The Beauty Of A Gixxer Engine In A Naked Chassis

Suzuki’s race-tastic GSX-R family was a game changer when it hit the market 30-plus years ago, and its streetwise GSX-S range expanded that success. The factory expanded that footprint again in ’16 by bumping the 750 cc mill up to an (almost) even liter. This year, the family tree branched yet again with the new-for-2018, blackout GSX-S1000Z. Engine upgrades join other improvements for the 2018 model year as Suzuki pushes to keep its sport-standard-sector momentum going. I do consider this something of a risk as the market shifts to favor the youngest generation of riders with small-displacement engines and retro/hipster-style designs, but for the time being there seems to be enough support for the liter bikes. At least Suzuki hopes there is anyway.

Continue reading for my review of the Suzuki GSX-S1000.

  • 2018 Suzuki GSX-S1000
  • Year:
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
  • Displacement:
    999 cc
  • Price:
  • Price:


2018 Suzuki GSX-S1000
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The family covers a couple of different bases to cast a broad net over the market. First, we have the naked GSX-S1000, with and without ABS, the “Z” variant that brings a dark-and-sinister finish to the family, and the “F” model with more of a supersport-type panache. The F leads off with a sharper entry than the R, but it includes a vented windshield that is designed to reduce head buffeting while giving the rider a break from the wind on his/her trunk. That’s especially important on this family since unlike the Gixxer, the GSX-S has a more relaxed (read: upright) riding position by virtue of the handlebar rise that exposes more of the rider to the slipstream.

Of course, the naked base model and Z variant cuts all that away with only the headlight housing and vestigial flyscreen to punch a hole in the wind for a look that’s typical of the genre. The F also sports beefier mirror standoffs, but from there back the flylines of the three rides are identical as they play across the tapered tank that helps form a narrow waist ahead of the deep-scoop pilot seat.

The postage stamp-sized pillion area is about what one would expect on a sportbike, so you can disabuse yourself of the thought that you’ll be using it as a sport-tourer to share the joys of riding with a friend. A hangy-downy mudguard/taillights/plateholder assembly finishes off the rear for my least-favorite part of the bike, so this family is definitely a candidate for a tail-tidy.


2018 Suzuki GSX-S1000
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Curb weight falls between 456- and 472-pounds depending on which model you get and whether you opt for the ABS. The factory achieved this with liberal use of aluminum throughout the rolling chassis, beginning with the twin-spar frame and swingarm with aluminum rims to finish it off. The ride floats on a set of KYB stems that the factory thoughtfully gifted with adjustments for preload as well as compression and rebound damping with preload and rebound-damping tweaks on the rear monoshock for pretty thorough control over the quality of the ride. The usd forks add a bit of beefiness to the front ends across the board, and while the base- and F-models sport a gold-ish finish on the 43 mm stanchions, the Z favors the blackout finish. A pair of 310 mm front discs work with the four-pot, opposed-piston Brembo anchors with a single-bore binder and 240 mm disc in back. The base model is available with or without ABS, but it looks like the Z and F are ABS-only units. While ABS is a fairly ubiquitous technology nowadays, it’s important to realize that this isn’t a fancy cornering ABS a la BMW, but a simple, non-switchable kind, so be careful how much you rely on it.

The factory added stiffer brake lines this year for less pressure loss due to hose expansion, more power and better feedback. Blackout, 17-inch aluminum rims with a six-spoke layout mount the Dunlop hoops on the base and F while the Z sports some red accents to match the red graphics on the fairings; subtle, but still cool.


2018 Suzuki GSX-S1000
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Suzuki took its proven, four-banger Gixxer mill and tuned it for a slightly more street-friendly power delivery for the GSX-S range. This year sees the addition of vent holes between the SCEM-plated bores to reduce energy losses due to the pumping action. Not only should this allow the mill to develop more power, but it should spool up that power more rapidly than before though the factory is typically tight-lipped on exactly what kind of gains it achieved and the third-party dyno numbers have yet to start rolling in. Suzuki’s cast-aluminum, 59 mm FEM pistons ride in 73.4 mm bores for a total displacement of 999 cc and a sizzlin’ compression ratio of 12.2-to-1.

Electronic fuel injection works with the Suzuki Dual Throttle Valve system within the throttle body that helps the engine strike a balance between the demands of the rider and the capabilities of the engine for smooth transitions regardless of right-hand technique. The system also comes with a traction-control feature that sports three rider modes to meet a variety of conditions and skillsets (four if you include OFF) so you can dial in power delivery along with ride quality for a highly personalized riding experience.

A six-speed transmixxer crunches the ratios with vertically-staggered shafts for a compact overall package with a new SCAS slipper clutch that eases the effort at the left-hand lever and provides an anti-hop function for another layer of contact-patch protection on top of ABS and traction control. All good stuff for safety and comfort on your commute.


2018 Suzuki GSX-S1000
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The base GSX-S1000 non-ABS variant rolls for $9,999 while the ABS model bumps that on up to $10,799. In the middle we have the blackout Z model with ABS for $10,999 and the fully-faired F model at the top of the food chain with a $11,299 sticker.


2017 - 2018 Ducati SuperSport / SuperSport S
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2018 Suzuki GSX-S1000
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For my head-to-head, I wanted to use the top-tier Suzuki within this range but I didn’t want to go to one of the other Big Four for a rather samey-same ride. Instead, I looked to Europe’s Boot and Ducati’s streetwise SuperSport.

In the looks department, I gotta say that it’s hard to beat the Italians for sexy curves, but Suzuki did fairly well with the GSX-S1000 F. Both use a blend of curves and angles to create the look, but in my humble opinion, the SS headlight arrangement is the coolest thing since French-cut bikinis hit the scene.

Duc plops an adjustable windshield on top for some wind protection for the rider, but like the F model, it’s most effective when the rider tucks in. Similar flylines play over the large fuel tanks and saddles, but the SS seems to be a bit more two-up friendly with a wider p-pad perched on the tail. Unfortunately, both rides could benefit from a tail-tidy to clean up the hideous assembly hangin’ off the ass end. To each his/her own, but I’ll go for the Duc every day.

Suspension and brakes are fairly similar across the board with large dual discs and four-pot anchors up front and ABS all around. Duc gains an edge here with the Bosch 9 MP ABS feature that comes with variable levels of intervention rather than the one-size-fits-all system favored by Suzuki for another layer of customization.

I could beat the Hell out of the engine details here, but at the end of the day we have no power figures to compare (yet), and since that’s the real bottom line here, you’ll forgive me if I spare the minutiae and wait for the figures. Pricing is relatively close with Suzuki sliding in a win at the checkout with a $11,299 sticker, just a bit under the $12,995 Ducati.

He Said

“Nice looking bunch of bikes though I still like the SuperSport looks better. Just sayin’. I imagine there is enough support to prop up these liter bikes for a while, but it will be interesting to see how the market shift affects this range. As interest in the full street-racers (GSX-R) wane a bit and more casual — but still sport-tastic — sport-standards gain in popularity, demand should continue to rise on the GSX-S type bikes. The only question is where the balance point will wind up being.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, "In its basic parts. the GSX-S1000 is a Gixxer engine in a naked bike chassis. It’s a relatively long-stroke engine so there’s plenty of giddy-up. For taller riders, the foot placement might feel a bit cramped, but overall, I feel like it is a good riding position. Throttle response is better than it has been in the past, so if you rode a GSX-S even just a couple years ago and didn’t like it, try it again with a fresh perspective."


Engine: 999cc, 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, 4-cylinder, DOHC
Bore x Stroke: 73.4 x 59.0 mm (2.890 x 2.323 in.)
Compression Ratio: 12.2 : 1
Fuel System: Suzuki Fuel Injection with SDTV
Starter: Electric
Lubrication: Wet sump
Drive Train:
Transmission: 6-speed constant mesh
Clutch: Wet, multi-plate type
Final Drive: Chain, RK525GSH, 116 links
Suspension Front: Inverted telescopic, coil spring, oil damped
Suspension Rear: Link type, single shock, coil spring, oil damped
Brakes Front: Brembo 4-piston, Disc, twin
Brakes Rear: Nissin, 1-piston, Disc single
Tires Front: 120/70ZR17M/C (58W), tubeless
Tires Rear: 190/50ZR17M/C (73W), tubeless
Fuel Tank Capacity: 17.0 L (4.5 US gallons)
Ignition: Electronic ignition (Transistorized)
Spark Plugs: NGK CR9EIA-9 or DENSO IU27D
Headlight: 12 V 60/55 W (H4)
Tail Light: LED
Overall Length: 2115 mm (83.3 in)
Overall Width: 795 mm (31.3 in)
Wheelbase: 1460 mm (57.5 in)
Ground Clearance: 140 mm (5.5 in)
Seat Height: 810 mm (31.9 in)
Curb Weight:
GSX-S1000: 209 kg (461 lb) / CA Model: 210 kg (463 lb)
GSX-S1000F: 214 kg (472 lb) / CA Model: 215 kg (474 lb)
GSX-S1000Z: 209 kg (461 lbs.) / CA Model 210 kg (463 lbs.)
Warranty: 12-month, unlimited mileage, limited warranty
GSX-S1000: Metallic Triton Blue/Glass Sparkle Black, Glass Sparkle Black/Candy Darling Red
GSX-S1000F: Pearl Glacier White
GSX-S1000Z: Metallic Mat Black No. 2
GSX-S1000: $10,799 (non-ABS: $9,999)
GSX-S1000F: $11,299
GSX-S1000Z: $10,999


2017 - 2018 Ducati SuperSport / SuperSport S
- image 691620

See our full review of the Ducati SuperSport

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