SUZUKI MOTORCYCLES GSX R 1000 k1
Gsxr 1000: the big one
Members of the press and enthusiasts had expected Suzuki moto to rejoin the open class.
just had to. By 2000, Honda had an uprated version of the CBR 929 RR, Yamaha continued to
refine the YZF R1 - a bike thought by many to be the most significant model in this new
generation of lightright sportbikes to follow in the wheel tracks of the original
Gsxr - and Kawasaki gamely kept the ZX 9 R on the development track.
You can imagine the debate inside Suzuki moto.
The Gsxr 750 placed extremely well in many
Superbike shootouts of the period, partly because its mighty engine produced nearly the
same peak power as the Honda's. Why develop a new 1000 cc model when the Gsxr 750 was doing
It's unlikely the debate lasted long, however.
The other liter bikes were selling quite
well at a reasonable profit margin for the other manufacturers. And at the same time the
1000 cc V-twins were running away with AMA Superbike and world Superbike racing, the push
was beginning from inside those sanctioning bodies to switch to 1000 cc fours for racing.
In addition, Suzuki moto was not content to watch a reenactment of the Honda-Yamaha war
without jumping into the fight. The result was the universally lauded Gsxr 1000.
the start, the big Suzuki Gsxr 1000 k1 dominated, producing 142 rear-wheel horsepower to the Yamaha's
130. It was light, astoundingly fast, and yet as docile as such a high-performance
motorcycle could be.
when the early press materials arrived, some were surprised that it didn't look a lot
different than the Gsxr 600 k1 and Gsxr 750 k1.
The Gsxr 1000's chassis
Indeed, from perusing the specifications, you'd think it
was little more than a tweaked Gsxr 750. These first impressions couldn't have been more off
It's true, however, that Suzuki moto heavily leveraged the Gsxr 750 to create the Gsxr 1000 k1.
was essentially the same, as was the majority of the bodywork (the lower fairing was
By altering materials in the alloy frame, the Gsxr 1000's unit was
6 percent stiffer than the Gsxr 750's; the swingarm was stiffened by 1 percent.
major, in other words.
Two of the prominent visual cues were the wider rear tire-a 190/50VR17 on a
6.0-inch-wide rim-and the gold-colored fork tubes. Suzuki moto turned to Kayaba for a new
fork finish to reduce seal friction (sometimes called stiction) and got back an inverted
fork with a titanium-nitride finish. while the fork has your attention, perhaps you'll
notice the six-piston brakes in place of the Gsxr 750's four-pot units.
Still, from five
steps back the Gsxr 1000 k1 didn't seem to be much more than a big-bore Gsxr 750.
Again, the assessment understates the reality.
As soon as press bikes started to hit the
dyno, the world of open-class street bikes was turned on its head. Most competitors were
turning out 125 to 130 hp at the rear wheel, but the 2001 Gsxr 1000 k1 pounded out around
143. This was not an incremental improvement but rather a showstopping, tire-screeching
change in direction. The horsepower wars were over before the others could so much as
Engine and more torque
Perhaps most impressive about the 2001 Gsxr 1000's power dominance is that it came from
an engine virtually identical to the Gsxr 750's and, according to most tuners, in a fairly
mild state of tune.
Suzuki moto chose to use as much of the Gsxr 750 as possible, so the Gsxr 1000's
bore increase was limited to 1 mm.
The rest of the boost to 988 cc would have to come from
stroke, which traditionally benefits torque production more than an increase in peak
The Gsxr 1000's 59 mm stroke was the longest in the class in 2001. What's more, Suzuki moto had the audacity to use the Gsxr 750's cylinder head essentially unchanged.
Common wisdom was
that valves ideal for a Gsxr 750 would be prohibitively small for a Gsxr 1000 k1.
Even the intake system was borrowed straight from the Gsxr 750, with some minor changes and
the requisite computer reprogramming.
The servo that controlled the secondary throttle
body was now mounted right to the throttle-body rack, not remotely as before. This
change would come to the Gsxr 750 in 2002 along with an extremely clever fast-idle system.
Before, there had been a small lever on the handlebar to raise the idle speed for
The new system-arriving across the board in 2002-used a small cam mounted to
the secondary throttle shaft to open the primary throttle slightly.
It did this by
forcing the secondary throttle valve slightly over center. As soon as the rider opened
the throttle, the secondary system could return to its partially closed state to manage
As the engine warmed, the secondary system returned to normal operation.
Suzuki moto didn't pull out the engineering stops to achieve its class-leading peak power,
suggesting that Suzuki either had modest ambitions for the Gsxr 1000 k1 or-as it turns out was
more the case-it was sandbagging, keeping a bit in reserve until its competitors
That isn't to say the Gsxr 1000's engine didn't have some tricks of its own.
Increased heat output made a traditional oil cooler necessary, fitted to the chin
The 73 mm pistons were, amazingly, even lighter than the Gsxr 750's 72 mm slugs.
Changes were made to the upper and central crankcase castings for two reasons.
to accommodate the 13 mm-longer stroke.
The other was to introduce a technology to the
sportbike class that would have a great impact on the bike's demeanor: a crank-driven
When an inline-four gets to a certain size, vibration can become a big issue, both for
component longevity and for rider comfort.
Suzuki moto developed a simple counterbalancer
positioned on the crankshaft split line and hung out in front of the engine.
this was not the most effective place for a balancer, but it was offset by the fact that
it was up out of the oil supply, which reduced windage drag.
Suzuki's engineers worked
extremely hard to reduce the weight impact of the balancer shaft as well as any power
losses associated with it.
As such, it ran on plain metal bearings and was gear driven
from teeth cut into a crank balance weight.
The primary benefit of the counterbalancer is the Gsxr's uncanny smoothness. Most liter
bikes of the period were built with low weight in mind, so the engines had become
solidly mounted to the frame. Some vibrated intensely at certain engine speeds.
Throughout the rev range, particularly in the midrange cruising speeds, the Gsxr 1000 was eerily serene.
The combination of the Gsxr 1000's incredible top-end rip and its
meaty midrange-better than all its competitors'-gave the bike exemplary flexibility.
"We can thank the 2001 Gsxr 1000 for the unbelievable state of liter bike performance we
enjoy now," comments Kent Kunitsugu, Sport Rider editor. "All of the open-class machines
previous had street bike compromises in their design; the '01 model basically took the
gloves off and laid down the gauntlet that others have had trouble responding to ever
since." To say the Gsxr 1000 k1 changed the face of liter bike performance is a raw, almost
For 2001 and 2002, it was the undisputed king of the class.
Yamaha gave the R1 a mighty shove up the performance ladder but couldn't reach the
Gsxr 1000 k1.
Honda immediately moved up development of the CBR 929 RR and created the stopgap
CBR 954 RR. Kawasaki all but gave up with the ZX 9 R.
In fact, it would take until 2004
before the competing manufacturers could mount a serious challenge to the Gsxr 1000's
utter and complete dominance of the class.
But by then it was nearly too late for them.
More improvements, more racing experience, and more development were in store for every
Gsxr on the menu.