Every now and then you read something that you wish you could have written - you know that it is exactly how you feel but sometimes struggle to find the words to convey this feeling to others. This morning I read a post on the GSX1400.org that was written by a guy from Auckland, New Zealand going by the username of beyond2000 - it was posted about 10 months back but I only just stumbled across it. It is the best review I have read on the GSX1400 by a mile so I thought I would share it....but beware....it is fairly long!!
GSX1400 28,000 km ReviewWell written mate - a fantastic review in my eyes. Click here for the original post.
It’s been just on a year since I wrote my last review on my GSX1400. Back then I had covered 10,000 kms in six months. I’ve now run this machine to 42,000 kms and my contribution has been the last 28,000kms, as I bought the bike second hand as a K2 with 15,000kms on the clock.
This is an objective review, no stone unturned and no emotional biases.
The Suzuki GSX1400 is classified as a sports tourer and is a retro, naked bike with all the modern additions that technology brings. It has fuel injection, hydraulic brakes front and rear, the front carrying six pot calipers shoving the pads onto 320mm platters, fully adjustable front and rear suspension, electronic instrumentation which has an accurate fuel gauge, clock and all the necessary warning lights. The clutch is also hydraulically activated.
The engine is an oil/air cooled unit of 1402cc pushing out 106 HP at 6,800rpm, with a hefty dose of arm wrenching torque peaking at 5,000rpm at 126nm. The torque curve has more grunt at 3000rpm, than many sports bikes have at their peak and the curve gives copious amounts of torque from 2000rpm, right through to 8,000rpm, with the redline at 9,000rpm. The dry weight of the bike is 228kgs.
I’m nudging 50 years old now. My teen years saw me astride bikes like the venerable Yamaha RD350 and 1973 Suzuki T350. My first bike was a 1972 Suzuki T250 Hustler., on which I did 35,000 kms in nine months even though it was off the road for two of those months due to two write off accidents. I still like the retro look and out of all the naked bikes, I found that the GSX1400 looked the meanest and smoothest of the bunch and was the only one offering fuel injection. Also, compared to the rest, the linear torque curve and output, meant it was going to be a good all round road bike, especially for long distance and two up work. For a retro bike, I like the lines, the bulk and seating position.
The reach to the handlebars suits me perfectly, as does the peg to seat ratio. The seat height is 790mm which means both feet can easily be placed flat on the ground. I am 85kgs and 186cm tall. This bike is very comfortable and long distance riding can be accomplished without getting tired, after a full day in the saddle. The gauges are easy to read and simple, with enough idiot lights for oil, fuel injection problems, blinkers, full beam and of course, neutral. I have yet to have a pillion complain about the seat or riding position. This is a comfortable bike, solo or two up and/or with luggage.
106hp does not seem to be a lot for a 1400cc motorcycle. This is more than compensated for by the copious amounts of torque, which come as soon as the clutch is released and gives you a good arm wrenching ride up to around 8,000rpm in any gear. In fact, the peak horsepower and the relatively flat line on the torque curve, over most of the rev range, are perfect for road riding in all conditions. There is no need to rev into high RPM’s to maintain speed or move quickly and no need to change gear unless you like a good shove up the backside.
People make the mistake of getting on these bikes and trying to ride them through the gears, to the red line, like a sports bike. The action is over by 8,000rpm, so it’s better to shift at around 7500rpm and ride the constant torque wave. This makes for very quick acceleration with standard GSX1400’s pulling just under 3 seconds from 0-100kmh.
The good thing about lower horsepower and more torque, is the ability to lay the power down, coming out of a corner. Sure, you can light the back up if you are not careful but the torque seems to cause the bike to squat down and shoot out of the corners, which gives it a bit of an edge over the go easy on the throttle, super sports.
Wheelies? No problem; on the throttle in first, back off slightly and crank her and she’s up no problem. Because of the weight of the motor, a short shift is required to keep her up in second and from there on in, it’s up to balancing the quarter tonne beast with a full tank.
Stoppies? I’ve seen shots of people doing stoppies on these, but it’s not my idea of a picnic in the park. I prefer not to stoppie in the event I go to far and have this behemoth of a bike, bury it’s handlebars in my back. I have no aspirations to becoming a pavement pizza.
Speed? It’s a big bike, carrying quite a bit of weight. It takes some serious amounts of ponies to push a large machine through the air at very high speeds. With my face nearly jammed on the dials and tucking in real tight, lying over the tank, I’ve had her up to 253kmh. That isn’t too bad considering the air pressure on an unfaired bike. I read an article somewhere, that on a dyno, with no air pressure to worry about, they hit 290kmh.
I once pillioned a friend who is heavier than me and both of us sitting upright, touched 230kmh. Getting there was no problem but with the heavier pillion and added air pressure of two wide eyed bodies plowing through the air, that was about it. But this bike is seriously quick to 220kmh and 240kmh, solo, comes up reasonably fast as well.
Two up riding is a breeze. A pillion is virtually unnoticed as far as affecting power goes. Hills, overtaking, fast takeoffs and general all around riding are no problem and make no difference to the way the bike moves.
This is an area of controversy. Originally, when these bikes were test ridden and reviews started coming out, the handling was rubbished with comments like lardy, a whale, cumbersome, heavy etc. On the stock, factory suspension settings, they are quite right.
When I first got my bike, it took me a while to get used to it and once I was and really started to push it in corners, I got a bit of a fright. In high speed sweepers (160-180kmh) if you hit some undulations in the road, it would wobble and weave, which was a little disconcerting like riding a jelly around the edge of a desert bowl.
I finally found an article on the best tweaks for this bike, dialed in heaps of preload front and rear, maximum compression on the rear, fiddled with the damping and now it’s as good as it gets for such a bike, without going for after market suspenders. It’s made a huge difference to the handling and stability.
In short, this bike will stay with the sporties when pushed. I am sure there are those who have ridden with me that will vouch for this. It’s quite amazing that a bike of this size and weight will actually corner like it does in the sweepers, but it’s even better in the real tight stuff and thrives on tight chicanes and corners.
Come and ride with me.
I jump aboard the GSX1400. I turn the key and both the speedo and tach needles do a full sweep across the clocks. The starter is thumbed and 1400cc of bullet proof motor, bursts into life. The clutch is released and I leave my property, taking my local roads to my favourite playground.
I’m in the country, the sun is shining and the roads are dry, roads I know like the back of my hand. The first short straight appears; the silky smooth Suzuki gear box gets kicked down a cog and the right grip is twisted hard. The front skims the ground in second gear and the bars go light. The awesome feeling of sheer torque pulls my arms forward and I lean towards the front of the bike to counteract the increasing forces. The horizon rapidly approaches as I flick into third and then fourth. Clutchless changes are no problem.
Now in fifth, on the six speed box, the needle hovers around 230kmh and the first sweeper approaches and under the helmet, no one can see the maniacal grin that splits my face.
The front, adjustable brake lever, is pulled slightly with two fingers, the throttle blipped and into fourth, then third; I slide up to the tank to get the weight over the front with a little trail braking into the corner as the bike is laid over. It drops in without effort and with slight throttle control I hold the line. As the corner exit approaches, the throttle is turned more and more and the bike stands up easily, powering into the next section. A tight series of corners is next.
I counter steer the bike hard into the left hander and feel the left foot peg, feeler bolt sliding across the asphalt and my boot jumps up and down a little with the bike heeled right over. The tyres are warm and grip is now at its best. Counter steering again and the bike immediately drops into the right hander, then back over to the left. The handling on this bike is sublime; it goes exactly where you want it. Haul on the front brake hard and the pads bite into the disks, slowing the 250kgs (wet) down remarkably quick, ready for the hard left hairpin; pick my line, turning in late to get the best view around the corner, change down, drop her over, off the brakes, hit the apex, throttle open, slingshot out of the exit with the beautiful sound of twin exhausts in full song. Oh what pleasure, indescribable feelings of euphoria and that adrenaline rush that sweeps your body when you ride to the edge and push a big bike to it’s limits.
A more open chicane is just ahead, I power down the short straight and chop down through the gears once more, throw her into the sweeping left, pegs scratching once again; this is a tight corner so more counter steering input is applied to the bars, to heel her into the right hander. A little head shake develops as the power is applied along with the counter steering forces and over she goes into the next gentler bend with the needle hitting 170kmh. This bike is a pleasure to ride. On we go, maintaining the pace and enjoying the seemingly endless series of bends this road dishes up.
Yes, it handles surprisingly well for a large heavy sports tourer and its lots of fun to ride.
Ground clearance can be an issue when it’s pushed really hard but I have found hanging off the bike allows me to corner even harder when required and if needed.
I haven’t got tired of this bike. It does all I need it to. I can ride all day and then do it all again without discomfort. There comes a time, when you ride a lot, that you think it would be nice to have more power, so you start eyeing up the hyper sports tourers and the more rapid sporties. Then after a break you get back on the GSX1400 and you realize all over again, what a brilliant all rounder it really is and you go out and surf the torque wave again and you know, you just can’t part with it. It’s got under my skin like no other bike ever has. There’s something very satisfying about throwing a big heavy sports tourer through the twisties, going smooth on the throttle and hearing some harder bits touching down. You can actually ‘ride’ this bike and it requires your attention and input at all times. Stress relief, is a throttle twist away.
You can ride it lazily along in any gear but when you want some fun, it’s willing and able enough to accommodate you. I thought the hoon in me had been long killed off, which is why I settled for a sporty tourer, but this bike has reawakened that wild element that has lay dormant for so long. But, you know what? The remarkable thing is, that it does exactly what you want. Yes, I ride it “beyond” it’s design brief, but it loves it and so do I.
Comfort, useable power, torque (oh yeah), reliability, heaps of under seat storage, handling, good fuel consumption when ridden normally.
It likes tyres, ground clearance issues when pushed hard, fuel consumption when going hard.