It’s easy to be seduced by the dynamic and aggressive line of modern superbikes, packed with science fiction technology and immense power. And I’m the first to say that big bikes are great fun, but what if you don’t have 20,000 euros to spend on a 1000 cc and you still want that superbike feeling?
What about an old bike?
Of course, you could buy a 10-year-old bike and save a lot of money. Like the Suzuki GSXR 1000 K4 for example. It’s from 2004 like the “K4” suggests and you can find a well-kept model for around €5,000. But you might think that after all, it’s an old machine. Old and heavy. Well, you might be wrong. Because this bike weighs just 168 kg and has 164 HP. Which means it has twice the power to weight ratio of a Bugatti Veyron, enough to bring you from 0 to 100 km/h in less than 3 seconds. It was Suzuki’s answer to the Yamaha R1, making it lighter, more powerful and more precise. Everything was updated: better suspensions, bigger brakes, even the headlight is narrower to make space for the huge air intake in order to force more air into the airbox. It ruled the 1000cc class for a while back in those days. It is so fast that even Kevin Schwantz (500cc World Champion in 1993), in his driving school, uses the GSXR 750 because he said that the 1000cc is so powerful that it’s almost scary.
Even if it’s incredibly fast and effective on track, it doesn’t suffer from that kind of stiffness of road going racing bikes. On low speed, it’s smooth, easy to ride and it doesn’t put too much pressure on your wrists, which makes it even comfortable… for a sports bike. Of course, you should look for a model in good conditions. Like for any other bike you should check the bearings, the brakes, and the radiator or any weird noise from the engine.
Definitely not a video game
It feels very mechanical and less like a video game like the CBR1000 of the same age. The throttle response is always precise and the weight distribution makes it easy to keep the line in the corner. And it’s so simple, it doesn’t even have a slipper clutch. On the race track, I didn’t experience any bad lockup or wobbly rear end while downshifting.
A second thought
If you are a beginner, this is not the bike for you even if it’s in your budget. And despite the fact that it’s smooth at low speed, the first gear is way too long for the city and the fun part of the acceleration is medium high. On the race track everything makes sense, the faster it goes the more stable it gets. It still is a good looking bike, probably one of the prettiest of the GSXR series. It may not have ABS, traction control or any of the modern gizmos but in my opinion, it’s exactly what gives it the right charm. It’s a rider’s bike.
So here’s the tip of the day. Yes, you can have that superbike feeling for much less than a new bike. But remember, this one won’t correct your mistakes.
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