A Gixxer for the wrong reason

In my quest to experience as many different types of bikes as possible, I knew that sooner or later I would have to confront one breed of bike that posed a particular challenge – the 1-litre Sport Bike.

There were a number of options including the Honda CBR1000R, the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R and the Yamaha R1, all of which were available but my choice fell on the 2008 Gixxer, the Suzuki GSX-R100 (K8).

Exactly why I made this choice is still unclear, possibly because I had such a good experience riding the GSX1400, but walking towards the bike was the closest I will ever feel to a cowboy about to mount a wild buck in an attempt to break it in.

This was not the most powerful bike I had ridden in terms of cc but peaking at 160bhp, developing 110Nm of torque, a red line set at 12,000, accelerating from 0-100km/hr in just 3 seconds, covering a quarter mile in 10.3 seconds and reaching a maximum speed of 182 mph, it was surely the most ferocious. As if this was not enough, this specific bike had been fitted with a power commander set to give it even better straight line acceleration and had the standard titanium exhaust replaced by an Akrapovic after-market unit.

The design is influenced by its bigger sibling, the Hayabusa, and comes with LED tail lights, and a trapezoid shaped radiator as seen on works race bikes intended to make cooling more efficient. Front and rear suspension are fully adjustable and rebound dampers help to improve handling whilst a secondary balancer shaft works at reducing vibration.

The use of radial mounted 4 pot callipers gripping 12 inch discs brought weight down by 2,300g without effecting efficiency and a single piston presses on an 8.7 inch disc at the rear. A standard slipper clutch helps avoid wheel hopping under heavy braking and aggressive down shifting does not result in he rear wheel blocking.

The 32 bit ECU has been configured to offer the rider three distinct mappings that can be selected from a switch on the handle bar. In fact, one can choose from standard, sport and wet mode and the bike will adjust according to the particular driving conditions. An electronically controlled steering damper stiffens as the bike accelerates, making it more controllable at high speeds.

This model first appeared in 2001 and has undergone constant development to make it faster and lighter, whilst improving its handling. Initially, the power is overwhelming but one soon realises what near-perfect throttle response the machine is endowed with, making you the master of your own destiny. Weighing in at a mere 170kg, handling is particularly easy.

Describing the driving position as sporty is an understatement and is not what I would voluntarily spend many hours in. I did not find the seat particularly comfortable either, but I knew this was going to be the case from the outset, before I even mounted it. I must admit that I am not of the sport bike kind. I appreciate the performance and capabilities of the GSX-R1000 and look forward to riding its rivals to be able to compare.

However, when it comes to personal preferences, I do not consider this type of bike as ideal for Malta. The state of the roads, the attitude of other road users and the insane power the bike disposes of add up to a lethal concoction. I would personally opt for a more tranquil, serene and comfortable ride.

This article was first published on Times of Malta on August 4, 2008
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