Wednesday, March 25, 2009

2009 Suzuki GSX-R1000: A few opinions…


"It was an interesting experience riding the K9, because I’ve never tried a road bike before," says ex-MotoGP rider Sylvain Guintoli. What, he's never tried a road bike before?!?! What has he been riding all these years...? Hmm, maybe the picture above says something after all...

With all the noise that’s been made about its ‘MotoGP-inspired’ engine, the 2009 R1 has quite stolen the GSX-R1000’s thunder this year. And it’s not just the R1 – there’s also the supremely manageable, ABS-equipped Honda Fireblade and the Ducati 1198S with its race-spec DTC traction control system. So the GSX-R has been left on the sidelines in 2009, while the new boys strut their stuff…

But is the new GSX-R really not a match for other litre-class superbikes this year. Let’s take a quick look at what ‘experts’ have to say about the bike. And first up is Sylvain Guintoli, ex-MotoGP rider who’s racing with Crescent Suzuki in British Superbikes this year. ‘It was an interesting experience riding the K9, because I’ve never tried a road bike before. I was really surprised. [Yeah, so are we. How can you never have tried a road bike before?!? – F&F]. I always thought road bikes on the track would be heavy and soft, but the K9 is good fun, and fast,’ says Guintoli.

Hmm… if Guintoli thinks the 2009 GSX-R1000 is ‘fast,’ we suppose it must be, eh? So let’s see what does John Reynolds (ex-BSB champ and current Suzuki test rider) has to say about the machine then. ‘It’s a totally different chassis on the K9 from the K7. We’ve got a setting now where the bike works really well on the race track, and with a couple of turns of preload off the rear shock, and a bit off the front end, you’ve got a bike that’s wonderful for the road as well,’ says Reynolds. ‘The way the geometry of the chassis is now, it’s really focussed towards racing bikes more than anything else,’ he adds.

All right, but since both Guintoli and Reynolds are employed by Suzuki, let’s also see what MCN’s Michael Neeves has to say about the K9. ‘Compared to some of its competition, the GSX-R is not as razor-sharp in and out or corners, and it’s still missing that intoxicating mix of grunt and light weight that made the old K5/K6 the sensation it was at the time,’ says Neeves. ‘But don’t worry, the GSX-R hasn’t gone all soft. The K9 still retains that spine-tingling, evil bark when you blip the throttle and it wants to wheelie at every opportunity…,’ he adds.

So where does that leave us. And you. Where does the GSX-R stand, vis-à-vis the 2009 R1 and Fireblade? ‘Die-hard GSX-R fans will still go all gooey over its evil exhaust note, searing top-end rush and slider-shredding cornering ability,’ says Neeves. ‘But there’s something missing, and I can’t put my finger on it. I wasn’t left giggling or open-mouthed after each riding session, like I should have been. Maybe it feels and looks too much like the old K7/K8 despite all its changes? Maybe it’s still too bulky? Maybe it’s just that Honda and Yamaha have moved the game on so much with the Fireblade and R1…,’ he concludes.


Jay Leno also has a go on the 2009 GSX-R1000...

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