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First Ride: 2022 Suzuki GSX-S1000

Naked and naughty, Suzuki’s latest-gen do-everything sportbike impresses on several levels

By Ken Vreeke

Photos by Kevin Wing

Suzuki’s 2022 GSX-S1000 is like the party animal that never runs out of steam. The question used to be: How much can you handle? Not anymore. The S1000 asks: How much do you want?

This bike is about access to performance levels that lie outside the safety margin of a lot of riders, all wrapped up in a package you can enjoy every day — or on every weekend trek.

With Suzuki’s latest S-model (the original being the beautiful and functional 1979-spec GS1000S), the old speed-equals-risk algorithm has been driven closer to extinction by electronic guardian angels that step in to assist with braking, traction, usable power and grip, and boost the safety margin far deeper into naughty territory. The harder you ride this thing, the more you appreciate Suzuki’s focus on elevating rider control.

Maybe it’s a natural course of evolution that performance machines become easier to operate at the limit, but in the case of the S1000 engineers doubled down on delivering high performance that does not demand high commitment from the rider. Most engine changes are targeted at making the bike easier to ride generally, and easier to approach the upper reaches of the performance curve.

In addition to meeting all the current emissions standards, the new engine delivers more power and a torque curve that’s most of the way to its 79 lb/ft peak by 2,000 rpm. On the twisting backroads of the Santa Monica Mountains the S was content to run around all day in third gear, grunting out of corners in full-power mode with the stamina of a big twin. On corner entry, the chassis refinements allow you to carry a lot of speed (if you choose), so it’s easier to be smooth and quick knitting corners together.

Half the fun, however, is rowing through gears with the new quick-shift system that eliminates the rod mechanism and its associated vagueness, and instead provides direct and solid clutch-less shifts as quickly as you can tap the lever — bang, bang, bang.

The gearbox itself has close ratios that always seem in the sweet spot thanks to massive torque in a quick-revving engine that begs to be short shifted. Powerful Brembo anchors with adjustable ABS shed speed quickly, and a new three-spring slipper clutch makes it nearly impossible to screw up a downshift and scare yourself silly.

Nimble and neutral steering, the S1000 shares its twin-spar aluminum frame with the venerated GSX-R1000RR — Suzuki’s AMA Superbike platform — and invites riders to explore the edges of Dunlop’s new Roadsport 2 tires. New LED headlights shed weight from the front end, and the Euro-5 specification dual-cat exhaust system places the additional emissions weight low in the chassis to keep the center of mass where to needs to be for agility and light steering.

We wouldn’t argue with where they put the performance dollars in exchange for niceties; there’s a cable-actuated clutch with a heavy-ish pull, the turn-signals are not self-cancelling and the rear shock isn’t as responsive as the excellent fork on bumpier routes. But that’s nit-picking, really. The upright ergos, wide and comfortable seat, and nicely angled handlebar offer a neutral riding position that lifts weight off your arms and hands at highway speeds. This is a bike with a 170-mile fuel range, and the ergonomics to comfortably drain the tank.

Suzuki managed to integrate a lot of new technology into the right places on its latest S-model to elevate performance and a rider’s access to it. Yet it still hit a price point — suggested retail is $11,299 — that covers a broad audience.

Sounds a bit like the do-it-all formula Suzuki’s S-model had back in ’79 and ’80 with the original blue-and-white GS1000S. And that works just fine for us.