When it comes to choosing a bike for long rides, most riders will typically opt for a dual sport or adventure. After all, they come with softer suspension, a variety of traction and ride modes and the benefit of a windscreen. Yet in spite of the dominance of those kinds of bikes, there’s still some very good reason to look into the conventional sport tourer segment, particularly with choices like the Suzuki GSX-S1000F.
Suzuki Philippines had invited us to join the recent V-Strom run to Sagada. And while there wasn’t an extra V-Strom to spare, we were lent this lovely fully-faired tourer. It proved to be a perfect choice for the variety of highway and mountain roads.
Few riders are likely familiar with the GSX-S1000F as most usually opt for the bold and brash looks of its naked sibling, the GSX-S1000. While it’s easy to dismiss this F as just a fully faired version, our week with the bike proved otherwise. Besides aesthetics, the F features better aerodynamics, greater high speed stability, a broad powerband, and truly enjoyable handling. The bike seems tailor-made for long rides and can easily keep pace in many groups thanks to its broad powerband great handling.
Despite the fairing and the four-cylinder, the S1000F doesn’t feel like a very big bike. It’s quite easy to squeeze through traffic, thanks to the handlebar-mounted mirrors rather than typical body-mounted mirrors. It’s also quite accessible for most riders thanks to the low 810 mm seat height. It’s only heavy when parking, but get it maneuvering and the mass hardly makes its presence felt.
The GSX-S1000F is powered by a 999cc inline-four. Many will point out it’s likely the same engine from the 2005 GSX-R1000, however, the behavior certainly doesn’t suggest it. The sweet and smooth revving engine can handle a wide variety of situations from heavy traffic, to overtaking, to highway cruising. Thanks to its large size, there’s more than enough torque at the low end, with much of the power becoming available around the 3,000 rpm mark. Yet rev it past 9,000 rpm and it starts to feel like VTEC, as a surge of power comes in to rocket the bike forward, just when you’ve thought it’s given all it’s got.
This is even better enjoyed with the up and down quickshifter, that lets you stay in the powerband with minimal effort. I found myself hardly engaging the clutch when kicking down a gear and still finding it ready to rev up again the moment it engaged.
Just be sure to keep fuel consumption in mind. In spite of the 17 liter tank, that inline four is quite thirsty and will average 20 km/L and a range of just 150-200 km with a full tank.
There aren’t any ride modes. Just three traction control settings from level one to three or off, with level one allowing for a little bit of slide. Not that I dared to try.
Despite the very flexible powerband, the S1000F is a bit difficult to ride at a set speed. On the highway, it’s seems to want to accelerate slightly or decelerate. It doesn’t seem to want to stay at a steady 100 km/h. Nonetheless, given the unpredictability of our highway traffic, it’s not such a big issue.
As for the ride, it’s relatively firm, but not as uncomfortable as an all-out sport bike. There is a little give when it comes to bumps. What I really appreciate is how it keeps the front very planted, even in rougher sections of road. The only downside is the relatively low profile tires. These suggest this bike is best kept on the highway as a very big pothole could easily dent the rim.
It’s fairly easy to ride for long periods thanks to the relatively upright riding position. The large windscreen provides great protection at highway speeds, somewhat encouraging you to go even faster. Thanks to the simple black and white digital display, it’s also easy to gleam the riding data whatever the time of day.
It was a real treat in the mountain roads, snaking through cliffs, and with various elevation changes. The power felt pretty consistent even as we got to higher altitudes. It was even more encouraging in the turns, gladly leaning in and gently rolling on the power. And while the rest of the group opted for a more leisurely pace, I couldn’t resist the temptation to overtake a few and dive into corners. The wide tires really let you lean further while still returning some reassuring grip.
With the reassuring bite of the Brembo brakes in front and Nissin in the rear, both with ABS, I couldn’t help but rocket through open gaps to overtake and brake hard just before an oncoming vehicle. I didn’t feel the vibrations of ABS kicking in, but perhaps that’s a testament to how hard the brakes can bite without locking up.
The GSX-S1000F is certainly a rare sight on our roads, and it’s likely due to the very specific niche it caters too. It’s definitely more comfortable than an all-out sport bike but not as plush as a dual sport or adventure. Nonetheless, it’s far more agile than them and will easily keep pace with faster rider groups. Those looking into Ducati’s Supersport ought to look into this one’s more affordable proposition.