The high watermark. The last of the pure superbikes. Unexpurgated. The pinnacle. All downhill from here…
K5: Seldom has a consonant and number pairing had such significance in the motorcycle world as the one affixed to Suzuki’s 2005-06 GSX-R1000.
Those outside Hamamatsu’s inner circle didn’t know it at the time, but after the two-year sales lifespan of the K5/K6, subsequent models of Suzuki’s flagship superbike would be heavier and develop a worse power-to-weight ratio. In 2005, the year the K5 first hit showrooms, that concept was close to unbelievable—the Japanese would actually make a hypersport bike heavier than the previous model? No comprende. But that’s what they did in 2007.
Of course, as a road rider, I needed more power like I needed a second a-hole, but don’t add mass, you mongrels.
And neither did this iteration of GSX-R1000 have “rider aids” beyond fuel injection as sweet as maple syrup. Still, if you know the throttle goes both ways, it was and remains easier to ride than a 250 Ninja.
This no-compromise basis for racetrack glory was surprisingly comfortable, too. I rode 800 miles to the Sachsenring from the English midlands on one. Along an autobahn in the former East Germany, under a cornflower blue sky, it showed 187 mph on the clock, so a real 170-plus. I was tucked in behind GP rider James Ellison, who’d agreed to ride to the race he was competing in for the WCM team. All I have are good memories of the blue-and-white bike.
I’ve always had a soft spot for GSX-Rs. I’ve owned 1100s and a 600 and ridden 1000s a long way, but none had the avant garde styling of the K5. The early 1000s looked like what they were: reverse-engineered endurance racers. Nothing wrong with that. The first beam-frame SRADs were stylistically unmemorable, but the K5 moved the fully faired game on like no bike since (don’t even try to put the Panigale in the same bracket as the K5). All subsequent big GSX-Rs have tried too hard. What is Japanese for “superfluous”?
The ’05 GSX-R1000 managed to look fresh and modern without resorting to gimmicks. The single, low-level triangular silencer was the antithesis of silly underseat pipes that cause more packaging problems than they ever cure. The ray-gun tail, with its integrated indicators, was genius. Can you believe the 2012 CBR1000RR still has sticky-outy rear winkers like a Honda 250 Super Dream or something?
So, world’s coolest bike? One of them, without doubt. Just don’t buy a yellow one.