Test ride: Smooth operator – Suzuki GSX-S1000GX

Crossovers are nothing new in the car world. The term arrived with the Nissan Qashqai for cars that merged the talents of traditional hatchbacks and soft-roader SUVs.

But Suzuki dubbing its GSX-S1000GX the ‘ultimate sports crossover’ has really got people talking and upped interest levels.

It blends the long-legged ability of a sports tourer with a riding position and higher bars of an adventure bike. But don’t think of it as just a jacked-up GSX-S1000GT.

The GX is Suzuki’s most advanced road bike with the latest-generation, hi-tech electronic rider aids. They won’t mean much to many riders but play a huge part in how the sports crossover rides, steers, handles, copes with bumps and lumps and delivers its power… whether riding solo, with luggage, two-up or fully-laden.

It’s also the first Suzuki with Showa semi-active electronic suspension, that keeps the bike on an even keel, and Smart TLR (that’s traction, lift and roll torque) with seven settings to also control wheelies and torque delivery when the bike is cranked over coming out of corners.

The long-travel suspension gives 150mm of wheel travel front and rear – 30mm and 20mm up on the GT – but the frame and 152PS, 999cc, inline four-cylinder engine are shared. I saw 45mpg in mixed riding.

Apart from the different fairing, you notice the GX seat is higher than the GT because of the suspension and thicker seat. At 5ft 8in I can get the balls on my feet on the ground on the GT but was on tiptoe on the GX.

On the move, the GX doesn’t feel so big and the technology, while mind-boggling, is easy to adjust on the fly via user-friendly switches on the left-hand cluster.

There are four suspension settings – soft, medium, hard and user. The latter can be customised in conjunction with engine and TLR settings.

The rear preload has auto (self-levelling) mode or presets for solo rider, rider and luggage or rider and pillion.

It means you can match settings to the demands on the bike from solo sports riding to two-up touring.

There are three engine settings – A sharp and responsive, B which suits everyday riding and calm C ideal if the weather is bad.

After much fiddling with the settings while riding, I opted for the medium suspension setting, upped the preload for solo rider with luggage (I carry a few extra pounds) and the mid setting for throttle response.

On bumpy roads, the throttle automatically softens response for smoother progress.

Apart from some buzz through the mirrors at 70mph on a dual-carriageway with the suspension in hard mode, soon sorted by softening the setting, the ride is super absorbent, even over roadwork scars, and sharpens nicely with speed.

Three colours are available – metallic triton blue, pearl matt shadow green and glass sparkle black. The standard GX is £14,499 (the comparable GT is £12,699) with the GX+, which gains 36-litre side cases, £15,599.

So is the GX worth the extra money?

Riders who ride solo or laden or with pillion and tour with full loads of luggage will probably make more use of the advanced suspension, transforming the feel of their bike at the flick of a switch.

I suspect most riders will find the default suspension setting they prefer and let the hi-tech trickery do the work.

There is no right or wrong. I have a friend whose motto is ‘I want it because I want it’. Why not?!

I prefer the GT solely because, with short legs, I can get my feet more firmly on the ground.

That said, I like the more upright riding position of the GX.

If Suzuki put the semi-active suspension on the GT that would be a winner for me. Hi-tech electronic suspension but my feet firmly on the ground!

Find out more about the Suzuki GSX-S1000GX at orwell.co.uk/suzuki/new-suzuki-motorcycle-range/sport/gsx-s1000gx