Everyone knows it's a tough world for the major manufacturers in the sportbike market these days. Staying competitive has meant compressing the new-model development cycle (when more than just a few minor updates and a paint scheme change are made) down to every two years, and marketing demands often call for as many flashy new components as possible to enforce that "new and improved" mantra.
As the oft-acknowledged king of the literbike class for the past few years, Suzuki's GSX-R1000 has lived that tough life, enduring continuous attempts at dethronement without too much change to the basic package. But now that the two-year cycle has passed, everyone has been waiting to see what Suzuki has had up its sleeve for improvements to the big Gixxer to keep it atop the literbike heap for '07. While the basic details of those changes were released to the public late last year, the real nitty-gritty technical information-and the opportunity to experience whether those changes have actually improved the breed-came at the world press introduction recently held at Australia's famed Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit. If there was ever a track that would expose any major performance faults in a literbike, Phillip Island is the one.
So just what hath Suzuki wrought on the new GSX-R1000? And more importantly, has the company managed to improve its already formidable performance capabilities?
Let The Bike Suit The RiderSuzuki faced a quandary while developing the new GSX-R1000. The R&D team knew the next-generation machine needed to have improved power characteristics in order to stay ahead of the competition (despite the fact that the older model already had one of the best powerbands in the class). But they were also aware that the ever-increasing output of the Suzuki's amazing literbike engine meant the pool of riders able to come anywhere near exploiting that performance got even smaller at the same time. While one Suzuki test rider believed in softening up the initial engine response to throttle movement, another saw crisp but linear response as the proper way to keep the power as friendly and accessible as possible.
This led to the development of the Suzuki Drive Mode Selector (S-DMS), a system allowing the rider to select from three different engine maps via a two-way switch on the right handlebar. Because the secondary throttle plates in the EFI throttle bodies are already controlled by the ECU, Suzuki engineers were able to manipulate the engine power by regulating the movement of the plates relative to the primary throttle-plate movement controlled by the rider, in addition to changing fuel and ignition curves. According to Suzuki, the intent was to provide "settings designed primarily for circuit riding that offer differing throttle response and power characteristics for various circuit layout sections, pavement surface and traction conditions." The A map is basically the max power setting, providing "sharp response at all throttle-opening ranges." The B mode offers "softer response than A mode up to the middle throttle-opening ranges," while C mode gives "soft throttle response at all throttle-opening ranges by reducing engine power."
Of course, all this power-control technology would be a moot point if the engine didn't have more power. However, Suzuki didn't want to stray too far from the formula that has been so successful since the GSX-R1000's inception, so it kept the basic architecture of the 999cc four-cylinder engine intact, including the 73.4x59mm bore and stroke configuration, which so far has provided an excellent balance between top-end power and midrange torque. All the basic engine dimensions remain the same, including the cylinder pitch, mainshaft spacing (crankshaft to transmission, input/ output shaft) and cylinder angle.