likely to forgive their own, but how many new cars can the Bavarian and Argentinian markets absorb? Put a fork in VW, they may be done. Marchionne of FCA has been calling for further consolidation in the worldwide auto manufacturing arena due to overcapacity and too many players for a while now. To paraphrase Tony Soprano, “Hey, I guess there is a Santa Claus”. I’m sure Mary Barra of GM sure is glad to have Sauron’s gaze cast elsewhere for a change.

          • Snake says:

            “Peter h is right. There is no excuse for what VW did. I’ll never be buying another Volkswagen again.”

            Considering what Ford (Pinto Memo), GM (everything from the ignition switch on back), Mitsubishi (hiding defect recalls and WWII slave labor), Honda (refusing to recall at all), Subaru (Fuji Heavy Industries, suppliers of airplanes to the Japanese military during WWII) and almost every other auto company is guilty of at one time or another et al, saying that doesn’t leave you with many buying options.

          • notaVWapologist says:

            Your examples are reaching – not even close. And no one cares what the #$@% happened in WWII. Get over it.

          • Gary says:

            Snake … if you’re going to hold WWII grudges, then I sure hope you don’t own any Japanese vehicles.

    • Dirck Edge says:

      I think you mean off/on. It is super responsive moving from a closed throttle … you have to be very smooth. As I put more miles on it, the transition (closed to open throttle) is less of an issue.

      • Gary says:

        Yeah, the jerkiness when you try to feather the throttle. Balls-out is great when you are blasting down a canyon road; not so much when you are easing between lanes during the morning commute.

      • TF says:

        Sounds like a different throttle cam might help.

  17. TF says:

    Good looking bike and what appears to be a great value. A blue/white version would look awesome. Question….why would someone buy the non-abs version? I am thinking you would save the extra $500.00 in reduced insurance costs in less than two years.

  18. Jeremy in TX says:

    I think Suzuki did a good job with this bike. It is a lot of bike for the money – more so than the FZ-09 I think. Personally, I think it is a good-looking machine as well. It would be what I would spring for if I weren’t losing interest in street riding.

    • Joe Bogusheimer says:

      I think you’re right. Styling is always debatable and a matter of opinion, of course. I’m not a big fan of the look of the FZ-09. I was really interested in the FZ and FJ until I read many reviews complaining of substandard fork action, in particular, on those bikes. Suspension, forks in particular, tends to be expensive and labour-intensive to fix if they haven’t gotten it reasonably good in the first place. I wish more manufacturers would release versions with upgraded suspension components at a reasonable price increment, like the Street Triple R model, the XJR1300 with Ohlins suspension that Yamaha sold, or ever the Bolt R-Spec.

      To be sure it’s hard to deliver suspension that will satisfy everyone right out of the box – it’s usually too soft for the heavier and/or more aggressive among us – but getting the damping reasonably close and providing some adjustments goes a long way. I’m used to soft front ends, but I never really get used to poor damping.

      • TimC says:

        “I wish more manufacturers would release versions with upgraded suspension components at a reasonable price increment” – I wish they’d just get it closer to right – motorcycles are actually extreme performance vehicles so BS tootsie roll suspension just doesn’t cut it.

        I sat on FZ/FJ and couldn’t believe the fork action is only slightly better than first-gen Ninja 250s…unbelievable.

  19. Trpldog says:

    Between the cat, the exhaust shield, and the muffler, you got quite an eyesore goin there.

    • Dirck Edge says:

      The bike is on its side, a bit, in the photo. From this angle, plenty of bikes have exhaust plumbing these days that look roughly the same. I think the bike is good looking, but you might want to reserve judgement until you see all the pictures posted with our final review.

    • Blackcayman says:

      Visually I have more trouble with the steepness of the angle on the tail section of the bike – heightens the stinkbug look.

      Playing into this effect is the way the painted blue section is sculpted against the black plastic. In other words its not as steep as it looks. Still looks…steep

      I know, I know….design moves on

      ———————————–

      IMHO, the stubby can looks better than the missile launchers of 15 years ago!

    • Trpldog says:

      yeah, that’s true. Better if tall people look at it.

  20. ConnieUSA says:

    I bet this is a fun bike to ride. Maybe too much for the inexperienced rider though.
    I had ‘the’ 2005 gixxer that I brought brand new. Rode for 5 years on the road and some track days. Amazing bike. Sold to a friend with 35000 miles on it and not one issue. Now I ride an 09 Concours because I am too old for a race replica bike.
    Just one question for you Dirk. Why the different compression settings for the right and left fork?