At my current rate of saving it would take a little more than three years to put together enough cash to buy Suzuki’s new GSX-S1000GT; and according to all the reviews I’ve read and seen, it would be worth the wait.
Suzuki’s new moto grabbed my attention when it was revealed back in September. A traditional sport tourer that bucks the modern trend of creating sport tourers with adventure bike ergonomics, it seems – on paper, at least – like an idea well past its time. Especially since the idea relies on a lot of old things, chiefly an engine from 2005.
One can’t help but be cynical. Even more so when you consider the fact Suzuki hasn’t done anything particularly amazing or different since long before the Great Recession. But as I said in my initial article about the GSX-S1000GT, there is just something about this bike that grabs my attention.
Turns out I’m not the only one. Every review I’ve seen has been glowing. Somehow, some way, Suzuki has disproved the old adage that ‘insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.’ It’s taken an old engine, an old chassis and an old idea, put them together in a package similar to one it’s delivered several times before, and produced something brilliant.
For this review round-up I’ve collated the opinions of GQ’s Rich Taylor, YouTuber RichyVida, the Mirror’s Geoff Hill, Visordown’s Simon “Toad” Hancocks, BikeSocial’s Simon Hargreaves, MSN’s Michael Neeves, YouTuber English Biker Dan and all-round lunatic Chris “Mossy” Moss.
Starting price: £11,599
Engine: 999cc DOHC inline four
Power: 151 hp @ 11,000 rpm
Torque: 106 Nm @ 9,250 rpm
Seat height: 810 mm
Fuel capacity: 19 liters
Weight: 226 kg
The first thing you notice about this new Suzuki is that it doesn’t really look like a Suzuki – not from the front, at least. With Yamaha-esque headlights and angular fairing reminiscent of its chief rival, the Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX, the GSX-S1000GT’s aesthetic is, in the words of Neevesy, “clearly inspired by some of its neighbors.”
For me, it’s a look that works. And that seems to be the consensus among reviewers.
“The thing that draws you in is the frock it’s wearing and most will agree it actually looks good,” says Rich. “There’s an eye-catching trellis sub-frame, plenty of nipped and tucked lines that fall just the right side of fussy, and a snouty front-end to keep the elements off.”
It appears, as well, that the GT’s build quality is good. There is no talk of flimsy bits or cutting corners for the sake of cost. The GT’s price is quite reasonable for a 150hp machine but its seems most of the savings have come in choosing not to overload the bike with the sort of electronic aids many sport-touring riders don’t really want and that the vast majority of road riders don’t ever use.
An 810mm seat height means the bike should be manageable for most. That is the same seat height as a Triumph Speed Twin – so, yeah, nice and low. Rich describes the riding position as “purposeful” but no reviewer complained of cramped conditions. In fact, most went out of their way to comment on the bike’s comfort.
“You’ve got a very upright seating position,” says English Biker Dan. “I don’t feel any weight on my wrists whatsoever.”
It’s notable and bold that Suzuki chose to make its British press ride a two-day event, having journos cover several hundreds of miles in the process. AND the ride was held in Scotland, which possesses the magical ability to be cold, wet and miserable at any time of the year (and, indeed, one of their riding days was pretty poor). Clearly Suzuki has faith in its product.
Looking straight ahead from the saddle, the first thing that seems to have grabbed reviewers’ attention is the bike’s 6.5-inch TFT screen, which Geoff describes as “a happy marriage of form and function, showing you everything you need to know at a glance.”
A number of reviewers commented on the quality of the mirrors. Apparently they are excellent at allowing you to see stuff that’s behind you – something that surprisingly few motorcycle mirrors actually do – and their styling is such that they also function as wind guards for your hands. That sort of detail fills me with joy; I love it when bikes have tiny/simple features that show that the people who designed them actually ride bikes.
ENGINE, PERFORMANCE AND HANDLING
“The GSX-S1000GT uses a 16-year-old engine: that of the GSX-R1000 K5,” points out Neevesy. “So, on the face of it, you could say the GSX-S1000GT is just another Suzuki remix… and you’d be right, but that’s no bad thing. This engine is a masterpiece.”
Neevesy’s opinion is one that’s been echoed by everyone who’s ridden the bike. That’s no surprise; the powerplant was also used in the outgoing GSX-S1000F. While many people didn’t quite get what Suzuki was aiming for with that bike (it was effectively a sport tourer with a chassis that didn’t support touring; it didn’t make sense) everyone loved the engine.
Here the 999cc inline four has been tweaked for Euro 5 purposes and come out with nominally more horsepower and torque. The already-pretty-flat torque curve is a little flatter and throttle response is also reportedly a lot smoother. If memory serves me correctly, Suzuki first introduced ride-by-wire to its bikes in 2014 via the V-Strom 1000. The snarky side of me wants to make some remark about the company taking seven years to get it right, but the truth is there are a lot of other manufacturers who still haven’t figured it out.
“The engine is silky smooth,” in the words of English Biker Dan. And Si Hargreaves describes it as “drip-melted-butter-on-my-nipples smooth.”
On top of that, it’s smooth while pulling from just about any gear. In RichyVida’s video he brings speed all the way down to 20 mph in sixth without experiencing stuttering. The GT comes standard with a quick shifter but it seems you don’t really need one; just whack the thing in top gear and forget about it.
Of course, if you do that you’ll be missing out on a lot of the fun.
“Push the Suzuki out of the mid-range and toward the 11,500rpm redline and you’ll be rewarded with a soundtrack that’ll make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up,” says Toad.
That’s a sentiment echoed by RichyVida, who says: “Jesus, it don’t half come alive when you get up there… She’s a screamer.”
The impression that I get is that the bike is a powerful and engaging machine when ridden in the rev range that most road riders are comfortable with, and if you’re willing to explore above 10,000 rpm you get the benefit of something that feels kinda batshit crazy. Two bikes in one, as it were. I like the idea of it.
All three of the bike’s riding modes are smooth, according to reviewers. So, too, is the quickshifter, which Toad says compensates for a somewhat heavy clutch pull.
Meanwhile the bike’s chassis and suspension set-up was to the liking of all riders. Most of those bits are carried over from the GSX-S1000F, save the introduction of a passenger/luggage-friendly rear subframe. But why make big changes? It worked before and works better now.
“Because it’s low and long it’s a lot more stable than an adventure bike,” explains Neevesy. “It lives for fast corners. That’s its superpower.”
“Suzuki spec their base suspension setting very, very well,” adds Hargreaves. “The GT has great ride quality, delivering an un-jarring ride… No wobbles, no weaves, no silliness.”
However not everyone was a fan of the brakes. Riders like Rich and Neeves – who I know to be quite fast – felt the GT’s four-piston Brembo brakes let it down just a little, not offering the kind of bite they’d like in light of the engine’s prowess. I’d definitely take those criticisms with a grain of salt, though; those guys probably ride faster than you (they ride faster than me, at least). Other riders had no issue with the GT’s stoppers and even those fast/aggressive riders conceded that these were minor complaints.
Also falling under the category of minor complaints is Suzuki’s choice of stock tire. A few riders felt the bike would be more surefooted wearing something other than its Dunlop Roadsmart 2s.
“Wet or dry they felt predictable, stable and confident,” Hargreaves says. “But with a nagging feeling there’s better rubber out there at dealing with either condition.”
BELLS AND WHISTLES
The GSX-S1000GT comes standard with quickshifter, cruise control and a TFT screen that offers phone connectivity (The latter is a feature that I’m inclined to believe is a Euro 5 requirement since every damn manufacturer shoehorns it onto every damn bike these days). That connectivity allows you to view maps on the screen, presumably via Suzuki’s poorly named mySPIN app.
I know that the reviewers will have used this feature because – in another sign of Suzuki’s faith in its product – they were at one point let loose to explore Scotland at their own pace. Each bike had an accessory tank bag (made by SWMotech, by the way; I had one with my V-Strom 1000 and can highly recommend it) which contained a phone that was wired into the bike’s dashboard USB port and provided directions.
However, none of the reviewers really said anything about it. Which kind of suggests that the feature actually worked – that the map functioned as it should and there was nothing worth commenting on. If so, I am amazed; as I mentioned in my review of the Harley-Davidson Pan America, I personally have not encountered a connectivity set-up that actually works. Wouldn’t it be hilarious if Suzuki, one of the most behind-the-curve manufacturers out there, was the company that finally figured things out when it comes to connectivity?
As for the TFT screen itself, it is “well laid out and easy to read,” says Toad – a sentiment shared by all the reviewers.
Beyond that, the GSX-S1000GT is notable for a lack of the technowhizzbangery one might expect on such a bike. It doesn’t have an electronically adjustable suspension; it doesn’t have an IMU; there aren’t 20 million levels of ABS intervention; starting the thing involves using an actual physical key instead of a fob. All this helps keep the bike’s price closer to realistic.
Rich Taylor: “Keeping it simple is no bad thing. If there was an award for 2021’s most effective bike, Suzuki’s GSX-S1000GT takes it – and by a country mile.”
RichyVida: “I’ve got nothing negative to say about this bike… It’s a real pleasure. You could easily, easily, easily do a big-ass tour on this in perfect comfort.”
Geoff Hill: “Suzuki has just produced what I reckon is the finest sports tourer out there.”
Simon “Toad” Hancocks: “Some will cry that Suzuki doesn’t innovate, or that they haven’t built an exciting bike since the mid-1990s. I’m not sure I agree… And it’s not like their bikes are massively needing any expensive tech or innovation to start with. When your raw ingredients are this good to start with, you’re always going to bake a nice tasting cake!”
Chris Moss: “I’ve got a sneaky feeling this Suzuki could be a winner. A lot of its parts might have have been seen on other models but the GT is a lot more than just the sum of its parts.”
Michael Neeves: “It’s really, really impressive. What makes me really excited is that the GT heralds the return of the sports tourer – the conventional road-bike-shaped sports tourer… Quite simply Suzuki’s best bike in years.
English Biker Dan: “I feel really confident on this bike… when you’re feeling frisky and the roads are a bit drier, she does go – my word.”
Simon Hargreaves: “It’s a hugely competent, civilised, powerful, easy-to-use sports tourer, with no significant vices and much to commend it. It’ll fit most people most of the time, deliver them to their intended destination with minimal fuss and optimal convenience – and even considerable excitement, should they wish – and at a reasonable price… And it even looks nice. The GT will be hit, and deservedly so. You’re waiting for a ‘…but…,’ but there isn’t one.”
It seems I’m going to have to stop making fun of Suzuki. I find myself really intrigued by this bike. I like the idea, I like the look and I like the price.
Though, I’ll admit I’m seriously put off by the absence of a center stand. The old GSX-1250FA had a center stand; surely Suzuki understands that such a thing is important for a long-haul machine. Personally, I’d be happy to give up a degree or two of lean angle for the sake of being able to do easy chain maintenance on the road – not to mention dealing with flats.
I’m also not sure how I feel about the bike’s 19-liter tank. Suzuki claims 46 mpg, which would be 193 miles from full to fumes, but reviewers suggested a 180-mile range is more realistic. So, you know, roughly 150 miles before getting the Fuel Light Of Doom. Is that enough? For me it is because I have a tiny bladder; I almost always have to pee before my bike runs out of dino juice. But what about other riders?
Lastly, the GSX-S1000GT loses some of its sheen when you consider its actual price, ie, the price necessary to have a sport tourer that actually tours. Unlike the Honda NT1100, panniers are not standard; they’ll set you back £741.60. Want those panniers to lock? That’ll be an extra £40, thank you. Want those panniers to actually attach to the bike? You’ll need to fork out £168 more for pannier rails. And if you’d like your panniers to color match the rest of the bike, you’ll need to find an additional £50 for the pannier “side garnish set.” That’s a grand total of £999.60 and does not include the cost of fitting.
Heated grips are also an option and Suzuki’s asking an eye-watering £395 for those. No person in his/her right mind will buy those when Oxford Heated Grips only cost £80. But even with that savings you’re still looking at adding in excess of £1,000 to the GSX-S1000GT’s asking price to see it fulfil its true touring potential.
But, as I say, it will take me a few years to save up the dough for this bike, by which time a few will have entered the used market. To that end, I encourage those of you with poor financial sense to go out and get this bike on a PCP deal so there will be plenty for me to choose from in three years.
It looks like Suzuki has managed to get things almost perfect with this machine. I’m really looking forward to riding one myself at some point.