Of the big four, Kawasaki stayed closest to the competition with its Ninja ZX-10R (the supercharged Ninja H2 and H2R are basically in a class by themselves). Until, that is, Yamaha debuted its all new R1 earlier this year. The R1 represents Japan’s full-fledged reentry into the super bike arms race. Honda and Suzuki, though, have continued to play it safe with minimal updates to their 1,000cc machines. In spite of getting nothing more than updated colors and graphics for years, the Suzuki GSX-R has still managed to maintain its reputation as the quintessential sport bike. The gixxer, as it’s (mostly) affectionately known, has a loyal following and a reputation for great performance at an affordable price. The sixth generation GSX-R1000, though, is finally on the horizon.
At the EICMA Motorcycle Show in Milan, Italy Suzuki unveiled an all-new GSX-R1000 concept. The word “concept” means, at the earliest, we’ll probably see the new bike as an early release 2017 model. Still, the concept unveiled in Milan should be very, very close to the final production version.
A quick look at the concept shows that Suzuki hasn’t pulled any punches with their latest creation, stating that their goal is to “reclaim the King of the Sportbikes crown.” The company calls this bike the “most powerful, hardest accelerating, and cleanest running GSX-R ever built.” On top of that it’s also “the lightest, most compact, most aerodynamic, and best handling.” These are lofty claims indeed.
The latest GSX-R1000 will feature a completely redesigned 999cc inline-four cylinder engine with Suzuki’s newly developed Variable Valve Timing System (VVT). This system, which uses centrifugal force to reposition steel balls contained in grooves within the intake cam sprocket to alter timing, allows for optimal valve action for both high and low engine speeds.
Like the engine, the frame and suspension are also all new with Showa Balance Free Forks with external damping circuits and nitrogen-charged oil reservoirs out front. The rear features a Showa Balance Free Rear Cushion shock that’s much lighter than previous units. The bodywork, too, has been revised to provide a much more slippery profile.
As is the case with every iteration of the latest crop of superbikes, what’s in the ECU is nearly as important as what is in the engine bay. This fact has not escaped Suzuki’s engineers and the sixth gen GSX-R1000 will be the first with a comprehensive suite of electronics. This will include a Ride-by-wire throttle system, ten-level traction control, Suzuki Drive Mode Selector (S-DMS delivers three different engine maps with unique power profiles), ABS, quick shifter, and launch control. The GSX-R1000 will also benefit from a multi-functional LCD instrument display and LED lighting.
Though its street debut is still some time off, the next gen gixxer is an indication of a healthy and growing motorcycle industry. What remains to be seen, though, is whether it can truly reclaim its throne from the Europeans. Now, if Honda would just build a new CBR1000RR…
Like classics? It’s always Throwback Thursday somewhere.
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