You wonder when it will ever end. Thankfully, it hasn't shown any signs of slowing down.
Ever since the debut of the Yamaha R1 back in 1998, the manufacturers have been engaged in a literbike arms race of unrivaled intensity. The game of annual one-upmanship has continued unabated, but the difference between this battle and other classes, such as 600s, is that literbike performance levels have literally blown through the stratosphere. Any of today's open-class machines-straight off the showroom floor-would've mopped up the racebike-prepped competition Superbikes of 10 years ago. We know we keep saying this every year, but it bears repeating: The outright performance of today's literbikes is simply astounding. There just isn't any other word to describe them.
The latest entrant in this war is Suzuki's '05 GSX-R1000. The '03 iteration blew the competition out of the water, but its reign lasted only one year before it fell from the top of the heap to fourth place in '04. Obviously smarting from that result, Suzuki's engineers once again dove into the big GSX-R for a complete upgrade. The details are covered in the tech sidebar (see page 40), but in a nutshell, Suzuki pursued the usual design brief: more power while still being usable, less weight, smaller size and sharper handling.
Needless to say, matching up the new GSX-R with the rest of the literbikes has been one of the most highly anticipated comparisons this year. Let's get on with it, then.