Now consumed by my motorbike addiction, I decided it was time to step up the game. I was again in a state of duress, scouring the internet for my next mistress (bikes are always females, didn’t you know?). Don’t tell me you haven’t been there, cowering in a dark room with the light off with only the computer screen to illuminate the darkness. Scotch in hand, searching, hunting…seeking. No, I am not that creepy guy you see on the train that you actively try sit away from (but who still makes a point of sitting close to you making you feel uncomfortable). I am a motorcycle addict! It’s a real thing! Alas, it was time to upgrade my trusty old CBR600F, out of the dark room and into the light!
I was a bit undecided on what to get within my price range. I had my heart set on a Honda VFR800 (mainly due to dat V4 sound), but happened to test ride a 2005 Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade. My eyes were opened, why was I looking at a puny 800cc bike when I could be a real man and have a 1000cc sports bike?! Just imagine it, eyes watering with sheer speed, leaving peasants on their tiny machines in my dust, women going weak at the knees, carrying my testicles in a wheel barrow due to their extraordinary size…I kept searching the net and after looking at various other bikes that didn’t tickle my fancy I stumbled across a beautiful 2004 Suzuki GSX-R1000. It was unique in the fact that it was all black (a limited edition it turns out), had a couple of tasteful accessories and ticked all the right boxes. I went and looked at the bike and it was in extremely good condition. I test rode the bike and after some wheeling and dealing I bought it on the spot, I was impressed. Now I’d heard rumours about this particular model of bike. Good rumours. They were to do with its engine. And boy they weren’t wrong.
The absolute defining feature of this GSX-R1000 is its motor. Everything else on this bike is built around the motor to enable you to use it to its potential. After being on an old sedate 600 and going to a bike renowned for big power and acceleration, at first it is daunting. When you first heavily accelerate in the first few gears you shit yourself. Not kidding I’m pretty sure I had a stain. But then, you realise while you did shit yourself, you have a massive grin on your face! Once you’ve experienced that ‘grinningwhileshittingyourself’ feeling, it’s intoxicating. I encourage all people once in their life to wind out a litre sports bike; either as a rider or a passenger to experience this wonderful feeling.
The motor is grunty for a 1000cc inline 4. Low down power is good and builds into a muscular mid-range. You can spend a lot of time here and still have a lot of fun. Get to the higher rev range though and things start to go backwards very, very quickly. There will be some bikes that will reel you in in the top couple of gears, but by then you are doing stupid speeds and it doesn’t matter anyway. Overall, a brilliant engine by anyone’s standard even today. It’s not without its faults though. Fueling itself is fantastic however there is a noticeable ‘snatch’ when initially applying the throttle. I put this down to the throttle position sensor needing adjustment but I never confirmed this. This might not seem like a big deal (and it isn’t around town), but when you are taking slow corners and trying to apply throttle mid corner, it’s a pain in the ass. It upsets the balance of the bike and when you have this kind of power on tap it can cause traction problems especially in the wet.
The handling is stable and composed and allows pin point precision. It doesn’t dart around like some 1000’s but it provides excellent stability and you can really push it. Overall it’s hard to fault the handling of the bike. The same can be said about the suspension. The ride is firm but not uncomfortable and generally unflappable. Large or sharp bumps are a bit of a shock to the system though. I have ridden later model GSXR’s and they definitely have given a suppler ride while still maintaining the same performance.
The final complaint I had with the bike were the front brakes. I replaced the old set of brake pads with a pair of sintered sports and this made a difference, but they still felt wooden and just lacked that little bit of stopping power. They were good but just not quite there. A set of good braided brake lines and some softer pads would be very close to rectifying the problem.
Reliability wise, the motors and running gear are pretty well bulletproof. Be wary of worn clutches though and test this when buying. Personally I had problems with my clutch slipping under heavy acceleration. This was easily fixed with a new clutch kit though. The main thing to watch out for on this model, and all model Suzuki’s in this era is the build quality. Little things like the exhausts corroding and fasteners rusting. Personally, my bike was faultless (it did have a full Akropovic exhaust system though), but I saw others that were a little worse for wear.
While the engine is the no doubt star of the show, the actual reason I bought this particular model bike is because of how I felt while riding it. I was immediately comfortable. The bars were not situated too low and it felt like you were sitting ‘in’ the motorcycle rather than on top of it. Don’t get me wrong, this is a full on sports bike, but it still manages to be reasonably comfortable. In fact, this bike can double as a sports tourer. I did numerous full day rides on the bike. Just make sure you have rests to stretch out those legs or they are going to feel as stiff as a board.
Overall, this was and still is a great bike. I sold it because I change my bikes more than most people change their undies. Also when I couldn’t be bothered spending money fixing the couple of little gripes I had, I just buy a different bike. In saying that, this particular bike is one of two bikes I have owned that I wish I still had. It looked great, handled well, was relatively comfortable, and taught me that ‘grinningwhileshittingyourself’ was okay sometimes in life.