Suzuki GSX-S1000 review: Lots of bang for not so many bucks

Suzukis are always good value, and the latest version of the impressive Gixxer 1000 is no exception. Wisely, the Japanese company has tweaked it rather than made major changes – and based the design on Geoff’s lockdown haircut. Inspired

Sweet - The wide, high bars make for a comfortable ride and effortless cornering
Sweet – The wide, high bars make for a comfortable ride and effortless cornering

Suzuki GSX-S1000

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During the first lockdown last year, I found myself looking in the bathroom mirror one Friday night after a few glasses of wine, and seeing the Abominable Ulsterman looking back.

My hair was like an explosion in a mattress factory, and made Tom Hanks in Cast Away look like a skinhead.

It was time for action, so grabbing my beard trimmer from the days when designer stubble was in fashion, I set to, using the theory that if I trimmed straight up each side and straight across the top, nothing could possible go wrong.

Astonishingly, I was right. When I came downstairs, Cate said it looked surprisingly trendy, so I may never actually need to go to the hairdresser’s again, and can spend the money I save on even more wine.

Which brings me, naturally, to the new Suzuki GSX-S1000, which has obviously been designed on the same principle of straight lines and sharp edges. If you can find a curve on it apart from the mudguards, I’ll eat my helmet, then my goggles for pudding.

Sharp – The new angular design is as cool as the Fonz. And Geoff’s haircut

The result looks as sharp and cool as the Fonz, unlike when BMW tried the same thing with the first generation of the Z4 car and its R12000ST bike and got it horribly wrong.

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Design aside, the previous Gixxer 1000 was such a fabulous beast of a bike that Suzuki didn’t need to change much, and wisely haven’t, more of which in a moment.

The previous power modes were A, B and C, but some wise guy at Suzuki HQ has decided that’s too boring, so they’re now Active, Basic and Comfort.

Satisfying – The previous Gixxer 1000 was a great bike, and this one is even better

Like all Suzukis, it’s very good value for money, being cheaper than main rivals Yamaha’s £12,502 MT-10, Honda’s £11,999 CB1000R and BMW’s £12,035 S1000R, and there are small signs that it’s been built to a budget, with a digital rather than TST screen, and standard ABS and traction control rather than the posh cornering versions.

That screen is a bit cluttered, with the small tacho figures tricky to read in sunlight, and the mirrors are very average, but that engine is a peach, as was its predecessor.

Complex – The digital screen is a bit cluttered, and the small tacho numbers difficult to read in sunlight

A few riders complained that the throttle was previously a bit snatchy, although I didn’t think so, but the throttle bodies have been changed for a smoother power delivery, and the torque is down a smidgen, but tweaked to give big fat dollops of it in the midrange, which is where you need it most for overtaking and powering out of corners even in Comfort mode.

The quickshifter is a work of genius, snicking up and down through the six-speed box effortlessly even at low revs and gears, which some quickshifters struggle with.

Sweet – The wide, high bars make for a comfortable ride and effortless cornering

The wide, high bars make for not only a comfortable riding position, but effortless cornering. The merest hint of pressure on them, and you’re soaring around bends as if by instinct.

The Brembo brakes are unchanged from the previous model, and just as powerful and progressive, while a slipper clutch stops the back wheel locking under aggressive downshifting.

Upsadaisy – Hooligans can dial down or switch off the traction control

Switching into Basic mode brings a more aggressive power delivery, although never in a way that makes you think you’re going to die at any second, and Active makes you feel like a combination of Joey Dunlop and Valentino Rossi, although possibly slightly less skilful than either.

Grunt – More torque in the midrange means overtaking in a flash, especially in Active mode

All in all, a deeply satisfying motorbike, at a deeply satisfying price. Result. If you can’t quite swing to a new one, tidy low mileage examples of the previous model are on Auto Trader from around £6,000.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to open a bottle of wine and trim my hair.

Splutter – Well, that’s one way to scrub in the tyres

Suzuki GSX-S1000

Engine: 999cc inline four

Power: 150bhp @ 11,000rpm

Torque: 78 lb ft @ 9,250rpm

Colours: Blue; grey; black

Price: £10,999

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