Suzuki is addressing an aging demographic by making the amazing GSX-R into a more palatable sport touring bike.
The new motorcycle shares much of its componentry with the iconic GSX-R sport bike, but in a more comfortable layout.
The bike will be in showrooms in late May or early June for $13,149 before destination charges.
Some people, now I ain’t saying you, but it seems some people have gotten older lately. Those people, many of them motorcyclists, are no longer quite as willing to reach way forward and grab those clip-on hand grips and slide their magnificent kiesters off the side of the seat and drag their elbows on every turn. This ain’t you, of course, you’re still young and vibrant and don’t need help getting out of bed in the morning. But others, well…
Recent data suggests there are 46 million adults in the US over 65 and by 2050 that number is expected to increase to almost 90 million. Something like 8% of US households has at least one motorcycle. (Your house probably has 10.) That’s 3.5 million households with someone over 65 and a motorcycle.
There are even more members of the population who are creeping up on their 50s. It’s getting crazy!
So if you were making motorcycles, you would probably take note of this trend and adjust a few things in the product line. Suzuki did just that when it took the sportbike icon GSX-R and tweaked a few parameters to make it into the GSX-S1000GT.
This is a perfectly natural progression and one we should all embrace rather than fight. As the population inevitably ages, the market addresses its changing needs with everything from walk-in tubs to superbikes. Yes, superbikes. Or at least sport bikes. Our bodies may be aging, but our brains are still 19 years old, man, and looking forward to divebombing every apex! It’s just that craning your neck up to see the road from the MotoGP seating position gets a little more achy every time and, frankly, some of us are ready for the transition to a more upright, comfortable posture.
Does this mean we have given up? No! And neither has Suzuki.
“Suzuki wanted to create a grand touring motorcycle the Suzuki way,” said Suzuki training manager Avery Innis of the new GSX-S1000GT.
Or, as it says in the brochure:
“The all-new 2022 GSX-S1000GT+ intelligently combines the championship performance of its GSX-R1000-based engine with a nimble, lightweight chassis to provide riders with an exciting and comfortable GT riding experience. Here is a Grand Tourer with sportbike level functionality, avant garde styling, truly functional integrated side cases, plus an extensive selection of optional equipment features.”
Suzuki says the GSX-S1000GT and GT+ are more than an evolution of the GSX-S1000F. Power comes from a version of the Gixxer’s 999-cc transverse-mounted inline fuel-injected four to make 150 hp at 11,000 rpm and 78 lb-ft of torque at 9250 rpm. That’s mated to a six-speed manual with Suzuki’s take on the assist- and slipper-clutch.
It sits in a twin-spar aluminum frame with a single swing arm rear. Ride height sits at an entirely reasonable 31.9 inches. It’s all wrapped in a downright sportbike-ish aerodynamic exterior that even includes a little windshield. The GT+ version comes with those two hard cases mounted on the back.
Missing on the spec sheet are: an Inertia Measuring Unit or IMU that can help you stay on the road and keep the front wheel from lifting; a top case for even more storage; one of those really comfortable back seats for your passenger; and a really formidable windshield (even the optional, taller windshield just creates buffeting). But no bike’s perfect.
But this one’s close. Oh man. Our small group of riders managed about 600 miles in less than 48 hours, much of it in pouring rain but much of it also on some of the best twisting mountain roads in the state. So was this a sport bike or a grand tourer? I would say it was like a very comfortable sport bike with an upright riding posture. Actually, on the twistiest parts I kind of wanted a GSX-R, but on the hundreds of miles of flat, straight routing that always comes between the really good parts, I was glad to be on a GSX-S1000GT+.
Our route included State Hwy. 33 out of Ojai and Hwy. 58 west of McKittrick, two of the best roads in the state. I was lucky enough to be following some very fast riders and, once I got the apex-bombing sorted out, was leaning into and powering out of corners all day. I was not going through curves fast enough that an IMU would have had much to do, but I was still glad for the ABS and traction control, especially in the rain.
You might think a sportbike-like engine would have no torque down low and would only get its power way up at the top of the tach. You’d be wrong on both counts. “The longer stroke gives torque-rich performance,” Innis had said, and he wasn’t kidding.
Like the much larger-displacement Suzuki Hayabusa I rode a few months ago, you do find yourself shifting all the way up through six gears fairly soon, but then you just get used to letting the engine rev way up into its range and you’ll find all the power and torque you’re ever likely to want.
Right out of the Suzuki parking lot the lighter clutch feel and easy engagement were surprising—and welcome. It’s remarkably easy to ride. Stop-and-go traffic launches are aided by an automatic boost of throttle at startup to keep absentminded riders from stalling. Once underway you can use the bi-directional quickshift feature all day long. It’s especially handy on tight, technical turns up in the hills.
And the power—ooo lawdy—I once looked down and saw 122 mph when I thought I was just cruising along at posted limits (on a closed course with adult supervision for legal purposes). So watch your speed. The engine is a dream. Not quite as close to perfect as the heavier, more powerful 1340-cc Hayabusa, but in the same league.
“The GSX-R is the small-block Chevy of Suzuki,” said communications manager Richard Kimes. “The engine powers the GSX-R 1000R, S1000, Katana, and now the GSX-S1000GT and GT+.”
Other moto-makers are approaching this market, too, which is good news for you. Yamaha has the 890-cc Tracer 9 GT, also with two hard cases, for $14,999 before destination; Kawasaki makes the 1043-cc Ninja 1000SX for $12,899; BMW makes the R 1250 RS for $15,695. Missing is the Honda NT1100, a sport touring version of the popular Africa Twin Adventure Bike which Honda sells in Europe but not here, for some reason.
The Suzuki GSX-S1000GT starts at $13,149 without the hard cases or $13,799 with. All those prices are before destination, which is somewhere around a grand. Which one am I recommending? For a most practical sportbike sport tourer that you could live with every day and love life, I’d say the Suzuki. But for me and my aging carcass I’d say spend the extra money for the BMW. For screaming good times at the top of the tach get the Kawasaki, even though it’s been around a while. And somebody start a letter-writing campaign to get Honda to bring in the NT1100, will ya? And please hurry. I’m getting old and don’t have much time left.