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My Suzuki GSX1400 K2 - after 6,000 km/3,600 miles

Here's some pictures I took during the first 24 hours I owned the motorcycle. Here's my first thoughts of the brand new bike and why I choose to buy it. Here's a page about the initial (1,000 km / 600 miles) service. Here's a page about the first ride after winter. Here's a page with some pictures I took of my bike in May 2002. Here's the page about my first long trip to Finland with the bike in July 2002.

On this page I tell you what I think of my bike now in July 2002, ten months after the purchase and after the second service.

My GSX1400 has just been at the second service. There have not been any problems so far with the bike so the guy at Kenneth’s Motor in Eskilstuna provided the service while I was waiting.

The only thing he could point out was a couple of bolts between frame and the engine (on the left side) were a bit loose and he tightened them up. I chose to use the same (inexpensive) Texaco Havoline semi-synthetic car/motorcycle engine oil that I used the last time. There have not been any problems with slipping or dragging clutch or difficulties in gear changing. I still believe it's an overkill to use the expensive brands and makes sold for motorcycle use only.

About the tires

The rear tire is worn out now and I there’s a new tire waiting for me at a local dealer where I get a better price, it should probably have been replaced several miles ago already but I have wanted to use the old tire as many miles as possible. I choose to use the original type and dimension. I have been quite pleased with it so far. When the roads are dry there’s all the grip in the world. At rain old cold weather (I have used my bike almost the entire winter so I know) the Bridgestone BT020 reveals quite soon that you shouldn’t ride as aggressively as during perfect conditions. I’m not an expert but I think the BT020 is as good as any other great standard tire at the market.

The rear tyre after a few laps on the race track. Click to enlarge.

A message sent by a guy called Sam Rubra to the www.gsx1400.org message board earlier this year made it easier for me to choose the same kind of tire that was mounted on the stock GSX1400. Here follows the story Sam told us.

Sam Rubra told that he had had an interesting conversation with the technical authority from Avon Tires, responsible for the bike tire products worldwide, a former 250cc race champion. He had just returned from a test track in Europe where they had tested the latest rubber on all the manufacturer's machines.

He had lots of bad things to say about lots of bikes including the Honda Blackbird, though Honda was his favorite make. One point he wanted to make was NEVER repair a puncture as there is a continuous belt (360 meters long) in all-modern performance tires if this fractures, then you will have many belts and the tire will deflect up to 2 cm diameter increase under load and be unstable...

Sam asked him about the GSX1400, he advised, ”It's an absolutely smashing piece of kit”. He liked it so much he kept the test bike for himself for the whole two-week test period. He also said that if he'd been given it ten years ago that he'd have won another championship!

As for the tires, he said "the Bridgestones work really well on this bike, I wouldn't recommend changing them for anything else...” so he didn't even recommend his own product...

He thought you could get between 3000-5000 miles, (about 5000-8000 km) out of them depending on how you drive. He said that faster riders get more from their tires as they drive smoother…

A day at the races

Earlier this spring I spent a day on a racing track with my GSX1400. The Swedish importer of Suzuki motorcycles had arranged a training day on the Karlskoga Motorstadion for the customers that had bought a new sports model of Suzuki after autumn 2001. There were a few GSX1400 owners there among a couple of GSF1200 Bandit owners and a whole bunch of GSX-R1000 owners. The training day proved to be great fun.

Two GSX1400's checking in. Click to enlarge.

Riding a bike on a racetrack was a whole new experience for me. I didn’t actually know we were going to do that, I had been told that the training day was about ”training extreme situations in order to became a better driver in the traffic”. At first I was suspicious. I even asked the Suzuki personnel there if it was that wise to learn how to ride on the wrong side of the road, cut every corner and ride as fast as possible. They didn’t really know what to say.

After about 50 laps on the track I KNEW I was a better driver than I had been before the exercise. I realized that if the tarmac is dry and clean I can actually lean the bike as much as I want to in the corners (at least until my feet touch the road) and there’s still 100 percent grip. That may sound like yesterday’s news to you more experienced drivers but I am a new-beginner with ”real” motorcycles so I have never used the whole width of the rear tire earlier.

Waiting for the fun to begin.

I wasn’t driving among the fastest and more experienced guys on the circuit but it was a great feeling to realize that the ”old man’s bike” as a couple of GSX-R1000 owners called the GSX1400 was as fast a bike as the racing replica. The driver made the difference, not the bike. A couple of R1000 owners were given the opportunity to take a spin around the track with a GSX1400 and they were all positively surprised. ”It’s wasn’t anything like I though it should be”, one guy said. ”It’s actually a great motorcycle!”

By that time (about 3000 km/ 2000 miles on the meter) I had noticed that the fuel consumption had improved, the exhaust noise been more masculine and the engine gave more power. I really loved the sound of my bike at high revs on the racetrack. ”No way I’m going to spend lots of money to buy new exhausts” I thought. I liked my bike even more than earlier.

The suspension and the original settings

There’s lots of adjusting possibilities but I hadn’t touched the buttons. I had been reading articles about how to adjust the suspension settings on bikes to make it perfect for the owner but I still didn’t feel like I knew what I was doing so I had used the factory settings. There was actually nothing wrong with them. The only thing I had done was to increase the rear tire pressure from 2,5 kg (36 psi) to 2,8 kg (40 psi). The rear tire had started to wear flat and felt uncomfortable at the corners. My friend at the local tire shop suggested that I’d put more air in the tire and so I did. I’m not a skinny guy, at that time I weighted almost 100 kg (220 lbs) and I figured that I must use tire pressure used for about one and a half persons sitting on the bike. Almost immediately the rear tire felt like it was round again! It began wearing smoother that before and it felt much better! Now I have lost some of the dead weight and weigh about 85 kg (187 lbs) and I still keep the higher rear tire pressure.

What the owner’s manual says about tire pressure and loading: ”Under-inflated tires make smooth cornering difficult, and can result in rapid tire wear. Over-inflated tires have a smaller amount of tire in contact with the road, which can contribute to skidding and loss of control.” The recommended cold tire inflation pressures are: front 2,5 kgf/cm2 (36 psi), both solo and two-up riding and rear 2,5 kgf/cm2 (36 psi) solo riding, 2,9 kgf/cm2 (42 psi).

The Suzuki personnel at the racing track though that my choice of using 2,8 kgf/cm2 (40 psi) sounded OK. Even the service guy at Kenneth’s Motor in Eskilstuna thought that he wouldn’t go below 2,7 kgf/cm2 (38 psi)

Then the suspension settings. The owner’s manual says: ”The standard settings of both front and rear suspensions are selected to meet various riding conditions such as low to high motorcycle speed and light to heavy load on the motorcycle. The suspension settings can be adjusted for your preference and fine-tuning.” Then the manual tells how to make the adjustments.

There lots of possibilities (but the manual doesn’t describe what happens if you change the settings):

Front suspension:
spring pre-load fully adjustable,
rebound damping force 12-way adjustable.

Rear suspension:
spring pre-load fully adjustable,
rebound damping force 4-way adjustable,
compression damping fully adjustable.

Instead of turning all the knobs and see what happens I asked the Suzuki personnel at the racetrack what they might suggest me to do. The mechanics didn’t think there wasn’t anything really wrong with the factory settings but because I weigh more than ”average motorcyclist” (his guess was it was about 79 kg/ 174 lbs) he increased the spring pre-load from the factory setting (1,5 lines visible) to three lines. He even stiffened the rebound damping from the factory setting (position 2) to position 3. He didn’t touch the compression damping force adjuster and did nothing to the front suspension settings.

It’s hard to tell the difference on the track because the changes were made before I had ever rode a bike on a racing track but I felt comfortable with the settings. The bike felt stiffer than before, in a positive sense.

A professional racing driver was invited to show us rookies how it was done. It was fun to see him ride his factory racer like crazy but it was absolutely more fun to pertend you were a racing driver yourself for a day.

It wasn’t until on my way home from Karlskoga I noticed that some of the comfort was gone. The original settings seem to be a great compromise between comfort and handling. The seat and actually the whole bike seemed to vibrate more and I felt that the new settings are not that great for cruising speeds.

Now I have softened the rear suspension a bit since the racetrack. The rebound damping is back to the factory setting (position 2) and the spring pre-load is at two lines (factory setting was 1,5) and I’m comfortable with it at any speed (for now anyway).

The next weekend I visited the Custom Bike Show in Norrtälje with my older brother Yrjö, the GoldWing owner. I met a GSX1400 owner there from Stockholm and we chatted a little. He knew a guy that was working at the Öhlins, manufacturer of the world-famous suspension details. He had tested the GSX1400 and he actually praised the suspension of the bike. He thought the handling and the comfort were excellent and he found nothing wrong with the standard settings.

This start to sound almost embarrassing, everybody who understands about bikes seem to tell only good things about the bike I bought mostly for the looks. Well, they praised a bike in some magazine articles as well and said that it was great fun to ride and was easy to handle. What I didn’t know that it was such a great piece of machinery, I ordered a bike without even seeing it in flesh.

Having fun in Karlskoga.

Still satisfied with the bike

As I have told you many times already, I am not a bike mechanics and I’m not really the right person to criticize or praise any technical solutions of the GSX1400. But after 6000 km (almost 4000 miles) on its saddle I have learned to know my bike a bit more and I think I can say a bit more about it that after the first service (the last time I wrote a story like this) and I still have not got any bad things to say about the GSX1400. It has worked like a Swiss quality watch (apart from the time it wouldn’t start at all one day, see the problems and troubleshooting page for details). After I purchased the little windshield I got rid of the turbulence at very high speeds. I still miss a full fairing on cold weather and I’m saving for a hard saddle bag kit and I sometimes wish I owned a light offroad bike as well) but you can’t get it all, can’t you? I don’t even wish for a new exhaust system anymore.

By the way, the GSX1400 owner I met at the Custom Bike Show had mounted a Suzuki original bikini fairing that was designed for the GS500E. It fits perfectly and looks quite nice (see the pictures of the bike here), looks a bit like the GS1000S from the late seventies. The only modification he had to do was to make a couple of plate holders to attach the fairing to the bike.

Even the air filter from the GS500E seems to fit. There are no K&N air filters available for the GSX1400 yet but somebody said that there is a K&N filter for GS500E and it will fit. The GS500 filter is much shorter though and therefore lets less air to pass it and isn’t the optimal solution for the GSX1400.

Yes, there’s dozens of manufactures making zorsts and full exhaust systems for the GSX1400, there’s replacement cams, Power Commanders and all sorts of trim kits available for the GSX1400 that is obviously capable of delivering much more power than it does from the factory but I like it just the way it is. More power means more tire and chain wear and for the moment I’m satisfied with the speed resources of it. I’m even happy with the fuel economy. If you ride at around the allowed speed it actually shows remarkably fuel mileage.

Jarmo Haapamäki
July 11, 2002
Still a proud owner of a Suzuki GSX1400 K2, ten months after purchase

More: After a trip to Finland

More: Suzuki GSX1400

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