The 2016 Suzuki GSX-S1000 is a naked sports bike in the rawest sense. It’s 999cc inline-four is straight from the “Japanese Sport Bike” play book, as is the aluminum twin-spar chassis. The aluminum alloy swing-arm is lifted directly from Suzuki’s halo bike, the GSX-R1000.
With a more aggressive riding position than many other naked bikes, the GSX-S is clearly aimed at riders looking for a more exciting ride in real world conditions. The wide bars, tough-as-hell aesthetics and stonking engine make it a complete joy to ride.
But what if you like fairings? Well, you could pony up the extra cash and get yourself a full-blown GSX-R1000 – or you could look the part on a GSX-S1000F. All the joy of the naked roadster with the added bonus of sporty-looking fairings.
The chassis are identical, both have permanent (non-switchable) ABS and both have the same grunty engine. There’s also only $700 between them, the naked 2016 Suzuki GSX-S1000 is $12,299, the faired Suzuki GSX-S1000F is $12,999.
So which of these identical twins is the better buy?
The naked one.
Key Specs: 2016 Suzuki GSX-S1000F and GSX-S1000
Engine: 999 cc inline-four
Horsepower: 145 hp @ 10,000 rpm
Torque: 78 lb-ft @ 9,500 rpm
Curb weight (wet): 209 kg (naked), 214 kg (faired)
Seat height: 815 mm
Length: 2,115 mm
Wheelbase: 1,460 mm
Width: 795 mm
Tires front – rear: 120/70 ZR17 – 190/50 ZR17
Fuel capacity: 17L
Suspension: 43 mm inverted forks with 120 mm of travel, adjustable damping, rebound, compression and preload, rear monoshock with 63 mm travel adjustable for rebound damping and spring pre-load.
Frame Type: Aluminum twin-spar.
**Okay, we were joking. That’s not the end. Well, half-joking.
The fact is that a fully-faired sportbike looks fantastic when it was designed that way from the ground up. The Suzuki GSX-R1000 exudes confidence and power from every line. But by whacking an imitation fairing onto the ultra-tough GSX-S1000 Suzuki to build the GSX-S1000F Suzuki has made something that looks wrong. It’s awkward and dorky and not quite sure of itself.
There’s no benefit in terms of wind or road noise – the naked version’s bikini fairing is surprisingly efficient at wicking away turbulence from the rider. Not only that, but the semi-upright, head-forward, arms-wide riding stance actually benefits from a little supportive air pressure – making the naked GSX-S more comfortable over the long run.
There’s also the issue of weight. The fairing only adds six kg to the overall curb weight, which is small considering. Still, it’s hung right out the front of the bike and nice and high and it is noticeable on the road, especially at slow speeds in traffic.
So aesthetically, the naked edition is better. In the city, it’s better, and its outright performance is better – perhaps only slightly so, but motorcycle bench racing these days is a game of miniscule increments.
The one possible saving grace of the full fairing is it aids in the visibility of the instrument cluster, but here as well that’s not really necessary. Suzuki’s slick single-piece unit is one of my favourites on the road, giving good, clear and readable information and lots of it. Including fuel gauge and efficiency, traction control mode (there are three stages plus off), speed and an RPM bar graph that makes it clear when you’re approaching the 11,500 rpm redline.
With it in mode 1, the GSX-S is playful and agile, the Renthal Fat-Bars giving plenty of feedback as you wrestle it around town. Out on a closed-off rural patch of asphalt the traction control comes off, and the five sensors take a break for a while. Perhaps it’s just the impression given by the lack of visual blocking but the naked version feels a lot more confident when thrown about in silly ways.
There are a handful of naked bikes on the market that promise genuine sporty confidence – the GSX-S1000 delivers on that promise.
But skip the fairing.
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