Turns four and five of the Kari Motor Speedway in Coimbatore happen to be my favourite corners. More than individual corners, four and five is actually a fast chicane, where on a superbike you need to lean in a bit but on smaller bikes you simply keep the throttle pinned and straightline things. It is quite exciting on a track that is otherwise known for its tight slow turns. Exiting this chicane astride the brand new Suzuki GSX-R1000R is nothing short of thrilling with the front wheel bouncing off the black top even as the flickering yellow traction control light tells me that the bike’s traction control system is working overtime to keep the bike glued to the track. Each time the wheel hits the ground, there is a slight shake of that head, quickly mitigated by the electronic steering damper.

For those of you who know the circuit, the distance between turns five and six is ridiculously short. In fact, there’s barely enough time to breathe before you find yourself on the brakes. Even on this short straight, the Gixer easily hits 150kmph. Goes to show what a great bike it is and how much confidence it can inspire in the rider. Blasting past the pit wall, the numbers on the digital dash climb furiously. My braking marker arrives with the bike hurtling ahead at 240kmph, transmission slotted in fifth and shift lights blinking relentlessly and that smooth inline four singing its high pitched song. I roll off the gas and haul on the anchors, shifting down to prepare for the rather tricky turn one. The Suzuki sheds speed as quickly as it gains it and without even the slightest drama of fuss. Turn one, dispatched, turns two and three are actually a kink where a mildly enthusiastic twist of my right wrist sends the front wheel careening towards outer space. The result is a wide grin that splits my head inside my helmet. This, is what a propah sportsbike should be like, and it feels like a million bucks!

The last few laps of my 20 minutes with the new Gixer goes by in a flash and I see the frantically waving chequered flag as I come on to the main straight one last time. But I’m not ready to get off just yet. I know I have to for there are others waiting but what I want to do is keep lapping this circuit. That is how easy and fatigue-free the all-new Suzuki GSX-R1000R feels to be ridden hard, even on a tight and bumpy race track like Kari.

So typically Gixer! Aggressive but sweet and confidence inspiring. What is unexpected though is how compact, lighter and smaller this feels compared to the usual crop of litre-class superbikes. A lot of this is due to changes in the dimension of the engine itself - it is 6.6mm narrower and 22.2mm shorter than the unit in the previous GSX-R1000. Apart from all the other benefits of being smaller and lighter, this has a direct impact on the bike’s ergonomics because the new bike feels so much easier to manage. The frame of the new bike too is narrower than before by 20mm, which means the bike sits easier between the legs. Aiding all this is a more ergonomically-shaped petrol tank where the top of the tank sits 21mm lower than before. The rear of the tank too has been reshaped to make it easier for the rider to move around on the bike on a track. While my rather puny frame of 5’5” found oodles of space to move around on the large saddle and tuck in comfortably behind the newly designed bubble-screen, fellow scribe Aninda, who stands taller at 6’, too found plenty of room for his lanky self on the new Gixer. The controls and switchgear are easy-to-reach and it doesn’t take long for the rider to get accustomed to their position for quick access. Quite frankly, the new motorcycle is an ergonomic delight.

Tucked in under that screen the only part of the bike you’ll ever see is the all-digital instrumentation that displays crucial information including the riding modes and traction control levels, gear indicator, fuel indicator, etcetera. To be very honest however, I can’t tell you a lot more about it because out on the track all I could focus on were the entry, apex and exit of the next set of corners. Back in 2001, when the first generation of the GSX-R1000 had howled its way onto the world superbike scene, it had comprehensively destroyed the Yamaha YZF-R1’s reputation as the litre-class superbike to have. The Suzuki quickly gained an epithet - King of Superbikes. From then till now much has changed and it would be obvious and pointless to state that the crown no longer belongs to Suzuki. Admittedly, the GSX-R1000 wasn’t even properly updated for almost eight years. But all that is in the past. More so because the new bike seems to have what it takes to take the fight straight to the usurpers. After all, so much of what Suzuki has been perfecting as part of the MotoGP circus has found its way here. But I digress. Back to the bike, true to the traditions of being a new generation motorcycle, the GSX-R1000 has been designed from scratch. The engine is new. The frame is new. The shocks are new. The brakes are new. The only things that have been retained are its name, design philosophy and its intent - of owning a racetrack.

The beauty of this refined four-cylinder engine is in the linearity of its power delivery and how evenly and widely that grunt is spread over the rev band. On the main straight there’s this relentless surge of power that will see you through 200kmph before you can spell b-l-i-n-k. At the same time, the spread of grunt means you’re not hunting through cogs all the time as you tackle the slow sections. Further helping the motor is an all-new electronics package and techno-wizardry (3 riding modes, 10 levels of traction control, quick shifter, cornering ABS, and more) that makes all that power usable. The amazing thing about this bike is there is no wheelie control! Yep, you heard right. There is no wheelie control. In spite of those 200 horses rearing to be let loose. Instead the bike’s inertia measurement unit or IMU measures yaw, pitch and roll and decides whether to cut power to the wheel in a bid to keep the front firmly grounded or preventing the tail from snapping out when powering out of bends. For me however, too much of electronic policing kills the experience for me. So for most of the time I had the bike stuck in A mode, which is perfect for the track and keeps traction control between levels 2 and 4.

Transmission is via a super slick six-speed gearbox on the GSX-R1000. On the R spec bike however there is a quick shifter that works both for upshifting as well as downshifting. I of course thoroughly enjoyed keeping the throttle wide open as I worked my way through the cogs. So I would definitely go for the latter, but you lot can take your pick. Nonetheless, throughout the track session, regardless of how urgently I went up and down the gearbox, there was not a single false shift or any signs of notchiness. The R also gets Showa BFF (Balance Free Fork) up front and a Showa BFRC Lite (Balance Free Rear Cushion) monoshock. Unlike in conventional systems, the damping valve force chambers of the forks are located outside. As a result pressure balance fluctuations are nigh absent in the pipes. The resultant predictability, courtesy hugely improved front end feel, is extremely rewarding. The bike turns in eagerly without scaring the pilot silly and then holds that line like it has been glued on to it. It is so predictable that you can keep using the same line (accurate to within inches) over and over again.

Perhaps the only area where this bike can improve is in initial brake bite. At first tug the feel at the lever is spongy but as the radially mounted Brembo monobloc callipers start to bite in deeper into that pair of 320mm discs up front and the Nissin single piston calliper bites into the 220mm disc at the rear, you realise there is strong bite. Feel at the lever improves in tandem. Maybe the fact that Suzuki uses rubber lines instead of steel braided hoses could be reason for the initial spongy feel and an aftermarket upgrade is all it should take to solve this matter. Unlike the standard model, the R’s cornering ABS really shines through when braking deep into corners. The other aspect that must be mentioned at this point is the bike’s tyres. The Bridgestone Battlax Street RS10 tyres do a super job of sticking to black top.

Irrespective of how hard I accelerated or shed speed, the rubber doesn’t break contact with its patch of tarmac. Between the regular GSX-R1000 and the GSX-R1000R there is a price difference of about three lakh rupees, the former retailing at `19 lakh and the latter at `22 lakh. Compensation for those three lakh comes in the form of Showa’s balance free suspension (front and back), cornering ABS, quick shifter (up and down) and launch control. The rest of the bike is identical to the regular bike. Suzuki says the regular model is for the customising junkie and cult followers of the brand. The full blown GSX-R1000R is the bike to buy if you’re in the business of riding race-ready superbikes, especially since it has all the weapons in its armoury to challenge for the coveted title of ‘King of Superbikes’.

Type 999.8cc, liquid-cooled, inline four
Bore X Stroke 76.0 x 55.1mm
Compression 13.2:1
Fuelling EFI
Claimed Power 202PS @ 13,200rpm
Claimed Torque 117.6Nm @ 10,800rpm
RBW/Riding Modes Three
Traction Control Ten levels
ABS Yes
Quickshifter Up and down (not on GSX-R1000)
Wheelie Control Part of IMU package
Launch Control Yes (not on GSX-R1000)
Frame All-aluminium dual beam
Front Suspension Showa balance free, adjustable
Rear Suspension Showa balance free, adjustable
Front Brakes Brembo monobloc, 320mm discs
Rear Brakes 1-piston calliper, 220mm disc
Wheelbase 1,420mm
Seat Height 825mm
Kerb weight 203kg
Fuel Capacity 16 litres