Project Suzuki GSX1250FA Sport Rider | Motorcycles catalog with specifications, pictures, ratings, reviews and discusssions

Project Suzuki GSX1250FA Sport Rider

7 May 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Project Suzuki GSX1250FA Sport Rider

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“This email is surprisingly not being sent from inside a jail,” began Bradley’s report on riding our project Suzuki GSX1250FA for the first time. “Man, that thing is strong.” Backing up a few months, we had found the GSX to be somewhat anemic in our comparison test with the Kawasaki Ninja 1000 and Yamaha FZ1 (“Battle of the Super-Standards”, Aug. ‘11). Plenty comfortable for commuting, the heavy Suzuki simply ran out of steam at the top end, to the tune of more than 25 horsepower compared with the Ninja and FZ1. Kento and Bradley were using the GSX for the daily freeway grind and not much else, and that should have been the end of the story…until a reader commented that Dale Walker from Holeshot Performance had a combination of parts that more than made up that horsepower difference with little effort.


Intrigued, we contacted the company, ordered up a “Stage 2” kit and set to work. Walker is a former Top Fuel drag racer and no stranger to the magazine, having been involved in several projects over the years. His Holeshot company offers hop-up parts for various models, but the Bandit (the GSX’s former name) seems to be an ongoing pet project.

Central to the kit is Holeshot’s stainless steel 4-into-2-into-1 exhaust system, which consists of a beautifully polished and tig-welded header matched to the company’s stainless steel mid-pipe and muffler. The header retails for $675, while we opted for the 14-inch, satin-black Comp 2 slip-on ($415). The slip-on is also available in a 17-inch length, a “super-stealth street core”, and with a polished outer skin.

The system mounted up easily enough in a couple of hours, and shed 20 pounds from the Suzuki. The lower fairings needed to be trimmed at the leading edge to clear the header pipe, but there is plenty of room to keep the stock centerstand if you choose.

On the opposite side of the engine, we removed the secondary butterflies from the GSX’s SDTV throttle bodies, which required an afternoon’s work. Throttle bodies on the bench, it’s a simple matter to remove the two screws holding each butterfly to the rod running through; we used a hair dryer to loosen the thread locking compound on the screws, easing things considerably. A KN; air filter ($49) was slipped into the Suzuki’s airbox, and the lid modified per Walker’s instructions.

This consisted of cutting out the entire lid save for the mounting screws and flange to actually hold the filter in place. A Dobeck Performance TFI tuning box ($257) was installed and set, again according to Walker’s instructions. The TFI box, which uses potentiometers to adjust fueling in low-, medium- and high-rpm ranges, works well with the GSX and these modifications.

According to Walker, there is no need for anything more elaborate (or expensive!). Finally, we disabled the Suzuki’s O2 exhaust sensor with a bypass module ($15). All these parts — the air filter, TFI box and bypass module — are available through Holeshot Performance.

As you can see from the dyno chart, our GSX has been completely transformed. Torque is up by 13 ft-lb, while power has increased by a whopping 27 horsepower — an incredible gain, all for about $1400 and a weekend’s work. We stopped Bradley drooling enough to get more details out of him: “Tons of top-end power, and it still has that extremely smooth delivery I loved about the bike in stock trim.

The bike has a bunch of power down low too, although the midrange is just OK. Accelerate hard off the line, grab a gear and it even wants to screech the (OE) tires! Biggest difference is past about 7000 rpm.

It just pulls extremely hard all the way up to the rev limiter, with absolutely no indication that it wants to slow down. You can hardly feel the dip in power that the dyno figures show either. It’s still great on the freeway, with very little vibration.

The one thing I noticed, though, is that the on/off throttle transition is a little abrupt (which if I remember correctly, was a problem we experienced with the bike in stock trim). Other than that I am damn impressed. Tons of power that is delivered in an extremely smooth, crisp manner; I have few complaints.”

Kent concurred, and the midrange lull that gives the dyno chart an odd shape has us mystified. Walker reports he has conducted hours of tuning and investigated other forms of EFI management in an effort to smooth out the curve, to no avail. Note that the stock bike’s curves also show a healthy bump right at the top-end, and we’ll surmise that it’s an ignition-related characteristic.

Even with that oddity, the bike is heaps of fun to ride and the powerband is plenty smooth for the type of riding the bike is used for.

As you’d expect, the poor Suzuki’s chassis — underdamped and softly sprung to begin with — was woefully inadequate for any canyon riding with its newfound power. Walker was not surprised when we called to point this out, and was ready with suspension upgrades built to his specifications.

Cogent Dynamics, a suspension shop in North Carolina that produces aftermarket shocks for a limited selection of bikes, manufactures a shock built to Holeshot specifications for the GSX/Bandit series. While the Cogent shock lacks the bells and whistles of a high-end unit, it does offer adjustable preload and rebound damping, is fully rebuildable, and has a lifetime warranty. The high-quality shock is available only through Holeshot Performance, with a modest retail price of $645.

Suzuki GSX 1250FA

We found that in the transition from GSF/Bandit to GSX, Suzuki has slightly changed the rear suspension linkage; a shock intended for the earlier models will not fit the GSX. Take care when ordering suspension bits for either model.

Walker recommended the Suzuki’s conventional cartridge fork be equipped with Race Tech Gold Valves and a set of Cogent springs ($130, again available only through Holeshot), so we shipped the fork tubes and a set of springs off to Race Tech. Since we were the company’s first customer with GSX forks and the Suzuki part numbers for the internals are new for the bike, Race Tech — thorough as always — started from scratch rather than assume everything was identical to the Bandit/GSF bits, ensuring that the components and valving are suitable.

The full treatment Race Tech treatment of compression and rebound Gold Valves, new seals and fluid along with installation cost $525. With the forks back in hand, we reassembled the front end and mounted a Holeshot fork brace to stiffen things up. The $150 fork brace is a five-piece design, CNC-machined from 6061-T6 aluminum and black-anodized — a really nice piece.

To put the GSX’s extra power to the ground, we replaced its OEM-spec Bridgestone rubber with a set of Michelin Pilot Road 3 tires, the company’s latest sport-touring tire introduced in mid-2011. MSRP for a set of the Pilot Road 3s for the GSX – a 120/70 front and 180/55 rear – is $493. With the tires mounted but before we performed the suspension upgrades, Bradley noted that the Pilot Roads drastically improved the bike’s steering, making response lighter in addition to more linear.

The Michelin’s new X-Sipe Technology — thin grooves running across the tread — is said to improve wet-weather grip as well as mileage, two things we will hopefully get a chance to thoroughly test in the coming months.

With the suspension installed and the package complete, Bradley reported the GSX is much more balanced, with the suspension and tire upgrades better matching the increased power output. The slightly longer Cogent shock raises the rear ride height approximately 10mm, making the steering lighter still but not sacrificing stability — in fact, the bike is much more stable than stock now.

And even though we didn’t upgrade the brakes at all, the Suzuki is more composed under braking and stops quicker. Most likely the combination of the Michelin front tire and stiffer front suspension helps here. Bradley noted that the front end definitely feels more rigid with the addition of the fork brace, but the conventional fork still skips over some bumps and the bike is a bit unnerving on corner entry.

Of course, we’re still dealing with a 550-pound bike; even though handling is quite improved from stock we would not expect literbike prowess.

For well under $3000 we released our GSX’s potential and transformed it from an underperformer into a definite overachiever. The bike is way more fun to ride and more representative of what you’d expect — and want — from your 1250cc super-standard. Bradley summed it up best: “If you have one of these bikes and you don’t have these upgrades, you are not doing the bike justice.” SR

Suzuki GSX 1250FA
Suzuki GSX 1250FA
Suzuki GSX 1250FA
Suzuki GSX 1250FA

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