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Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

  • November 21, 2017
  • Dirck Edge
  • Chris Rubino and Dirck Edge

Suzuki 2018 GSX-S1000F ABS: MD Ride Review

Let’s get a couple of things straight before we dive into this ride review. The new 2018 Suzuki GSX-S1000F is not a sport tourer. It is not intended to be a sport tourer. This is, according to Suzuki, a “comfortable sport bike”. As such, the passenger accommodations are just as they appear, uncomfortable for anything other than short trips. Now, how does this bike perform as a comfortable sport bike? Extremely well, as it turns out.

We tested the naked version of the bike when it was first introduced to the United States back in 2016. Our test unit this year is largely unchanged from that bike, except that it has the wind protection of a full fairing and windscreen, and has some updates to the engine and clutch, as well as some other minor changes.

The relatively long-stroke 999cc engine based on the K5 GSX-R1000 is still present, but it now features ventilation holes between the cylinders to reduce pumping losses, leading to more power and torque. A new clutch actually increases plate pressure under acceleration, and also acts as a slipper clutch on deceleration.

Also new for 2018 is a black finish on the shifter, rear brake and both hand levers, as well as a new brake line for “improved stopping performance with better feel at the lever.”

Other features carry over from the prior model, including radial mount, four-piston Brembo monoblock brake calipers in front, ABS, as well as selectable traction control (four levels, including off).

Suspension is adjustable, and particularly impressive is the front KYB fork, which allows you to separately adjust compression, rebound damping and spring preload. It is a beefy, 43mm unit.

The K5 GSX-R1000 engine was known for its mid-range pull, and it turns out it is an excellent basis for a street motor. Low-end is strong and mid-range is stronger, with some very serious thrust on top. Akrapovic has dynoed this engine at 147 horsepower at 11,000 rpm at the rear wheel, with 78 foot/pounds of torque at 9,650 rpm.

This isn’t just a K5 motor, as that was just a starting point. Suzuki has revised the cylinder head design with different valves, different cam shape, reshaped intake and exhaust tracts, lighter pistons, and revised fuel injection with 44mm throttle bodies. Oh, and for 2018, there are those ventilation holes between the cylinders to reduce pumping losses for improved horsepower and torque.

The special frame created by Suzuki for this line of motorcycles is a twin-spar design that is actually lighter than the frame found on the 2016 GSX-R1000 superbike. Steering geometry is on the quick side, and the wheelbase is a short 57.5 in.

I don’t see where Suzuki mentions it in their press materials, but I understand that the fuel injection mapping has been revised for 2018, as well. This is consistent with our testing, where we noted much smoother power when transitioning from a closed to an open throttle.

That broad spread of power allows the rider to use at least two different gears for most situations, including corner exits. Power comes on smoothly, as stated earlier, but is very strong, particularly as the bike revs out. The front wheel will come up quite easily when traction control is turned off.

For the most part, the bike will be quicker than just about any other street bike, largely because it makes such excellent power at streetable RPM levels, where superbikes with higher peak horsepower need to be revved much higher than is practical on the street. Vibration levels are reasonable for a large displacement inline four-cylinder machine, and we experienced no comfort issues on longer rides as a result of vibration. The ergonomics of the machine are also comfortable, placed somewhere between a classic sport tourer and a sportbike.

The bar height is particularly comfortable, and well-placed for both cruising and aggressive canyon carving or a track day.

The suspension allows a rider to dial in a comfortable ride for commuting, yet tighten things up for canyon carving or a track day. Faster riders may need more damping for advanced track day use, or racing, but the chassis is otherwise up to it.

Those Brembo brakes are simply fantastic. This is a big bike with stupendous acceleration, and it needs excellent brakes. Suzuki has provided that, in spades, as the front Brembos, in particular, offer superb power and feel.

Just like the bike we tested back in 2016, the 2018 GSX-S1000F handles superbly. It is not as flickable as a 600, of course, but does change directions easily, particularly with the high and wide handlebar. Additionally, the bike holds a line well in corners, while sucking up chop and otherwise remaining on track. High speed, straight-line stability is also excellent.

A Suzuki hallmark, the 6-speed transmission changes gears easily and positively. We didn’t experience a single missed shift during our testing. The Dunlop SportMax D214 tires offer good grip and feedback, but this bike performs at such a high level, even more aggressive sport rubber would be welcome.

This bike is simply a blast to ride! With virtually all the performance you can possibly use on the street, and the dramatically improved comfort compared to a hardcore sport bike, you can really feel in control. Speed is effortless, cornering is confidence-inspiring, and the rider remains more relaxed with the relatively upright ergonomics.

While wind protection is obviously much better than it is on the naked version, don’t expect your shoulders or your helmet to be out of the wind. Frankly, for a sportbike, the wind path from the screen hits you a bit higher, reducing chest pressure at highway speeds. Nevertheless, a taller, wider screen would greatly benefit riders who might want to use the GSX-S1000F as a true sport touring bike (just don’t expect a passenger to be comfortable on longer rides).

Once in a while, we have a test bike in the garage that we don’t want to give back. The 2018 Suzuki GSX-S1000F ABS is one of those bikes. At a U.S. MSRP of $11,299, it represents a real bargain in the “comfortable superbike” class, if there is such a thing. Compared to open class naked bikes from competitors, the GSX-S1000F is frequently several thousand dollars cheaper without giving up much (if anything) when it comes to performance, and is more comfortable with the added wind protection.

The 2018 Suzuki GSX-S1000F is available in two colors, including Metallic Triton Blue/Glass Sparkle Black (our test unit pictured) and Pear Glacier White (pictured immediately below). For additional details and specifications, visit Suzuki’s web site.

See more of MD’s great photography:



  1. USSENTERNCC1701E says:

    Wow, lotta flack for the looks here. I’ve got a 2016 F, and the one thing about it that I never notice when I’m riding is how it looks. Yeah, it’s hideous (from the front, I like the side views) won’t disagree; I didn’t buy it to stare at. In one bike, I got: a great canyon carver, my daily commuter, and a decent tourer; all for $10K, I love this bike.

  2. Pacer says:

    A liter bike version of the cbrf4.

  3. Auphliam says:

    That’s a good looking bike. Nice review, Dirck. Well done.

    • joe b says:

      I agree, what seems like a wonderful bike. Sad to see so many previous posts throwing garbage at it, because they don’t like how it looks. Since when was a motorcycles worth, changed from how it worked, to how it looked? Maybe these are not the droids you are looking for. I do wish they made a first year Katana looking version, I would buy that. (bikes I have are VFR800, VFR1200, CB1000R, other older stuff)

      • mickey says:

        Seriously? Looks are a pretty important feature and factor in on most peoples purchases and choices. You probably wouldn’t wear a purple polka dotted suit because you wouldn’t care how it looks on you. Your preferred house style, furniture style, room colors are probably not the same as some others you know. You probably agonized over which color or style of car you purchased last. Your haircut, facial hair style probably reflects your personal taste. Looks are important in EVERYTHING to every individual, and it can be something incredibly small that makes us refrain from making certain choices.. like a headlight, or beak, or exposed plumbing, or a tail section up in the air, color, footpeg placement..otherwise we would all be riding the exact same bike, living in similar houses, driving similar cars, wearing similar clothes, wearing the same haircut.

        • Jeremy in TX says:

          I do not think looks are irrelevant, but I can say that my purchase decisions are far and away “function first.” Looks only come into the equation (for me) when I consider the total value proposition to be otherwise equal. Only then will the looks give the nod to one thing or another.

          Most motorcycle categories (and everything else) these days have a dizzying plethora of choices. For such things, even function-over-form guys like myself can be choosy when it comes to appearances. But for a motorcycle like this one which essentially owns its category, guys like me really have a hard time understanding how its looks would dissuade a purchase for someone in the market for this particular kind of machine.

          • mickey says:

            Jeremy, the first year FZ-09 owned it’s category as well, and plenty of people were put off by it’s looks. I know I was. My son wasn’t and owns an FJ-09. I own a CB 1100 dlx. Love how its looks, and it’s performance is plenty for me. I didn’t need the last percentile of performance enough to give up an appearance I appreciate.

            This Suzuki isn’t so bad, but I am put off by the rear tail section, and that would keep me from buying this motorcycle no matter how good it performs. Like you said plethora of choices with more coming every day. If someone makes something that I like all of it, I will buy one.

  4. Ron says:

    I have 2016 GSX-S1000 ABS in Triton blue. It is an AWESOME street bike. When they first came out and I saw the pics I hated it. The blue in the pics i saw was a lighter blue. I thought the tail was too high and wondered the hell they were smoking over in Japan. I also had no intention of getting an inline four. They are my least favorite bike engine. Then I went to the dealer to look at FZ’s and saw the GSX. The bike looks way better in person. The blue color is beautiful and quite a bit deeper in shade than some pics showed. I did not really notice the height of the tail in person either. The bike looks good. Purposeful. I had not done any research on the GSX before seeing it as I was pretty much set on an FZ-09, so I went home and spent a month or so watching and reading every review I could on it. The reviews were all excellent with the exception of a snatchy throttle. Fueling is easily fixed with a PCM tune or PCV, so i did not care about the abrupt throttle. It did not matter anyway as the FZ-09 suffered from the very same problem haha. After researching both bikes and looking at them several times I decided the GSX-S1000 was the better bike than the FZ-09 and the better deal. The MSRP of the Suzuki is almost 2k higher, but I had gotten three different dealers to agree to sell me a GSX-S1000 abs for $8500 out the door, so in essence the bikes were the same price. With the Suzuki you get about 40 more RWHP, better fork, better brakes featuring Brembo M4 monoblock front calipers, silky smooth tranny, beefier swing arm and frame, easier to read digital display and better looks IMO than an FZ-09. The FZ-09 is geared differently and is torquey as hell. The GSX is geared taller, it uses a GSXR 1000 close ratio tranny. So the GSX is not as grunty of the bottom as the FZ09 (but still grunty), but it absolutely rips beyond 7K and the leaves the FZ-09 behind. The Suzuki is 40lbs heavier, so the Yamaha wins there, but it handles beautifully and feels extremely light and agile. I would rather have the stout construction of the Suzuki over the weight savings. The FZ is still a great bike. You really can’t go wrong with either. They both have traction control and ABS (2017 FZ).
    I love my GSXS. Its light, fast, powerful, stops and handles great and its comfy for the rider. I would’nt even think of having a passenger on the GSXS. I can see that being a deal breaker for some people. It did not factor into my decision because I have a Yamaha Stratoliner too. The strat is super comfy for a passenger with Mustang seats. The GSXS was meant to be my around town bike as the Stratoliner is just too damn big and heavy for stop and go traffic. I am totally happy with my decision to get the GSXS.

    • chrisgo says:

      Ron, thanks for the thoughtful, well reasoned review. I will have to look at this bike a little closer…I too have a cruiser for passenger carrying but feel the need for something sportier these days. On the other hand, my last sportbike was so uncomfortable that longer rides were pretty unpleasant.

      • Ron says:

        Thank you. I don’t think you will be disappointed with comfort of the GSXS. I do don’t do really long rides on it though. I like the utility of a windshield and bags on longer rides. Having a bagger can spoil a man haha.

    • VLJ says:

      “The strat is super comfy”

      Couldn’t agree more, which is why I tend to play it far more often than the Les Paul.

      • Ron says:

        I have a 1987 Japan made Squire Strat. Its almost the same color as my GSXS. I like the sound of my ESP with Seymour Duncans better though 🙂

    • jon says:

      Great review, thanks. With regards to your snatchy fuelling comment and it being easily fixed with a power commander – did you actually test this? Because there’re lots of folks around who think a power commander will always be the answer, whereas with today’s modern bikes it often isn’t – as I found out with an early fz09.

      • Ron says:

        I have not fixed it yet, it has not been that much of distraction during riding season. It DOES need to be fixed though. 145rwhp and a abrupt throttle can put some pucker marks on your seat. Especially when you give it some throttle in a corner and it throws you off your line a bit. You learn to be smooth with throttle application. Lots of folks have fixed the throttle though. Some guys have success with PCM tunes and the PCV. Others use a throttle tamer throttle sleeve, which has a different throttle cable cam profile. Try if want lots of info on the GSXS.

    • slipjoint says:

      How do you like that inline 4 now? There is a reason it has been the dominant large displacement motorcycle engine for 50 years. I have ridden just about every other arrangement and have never understood the gripes with the I4.

      • Onto says:

        Agree with you, slipjoint. The inline 4 is my favourite motorcycle engine. The traditionalists may like the thump thump feel of a single or twin, but I prefer the quick, smooth throttle response of an I4, and the massive top end power is there if you want to use it.

        • Onto says:

          I should have added; I currently own a single, a 90 degree V-twin, and an inline four. Different configurations suit different applications, but where it is suitable an I4 is my favourite.

      • Ron says:

        Its all about the audio and TORQUE. I like the sounds of twins and triples. I don’t care the loud ricer sound, especially the higher pitched 600’s. I have nothing against them mechanically other than they tend to make power higher in the rev range. I like a bike with a butt load of torque in the lower and mid range.

        I love the GSXS engine. Decent grunt off idle, strong mid range with a slight flat spot between 5-7K and after that it feels like an afterburner kicks in. I also love the sound of the stock exhaust. Nothing ricey about it. Its sounds fantastic.

    • JVB says:

      Seems like it is a Suzuki Super Sport. Not a sport tourer or a superbike; a sporty streetbike. Something for those who do not want a super naked bike???

  5. Sivan says:

    Suzuki says they want to retain and sell into the cohort of GSX-R owners. It’s a nice bike, but as a GSX-R replacement for older riders, it would be a slight downgrade in terms of suspension, brakes, fueling, pillion accommodations and overall aesthetics. Normally, paying for an upgrade of a supersport buys more power handling and electronics, whereas trading in a gixxer for this would mean paying a few grands just for an improved riding position. Yes, there’s also ABS and traction control, but these are “nice to have” features for current GSX-R owners.

  6. Motorhead says:

    It has been proven: most comments posted below an article are made by people who don’t actually read that article. (You know who you are.) Dirck, we feel for you. Some of our comments are useless and appear unrelated to what you just wrote. I read this article twice, and may again, and it’s a great review. This new Suzuki looks like the bike many of us have been begging for through the last 15 years! Balance of everything, and an abundance of those things that really matter: braking, acceleration, quickness, weight, comfort, price. I want the white one. Now. Granted looks are just looks and looks is not my first criterium in a bike, but performance, now that is something to behold. This bike appears to really perform. Thank you, Dirck.

    • mickey says:

      “Granted looks are just looks and looks is not my first criterium in a bike, but performance, now that is something to behold. This bike appears to really perform. ”

      As someone ( VLJ?) mentioned below… Why can’t you have performance AND looks (and the ability to carry a passenger as well?)

      • VLJ says:

        Precisely. There is nothing about this bike’s awkward aesthetic that contributes to its sportiness or lower cost, compared to any number of other, more aesthetically pleasing designs that Suzuki easily could have chosen instead.

        • mickey says:

          putting a decent back seat on it and cleaning up the aesthetic would have to cost it at least 20 horsepower and 30 additional pounds don’t you think?

          sarc off

  7. Onto says:

    This reminds me of when the Katana 1100 was released. When I saw the pictures, I hated it. When I actually saw the bike, I liked it. When I rode it, I loved it, and it is still one of my all time favourite motorcycles. Some people overreact when they see pictures of something new, and don’t realise that bikes often look very different and much better when you actually see them.

    • cw says:

      For whatever reason, Suzuki has an amazing penchant for designing bikes that don’t look good in 2D. I’ve ben trying to come up with what I would have done differently in the front, and it mostly consists of “less beak, more arc”.

      I have ridden the first year non-faired version. I was impressed. One wishes Suzuki sold that suspension as an aftermarket add-on.

      (glances over at a certain GSF1250 sitting in the garage)

  8. kyle says:

    Looks like a dolphin.

  9. VLJ says:

    It’s taken a week or so of reading GSX-S1000F reviews, but I’m finally used to the looks of the thing. The blue and black one is basically acceptable now. I guess I could live with it.

  10. ben says:

    Interesting bike. Hideous front end, though. It looks like a front end that has been cobbjobbed on from some other model. Almost as bad as the old Buell 1125r

  11. Sentinel says:

    Another huge fail from Suzuki, as they continue circling the drain on their way to the very bottom of the bottom. If they don’t fire all of their executives who are having the finally say on their mostly disastrous line of bikes, and instead get some people in there that actually have a clue on what makes a great motorcycle, then end can’t bee too far off. And it will be well deserved.

    • Dirck Edge says:

      Are you trying to say the tail is too high?

      • Tim C says:

        The end bee too far off thee ground

      • Sentinel says:

        This is a company the excels in “ugly”. They’ve been attempting to “lead from behind” for years now, and their position in the market shows it. Just look at the cyclops, bird-beaked things they’ve turned the V-Stroms into. Trying to copy the BMW GS style, but miserably failing at it. They see The Euro brands catching traction with their super-nakeds, so they finally came out with the GSX-1000 line. It can’t really compete well with them on performance, but ties them in lack of practicality and usability. They offer a faired version, but beat the hell out it with an ugly stick. This is a brand that has lost their edge and their way years ago. The retro-trend is another one where they are arriving late, and failing. They see that became a trend, and what was their very late and sorry reply to it? The SV650X for the Euro market; ugly as a kid with no clue slapping something with an erector set. And I’ll also mention the disgusting looking new Intruder 150 while I’m at it. That company needs some very new and improved leadership before they end up going completely down the drain.

    • MGNorge says:

      Not a Suzuki fan.

      • Sentinel says:

        Actually. I’m a huge life-long Suzuki fan, and have owned and loved their bikes for well over 30 years, but something has gone terribly wrong at that company over about the past 10. Attempting to lead from behind, and swinging and terribly missing at most of them has put them where they are now, and there’s no sign of it getting any better. They either fire all the goons running the show over there and quickly, or they may really be on the outs as a company before long.

  12. Ricardo says:

    The issue that made me a NON BUYER was the LACK OF passenger comfort.

    Want a bike that my wife can also enjoy with me on the weekends and the rear seat was; well it really isn’t, there. This seems to be a common problem these days. Gone are the “standard” bikes where one could take along a passenger in comfort. Instead one has to choose a Goldwing, Harley, ST1300, FJR1300 or go back even further to the ZRX1200 etc…….

    I wanted a bike with performance, handling AND the ability to carry a passenger in relative comfort in a package under 700lbs.

    What is the current bike that fills that niche? Honda CB1100 perhaps??
    Back to the UJM classics ZRX1200, Bandit 1200, Yamaha FJ1200.

    I’m Open to Suggestions but this model does not meet the criteria.

    • GreenMan says:

      Ditch the wife. There, fixed it for ya!

      Nah, just goofing around!

      The only bike that seems to fit your criteria is The Suzuki GSX-1250F. And if you’ve cash to burn then get The BMW R1200RS or The KTM 1290GT.

      And… If you don’t mind the slightly off putting looks of an ‘ADV Wannabe’ then look no further than BMW S1000XR. That thing has a detuned engine of the world’s fastest superbike. Plenty of space for your wife, a top box and side panniers.

      Then there’s Ducati Diavel Strada, Multistrada, Triumph Rocket III Touring (heavy but can haul all that mass pretty well), Ninja 1000 (A tad soft).

      Or just get a Hayabusa or ZX14R. A couple went for an Euro Trip on The ol’ ‘Busa and it held up pretty well!

      Or just wait for The Supercharged Kawasaki touring bike with 200HP!

      Plenty of options. Us riders should be grateful to whatever deity we worship for living in the golden age of motorcycling!


    • Rhinestone Kawboy says:

      This is meant as the article says: a comfortable sport bike. No pure sport bike, whether comfortable or not, is meant to have comfortable passenger accommodations. Sport bikes are for riders, not riders and passengers- no matter what you might see on the road with some chic hanging on for dear life so she doesn’t fall off the back of any sport bike. Young’ins do some dangerous things.

    • Dave says:

      The big question is, what is passenger “comfort”?

      As this article points out, this is an extremely high performance sport bike that happens to have an upright handlebar. Has there ever been a bike in this performance class that has offered real passenger comfort?

    • austin zzr 1200 says:

      My Wee-strom has been the best 2-up ride after multiple cruisers, sport-tourers and sportbikes. Superb comfort and even wind protection. Just add a topcase with back rest and you can 2-up long distances with no trouble

      • mickey says:


        • austin zzr 1200 says:

          yup, its the most over-achieving motor I have ever experienced. Plenty of high-speed passing power two-up..gotta watch the brakes though..

      • Gordon Belyea says:

        We went with a 2016 Wee-Strom this year for that very reason. My wife hopped on the back and declared that this was the bike! Top case with pad is a great back rest, as you say, and hand guards double as crash bars (don’t ask!). 485 lb curb weight, 33” seat height. We’ve never wanted for power so far.

      • Half Baked says:

        Wee Strom was clever the first 10 million times it appeared on the web the next 10 million not so much.

    • KenHoward says:

      “I’m Open to Suggestions but this model does not meet the criteria.”

      Of course it doesn’t meet your criteria: The very first paragraph of this review explains that this “comfortable sport bike” is not intended to comfortably carry a passenger, while you are aware that there are other models that do (like Suzuki’s own Bandit 1250F).

    • cw says:

      (new or used GSF1250S/GSX1250) * ( = answer to your problem