At a glance, the 2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000 looks identical to its predecessor. There’s no sign of wheel speed sensors, ABS rings or other hardware suggesting the addition of electronic rider aids. Well, that's because there aren't any electronic rider aids. Styling is typical Suzuki too, with the time-honored GSX-R logo blazoned on a traditional blue/white or black side panel. But if you can’t see any disparity, you’re simply not looking in the right places.
Pin striping on the wheels...
Pin striping on the wheels and slightly new graphics are among the only changes to the 2012 model in terms of styling.
A quick look out back reveals a new single-muffler exhaust. This isn’t merely a revised exhaust either; the 2012’s muffler and header pipe are all-new. The shorter muffler is titanium for weight savings, whereas the header pipe is stainless steel. The under-engine chamber’s been ditched, plus pipe length has been optimized to provide more low-end grunt and midrange power. The results speak for themselves; the GSX-R1000 has lost over four pounds in its latest redesign and has a much more linear torque curve.
Turn your attention to the front of the bike and you’ll notice the fork is slightly different. It’s shortened (7mm) for 2012, plus runs softer settings. It’s different visually too, with black tubes replacing the 2011 model’s gold tubes.
The Showa Big Piston Fork...
The Showa Big Piston Fork is 7mm shorter overall. Up front, you'll also find new Brembo monobloc calipers and a new front axle design that's 38.9 grams lighter.
The more noticeable change up front is the new Brembo monobloc calipers which replace the Tokico calipers of yesteryear. Cue the Austin Powers character, Goldmember, screaming “I love gold!” The red lettering on the calipers blends well with the new pin striping on the wheels, which are otherwise status quo for 2012.
New Bridgestone S20 tires come standard. The biggest advantage, claims Suzuki, is weight; the front tire alone is 200 grams lighter than the BT-016 it replaces. The S20 also features a newly developed tread, with wider grooves designed to increase grip in the wet and side grooves for improved feel at increased lean angles.
There are more changes for 2012, but they’re not as easy to spot. The engine features new pentagonal-shaped crankcase ventilation holes, 11-percent-lighter pistons, new valve tappets and a redesigned exhaust cam profile that reduces valve overlap. The ECU has also been reworked. According to Suzuki engineers, the primary goal for 2012 was to boost the low-to-mid rpm range. But there are other benefits to the changes, including improved fuel economy and throttle response.
The engine is slightly reworked,...
The engine is slightly reworked, with new pentagonal-shaped crankcase ventilation holes, 11-percent-lighter pistons, new valve tappets and a redesigned exhaust cam profile
The single-muffler exhaust...
The single-muffler exhaust has cut weight significantly and moves the center of gravity forward
Suzuki's adjustable footrests...
Suzuki's adjustable footrests come standard once again. We fiddled with their position throughout the day and found them to provide plenty of adjustment
OWN THE RACETRACK
Suzuki chose to launch the updated GSX-R1000 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. The 2.21-mile road course is typical of a track designed within a NASCAR oval, with two extremely fast corners that bring you off the banking and into the infield. There is a mixture of tight and fast corners in the infield, which would give us the chance to test the new Brembo brakes and Suzuki’s claim of increased midrange power.
The new Brembo brakes are...
The new Brembo brakes are admittedly high effort, but reward the rider with tons of stopping power. Even more, there's no concerns with brake fade.
The changes for 2012 seem rather small, but the new GSX-R1000 works quite different on the track. The more rigid monobloc calipers take a few laps to get used to, but prove to be better than the Tokico brakes in every way. There’s plenty of power, even though the brakes are somewhat high effort. Feel at the lever stays extremely consistent on the track too, with zero brake fade to knock the confidence out of you. For instance, we even ran a 25-lap stint during the press launch without the lever moving a hair closer to the bar.
We’re hard pressed to find a reason why Suzuki wouldn’t be selling a handsome amount of bikes this year... "
There are additional benefits to the new brake setup on the 2012 model, and that’s reduced weight. The front calipers and rotors are 130 grams lighter than the 2011 setup, and are paired with a 38.9-grams-lighter front axle design that cuts weight even further. Thanks to its reduced weight (front and rear) and more forward center of gravity, the 2012 Gixxer steers noticeably quicker in transitions, with less effort required to get the bike from right to left and vice versa. Turn-in is exceptional as well thanks to the bike’s extremely short wheelbase (55.3 inches), and the Suzuki remains stable mid-corner.
Credit for the bike’s new-found agility must also go to the Bridgestone 190/55 R10 race rubber that was spooned onto each GSX-R test bike prior to the event. The S20 rear tire that comes standard will be a shorter 190/50.
Out of tighter corners, it's...
Out of tighter corners, it's easy to feel the 2012 model's increased midrange power.
The gearing on the 2012 model feels a bit tall, and we rarely got the bike out of third gear on either of the road course’s straights. The added midrange power is discernible though, and allows you to use second gear rather than first in tighter corners. The GSX-R doesn’t have that absurd hit like the Kawasaki ZX-10R or BMW S 1000 RR, but there’s an admirable amount of power up higher in the rev range. And its new, more linear torque curve makes the bike easy to manage on a tight course, something you can’t always say about the 180-plus-horsepower bikes.
With all the attention placed on the revised components, it’s easy to overlook some of the parts that were simply carried over. The back-torque-limiting clutch still deserves some love for instance, since it kept the rear wheel of the 2012 model from chattering on the brakes lap after lap. And the adjustable footrests proved advantageous once again, providing enough adjustment to make taller riders comfortable.
NO BETTER TIME
There are many other updates and revisions for 2012 that will help put the new GSX-R1000 on a level playing field with the competition, and we’ll cover those in the May 2012 issue of Sport Rider Magazine.
The 2012 GSX-R1000 will be...
The 2012 GSX-R1000 will be available in Blue/White or Black/Red colors, with retail set at $13,799.
If you simply can’t wait to get your hands on a new Suzuki however, now is a better time than ever to visit your local dealer. Bikes are already making their way to showroom floors, and Suzuki’s introduced a sales event that’s almost too good to be true: the Suzuki Countdown Sales Event. With this program, customers can purchase a 2012 GSX-R1000 (retail is set at $13,799) with zero-percent APR for five years. Even more, 2011 or prior models will come with an extra $1000 incentive.
At the end of the day, we’re hard pressed to find a reason why Suzuki wouldn’t be selling a handsome amount of bikes this year, whether it be the 2011 model or the similar-in-appearance, but dramatically different, 2012 model.