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2016 Suzuki GSX–S1000 ABS: MD Ride Review

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On paper, our 2016 Suzuki GSX-S1000 ABS test unit promised to be a remarkable motorcycle. Priced at $10,499 U.S. ($9,999 for the non-ABS version), the chassis components and performance specifications are impressive.

A claimed weight of 461 pounds wet (with the 4.5 gallon gas tank topped off), would make it one of the lightest Open class nakeds. The 999 cc in-line four engine, based on the “long stroke” K5 GSX-R1000, promises a very broad spread of power with a serious top-end rush that might be overkill for most skill levels. Quality components are attached to the machine, including adjustable suspension units (particularly nice is the beefy 43 mm KYB fork with separate adjustments for compression damping, rebound damping and spring preload). The brake calipers are, for this price point, quite remarkable. In front, particularly, the radial mount, four-piston Brembo monobloc calipers wouldn’t be out of place on a state-of-the-art superbike.

Along with ABS, electronic aides include selectable traction control (four levels, including off). We tested with traction control set at position “1”, which allowed the most aggressive power delivery with minimal interference by traction control (i.e. designed to save your ass from a high-side, but permitting a small amount of spin-up on corner exits).

As it should be, the engine is the centerpiece, both literally and figuratively, of this motorcycle. Suzuki has built a reputation – a well earned one – for building high-performance in-line four–cylinder engines. 30 years ago, Suzuki began producing the ultimate in street performance motorcycles for its brand – the GSX-R line. During the long history of its GSX-R line, a few engines became consumer favorites. One of those engines was found in the 2005 GSX–R1000 (the K5). This “long stroke” motor was prized for its broad spread of power that made it both a practical and useful street bike, while still providing a generous top-end rush for the race track.

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This K5 motor was the starting point for the 2016 GSX–S1000 family of models (there is also a faired version), including our naked GSX–S1000 ABS test unit. Suzuki made several changes to the original K5 engine, including a revised cylinder head design with different valves, different cam shape for different valve timing, re-shaped intake and exhaust tracts, lighter pistons, and revised fuel injection with 44 mm throttle bodies. The engine promises to run cool with a new, curved radiator, as well as a liquid-cooled oil cooler. The six-speed transmission has a fairly low final drive ratio optimized for street use and acceleration.

A twin-spar aluminum frame is stiff and light (lighter than the GSX-R1000 frame) and carries the same arched swingarm as its superbike sibling. Steering geometry is relatively aggressive, and the wheelbase is short (57.5 inches).

So before we swing a leg over our test unit, we are looking at an impressive package for the price (BMW’s S 1000 R, for example, has a starting price $3,000 higher). Nothing really bargain basement on the spec sheet (with the possible exception of the shock – more about that later). A bike that potentially offers scintillating track day performance, together with the low-end and mid-range power most useful on the street. A bike that does not require replacement of the most expensive components (the fork and the front brake calipers) to be competitive everywhere.

We gave you our initial thoughts on riding the GSX-S1000 a few weeks ago. This bike is very fast (it surprised us), has suspension that responds well to adjustment, and has killer brakes. Let’s dig a little deeper.

Last year, when we tested Kawasaki’s redesigned Ninja 1000, we offered the following chart to illustrate to readers the fact that the Ninja 1000 is faster than high peak horsepower superbikes on the street. Here is that chart:

Horsepower/Torque (Nm)

4K RPM

5K RPM

6K RPM

7K RPM

8K RPM

Kawasaki Ninja 1000 (2011 model) 46/83 61/88 75/91 95/97 115/105
BMW S1000RR (2010 model) 41/76 56/83 65/77 80/84 102/92
Kawasaki ZX-10R (2013 model) 38/68 52/76 65/78 79/83 100/92

When I picked up the Suzuki GSX-S1000 from the manufacturer’s press fleet, I was told by Suzuki’s press representative that it is faster on the street than Suzuki’s own superbike, the GSX-R1000. Like the Kawasaki Ninja 1000, the difference is in the low-end and mid-range power, as well as the position of the peak horsepower.

As soon as I rode the bike on the street, it felt faster than both the Kawasaki Ninja 1000, and the Kawasaki Z1000 – both very quick street bikes. The Suzuki felt like it was a match for the excellent low-end and mid-range found on the Kawasakis (each of which displaces a slightly larger 1043 cc), but much faster on top. I found a useful apples-to-apples comparison on the Akrapovic web site which confirmed my seat-of-the-pants analysis.

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Here are the peak numbers on the Akrapovic dyno. The Suzuki makes 144.9 peak horsepower at 11,100 rpm and 78.3 pound/feet of torque at 9,650 rpm. Akrapovic’s measurement for the Kawasaki yields 127.2 horsepower at 10,150 rpm and 76.6 pound/feet of torque at 7,700 rpm. On the street, the Suzuki has a wicked top-end punch.

That top-end resides with remarkable low-end tractability, which allows the Suzuki to pull cleanly from as low as 2,000 rpm. It makes strong power from as low as 4,000 rpm, and you never feel like you need to make a downshift to accelerate quickly on the street.

The only negative to report with the Suzuki engine is a somewhat snatchy response when opening a completely closed throttle.  It doesn’t feel like a fuel injection mapping error, but more like an extremely responsive engine pick-up. You can get used to this, and completely mask it by exiting corners in a higher gear.

The chassis handles extremely well. After making the suspension changes described in our earlier article, the bike felt very balanced, turned in well, and was extremely stable.

The fork is good stock, with enough damping for a track day but not for high level racing. The shock, which has spring preload and damping adjustments, was at the limit of its adjustability (less than one turn out from full hard on rebound), but worked well enough to ride the bike aggressively on the street.  Again, we think the shock is adequate to go quickly at a track day.

How well does the GSX-S1000 handle? We took the bike to Palomar Mountain here in Southern California, and easily followed a couple of knee-dragging, local riders aboard their tuned 600s up the mountain. The bike feels rock steady at big lean angles, and the traction control allows you to get on the gas early exiting corners. Acceleration is fantastic at street speeds, and would easily handle any tuned 600 at a track day on top end. Quite a motor, and a well-sorted, capable chassis.

The brakes are excellent, as expected. Good feel and awesome power. Our only complaint is Suzuki’s use of a pad compound with very light initial bite, requiring a firm squeeze of the lever to stop quickly. This might be a good idea on the non-ABS model (where we could see the front wheel locking up too easily with an aggressive compound), but we would probably do a relatively inexpensive switch of the brake pads to something more aggressive on the ABS model.

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Typical of Suzuki, the transmission shifted easily and decisively. The clutch handled the prodigious engine power without a shrug.

We like the ergonomics, which are relatively upright with decent leg room, but don’t expect something similar to a larger, heavier sport tourer. This bike is comfortable for longer rides, but you may want to look at the faired sibling (the GSX-S1000F) if your goal is to build the ultimate sporty sport-tourer.

So what we have with the 2016 Suzuki GSX-S1000 ABS is a reasonably comfortable naked with extremely high performance that can be used as an everyday street bike, but more than hold its own at a track day. No need to replace parts to ride this bike near the edge, either.

At the same time, this bike needs to be respected and would fit better with a more experienced, skilled rider. The power comes on aggressively (and generously), and the bike benefits greatly from tuning the stock suspension to the rider’s needs.

The 2016 Suzuki GSX-S1000 ABS is available at a U.S. MSRP of $10,499 in Metallic Trition Blue (pictured in this article) and Glass Sparkle Black/Candy Daring Red.  Visit Suzuki’s web site for additional details and specifications.

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55 Comments

  1. Benjamin says:

    I gotta say I love this bike.

    Awesome looks.

    Great mechanical bits.

    Great value!

  2. Jim says:

    I suppose I could stick a round headlight on it but what do I do about those radiator shrouds…

  3. Robert says:

    What’s with the ugly styling these days?

  4. beasty says:

    If someone put a gun to my head and said “You have to buy one of the new, ugly Japanese motorcycles or else”, this is the one I would buy. Red/black please.

  5. Joe Bogusheimer says:

    It’s just kind of sad that this bike, as good as it is, could have been better. Leaving aside the styling attributes of the tail section, it has very poor provisions for carrying a passenger or any kind of luggage. That really limits the flexibility of this bike for other roles, IMO.

    That goes double for the faired version, which otherwise would make a nice light sport-touring rig.

  6. Beepbeep says:

    As the owner of a Kawasaki Ninja 650 I would love to see this bike get a little brother with a 600 or 650 cc engine.

  7. Pat Wallace says:

    Does suzuki sell an optional rear seat?
    You know , one my wife can actually sit on for an hour or so.

    • Colors says:

      Good news, they do! unfortunately its permanently attached to a V Strom, so the options is you can buy one of those instead 🙁

  8. Sean says:

    As much as I wanted to be like “Meh” this really is a good performance bargain as well as being a good all around bike. As for the styling I typically like modern forward thinking design in performance oriented bikes but can respect retro designs in some limited applications. That said I’m not a fan of the over use of lighting shaped plastic bits everywhere on this bike, I don’t mind a futuristic design as I see this as a modern not retro application but this is not modern its just a bit silly.

  9. Vrooom says:

    Undoubtedly it’s awesomely fast, and handles well. That Cat on the bottom is sure ugly, and those pegs look mighty high for putting in a lot of miles. I guess I’m just going to have to see it in person!

  10. Craig says:

    They’ll be on sale soon… Then you’ll have 1k to get that slip on and shock… 🙂

    Heck, even 2015 Yam FJ 09’s are now 6999… that is a TRUE bargain…

    I HATE the curved seat for the passenger… WHY?????

    • Selecter says:

      Our dealer here has had them listed at $8999 since release. No freight, $175 prep, TTL. That’s it. That makes for a *stupid* price/performance ratio!

      I’ve seen FZ-09s for about that, but not FJs! That would be *cheap* for an FJ!

  11. Colors says:

    So consensus is perfect on specs and price and abysmal failure on aesthetics. This seems to be everywhere as well not just on motorcycle daily. With all of the marketing guru’s out there why do the Big Four continue to miss the mark on style. The target demographic for these bike obviously, (well to me anyway) wants bikes just like this except we want them to look like SV’s, Hawks, Monsters (of yore) and first gen speed trips. This bike may be a better value than the 09, but the 09 looks the part and that’s worth something too.

  12. mg3 says:

    Another example of a great motorcycle ruined by horrible styling and ergonomics.I look at these new bikes coming out of Japan (and Europe too) and I just shake my head. They are so freakin ugly! Great bikes mechanically, but too ugly to buy. I don’t live in the ‘past’, but I also don’t live in some kind of freakish, post-apocalyptic, post-modern wasteland, which is where this styling seems to be going. Please someone start making basic do-it-all motorcycles that look like motorcycles again. And it would be nice if there was a seat in back that a normal person could sit on, and a center stand because, well if I need to tell you then it doesn’t matter.

    What an opportunity there is out there for a manufacturer to have the balls to let go of all this crappy styling. Please fire all your 20 something, video-game playing stylists and hire someone who understands what it’s all about.

    • Tank says:

      “What an opportunity there is…..” Sometimes companies need to listen to the consumer. Look what McDonalds has done by offering all day breakfast. It was a simple solution to boost profits.

    • Blackcayman says:

      mg3 – maybe you should buy the CB1100.

      It seems to be what you’re asking for.

      • mg3 says:

        Yes I looked long and hard at the CB1100 this past summer. It is a great motorcycle, but it was just a little too big for my needs right now. I kind of wish they still made the old 750 Nighthawk. Fortunately there are still a lot of mid-sized standard bikes, including the Nighthawk, on the used market. I eventually settled for a Suzuki Sv650 in brand new condition, for $4K. It’s a great bike and I am happy with it, just had a hankering for a new bike. Been riding for 50 years and never bought a new bike. I guess I never will – Ha. Now if Royal Enfield would just up there game by about 20 technology years who knows what might happen. I do believe there is a market for current tech, mid-sized standard, with 70’s 80’s styling / functionality.

        • mg3 says:

          Harley Street 750 looks like a great bike too. It deserves a good look from anyone searching for mid-sized general purpose bike.

    • slipjoint says:

      It does make it hard to buy new when there are well sorted used bikes out there with suspension and power upgrades that more than equal these bikes off of the showroom floor and qualify as eye candy for less than half the price. Boost Kings, SV-1000s, ZRXs, and a dozen others qualify dependent on what pleases your eye.

  13. John says:

    Love the specs – HATE the seat! Is it even remotely possible for the Big 4 to offer an optional sub-frame with a regular seat for their open-class naked bikes? The rest of the styling doesn’t do much for me – I could live with it – but without a regular, flat, plain old motorcycle seat (see the GS1000, GS850G, etc..) no deal.

  14. Kentucky Red says:

    This motorcycle at the top of the list of new bikes that I would actually buy. I’ve had a Buell XB-12S for a while, but I’ve been wanting more oomph out of it since day 2. This Zook has more than enough motor and would handle my favorite mountain roads blissfully without the threat of buyer’s remorse.

  15. Montana says:

    At least it has a great personality.

  16. Austin ZZR1200 says:

    Folks, this is what a 21st century UJM looks like. Might as well get used to it.

    • todd says:

      Park this next to a SV1000 (the one with the round headlight) and guess which one would get more appreciating glances. The SV still looks brand new, the only thing keeping it from being modern is a bunch of electronic acronyms.

    • stinkywheels says:

      Amen. I just sold my RC51 and kept the SV. If I liked I4s the Kaw and Suzuki dealerships would be getting my business. The 09 would be way up on the list if not for the small gastank. I know the FJ has the tank but even though I can flatfoot the tall bikes I still like a little lower “normal” bike. I’ve got an 1100 Hypermotard (with aftermarket 6 gal tank) and should’ve gotten the Monster.

  17. ABQ says:

    It’s a beautiful bike. Too bad the back seat is too high for me to lift my leg over it. When are they going to stop designing the rear seat of sports bikes like this? Just cut the rear off and stop pretending that somebody is going to sit back there.

  18. falcodoug says:

    I think the only thing missing here is duel headlights. Looks like fun.

  19. North of Missoula says:

    Please someone name me a motorcycle that gives a better performance bang for your buck than this one does. I do not believe one exists.

    Outside of the frame and body work this is basically a parts bin bike…..Suzuki has a deep parts bin.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      Agree. The FZ-09 has been dethroned and beheaded as the bang-for-the-buck king.

      • RRocket says:

        It might be banf-for-the-buck champ in the USA. But it’s $3300 more for the Suzuki in Canada. That’s a substantial chunk of change.

  20. Tank says:

    I’d love to ride this bike as long as I don’t have to look at it.

  21. Blackcayman says:

    As the owner of a 1000 cc Suzuki Roadster I have to say the performance and componentry is a leap forward from my 03 SV1000 N (the only year the naked 1K came to the US).

    The styling however just doesn’t ignite my fire… The styling is better than the Zed!

  22. RD350 says:

    Ugh .. anyone else wish street fighter “style” would go away permanently?

    • Selecter says:

      Nope. Well, a few old guys… 😉

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      What is street fighter style? Do you mean “modern” as in no more round headlights or unshrouded radiators, or are you referring to something else? The high tail is a little extreme even by today’s fashion standards, but I otherwise think it is a very good-looking motorcycle.

      • North of Missoula says:

        I read somewhere that that high tail structurally allowed them to design a very low weight sub-frame at low cost. It is not all about the styling. It is also about force vectors.

        • Jeremy in TX says:

          So I guess the high tail is just Suzuki’s way of telling Americans that we have gotten too fat?

        • todd says:

          That doesn’t make any sense. If it’s longer/higher then it is weaker. I think thishttp://www.doudna.com/aid/aid2015.html is just to appeal to the Euro-squid styling trend. These headlights that are supposed to look like aftermarket bits are real dorky too.

          • todd says:

            I don’t know how that got pasted in there!

          • North of Missoula says:

            If you look at the angle of the subframe a portion of the force is directed toward the main frame as a compressive force, rather than strictly the bending force that you would see in a traditional horizontal cantilever subframe. Steel can handle a much higher compressive force than a bending force. This means that they can save weight by having a less beefy subframe.

            You would be able to hold a heavy weight longer with your arm at a 45 degree angle than you would be able to with your arm straigh out horizontal. It is the same principle.

          • todd says:

            All subframes have a diagonal compressive member, putting the top portion in tension. What matters most is the horizontal distance of the load to the fulcrum and how close the bottom of the compressive member is attached to the end of the vertical main frame tube.

    • Mark Pearson says:

      I’ve never cared for the Japanese transformer/origami (whatever it’s called) theme. I much prefer the curvy, round Organic theme that was still around in the early 2000’s.

  23. Chuck Chrome says:

    A lot of bike for the money and from the pictures there seem to be a minimum of cheap looking plastic covers. Nice work Suzuki!!

  24. Jeremy in TX says:

    Sounds like one heck of a bargain, and I am glad to hear that Suzuki didn’t take too much bite out of the top end in their quest for low-end power, which that engine already had an abundance of even in GSXR flavor.

    I do wish they would have offered that tasteful blue and white paint scheme that they offer on the 750.