A project bike's genesis can often be traced to the most coincidental of events. This sleeper project, our '06 Suzuki GSX-R1000 test bike that is now a laughter-inducing, butt-clenching, 164-horsepower weapon, is no different. In this case, a simple phone call is all that was needed to kick things off. Almost as soon as our giant wheel test from three years ago ("Hoop It Up," Feb. '04) was posted on sportrider.com, we got a call from the nice people at OnCycles, asking about the test. Did we know that the Dymag wheels tested were old versions? Were we aware that the company had significantly updated how the carbon wheels were made? Would we be interested in trying the new wheels? Yes, yes and definitely yes. (As an aside, we welcome unsolicited submissions for any products made from carbon fiber or titanium. Chocolate, too, although those items won't be returned.) A few days later, a set of carbon-fiber wheels for our GSX-R1000 arrived.
No more than a week after that, we happened to be on the phone with Ivan Rovinsky of Ivan's Rockland County Motorcycle, inquiring about his timing retard eliminator for our ZX-14. Ivan's TRE is an electronic device that fools a bike's ECU into thinking it's always in a certain gear-the gear that gives it the most power. The results on our ZX-14 were quite impressive. "And by the way," he said just before hanging up, "I've got a package for the GSX-R1000 I think you'll like." The madness began.
From there, the project snowballed-as they usually do-into what you see here. When we called up Lockhart Phillips about an Akrapovic pipe, a necessary part of Ivan's "package," we couldn't stop ourselves from asking for a set of beautiful PP Tuning adjustable rearsets and an LP windscreen for the GSX-R. Later, at a Buttonwillow track day, we had a chance to try a bike set up with Hinson's new slipper clutch-and of course, we just had to have one for our project bike. Did you perhaps hear the maniacal laughter emanating from that part of California?
Ironically, it all came full circle when another nice person from OnCycles called. The company had some new Alth brake rotors; would we like to try a set? Why yes, as it happens we're working on this cool GSX-R project bike...
Building The BeastThe previous-version Dymag wheels we evaluated in our wheel test were the three-spoke carbon-mag hybrid hoops, with cast-magnesium hub/spoke units bolted and glued to carbon-fiber rims. Quality was definitely a step down from other carbon wheels we'd seen, and the front wheel had a worrisome amount of runout. True to OnCycles' word, the new all-carbon-fiber hoops (only the hubs are magnesium) are of significantly higher quality, with no runout and a clean finish to the carbon fiber itself. We'd expect that quality given the $3488 price tag. We were so excited to install the wheels that we completely forgot to weigh them beforehand, but certainly the savings is in the order of pounds rather than ounces.
The Italian-made Alth rotors ($355 each) are manufactured from stainless steel, and the company offers a variety of configurations and colors for various models. For the GSX-R1000, there are four styles (including wave) and four colors available. According to OnCycles, a proprietary heat-treating and hardening process for the specific alloy used is intended to give the rotors cast-iron performance with stainless-steel serviceability and consistency. Alth calls for new brake pads with the installation, and we slipped a pair of Vesrah's Super RJL 17 racing pads ($100) in each caliper. The pads are manufactured with a sintered material designed for a more linear feel than some of the company's other pads.
Adding a bit of bling and even more weight savings to the front end is Pro-Bolt titanium hardware (about $85 for the set of 10 rotor bolts and $90 for the set of four caliper bolts). The company offers a huge assortment of stainless steel, aluminum and titanium fasteners to replace practically every nut and bolt on the GSX-R. Titanium is 40 percent lighter than steel, and the swap on our project bike's front end saved a further quarter pound of unsprung weight.
Finally, it wouldn't do to use clapped-out stock tires with all these new parts, so we spooned a fresh Avon Viper Supersport bun onto each carbon-fiber rim. The Supersport is the track-day version of the standard Viper Sport, which we tested as part of last year's tire test ("Street Sense," Dec. '05). We were impressed with the Avons' performance at their introduction in Wales last year, but this would be our first chance to try them on our home turf.
The "package"Ivan's setup for the Suzuki consists of his TRE along with a specific exhaust system and a Dynojet Power Commander and ignition module. The pipe, Akrapovic's Evolution design, is a titanium 4-into-2-into-1 full system that utilizes hydroformed conical headpipes with crossover tubes, and all-titanium canister internals. Ivan's specifies the Evo 2 version, which has a shorter, slightly louder canister. The pipe mounted up easy enough-sadly, those days are numbered as more bikes switch to underseat exhausts.
We programmed the Power Commander with ignition and fuel maps provided by Ivan's and also took the opportunity to sample one of Dynojet's Quick Shifter accessory kits. A pressure switch is installed in the shift linkage, and this sends a signal to the ignition module to momentarily cut power to the engine, allowing full-throttle, clutchless upshifts. As always, the Dynojet equipment came with complete, detailed instructions, and the installation was straightforward. The Power Commander ($339.95), ignition module ($355.00) and quick shifter ($278.82) are piggyback units; you'll need the PC installed to use an ignition module, and both of those to use the quick shifter.
With the major engine and chassis upgrades complete, we turned our attention to details that would make the monster as easy to ride as possible. To that end, the Hinson slipper clutch is intended to provide more slip than the stock unit on corner entries, reducing wheel hop and skidding even further. Stomp Grip pads on the tank provide some added grip for your knees under acceleration. And a 16-tooth countershaft sprocket made finding the right gear for slower turns much easier.
Well? How Is It?Insane. Stupid. Gnarly. It's almost impossible to describe the GSX-R's transformation, but we'll give it a shot. The stock Suzuki does a fantastic job of providing ample power in any gear and at any throttle position, but the modified bike takes it a step further. Not only is outright power raised to a level beyond what any sane person could want from a street or track bike, but that power is delivered effortlessly, at any speed. As good as the stock fueling is, Ivan's map gives even better throttle response and a perfectly flat torque curve. The modded GSX-R idles away from a stop in second gear just as easily as it wheelies off a 100-mph corner.
Riding the giggle machine at the dragstrip is like being shot out of a cannon-you'd better make sure it's aimed right, because the front wheel won't be on the ground to help steer. The GSX-R wheelies and spins through second gear at the strip, and even struggles for traction in the higher gears. The Dynojet quick shifter pays off in spades here, especially on the first-second shift, when things are a little hectic. It all shakes out to a run of 9.61 sec. @ 151.4 mph, an improvement of 0.1 second and 2.71 mph over stock. Perhaps more indicative of the bike's power (and thanks to the smaller front sprocket) are the top-gear roll-on times: 2.13 seconds for 60-80 mph and 2.00 seconds for 80-100 mph versus the stock numbers of 2.46 and 2.57 seconds, respectively.
The wheel and brake mods have done an equally impressive job of transforming the Suzuki's handling characteristics. As expected, the light wheels make the 1000 easier to steer-almost to the point that it turns as quickly as a GSX-R750-and the bike feels even lighter than the weight savings would indicate. Overall, it now weighs 432 pounds, a 14-pound reduction from stock. One downside to the Dymag wheels is stability; the GSX-R is definitely flightier over rough pavement, and it seemed more susceptible to crosswinds at a blustery track day we attended. To help calm things down, we ditched the stock, nonadjustable steering damper and fitted a GPR rotary unit. Previous GPR dampers we've tried have been too stiff on even their lightest setting, but we're happy to report that this one is almost transparent when dialed down-making the GSX-R even more nimble around town and in parking lots-yet still can be easily adjusted to a stiffer setting for racetrack use.
When it comes time to scrub off what is invariably too much speed, the Alth rotors and Vesrah pads proved to be a great combination. Overall braking power is considerably stronger than stock, with better initial bite and progression, even though the pad design is intended to provide a more linear feel. The binders' consistency is heaps better than the stock setup as well, with the same power, feel and feedback whether you're riding out of the garage first thing in the morning or 15 laps into a track-day session. Are we gushing too much? We can't help it, as this bike is as addictive as a Vegas thrill ride-Suzuki will have to pry the key from our straitjacketed hands.
Oftentimes a project bike, with a mish-mash of parts from different supplies, can end up worse than stock. For a couple of people we let ride our modified bike, that was certainly the case, as they felt the bike was too powerful, too crisp. (Call the Waahmbulance!) Others, however, relished the extra steam, feeling the bike was both stronger and easier to ride. We're convinced the whole is more than the sum of the parts, with the more flickable chassis nicely complemented by the engine's additional power and throttle control. Wielded with care and restraint, this bike is loads of fun to ride.