In case you missed the official announcement, Suzuki has released an all-new GSX-R1000, and on paper it looks like a contender.
In images though, it looks like a rolling piece of art. Or perhaps it’s a functional display of all the latest technological advances in rider-aid technology seamlessly integrated into what the kids from Hamamatsu hope will be the ultimate superbike? Either way this is a huge step for Suzuki, so we thought you might enjoy a more detailed look at some of the key elements of the 2017 Gixxer 1K.
The mantra used to inspire Suzuki engineers through the process of conceptualizing, engineering, and developing the GSX-R is “Run-Turn-Stop.” (Ah! This explains why racing legend Kevin Schwantz stated somewhat wearily at the bike’s Intermot launch: “It goes. It stops. It turns. You know, things a Suzuki does.” –Ed) Fortunately, it appears that they covered all three of these key elements thoroughly so we’ve chosen to disseminate the detailed info based on this trio of tenets.
Tenet One - Run: At the core of the GSX-R1000 is a more powerful, higher revving engine that includes some innovative rider assist technology developed for racing and now offered to the public.
Changing the valve train completely was the foundation of the new engine. The previously used bucket tappet valve actuation is replaced by F1-style finger followers (basically rocker arms without push-rods) and new, thin-wall, hollow camshafts. This was the first step in reaching the high-revving design goals.
Switching to the finger followers saves six grams per unit and they are attached to a fixed shaft, so moving mass is only three grams each. According to the tech sheet these lighter internal components help the 999.8cc engine spin up quicker and rev higher, as do the various internal changes that aren’t quite as interesting (more over-square 76mm bore and shorter 55.1mm stroke along with higher 13.2:1 compression).
You can see in the image how the new valve train works: The cam rolls on the top of the finger follower while the bottom actuates the valves. At the same time, the entire follower rocks on the fixed rod running parallel to the cams. The exhaust valves are a bit smaller at 24 mm, as opposed to the previous 25 mm, while intakes are larger – 31.5 mm as opposed to 30 mm (both are now Titanium). In theory, having fewer, lightweight moving parts, again, allows the engine to rev to 14,500 rpm – 1000 rpm higher than the previous model. But how did engineers avoid sacrificing mid-range and low-end power in the process? Pay close attention, because Suzuki has created an interesting twist on the Variable Valve Timing concept.
Suzuki calls this next series of components the Broad Power System which includes the Suzuki Racing Variable Valve Timing (SR-VVT), Exhaust Tuning-Alpha (SET-A) and Top Feed Injectors (S-TFI). These three systems are tasked with making the new GSXR1K power delivery as great as possible. The SR-VVT (That’s a pair of Vs not a W) is the variable cam timing arrangement that Suzuki came up with when developing its GSX-RR MotoGP bike.
Now, variable valve timing is nothing new, it’s been used in the auto industry since the 1990s, but the way Suzuki is doing it, is new. Rather than electronic or hydraulically controlled VVT, the GSX-R intake cam gear use the engine’s centrifugal force to retard the intake cam timing on top end as the engine spools up. How exactly?
Look close at the accompanying image. You can see the ball bearings located in grooves in the geared cam end plate in the center. To the left is a plate with grooves that are deep toward the center, which have a decreasing taper as they travel outward. The taper of the steel cone washers on the right apply the pressure that keep the bearings held down, into the middle of the gear unit, when they are all bolted to the end of the camshaft. As engine RPMs climb, the cams spin faster, which forces the bearings outward and away from the center mass. This spreads the washers, affects a slight change in the angle of the cam gears and retards the intake cam timing. This in turn increases peak power without sacrificing low-end and mid-range. Brilliant, buy that engineer a Guinness! It’s a relatively simple and lightweight alternative to the more complicated VVT found in car engines.
The remaining two systems are nothing new by comparison. The SET-A is the servo-assisted butterfly valve in the exhaust that basically helps the bike meet sound and emission requirements while also complimenting the VVT changes. The S-TFI is part of the Dual Stage FI system. It is a separate injector (indicated in blue below) that adds more fuel into the top of the throttle bodies about the same time as the timing VVT change kicks in, to further increase top end. So, these two simply work with the VVT to create the Broad Power System which Suzuki feels will optimize power for both the road and track. Suzuki claims that this all results in a 10-horsepower increase to 199hp at 13,000rpm (measured at the crank) which should put it in the neighborhood of 170hp at the rear wheel. Maximum torque of 87 pound-feet (118 Newton meters) (measured at the crank) will remain the same, and it comes in at 10,800 rpm.
Tenet Two - Turn: A new and improved chassis combined with even more rider assist technology should help this new bike handle even better than the previous generation.
A sport bike has to be able to turn, otherwise, what’s the point, right? The new GSX-R twin-spar aluminum frame and accompanying electronic rider assist systems are in place to make it light, agile and responsive enough to dice through the kinkiest apexes, while the TC should keep it upright if you should dare to venture too close to the edge of available traction.
Now, we hear it all the time from our readers: Is all this TC, ABS, IMU and other gizmo stuff necessary? Electronics are taking away from the rider experience! Who needs TC? The list goes on. In most cases we agree in principle to what our dear readers are saying (Ahem, some of us agree. But some of us actually like techno whizzbangery –Ed), because at some point the rider needs to take responsibility and use the most proven traction control system ever: the throttle hand and the old school IMU (your brain) to ride within his or her limits. But the manufacturers do not agree and that’s why they give us these various forms of traction control, drive modes, and so on.
Gone are the good old days of traction control when simple wheel-speed sensors compared engine speed and ran the data through the ECU before determining if it needed to cut power for a moment to keep you from sliding. Now it is much more complex and much faster. The GSX-R in particular, uses a system that is light years ahead of that old tech, making calculations every four milliseconds.
These days it starts with an Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) that most of the high-end sport bikes are equipped with. Suzuki’s IMU detects six directions of movement along the axis of Pitch, Roll and Yaw and provides that info to the ECU where it serves as the heart of the Motion Track TCS and the brains of other systems like the Low RPM Assist and Motion Track ABS and Launch Control found exclusively on the GSX-R1000R.
Last but not least is the Suzuki Drive Mode Selector (S-DMS). The S-DMS switch is on the left handlebar so the rider can easily change the three different Drive Modes or 10 different Modes of Traction Control, with Mode 10 representing the most intervention and Mode 1 the least. Modes 1-4 are for track riding. Modes five to eight are for street and Modes nine to ten are for wet or slippery road surfaces. The Drive Mode modulates throttle response and power delivery based on available traction, as determined by all the available data pouring into it.
As we said earlier, there is always going to be a level of throttle control initiated by a rider but these TC systems are intended to protect us from ourselves, so to speak. Not everyone is a great rider. Not everyone has lots of experience riding in slippery or questionable conditions, which is where all these rider assist systems come into play. It’s important to remember that in this day and age of politically correct everything and safeguards intended to protect, that it is important for new riders in particular to have a little safety net. Do we all need this? Not really. Is it better for the industry in the long run? Absolutely.
The new frame isn’t ground-breaking but it’s 10 percent lighter and has incremental changes to the dimensions that Suzuki feels are all that was needed to keep the new bike sharp. The swingarm pivot point is now 20 mm closer to the front axle and the braced swingarm is 40 mm longer. Rake and trail are a bit more aggressive at 23.2 x 95 mm (vs. 23.5 x 98 mm) and the wheelbase is now 55.5 inches (1410 mm). The width of the frame is 20 mm narrower in an effort to increase the rider comfort and ability to hang-on better while hauling ass on the track. The mounting boss for the top of the rear shock is also positioned lower to accommodate the larger fuel tank required by the Suzuki Endurance racing teams. The shorter, more compact frame is reported to improve front end feel while improving traction in the back.
Tenet Three - Stop: Brakes are vital to slowing down and also, stopping.
When you have a 170 horsepower (127 kilowatts), 440 pounds(181 kilograms) land-based missile between your legs, it’s nice to be able to slow it down. On that note, you should not be surprised to learn it has a sophisticated ABS system that compliments a sweet set of brake components. As anyone who has raced these previous generation GSX-Rs will attest, they have not been known for having the best brakes. Racers have generally swapped to high-end aftermarket units in order to get the combination of consistency, power, and feel that they needed to be competitive. For 2017, Suzuki has made an effort to address this by using Brembo four-piston, radial-mount, monoblock calipers and 320-mm Brembo T-Drive rotors. On the rear a 220-mm rotor and single-piston caliper should be adequate. Unfortunately, the lynchpin to the success of the system will be dictated by the same underwhelming master cylinder design that has been at the root of the GSXR braking woes on the track for eons.
We don’t want to end this on a low note. From what we can tell the new GSX-R1000 and GSX-R1000R have the potential to challenge the other superbikes on the track and on the showroom. It won’t take long to know if they hit the target here, once the press intros and comparison tests start filling up the pages of bike rags and websites around the world. The GSX-R has always been a force, so, if nothing else, it will be fun to see how this VVT works in the real world and if the new Hamamatsu Hammer can help Suzuki reclaim its title as the King of Superbikes.
We've included an assortment of iimages below that deserve to be checked out, but did not warrant being included in the more detailed breakdown of the Three Tenet components. However, the new GSX-R1000 does have a load of nifty stuff that we thought you might want to check out as well.