Suzuki’s presence in the U.S. roadracing scene is nearly impossible to overplay. To accurately gauge the manufacturer’s influence on the sport, consider this: forty-five percent of the bikes entered in the 2011 AMA Superbike class were GSX-R1000s. There’s an equally strong following amongst street riders too, proving the GSX-R’s success isn’t limited to the confines of a racetrack. But with the previous generation GSX-R1000 beginning to show its age in literbike comparisons and on the showroom floor, Suzuki engineers knew it was time to finally update one of its most successful models; something they hadn’t done in roughly three years. Enter the 2012 GSX-R1000.
The question on everyone’s mind is of course, does the updated GSX-R come with traction control? The answer is no. ABS doesn’t come standard, nor is it an option. And the 2012 model’s styling is typical Suzuki, which leads most passers-by to believe the new bike is nothing more than a 2011 GSX-R wrapped in new graphics. A closer look at the bike proves otherwise.
It’s in the details
The twin-muffler exhaust adopted...
The twin-muffler exhaust adopted back in 2007 has finally been replaced by a singel-muffler exhaust. The unit is new from front to back, with a stainless steel header pipe and titanium muffler. The weight that was saved from the back of the bike has made the GSX-R feel much lighter in side-to-side-transitions.
The most obvious difference between the 2012 Suzuki and its predecessor is the single-muffler exhaust that replaces the dual-muffler design adopted back in 2007; it’s been a long time coming, but we’re glad to see the old, unwieldy exhaust go out the door. The reworked system is new from front to back, with a stainless steel header pipe matched to a shorter titanium muffler that exits the right side of the bike. Pipe length and thickness have been optimized, with the biggest benefit being increased midrange power, claims Suzuki. Weight-conscious engineers have also removed the large under-engine chamber that made the 2011 model’s exhaust so heavy. All told, the 2012 GSX-R1000 is 4.4 pounds lighter than its predecessor, and much of that weight savings is owed to the new exhaust system.
Suzuki engineers were able to remove some weight from the front of the bike as well, primarily by incorporating a new front axle nut design and swapping out the 2011 model’s brake rotors for thinner (5.0 versus 5.5mm) Sunstar Engineering discs. New gold Brembo monobloc calipers bite on those 310mm heat-resistant stainless steel discs and feature 32-32mm pistons rather than a set of 32-30mm examples.
The GSX-R1000’s well-developed frame/swingarm combination has been retained for 2012 and geometry stays (mostly) the same. Suzuki has compensated for the weight loss up front, however, by shortening the overall length of the fork by 7mm and the stroke by 5mm. Rake has been slightly affected, and goes from 23.8 degrees to 23.5 degrees, although Suzuki makes no mention of the resulting change in its press material. The updated Showa Big Piston Fork has been set-up differently too, with softer settings dialed in externally (via the clickers). And if you still can’t tell the difference between the ’11 and ’12 model, here’s a hint: the updated fork tubes are now black instead of gold.
The center of gravity has...
The center of gravity has been pushed forward for 2012, and the changes to the front end have resulted in a one-percent increase in front-end weight bias. The change is distinguishable on the track, where the Suzuki steers into corners without much effort.
The significantly oversquare engine that Suzuki introduced back in ’09 has been reworked, although not drastically. The biggest news comes in the form of 11-percent-lighter pistons, which feature narrower pin bosses and newly shaped skirts. The piston’s valve recesses have been smoothed for better combustion efficiency, and compression consequently jumps slightly from 12.8:1 to 12.9:1. A new exhaust cam profile provides less valve overlap and is claimed to provide an increase in midrange performance and a smoother on/off throttle transition. The list of small adaptations continues; valve tappets are lighter by 2.5 grams to match the changes made to the exhaust cam profile. And the pentagonal crankcase ventilation holes that first appeared on the Suzuki middleweight machines have made their way into the 1000’s design.
A reprogrammed ECU better matches the performance of the reworked engine, claims Suzuki. Don’t jump to the conclusion that peak power’s benefited though; the 2012 model is not one horsepower stronger than the 2011 GSX-R1000. To the engineers’ credit however, the changes have increased fuel economy and smoothed the bike’s torque and power curves, especially through the midrange. And peak power is now made at 11,500 rpm rather than 12,000 rpm.
New Bridgestone S20 tires are specifically designed for the GSX-R and utilize a drastically different tread pattern. The tires are said to be more advantageous because of their weight; the front tire alone is 200 grams lighter than the BT-016 tire it replaces.
Suzuki’s tweaked a few other bits, like the seat, which is wrapped in new high-grip material and the gauge cluster, which now features a programmable shift light and black speedometer face. Most of the features we’ve come to love about the Suzuki remain however, including the back-torque-limiting clutch and electronically controlled steering damper.
The gauge cluster is slightly...
The gauge cluster is slightly revamped with a black speedometer face and programmable shift light that is rarely used.
The 999cc engine is updated...
The 999cc engine is updated with 11-percent-lighter pistons, a new exhaust cam, pentagonal crankcase vents and lighter valve tappets. The changes haven’t added horsepower, although they’ve made the torque curve more linear.
Softer suspension settings...
Softer suspension settings compensate for the reduced weight up front. The changes were strictly made externally (via the clickers), not internally (via damping rates).