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"Fast Bikes", May 1, 2013

K5 vs 2013

JAPANESE 1000S USED TO BE THE DADDIES, THE FIRST PORT OF CALL FOR A HEDONISTIC THRASH FEST. SO WE RECALLED THE DADDY FROM 2005 TO SEE IF THE LATEST CROP ROCK

WORDS: ALASTAIR ‘A-FORCE’ FAGAN

PIC: JONNY GAWLER

In 2005, Suzuki unleashed a massive can of whoop-ass with the GSX-R1000 K5, which still remains a Fast Bikes favourite. It was so far ahead of its rivals of the time; mentally fast, bragging sublime handling – the K5 was pure hooligan utopia. It wasn’t until the more refined Fireblade came out in 2008 that the K5 was bettered. That’s some reign.

Five years after the K5 was launched, the history books were rewritten when BMW stopped making dreary mile-munchers, instead creating the S 1000 RR. It’s no secret (BMW told us) that the Bavarians used the K5 as a base for the S Thou’. After all, they had no sportsbike data or reference to call upon from its ranks of GS’s and K1300 machines.

Close your eyes, and the similarities between K5 and RR are clear. Everything from the riding position, to the chassis’ feel and balance, to the engine’s ferocity (albeit the Beemer has F1 tech injection and a shit-load of grunt), there’s definitely some bruvva-from-another-muvva stuff going on. And if BMW chooses a playmate like the K5 to base its hooly on, we have to respect that decision.

Anyone with a biking brain will place the BMW S Thou’ ahead of the Japanese bikes. The gap in pure performance is seismic, as are the comparative lap times, and, thanks to the Yen being weaker than a pint of shandy, the Beemer is no longer overpriced exotica. Comparing the S 1000 RR to its inferior Japanese rivals has become tedious and ultimately futile, and it seems unfair to give the rest another spanking. It’s time for something a little different.

While traction control, clever ABS and MotoGP tech are present, there have been no changes to the Japanese litre bikes over the past twelve months, so rather than the usual bike-by-bike test, we delved further into a definitive assessment and pitched the modern crop against a class stalwart. For as little as £4,000 you’ll find a mint example K5/6 with low-ish mileage, so we took all five bikes and spanked them round a track, spent a day cruising some A-roads, launched them down a runway, and shoved them on the dyno. The result? The only result that matters.

Have the Jap thou’s peaked? Is buying new essential? Or are we just excessively pampered by Europe’s finest when it comes to performance and gizmos fitted to the latest sportsbikes? Ready, steady, shred...

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