Some things in life come easily to you, and some things come hard. I have a philosophy about this when thinking back over the years to the various vehicles I’ve owned or used – or that have been part of my life.
Every one that I’ve struggled to acquire has been a pain in the cock. Whether this has been due to last minute insurance issues, funding, order delays or similar – it’s always soured the remaining period of ownership. It’s as if the vehicular Gods are saying “Son, this ones not for you…”
This is certainly true of how I came about owning my Suzuki GSX-R1000 K7. A total accident, unplanned, unknown and un-researched purchase, which I was pretty much cornered into taking away.
I had bought a Kawasaki ZX-12R Ninja for more of a motorway munching commuter bike to accompany me on the daily 100-mile slog in and out of London. However, after 3 weeks of ownership, I realised, she wasn’t for me: poor fuel range, actually pretty uncomfortable for a sports-tourer and riddled with electrical faults. So I called up the dealer I bought it from and asked if I could have my money back. Long shot I know. They said no unsurprisingly, but they would take credit for any other bike they had in stock, which, I thought was a fair deal.
From the remaining bunch of sorry machines they had left, nothing particularly hit the spot – apart from a low-mileage Suzuki GSX-R1000. So I literally rode in on the Kwak and left with the K7. That’s how I came to have her – a fluke, an accident and an almost entirely random purchase. But what an inspired decision it was.
I don’t think the K7 was ‘the best’ at anything. The K5 is a bike that is going down on the future classic list, but the stock K7 was compromised by new EU emissions regulations and cosmetic updates which were only ever going downhill after her sexy older sister. Add some more confusion with the addition of high and low speed compression settings on the forks, heavy twin pipes and it’s all a bit… not K5. I’m not technical enough to explain why the engine doesn’t feel as alive as the previous model, or why it’s so slow to turn into corners but I can confirm these issues are indeed fact, as I owned a K5 for a while and the animalistic rawness of the outgoing model is AWOL on the newer bike.
Does it matter to me? Not in the slightest. Compromise. That’s what this bike is, a compromise. And quite frankly at this moment in time, I think it’s better for it. Let me explain as I’m sure your not following me on this… yet.
Let’s talk about the usage I have for this bike. I ride it all year round on the commute to London, motorways, tight filtering, on-street parking, some EU touring, occasional circuit duties and the odd pillion or two may frequent my rear end. Oh, and may be some off-roading.
Firstly, motorways. It’s a mile muncher. The GSX-R is first class seating compared to nearly all other sports bikes. Room to stretch your legs, bars are a little higher, you sit more ‘inside’ the bike plus it has adjustable footpegs as standard. I kid you not, on a run to Le Mans once, I almost drifted off to a comfortable sleep laying on the tankbag with my elbows resting on my knees, it’s that comfortable.
The tank range is unbelievably good when you need it to be. I managed 180 miles once and often averaged 160, only pulling in to find there was still 2 litres left to go.
It’s one smoooooth machine. The engine and gearbox combo give this bike a momentum feel – almost train like in its will to just press on and get to the next destination. And of course, if you happen to find yourself on a derestricted autobahn, there is a gargantuan top end rush of 170bhp waiting for you to exploit and enjoy whenever you feel the need to see your life flash before your eyes.
In the city, for sure, it’s overkill when it comes to power but the way the power is delivered, you can quite happily potter about until you need to grab a handful and enter the top of the rev range for overtaking, er, cyclists or Lambos. It’s nice and narrow for squeezing through the tightest of holes and excellent clutch control means less fatigue on the wrists.
When it comes to parking up you can be sure there will be flashier bikes around you to take the attention of any thieving bastards who want to rob you of your hard earned freedoms. After parking in central London for years, the best method of security I’ve come across is park next to a nicer bike. Selfish I know but makes sense.
Being a Suzuki it’s easily tuneable and cheap to fix or upgrade. So for the odd circuit spanking it will hold up to some action and not break the bank should you decide to jump off it. Parts are everywhere for these things – they made 1,000,000 GSX-Rs, think about it – and many later model bits can be retro fitted down to the K7 as the bike today is still largely the same as it was then.
In most aspects of my life, I’m not a fan of compromises; they often feel like no-one wins. But in this case, I’m happy to accept that the best bike I’ve owned is not the best at anything at all. Instead, it’s good at lots of things, which allows me to experience more and use it more often, which surely is why these machines exist, to be used. I get a lot of stick for what I put that bike through, but the fact is she can take it. It saddens me to think of the 1000s of bikes locked up in peoples’ garages just wasting away and dying. Use it or lose it.