I was barely in the door after a long day when my phone began playing a symphony of text message alerts from a pilot friend who also happens to ride. “What are you doing? I saw some F18’s. We need to go look! Get the bike out and let’s go.” I am game for just about anything so I swapped out my dress for leathers and my heels for boots, pulled the all new 2016 Suzuki GSX-S 1000F out of the garage and by the time I reached for my helmet, my riding partner was at the end of the driveway fired up to find some cool fighter jets.
Onto the bike, down with visor, grab hold of the grips on the Renthal FatBar and with a twist of the wrist, we were off for some plane spotting.
This roadster is new to the Suzuki line up boasting a newly designed chassis and can be purchased fully faired or naked. “You mean a Gixxer” is the usual response when I identify the bike. The ‘Gixxer’(GSX-R) has been a fan favourite of the Suzuki supersport lineup since its introduction in approximately 1992. The first 1000cc model appeared in 2001. Now, with the introduction of the GSX-S 1000F, Suzuki has the competition in the cross hairs in the sport-touring category – except this one has a feisty personality.
What’s the difference between an R and an S? R is a race bike, designed for speed and agility. Race bikes are aggressive; offer a compact rider triangle (seat-pegs-bars) lending the rider to a crouch position. These bikes are designed and tuned for high speed performance on a track. S represents Standard or Sport, which offers a more generous rider triangle with an upright seated position for extended saddle time in comfort and in this case, without sacrificing great handling.
For 2016, it’s all about the ride and less about the adventure of where the 17 litre fuel tank can take you as overnight accessories, like side bags, are not yet available.
The GSX-S may be marketed as a sport touring bike but shares not only the GSX-R Swingarm, but also the 999cc, four stroke, liquid cooled engine of its GSX-R sibling, albeit in a slightly tuned down version. The low-end torque is prevalent from the first twist of the throttle and will get your heart pounding with excitement running up the six-speed transmission to merge with highway traffic.
You will run through the gears quick. The digital tach has markers at 5,000 and 10,000 RPM but I found based on sound and speed alone, I was changing gears right around the 6K marker. If your speed is lowered without paying attention to your gears, the bike is quick to remind you in performance that a downshift is necessary, especially at city speeds.
With instant power delivery, an inexperienced rider may be caught off-guard, but a more seasoned two-wheeled junkie will delight to experience front wheel lift between 3rd and 4th gear and beyond. Throttle response is evenly matched with compression to quickly correct a surprise.
Cue traction control. The advanced Suzuki Traction Control System puts the rider in charge of the throttle with four modes – low, mid and high sensitivity as well as off. Switching from 1 (low) and 2 (mid) noticeably tames the experience. With varying levels, a rider can build confidence as they get to know the bike before unleashing its full potential. I was grateful for this feature after getting caught in a torrential downpour that came with a loud light show a few days later.
In these situations, it is reassuring to know that you have ABS braking. Pair that front disc twin rotor Brembos, and single rotor disc brakes in the rear and you’re ready for anything mother nature tries to throw at you. The 24 lb. weight gain (472 lb. curb weight) over the GSX-R is hardly noticeable allowing the GSX-S to compete against the best in show in the agility course.
Just as the Dunlop radials were starting to stick, 120/70ZR17 in front and 80/50ZR17 in the rear, we found the F18s. They were nothing short of magnificent. Security clearance definitely has its perks as I rode up alongside these beasts and was fortunate enough to get a photo.