2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000 - First Ride

Gixxer generation 5.5.

Tucking in tight on the 2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000.

Tucking in tight on the 2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000.

Wholesale change doesn’t often come quickly on the heels of resounding success. Since its debut a decade ago, the Suzuki GSX-R1000 has amassed an impressive tally of 37 combined world and national roadrace titles. The mighty Gixxer has proven particularly dominant in AMA Superbike, stringing together seven back-to-back championships from 2002 to ’09, while the bike also claimed an eighth World Endurance title this past year. It adds up to pretty compelling justification for Suzuki to seemingly just tread water with only minor updates to its flagship repli-racer, while other manufacturers have taken the electronic-rider-aid plunge.

We were most recently reminded of the GSX-R1000's performance prowess in our "Electronic Warfare" shootout (CW August, 2011), in which we equipped our stock testbike with an aftermarket Bazzaz Z-Fi TC traction control unit and lapped second-quickest amongst the current crop of factory TC-endowed liter bikes. It will be interesting to learn if the latest GSX-R can beat the competition without any TC intervention.

I attended a press introduction for the 2012 model at Homestead Miami Speedway in southern Florida. Suzuki refers to the new model as a refined version of the fifth-generation GSX-R1000, noting a short list of updates aimed at improved circuit performance. The goal was a tangible evolution in each of the basic performance areas, including acceleration, cornering and braking. The single-day, track-only event provided a glimpse of what the bike is capable of while lapping the speedway’s 14-turn, 2.21-mile infield roadcourse. Despite Suzuki’s stated emphasis on enhancing track performance and the fact I’ve yet to log any street time on the bike, I’m 100 percent confident in saying that these updates offer a significant improvement for the everyday road rider.

The switch to Brembo Monobloc radial-mount calipers up front (á la last year's 600/750) has given the bike a true race-spec binder upgrade that appears to be a change of pad compound away from competition-type bite and one-finger stopping performance. The new Sunstar 310mm rotors are made of heat-resistant stainless steel, allowing a reduction in thickness that saves weight. While a fairly firm squeeze on the lever was required to maximize stopping performance, I liked the level of feedback. I also feel the setup will be well-suited to both street and trackday use, offering solid two-finger stopping power and consistency without having an overly aggressive (touchy) initial action.

The Showa BPF fork has been altered to accommodate the bike’s 4.4-pound weight reduction and the shift in center of gravity that resulted from the switch from twin mufflers to one. The fork legs’ overall length and travel are slightly reduced (7mm and 5mm, respectively), along with softer standard settings than before. I didn’t find any need to tweak the front setup but added a few additional clicks of rebound resistance to the shock to help settle a bit of pogo action at the rear under hard acceleration out of one particular infield corner. The front felt fantastic, providing firm-yet-supple suspension action under hard braking and cornering load, along with excellent stability while accelerating or at speed—the best I’ve experienced with a Gixxer since the BPF was introduced in 2009. Based on my limited dry laps prior to afternoon showers, I can’t say if the front-end confidence is all Showa or maybe a trait of the Bridgestone R10 Supersport race-compound radials on which I had never ridden prior to this occasion. The OE tire fitment is Bridgestone’s brand-new Battlax Hypersport S20, a street/sport tire that will be introduced to the press mid-March.

While the new black tachometer face and red pinstripes on the wheels, single titanium muffler and golden-hued Monoblocs account for ample visual cues that separate the '12 from its predecessor, one twist of throttle at low rpm spells out the most significant difference: A combination of cam profile change, slight compression increase, exhaust tune and ECU mapping have resulted in an increase in midrange torque output without any loss of peak power. The dyno chart in the press kit suggests a flatter torque curve filling in some dips that previously existed. We'll find out soon enough when we get a test bike on the CW dyno, but for now, I can say I was impressed by how readily the Gixxer grunted out of Homestead's second-gear hairpin, beginning the drive with revs below 4500 rpm. Once the rain hit, I put in a few more laps sampling the Suzuki Drive Mode Selector B and C modes, and I'm very glad I did. Earlier in the day, in dry conditions, I was puzzled by a non-linear delivery when I rode in either alternate mode. It appears that rolling the throttle on too aggressively (which is easy to do on a grippy track) while in B or C mode was the issue. In the wet, I applied throttle more steadily and was rewarded with smooth, controlled delivery.

The business end of the Gixxer is A mode, and its new, improved linear power delivery extending from basement revs all the way to the indicated 13,600 rpm redline makes the wait for Gixxer 6.0 all the easier to process.

Cockpit view of 2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000.

Cockpit view of 2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000.

2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000 shown in metallic blue/white color scheme.

2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000 shown in metallic blue/white color scheme.

Pit garage for the 2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000 press intro.

Pit garage for the 2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000 press intro.

2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000 at Homestead Miami Speedway.

2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000 at Homestead Miami Speedway.

Cycle World Road Test Editor Don Canet aboard 2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000.

Cycle World Road Test Editor Don Canet aboard 2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000.

2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000 is lighter and more agile than its predecessor.

2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000 is lighter and more agile than its predecessor.

Tucking in tight on the 2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000.

Tucking in tight on the 2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000.

Engine cutaway view of the 2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000.

Engine cutaway view of the 2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000.

New Brembo monobloc calipers and lighter stainless steel Sunstar rotors on the 2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000.

New Brembo monobloc calipers and lighter stainless steel Sunstar rotors on the 2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000.

2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000 is narrower and lighter thanks to its new 4-2-1 exhaust system.

2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000 is narrower and lighter thanks to its new 4-2-1 exhaust system.

Black tachometer face of the 2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000.

Black tachometer face of the 2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000.

Stainless header, titanium muffler and higher density CAT of the 2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000.

Stainless header, titanium muffler and higher density CAT of the 2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000.

It?s was nice to feel welcome at the press introduction for the 2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000.

It?s was nice to feel welcome at the press introduction for the 2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000.