Motorcycle technology continues to develop at a breakneck pace. From semi-active suspension to adaptive cruise control to blind spot detection systems, the industry wades into new technological territory each year. While most OEMs parade their new shiny toys with all-new models and heavily-revised mainstays, Suzuki takes a different route to updating its lineup.
Label it evolution over revolution, or simplicity over complexity. Whatever you want to call it, Suzuki rarely reinvents the wheel when it introduces a new motorcycle. The House of Hamamatsu may prefer baby steps, but when the industry progresses by leaps and bounds, the firm’s latest and greatest can look dated by comparison. That is until the 2022 GSX-S1000 broke cover in April, 2021.
Five years after the first-generation GSX-S1000 launched in 2017, impending Euro 5 emissions regulations gave Suzuki engineers and designers a valid excuse to revisit the aging super naked. The curvy bodywork hit the cutting room floor first, replaced by razor-sharp styling reminiscent of KTM’s Duke family. The 2022 upgrades are more than skin-deep, though.
A new camshaft, refined fuel map, and additional catalytic converter not only help the 999cc inline-four reach Euro 5 status but also results in a modest power increase and a vastly improved torque curve. Along with a makeover and more muscle, the naked literbike also gains ride modes, a bi-directional quickshifter, and Suzuki’s latest slip-assist clutch.
Suzuki may have transformed the GSX-S1000 for 2022, but with its competitors on a trajectory for tech supremacy, will the brand’s efforts pay off? To help us determine where the GSX-S1000 falls in the ever-competitive naked sportbike field, Suzuki invited us to test the 2022 model in the familiar confines of the Santa Monica mountains.
Take the Rough with the Smooth
While Suzuki installed everything from new valve springs to a revised cam chain to an updated clutch pushrod, the liquid-cooled, DOHC, 999cc straight-four is still based on the 2005 GSX-R1000 K5 engine. The four-cylinder mill still packs a punch, though, thanks to 150 horsepower peaking at 11,000 rpm and 78.2 lb-ft of torque topping out at 9,250 rpm. Suzuki engineers didn’t just chase power figures, they also reconfigured the fueling and power delivery, making the GSX-S1000 easier to ride.
Gone are the power pulses and peaky torque profile that defined the previous generation. Even when the throttle response morphs from the pokey A mode to the even-keeled B mode to the rain-appropriate C mode, the GSX-S maintains linearity. Without power surges or abrupt throttle pickup to trip up riders, the super naked remains a friendly option for customers transitioning away from the middleweight naked class.
That smooth and approachable powerband may not appeal to hooligans or adrenaline addicts, but it positions the GSX-S1000 as a suitable daily rider and part-time track bike. On the other hand, street riders would benefit from keeping the K5-based engine in the lower register. By 5,000 rpm, vibrations course through both the foot pegs and the handlebars. For sake of comfort, I switched gears at 6,000 rpm, but by 8,000 rpm, the buzzing was positively shift-inducing.
For that reason, I only manage to wick the GSX-S1000 up to 10,000 rpm once during my time with it. At that point, each touchpoint (bars, tank, seat, and pegs) fluttered at a high frequency. Of course, users can easily avoid that issue by short-shifting around 5,000-6,000 rpm, but that leaves nearly half the rev range—and a healthy helping of the claimed 150 horsepower—on the table.
Those pulling track duty with the GSX-S1000 won’t be as phased by the buzzing, but with most riders sticking to public roads, it’s a shame that the proven powerplant isn’t more refined by this point. With that said, the naked bike only spun up to 4,750rpm at 70 mph in sixth gear, so highway miles should be a breeze. Suzuki’s emissions-oriented updates certainly afforded the brand the opportunity to smooth out the power delivery. Unfortunately, that same smoothness doesn’t extend to the engine’s balance.
If it Ain’t Broke
Suzuki was quick to point out the GSX-S1000's enhanced features but it also glossed over one of the model’s best attributes: the chassis. The K5-style frame suspended by a fully adjustable, 43mm KYB inverted front end and linkage-equipped rear shock return in 2022, but the chassis performs as consistently as ever. Dunlop and Suzuki formulated the Roadsport 2 tires to mesh with the existing equipment, and the result is palpable.
The GSX-S1000's handling is predictable, direct, and accurate. Riders can quickly dial the five-level traction control on the fly, but grip on the road was never sacrificed enough to warrant engagement. Similarly, the radially-mounted four-pot Brembo monobloc calipers mated to dual 310mm discs up front and the single-piston Nissin clamping a 240mm rear rotor provided all the stopping power necessary for the street.
However, the rubber hoses and axial front master cylinder didn’t deliver the initial bite or feel that many performance-oriented riders expect. As a result, the GSX-S1000 will happily handle whatever the road throws at it, but track junkies may need to switch to a different pad compound or pony-up the dough for up-spec equipment. That street/track dichotomy is turned on its head by the suspension, though.
In ideal conditions, with smooth pavement and favorable camber, the suspension performed admirably. When presented with the bumpy asphalt and off-camber grades found in the Malibu’s canyons, the GSX-S1000 struggled to maintain its composure. At one particular photo stop, we testers repeatedly piloted the naked sportbike through a bump-littered bend. Faced with one undulation after another, the GSX-S quickly crossed up, becoming more unsettled with each hit.
Gallery: 2022 Suzuki GSX-S1000
Naturally, owners will be able to fine-tune the fully-adjustable suspension to deal with such inconsistent tarmac, but the out-of-the-box settings are certainly taut by street standards. In a segment where semi-active suspension is quickly becoming an add-on, if not a standard feature, the KYB suspension seems less capable. The chassis still works wonders when the conditions are right, but Suzuki could rein in the suspension’s sporty ambitions for the road.
A Small Change Goes a Long Way
Suzuki didn’t need to overhaul the GSX-S1000's ergonomics, but minor changes amounted to a world of difference. In 2022, the bars gain 0.9 inches in length and shift toward the rider by 0.8 inches. Paired with the lowered 31.9-inch seat height, those small adjustments created a comfortable rider triangle with a neutral, nearly-upright riding position. Not once did I struggle with wrist soreness or back strain during my stint with the GSX-S.
On the same note, the foot pegs keep the toes out of harm’s way and perfectly position the knees at the tank cutouts. The knee bend is acute, but I never felt cramped or constrained. There's also more than enough room to shift rearward for tucking down the straights. For my 160-pound and five-foot, 10-inch frame, the GSX-S1000 fit better than the ergonomically-renowned BMW S 1000 R.
Results will certainly vary for smaller and larger folks, but for a healthy chunk of the naked bike-buying public, the ergos are quite inviting. Despite the comfy cockpit, the seat did wear thin by the end of the day. For most riders, the initial plushness will last for a little over an hour, but as naked bikes go, riders will probably take a break shortly after that mark anyway.
Aside from the riding position, Suzuki’s latest LCD instrument panel highlights the cockpit. Many of the GSX-S1000's rivals have long since moved on to full-color TFT dashes, but the simple display keeps the super naked within its $11,299 price tag. The straightforward layout also avoids extensive menu systems that can quickly confuse users. However, without extra pages to store settings, Suzuki has to cram all that information into the small display.
Along with the speedometer, tachometer, gear position, fuel gauge, ride mode, and traction control setting, riders can cycle through the odometer, twin trip meters, and battery voltage. As a result, obtaining vital information at a glance isn’t an easy task. Additionally, the black background and white readouts can be difficult to decipher under direct sunlight. In all other situations, the LCD panel works just fine, but it’s also showing its age in the tech-happy category.
As advertised, the approachable powerband, updated electronics, and new facelift highlight the 2022 GSX-S1000. Evaluated in a vacuum, the latest-gen GSX-S lives up to the $11,299 MSRP, presenting super naked thrills while providing a no-frills, user-friendly experience. Budget-minded riders looking for a naked literbike with a sweet-handling chassis, sharp looks, and a proven engine need look no further than the GSX-S1000.
However, if you expect a flagship naked bike to boast IMU-based wizardry like cornering ABS and lean-sensitive traction control, look elsewhere. Without a six-axis IMU, the 2022 GSX-S1000 can’t truly contend with the heavy hitters in the heavyweight naked class. Suzuki may position the GSX-S as the budget option of the bunch, but it’s the only bike in this category still subscribing to the “everything you need and nothing you don’t” mantra.
While its European and fellow Japanese competitors push the technology boundaries, Suzuki caters to customers that don’t want (or need) all the bells and whistles. Customers can add creature comforts like heated grips and billet levers, but cruise control and wind protection aren’t available as accessories. That makes GSX-S1000 the bare-bones roadster in Suzuki’s lineup and those looking for long-haul capability can always turn to the new-for-2022 GSX1000GT.
Retailing for $11,299, the 2022 GSX-S1000's closest competitor is the Yamaha MT-10 at $13,999. That’s a sizeable saving over Team Blue, but you get what you pay for (both good and bad) with the 2022 GSX-S1000. To put that price point into perspective, the 2022 KTM 890 Duke R commands more coin at $11,899. Of course, that middleweight naked bike doesn’t offer the same top-end power, but it also comes with a raft of top-tier technology. No, Suzuki’s tech isn’t moving at the speed of light, but the 2022 GSX-S1000 proves that you don’t need all the latest doodads to make a capable naked bike these days.