Suzuki is helping sport-tourers make a comeback. With the rise of adventure bikes over the past decade, sport-tourers got shoved aside, relegated to the dark corners of showroom floors. Development cycles stretched out, and model updates became few and far between. That’s a shame. Not everyone wants a motorcycle with a 19-inch front wheel, a 34-inch seat height, and a jungle gym’s worth of crash bars.
As the name implies, sport-tourers combine go-fast performance and touring prowess into a single package. What’s not to love about a superbike engine tuned for the street, a chassis built for both speed and comfort, and ergonomics that won’t make you cry uncle after an hour in the saddle? With their 17-inch wheels shod with grippy radials, sport-tourers love to lean, and modern electronic rider aids help keep things in check.
Enter the new-for-2022 Suzuki GSX-S1000GT ($13,149) and GSX-S1000GT+ ($13,799), the latter distinguished by its color-matched side cases. Color options are the Metallic Reflective Blue of our test bike or Glass Sparkle Black. The GT is built on the same platform as the GSX-S1000 naked sportbike we tested recently. But unlike the GSX-S1000F that was in Suzuki’s lineup until 2020, which was little more than a GSX-S1000 with a fairing bolted on, the GT is a true grand tourer.
Look Good, Feel Good
The GT’s bodywork is distinctive and angular, with a wedge-shaped front fairing that juts sharply forward and houses a V-shaped LED position light and a pair of mono-focus LED headlights (for low beam, only the right lamp is illuminated). Attached to the top of the fairing are mirrors perched on the ends of long stalks and a nonadjustable windscreen. Lower fairing panels keep the radiator and much of the engine hidden, and they are vented to pull hot air out and away from the cockpit.
Two-up comfort was an important consideration in the GT’s development. All the rider and passenger touchpoints – the handlebar, footpegs, and rear grab handles – are rubber-damped to minimize vibration. Compared to the GSX-S1000F, the handlebar is 0.9 inch wider and 0.6 inch closer to the rider, allowing for more steering leverage and a nearly upright seating position. The wide, slightly dished rider’s seat sits 31.9 inches off the deck and is comfortable enough for long days in the saddle. A sporty amount of cornering clearance necessitated high placement of the footpegs, sacrificing some legroom, and they are positioned just below the rider’s hips.
Seat height for the passenger is 34.2 inches, and the 2.3-inch boost in height provides a better view over the rider’s shoulders. Large grab handles allow the passenger to hold on securely to the bike rather than just a strap on the seat or the rider’s hips. Both the front and rear seats have thick, supportive foam and are covered in a slightly grippy weather-resistant material.
To accommodate the added weight of a passenger and luggage, the GT has a trellis-style subframe that provides both strength and visual flair. The GSX-S1000GT+ comes standard with side cases that hold 25.7 liters (and up to 11 lbs) on each side, and they’re large enough to fit most full-face helmets. The saddlebags are easy to open, close, lock, remove, and reinstall, and they are keyed to the ignition. The only downside is that they cannot be left unlocked for quick access.
Paying the $650 premium for the GT+ is money well-spent. High-quality, lockable, removable, weatherproof saddlebags are undeniably convenient and practical. And buying the cases and necessary hardware as standalone accessories will set you back more than $1,000.
To further enhance the GT’s touring ability, Suzuki gave the bike a 6.5-inch full-color TFT display, all-new switchgear, and Bluetooth connectivity. The TFT has a large analog-style tachometer, a digital speedometer, and a fuel gauge on the left side, as well as an array of bike and trip info on the right. It also has a sensor that automatically switches the background from white in bright light to black in low light.
Buttons on the left switchgear allow the rider to adjust settings and navigate menus. Installing the Suzuki mySPIN smartphone app and pairing via Bluetooth provides access to contacts, phone, maps, music, and calendar functions, which are displayed on the TFT screen. You’ll need a Bluetooth helmet headset to make/receive calls, listen to music, or hear turn-by-turn directions. A USB port on the dash provides on-the-go charging for devices.
In Thrust We Trust
Like the GSX-S1000, the GT is powered by a 999cc in-line Four adapted from the GSX-R1000 K5 (2005-2008). It’s been retuned to make the engine more suitable for the street, but there’s still plenty of heat in the kitchen. On Jett Tuning’s rear-wheel dyno, the GSX-S1000 churned out 136 hp at 10,200 rpm and 73 lb-ft of torque at 9,300 rpm. Updates to the engine include new camshaft profiles, new valve springs, new throttle bodies, a revised airbox, and a Euro 5-compliant 4-2-1 exhaust. Together, they result in an extra 2 hp at the peak and smoother horsepower and torque curves.
The GSX-S engine is a gem with no rough edges. From cracking open the throttle above idle to twisting the grip to the stop, power comes on cleanly and predictably. Slaloming back and forth on a series of curves with grace and confidence requires accurate additions and subtractions of fuel and air, and the Suzuki mixes them perfectly. Using a throttle-by-wire system, turning the right grip directly activates the throttle position sensor, which sends instantaneous signals to a servo motor that precisely moves the throttle plates. Throttle response is further enhanced by a long, tapered intake tract that is narrower at the bottom where the 10-hole injectors are located.
The GT’s throttle-by-wire also enables the Suzuki Intelligent Ride System, which includes three ride modes (Active, Basic, and Comfort) that adjust throttle response and power delivery, 5-level traction control, cruise control, and Suzuki’s Easy Start, Low RPM Assist, and Bi-Directional Quick Shift systems. ABS is also part of the electronics package, but with no IMU, neither it nor the TC are lean-angle adaptive. The 6-speed transmission has a cable-actuated slip/assist clutch. Gear changes using the quickshifter are fast and smooth, and clutch action is light with predictable engagement. Both the clutch and brake levers are adjustable for reach.
Being derived from a Superbike championship-winning sportbike like the GSX-R1000, the GSX-S1000GT has a massive twin-spar cast-aluminum frame that surrounds the engine and attaches to a cast-aluminum swingarm. KYB suspension – a fully adjustable 43mm inverted fork and a link-type rear shock that’s adjustable for preload and rebound – is taut yet comfortable.
Brembo 4-piston radial-mount monoblock front calipers are mated to fully floating 310mm rotors, and they offer strong power and precise feedback. A Nissin 1-piston rear caliper squeezes a 240mm disc. The GT rolls on six-spoke, 17-inch cast-aluminum wheels shod with Dunlop Roadsmart 2 sport-touring radials that deliver reliable grip and neutral cornering behavior.
On the Road Again
Suzuki hosted a two-day press launch for the GSX-S1000GT+, with a test route that started and ended at its U.S. headquarters in Brea, California. Back-to-back 300-mile days gave us a chance to thoroughly evaluate the GT in a wide range of conditions, including traffic-choked freeways, wide-open highways, and tight, technical backroads. We followed that up with more miles on a test bike over several weeks on home turf.
The qualities that impressed us about the GSX-S1000 – impeccable smoothness, predictable handling, unflappable stability, and linear power delivery – carry over to its GT sibling. Likewise, its braking and suspension components and electronic rider aids were selected to deliver sporting performance without inflating the retail price.
Where the GT really stands out is its rider and passenger comfort, cruise control, instrumentation and connectivity, and, on the GT+, stylish and useful saddlebags. Weighing in at 521 lbs with its 5-gal. tank full, the GT+ is much lighter than open-class sport-tourers like the BMW R 1250 RT (615 lbs), Yamaha FJR1300ES (644 lbs), and Kawasaki Concours 14 (691 lbs). It weighs more than the Yamaha Tracer 9 GT (503 lbs) but makes significantly more rear-wheel horsepower (136 vs. 108). With its cornering ABS and TC and semi-active suspension, the Tracer 9 GT also costs $1,200 more than the GSX-S1000GT+ ($14,999 vs. $13,799).
If the GT has one notable shortcoming, it’s the nonadjustable windscreen. Though Suzuki says it and the bodywork were developed in a wind tunnel, airflow over the windscreen hit me square in the chest and created a lot of turbulence around my helmet. Of course, the size of the rider plays a role in aerodynamics (I’m 6 feet tall), but the lack of height adjustability means you get what you get. Suzuki makes an accessory touring windscreen ($169.95) that is 2.75 inches taller and has a more vertical pitch near the top, but one was not available during our test.
Other available accessories include heated grips, a two-tone rider’s seat with a suede-like cover embossed with the GSX-S GT logo, axle sliders, ring-lock tankbags (small and large), tank pads and protectors, and wheel rim decals.
We’re glad to see Suzuki helping bring the sport-touring class to its former glory. The GSX-S1000GT+ strikes an excellent balance between performance, technology, weight, comfort, and price. Life is good when the scenery is a blur.
2022 Suzuki GSX-S1000GT+ Specs
Base Price: $13,149 (GT)
Price as Tested: $13,799 (GT+ w/ 25.7L side cases)
Warranty: 1 yr., unltd. miles
Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse in-line Four, DOHC w/ 4 valves per cyl.
Bore x Stroke: 73.4 x 59.0mm
Compression Ratio: 12.2:1
Valve Insp. Interval: 15,000 miles
Fuel Delivery: EFI w/ throttle-by-wire, 40mm throttle bodies x 4
Lubrication System: Wet sump, 3.6 qt. cap.
Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated slip/assist wet clutch
Final Drive: O-ring chain
Frame: Twin-spar cast aluminum frame & swingarm
Wheelbase: 57.5 in.
Rake/Trail: 25 degrees/3.9 in.
Seat Height: 31.9 in.
Suspension, Front: 43mm inverted fork, fully adj., 4.7 in. travel
Rear: Single linkage shock, adj. spring preload & rebound, 5.1 in. travel
Brakes, Front: Dual 310mm floating discs w/ 4-piston radial monoblock calipers & ABS
Rear: Single 240mm disc w/ 1-piston caliper & ABS
Wheels, Front: Cast, 3.5 x 17 in.
Rear: Cast, 6.0 x 17 in.
Tires, Front: 120/70-ZR17
Wet Weight: 521 lbs (as tested)
Load Capacity: 405 lbs (as tested)
GVWR: 926 lbs
Horsepower: 136 hp @ 10,200 rpm (rear-wheel dyno)
Torque: 73 lb-ft @ 9,300 rpm (rear-wheel dyno)
Fuel Capacity: 5.0 gals.
Fuel Consumption: 35.5 mpg
Estimated Range: 178 miles