GSX-S1000 vs GSX-S1000F vs MT09 vs MT09 TRACER GT
I was in the market for a new bike. Kawasakiís offerings, although good, donít entice me. MT10 is a bit too OTT for me in all areas including price. Iíd whittled it down to the above four then test rode them. Here are my blunt, opinionated and unrefined thoughts...
The MT09 has a stonking engine, smooth torque, linear delivery, and an addictive quickshifter. However the bike felt very small and short in length; with me at 6ft I was a bit cramped. Felt like I wanted to sit on the pillion seat. Might be able to be cured with different bars but riding position was like a motocross bike but with higher pegs. Handling on smooth roads around Basingstokeís ring road system of roundabouts was truly sublime. However, onto back roads and it was awful Ė the shock was just so hard I was in pain and even yelped a few times over harsher bumps. Over bumps the shock wave would travel through my bum spine and concentrate in my gut where it felt like I was being punched. It was so hard it felt a bit unstable round corners as a result too. Couldnít wait to get off it. Rear shock settings were standard on this one, apparently. The SP model might be a bit better in this area with Ohlins but it would have to be a revolutionary change for me to even consider getting one. Might be great as a sunny Saturday morning weapon to spank before breakfast, a city bike, or track day tool, but for me thatís about it. For me I wanted something more stable, larger, and tolerable on longer runs.
GSX-S1000F was marvellous. Heavier, more stable, softer, and certainly faster than the MT09 but not by much until the high revs where it was mad. Felt like a much better road bike. Screen was a bit useless though. Unnecessarily large mode switch on the left which would never get used by me. The fairing at the front seemed overly large and bulbous for no real reason. There's not a lot in the large void inside. Why add that space? Other faired bikes typically engineer use of the space inside. Also fairly crude in terms of tech (fine with me - I don't want it) and seemed like not a lot of effort put into design Ė Ďmerelyí a parts bin of gixxer bits and not a lot else. Although a darn fine selection of parts in that binÖ
GSX-S1000 felt lovely. All as above, minus comment about fairing, and the airflow on my body and head was a lot cleaner/laminar, with no turbulence or buffeting. Wind noise lower too. It had a smallish screen fitted, not sure which one, but it was a flattish upside down 'W' shaped profile when looking down at it on the bike. My experience of bikes with screens is that unless itís of the Honda Goldwing variety then best to cut it off short and have a laminar flow of air on your helmet. Thatís what Iíve done on my TDM Ė cut off the top third of it which makes it so much quieter with only a bit more wind pressure on shoulders. I figure that any wind you direct away from your chest is just concentrated in a more turbulent stream of air higher up, which is typically in the head area, which means you have to cope with the noise. Itís the noise, ear ringing and buffeting that fatigues me and makes me want to get off a bike on longer rides. Handling was great; nice and stable, planted, felt like low CofG, suspension not too hard not too soft, went round corners fast on roads with the odd bump no worries at all. Didn't want to get off it! OEM tyres crap though Ė hard, and hard to get warm, and didnít feel like they dig into the road like on some tyres e.g. Pilot Road 5. Luggage options not great with these gixxers though so back to Yamaha to tee up a test ride on theÖ
Very impressed Ė hugely competent bike with controls for cruise control, heated grips, etc. all integrated together as a technical solution through a colour TFT screen. Seems like a lot of effort put into designing this bike and making everything work. Screen was bad Ė Iíd cut off short. Panniers designed into the bike and look good not daft. Could use this bike for anything and itíd probably do it well.
Best bike out of that lot? In my opinion the Tracer GT. Do I actually want one and could I spend over £10k on one though? No way, especially not now Iíve just put a deposit on a 2019 GSX-S1000 which is what I thought I wanted all along anyway 😊. I'm very excited indeed. It's in blue, the fastest colour...