The Suzuki GSX-R1000 once dominated the literbike category. In ’08 there was a shift in the tide though, and Suzuki’s long reign came to an abrupt halt. Honda and Kawasaki stepped up to the plate and dethroned the GSX-R1000, which had simply gone too long without receiving a major update. In 2009 the GSX-R1000 was reengineered, but by then the BMW S 1000 RR was well on its way and it was almost too little too late for the Japanese manufacturer. Suzuki offered no new models in 2010, and for 2011, the bike went unchanged yet again.
At a glance, the Suzuki GSX-R1000 is just that then: a three-year-old motorcycle. But that doesn’t tell the whole story. At a glance, you’re missing the fact that the big-bore Suzuki still has one of the most manageable engines in the class, with plenty of power up top and great midrange. You’re also missing the fact that the Suzuki has one of the most stable chassis and a capable Showa BPF front fork. In reality, the “outdated” Suzuki is only a few performance parts away from being on par with the competition — the dominant BMW S 1000 RR and all-new Kawasaki ZX-10R even. When the opportunity arose to outfit a 2011 GSX-R1000 with a number of performance parts, we were quick to accept the challenge.
HealTech Electronics offered...
HealTech Electronics offered three downloadable maps for our GSX-R1000 on its website that vary depending on what exhaust you are running, what air filter etc. As you can see from the screenshot of the system’s software, the FI Tuner Pro is highly modifiable; customers can adjust the amount of fuel delivered at a given rpm and given throttle position. Note also that the software allows you to designate two maps.
In its last update, the GSX-R1000 engine was heavily overhauled. In light of the fact that other manufacturers were catching up in strides, Suzuki went about increasing the bore of the 999cc engine and decreasing its overall stature. New forged pistons were employed and the compression ratio was bumped to 12.8:1 thanks to shallower valve angles. It didn’t stop there though; Suzuki engineers designed longer connecting rods that would work with those new pistons to provide increased top-end power.
Since ’09 though, BMW released its potent S 1000 RR and Kawasaki its all-new, extremely capable ZX-10R. In stock trim, the BMW is the clear winner in terms of top-end power, with numbers that the competition can merely marvel at. The Kawasaki was rumored to dethrone the BMW, but the choked-up model proved to be a more mortal machine in stock trim. Only when we reflashed our test unit’s ECU (“Literbike Mods”, October 2011) did the Kawasaki’s true potential show. With both bikes now producing over 170 horsepower, it was clear our Suzuki GSX-R was going to inevitably be down on power. Nonetheless, we did what we could, reaching out to FMF and HealTech Electronics for goodies that would steer the build in the right direction.
The FMF Apex carbon/titanium...
The FMF Apex carbon/titanium exhaust provided a healthy increase in power throughout the rev range, but more importantly, it smoothed out the GSX-R’s power curve.
The GSX-R’s stock, twin-muffler under-engine exhaust is a rather bulky unit, albeit constructed entirely of titanium. The FMF Apex Jordan Motorsports replica full system we opted to replace the unit with is conversely very compact, plus allowed us to ditch the left-side muffler (of which we have never been a fan of). Developed for such teams as Jordan Motorsports and Latus Motors Racing, the Apex exhaust is every bit as good as the competition, with great effort made during the development period to improve top-end power and smoothen the power curve.
In stock trim, our GSX-R1000 had a noticeable flat spot at 5500 rpm (as indicated by the accompanying dyno chart), which also happened to be exactly where the bike runs at freeway speeds. With the FMF exhaust however, that flat spot is noticeably absent. And while the stock bike was only good for 155 horsepower, our FMF-equipped GSX-R spun the dyno drum to the tune of 159 horsepower. The change is incremental, but notice that the bike also gained a few additional horsepower throughout the entire rev range — especially from 5500 rpm up to 8000 rpm. In terms of fit and finish, the $1799.99 exhaust is on par with other top-tier systems. The sound emitting out the carbon can is loud no doubt, but intoxicating. It’s a healthy tune; just know that you have been warned when traveling through tunnels or alongside a wall.
Pipercross’ race air filter...
Pipercross’ race air filter features a multi-stage foam design, but the thinner layer of coarse foam provides a higher level of airflow. The company claims the real benefit of its filters is their ability to perform better than the competition when dirty.
The 1.8-pound Super B 5200...
The 1.8-pound Super B 5200 lithium-ion battery which replaced the GSX-R’s 7.6-pound stock unit fit easily enough and gave us additional room in the under-seat area for the FI Tuner Pro. At $400.99, it’s not the cheapest option though.
The right crankcase cover...
The right crankcase cover from R&G Racing went on easy enough and will prevent damage to the crankcase, although the company’s decaling is already working its way off. The cover on the reverse side didn’t line up as well and wasn’t mounted.
At $229.99, the FI Tuner Pro...
At $229.99, the FI Tuner Pro from HealTech Electronics is quite the value. The tidy unit plugs directly into the bike’s diagnostic port — rather than to each injector — and allows you to store two maps, plus a zero map.
With the hope of gaining even more power and further smoothing out the power curve, we turned to HealTech Electronics, maker of the FI Tuner Pro for Suzuki motorcycles. The FI Tuner Pro plugs directly into the bike’s diagnostic port rather than to each injector — as most other units such as those from Power Commander and Bazzaz do. Installation is simple and merely required we remove the bike’s tail section, rather than lift the tank. The install also requires you to tap into the TPS and rpm wires at the ECU. The unit gives you a throttle position/rpm map just as a Power Commander or Bazzaz unit would, plus you can add or take away fuel in cells to tune. You are allowed to store two maps plus a zero map and can access them depending on how you hold the throttle when you turn the key on: closed throttle for one map, half throttle for the zero map, full throttle for the second map.
We set our GSX-R1000 up with a designated map, plus a zero map. With the zero map (or prior to fitting the FI Tuner Pro) the bike felt very aggressive, with an abrupt power delivery. Map installed, the bike feels much more manageable, with a smoother power delivery that makes it feel like a tamer animal around town. While we didn’t see any horsepower gains with the FI Tuner Pro, we did see better — and safer — air/fuel ratios. We were also happy with how easy it was to fit and with the fact that we now had varying map options. And at $229.99, it’s a great alternative to the more expensive offerings from other companies. Bad news: it’s only available for Suzukis.
A Pipercross race air filter was provided by Blue Monkey Motorsports. Pipercross filters use a multi-stage foam design — an outer, coarse foam layer that stops large debris and fine-pore foam that collects the smaller particles. The company’s race filter has a thinner layer of that coarse foam and has an overall higher level of airflow. The real benefit of the Pipercross filter is that its design enables it to perform better when dirty. Airbox pressure is retained and as such, power is not lost in heaps. Fitting the filter was as easy as you’d expect and we are keeping an eye on overall performance as the filter dirties.
The tips of the highly-adjustable...
The tips of the highly-adjustable Rizoma rearset’s shift lever and brake lever pivot and can be positioned for better feel. One thing to note is that, depending on their position, you may not have as much leverage.
The Suzuki has long been touted as the more ergonomically friendly literbike, with an adequate seat height, palatable reach to the bars and adjustable footrests as standard. We nonetheless opted to mount a set of Rizoma rearsets based on their absolute adjustability and great looks. The well-designed units installed without any concerns and come with all the necessary hardware, including a bracket for the brake light switch (we’ve recently discovered that some companies expect you to ditch the brake light switch altogether). Rigidity isn’t an issue, as the rearsets are constructed from billet aluminum. The knurled footpegs look to be extremely aggressive, but we noticed when riding that they aren’t as jagged as the footpegs from such companies as Attack Performance. We didn’t have an issue with our feet slipping on the street, and like the fact that our boots weren’t stuck to the pegs, but are curious as to whether or not we would have an issue on the track. That note aside, we were extremely happy with the $547 units and pleased with the fact that not only could you adjust the position of the footrests, but that you could pivot the tip of the brake lever and shift lever for the perfect feel.
CRG roll-a-click foldable...
CRG roll-a-click foldable levers replaced the stock Suzuki hand levers. The levers provide a sure feel and the black anodized units look better than stock. R&G bar end sliders are among the crash protection parts fitted.
CRG roll-a-click foldable levers took the place of the stock hand levers. The $129.95 replacement levers are constructed from CNC-machined 6061 aluminum and took just minutes to fit. The “clicker” feature allows us to adjust the lever position with ease and the black anodized finish adds some character to the bike. Plus, their folding feature reduce the likelihood of breaking a lever when the bike is dropped.
From Twisted Throttle arrived a handful of R&G Racing goodies. We have used the company’s parts in the past (on our Harley-Davidson XR1200 race bike), but had a few concerns with, for instance, the right side crankcase cover for the GSX-R. The large 4mm polypropylene cover didn’t line up as we had hoped it would, and the cutout for the oil filler cap wasn’t perfectly aligned. The $101 left-side engine cover mounted a bit easier, although the R&G decal quickly began to peel away thanks to the heat emanating off the case. Sometimes it’s small things like this that make a difference. We think a better option in the future will be to install the company’s $59 engine case sliders. The sliders wouldn’t hinder the bike’s good looks, and would still be beneficial in the event of a fall.
The R&G tail tidy was easy...
The R&G tail tidy was easy to install and cleaned up the Suzuki’s tail section. The nice thing about the GSX-R is that the turn signals are already integrated into the tail section, which adds to the bike’s sleek looks.
R&G bar-end sliders ($43) and front axle sliders ($51) were also installed and provide additional crash protection. Both were fitted in just seconds. The company’s $74 Tail Tidy was mounted out back and made a noticeable difference in overall looks. The Suzuki’s turn signals are integrated into the tail section (rather than attached to the license plate bracket) and as such, wiring up the Tail Tidy merely required we remove a handful of bolts and hook up the provided LED license plate light, which installed with ease.
The GSX-R1000 has never been a light motorcycle. Compare it to the lithe 432-pound Ducati 1198 or 440-pound 2011 ZX-10R and realize that the 458-pound 2011 model could benefit from a diet. While Jenny Craig was unable to return our calls, Super B, a lithium-ion battery manufacturer, was able to help us out. The company’s 5200-model battery tips the scales at just 1.8 pounds — nearly five pounds less than the 7.6-pound stock lead acid battery. Not only did the 4.49 x 3.2 x 2.4 inch battery cut a significant amount of weight, but it gave us additional room in the under-seat area to fit the FI Tuner Pro. The $400.99 battery isn’t the least expensive alternative, but with a claimed five-year service life, it should prove its worth.
Our GSX-R1000 is now a much leaner machine. Wet weight is down to 435 pounds and power is up a healthy amount. And while we would like to fit the bike with more sporty rubber, and perhaps some better brakes, there’s no arguing that the bike is quite capable as it sits. What many would refer to as an outdated motorcycle is now a rejuvenated machine; part canyon carver, part commuter. All fun.