New GSX-R1000 aims at superbike dominance with variable-valve timing
Suzuki unveiled at Intermot its latest sportbike bearing the iconic GSX-R logo. The new GSX-R1000 brings variable valve timing to the game, in a brand-new package that incorporates all the essential features of the highly competitive superbike class, escorted by an even higher-spec R version.
The GSX-R family was first introduced in 1984, with the 750 that is today considered a timeless classic. In a world of road bikes converted to racers, the GSX-R was effectively the first racing superbike that could be ridden in the streets, proceeding to win countless titles around the world and setting the stage for a series of legendary motorcycles – both from Suzuki and its competitors.
After several successful years in the market in 750 and 1100 cc versions, Suzuki responded to Honda's Fireblade and Yamaha's R1 with a new GSX-R1000 in 2001. A new cycle was initiated, leading to the 2005 K5 that is regarded as one of the best GSX-R models of all times, with its torquey monster of an engine still in use today in the GSX-S1000 street fighter.
The brand new sixth-generation GSX-R1000 that Suzuki announced last year and unveiled at Intermot runs on a completely new 999.8 cc in-line four-cylinder engine that produces 202 hp (150.6 kW) of power and 117.6 Nm (86.7 lb-ft) of torque. It is smaller in size, its cylinders have even more oversquare dimensions (76.0 x 55.1 mm, compared to 74.5 x 57.3 mm of the 2015 model) and work at a higher 13.2:1 compression ratio, raising the redline ceiling to 14,500 rpm – a thousand higher than the current version.
The new powerplant stands out from its competition thanks to a variable valve timing (VVT) system that Suzuki developed for its new MotoGP racer, the GSX-RR. It is an ingenious design, specifically targeted at achieving high-rpm performance without emptying the lower end.
It consists of twelve metal balls sitting in slanted grooves curved into the inner side of the intake camshaft sprocket. As the gear rotates, the balls move outwards centrifugally along the grooves, forcing a straight-grooved side plate next to the cam to align by rotating slightly. This alters the angular position of the sprocket on the intake cam and instigates a delay in its timing. By calculating precisely the mass of the balls and the geometry of the grooves, Suzuki claims to have a come up with a solution that allows for more power in high rotation rates, without any loss in low and mid-range.
The best thing about the Suzuki Racing VVT system is that it is very simple, integrated into existing parts and taking up no extra space in the cylinder head. Nor does it suck up significant power. It also seemingly requires minimal maintenance and adds very little extra weight to the engine.
The valve actuation system is also new, replacing the bucket tappets with a finger follower setup that has also been developed on Suzuki's MotoGP machine. The main gain from this is in weight, with considerably lighter moving parts offering better high-rpm accuracy thanks to their lower inertia.
The motor is suspended from a new twin-spar aluminium frame, which is visually smaller, 10 percent lighter and claimed by Suzuki to be stiffer than its predecessor.
Suspension is once again provided by Showa, with the race-proven Big Piston Fork that was successfully used in the previous GSX-R – and most of its Japanese competitors as well.
Along with the standard GSX-R1000 though, Suzuki introduced an R version, which distinguishes itself with Showa's latest suspension system, the Balance Free Fork and Balance Free Rear Cushion. These debuted a few months ago on the 2016 Kawasaki ZX-10R, and are now finding their way to the new 2017 GSX-R1000R as well.
As expected, the new GSX-R is laden with electronics. Starting with the essential ride-by-wire throttle, a new six-axis Continental inertial measurement unit (IMU) orchestrates a series of support systems that include drive-mode selector with three maps to choose from; 10-level motion-track traction control; and Suzuki's new cornering ABS system that they've dubbed the "motion track brake system." The standard equipment also includes an electronic steering stabilizer and an easy start system.
On top of these, the GSX-R1000R model adds to the tally a bi-directional (upshift and downshift) quick shifter and a launch-control system, along with a lightweight upper triple clamp, LED position lights (curiously not available in North America) and a lightweight battery.
The new GSX-R1000 weighs in at 200 kg (441 lb) for the non-ABS version, adding another 2 kg (5 lb) for the braking safety system. As for the GSX-R1000R, this will only be available with ABS and tips the scales at 203 kg (447 lb).
Prices and availability have not been communicated yet, but the arrival of Suzuki's new superbike - presented below in Suzuki's official promo video - is eagerly expected to join the latest generation of exciting liter-class sportbikes that have rolled out in 2015 and 2016 - including the all-new Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP.