In terms of power the Suzuki offers a great amount of easily accessible grunt at low rpm, which is beneficial around town. Even as you creep into the midrange, there is plenty of power to accelerate past cars, that proves to be handy when accelerating past traffic on the highway. Once through the midrange however, the GX1250FA does begin to run out of breath, and in contrast to the FZ1, there is practically no power up top. Also, noted during our test is the fact that the transmission of the Suzuki is not as smooth as the Kawasaki’s and Yamaha’s, and each gear change is accompanied by a loud clunk; a tune that wasn’t exactly music to our testers’ ears.
Thanks to the Suzuki Dual Throttle Valve fuel injection, power delivery from the GSX1250FA is extremely smooth and fuel mileage is outstanding. In fact, throughout our testing, the all-new Suzuki consistently managed three-to-four miles per gallon more per tank than the FZ1 and Ninja 1000. Combine this with the bike’s large 4.9-gallon fuel tank and it’s obvious that this bike is ready for the long haul.
All told, the Suzuki is by far the most comfortable bike of the group. "
Interesting to note is that of the three bikes tested, the Suzuki GSX1250FA is also the only one to be offered with ABS, which is perhaps one reason why it is roughly $600 more than the Kawasaki and $1100 more than the Yamaha. The ABS could be very beneficial though considering these super-standards will be used in an array of situations and you never know what kind of conditions you will find yourself in. Our testers did note however that the Suzuki’s brakes were not as strong as the Yamaha’s or Kawasaki’s and had a mushy feel.
All told, the Suzuki is by far the most comfortable bike of the group. Thanks to softly damped suspension, its plush seat and relaxed ergos, it certainly puts up a fight in this battle of the super-standards. Still, in a category where versatility is key, the Suzuki comes up just a hair short to the Kawasaki Ninja 1000.
Test Notes 2011 Suzuki GSX1250FA
+ Comfortable ergonomics and plush seat
+ Gets the best fuel mileage
+ Only bike with ABS
– On the heavy side
– Conventional fork is not up to par with the competition
– Brakes tend to feel a little mushy
x Hands down the most comfortable bike of the group
Suggested Suspension Settings
FRONT: Spring preload — 3 lines showing
REAR: Spring preload — position 4 of 7; Rebound damping — one turn out from full stiff
Ninja 1000 86.3 points
All-new for 2011, the Kawasaki Ninja 1000 is for the most part a dressed up Z1000 but does feature—among other small changes—revised ergonomics and a larger fuel tank. When compared to the Yamaha and Suzuki, the Ninja 1000 is definitely more sport-oriented thanks to its clip-on style bars, stiffer suspension and more aggressive ergonomics, yet the ergonomics aren’t too aggressive and the seat, which is 10mm thicker than that of the Z1000, is plenty plush for decent-length stints.
Unlike most standards such as the FZ1, the Ninja 1000’s 1043cc powerplant was specifically designed with commuting and canyon carving in mind. As such, there is an abundance of low-end torque and plenty of power throughout the midrange to keep things interesting. Matched with the extremely smooth powerband of the Ninja 1000 is a precise transmission that is not buttery smooth like that of the FZ1, but not clunky like the GSX1250FA. Injection from the 38mm Keihin throttle bodies permits smooth power delivery and the counterbalancer-equipped engine permits only a slight buzz through the footpegs anywhere beyond 4500 rpm. And to help keep that buzz to a minimum, the footrests are rubber mounted. Even still, competing with the ever-smooth GSX1250FA is a challenge.
The Ninja 1000’s ZX6-R-inspired...
The Ninja 1000’s ZX6-R-inspired analog tachometer and LCD screen provide all the necessary information, although our testers argued the block numbers for the speedometer readout could be better. Of the group, the Ninja 1000 is the only bike to feature clip-on style handlebars.
Compared to the Suzuki (the only other full-faired bike in the group) the Ninja 1000’s body panels do a much more competent job of dispersing hot engine bay air away from the rider. And thanks to the adjustable windscreen, which can be positioned to a high, medium or low setting, wind buffet is kept to a minimum. This is especially true when it is set to the high setting, where the contoured screen almost perfectly deflects the air away from the rider.
When the roads tighten up and the riding turns more spirited, the Ninja 1000 is by far the most adept bike of the group. And matched with the aluminum backbone frame, the suspension gives the Ninja 1000 excellent handling characteristics. The slightly stiffer damping of the 41mm fully adjustable front fork and horizontally mounted rear shock, which is adjustable for rebound damping and spring preload, are plenty plush for freeway stints, and albeit somewhat slower than the FZ1 in terms of turn-in, mid-corner steering is light with the Ninja 1000 and holding your line is a walk in the park.
Braking capabilities of the Ninja rival those of the FZ1, and the binders are plenty potent enough to get the stocky Kawasaki slowed down. While they do require you grab the lever with some force, they provide good power, feedback and modulation.
While the Ninja 1000 does feature a 5.0 gallon large-capacity fuel tank, its fuel consumption numbers are quite a bit lower than the Suzuki’s. This means you are definitely forced to hit the gas station sooner than you would hope. And despite the other bikes being fitted with harder construction touring-type tires, the U.S.-spec Ninja 1000 comes equipped with a set of softer Bridgestone BT-016s that proved in our testing to wear significantly quicker.
Test Notes Kawasaki Ninja 1000
+ Adjustable windscreen provides best wind protection of the group
+ Plenty of low-end torque and midrange power
+ Fairing keeps hot air away from lower body
– U.S.-spec Bridgestone tires wear rather quick
– Fuel consumption numbers are down compared to the Yamaha and Suzuki
– Brakes require some force
x This bike screams versatility
Suggested Suspension Settings
Front: Spring preload — 7 turns out from full stiff; Rebound damping — 2 turns out from full stiff; Compression damping — 1 turn out from full stiff. Ride height — 30mm fork tube protruding above top triple clamp.
Rear: Spring preload — position 5 of 10; Rebound damping — 1 turn out from full stiff