John Crockford, our resident test rider, on the… Suzuki GSX-S 1000

First impression…

I have to admit, I have a bit of a soft spot for this baby, as the power plant for this is basically the same motor that was in the GSXR1000K5 that I raced back in the day – and that was a stonking bike!

Visually, I really like the white with blue detail – it looks clean & crisp. I was surprised how easy it was to throw my leg over, preventing any toe scuff marks on the tail piece, and found it to be quite a natural seated position. Pressing the button, and it instantly fired up with that familiar menacing growl!



The motor is silky smooth all the way through the rev range with progressive torque and power that pulls from sub 30mph in top gear with no complaints. Initially, I was sceptical it was the same engine that I knew at the lower revs as it seemed so rider friendly, but as the revs built, it just kept pulling and soon got the front wheel skimming the tarmac and me giggling like a school girl! Gearbox gave effortless gear changes both up and down the box and the clutch was really light, quite sensitive but had good feel.



I was a little surprised initially that the bike didn’t fill me with confidence the first time I chucked it into a turn. The next one however, I put a bit of effort in – not much, just dropped the shoulder slightly, and felt loads better! I thought of maybe tweaking the front end as it has adjustable forks, but on research I see the ‘S’ has a longer wheelbase and a lazier geometry than the ‘R’, which makes sense and gives the additional stability. Suspension felt firm at the rear with a plush front end. You can go scratching on this, but need to put the effort in and you’ll be grinning from ear to ear! Brakes are really powerful and give good feel.



For an un-faired bike, it was surprisingly easy to maintain higher speeds and with the lower front end, it seems the wind catches your chest more than your head, which makes it easier on the body. The dash is quite simple and easy to read, but is limited on the rider aids front. When following traffic, the fly-by-wire throttle seemed a bit over responsive, requiring quite a lot of effort to stop it snatching over bumps, but sneaking through at traffic lights was a breeze. I found it really comfortable in whatever I did, but I should imaging someone with long legs might find the pegs a little cramped.




 For an all-rounder, this pretty much ticks all the boxes – agile for commuting, comfy for touring and can hustle when you want it to! Value for money, I would say it’s bang on. It may not have the fancy electronics, bells & whistles, but it’s a quality ride. The only thing I would do is maybe add a fuel module (Power Commander, Bazzaz unit) with an hour on the dyno to iron out that initial tap on throttle issue, then happy days!

John Crockford our resident  test rider on the......Aprilia Shiver 900
First impression…
A sweet looking all-rounder that I was pleasantly surprised at the fact it was easy to push around and manoeuvre - even on my slanted gravel driveway! At 5’7”, I’m not the tallest rider and found the ergonomics to be very comfortable, with only minor adjustments to levers and mirrors required for everything to be in line, unloaded and have good vision. Firing it up omitted a pleasant muffled boom from the twin pipes.
A torquey V-twin that feels surprisingly smooth, but for 900cc, I was expecting a bit more of a power rush as the revs rise. The pull seems to flatten in the higher revs until you hit the limiter, so there is no need to get this one screaming – it seems far happier in the mid-range. The first three gears seemed a bit agricultural, with me having to use the clutch on up shifts to stop my passenger head butting me from behind! 4th to 6th seemed fine though. Clutch was light, nice and progressive.
The chassis does what the bike is designed for very well. Feels agile in traffic make light work in town and rolls into turns really well on sweeping A-roads. Suspension was firm and the bike felt stable with whatever I threw at it, managing to change line direction and direction with ease - but it certainly is not a sports bike! Braking was very solid and good enough performance, however I never felt the ABS cut in. On the motorway, my neck was straining after 5 minutes, and had to drop to the legal limit to prevent a trip to the physio…
Rider aids…
The LCD panel dash has big digits making it easy to read, however I did find it was maybe mounted too low as I was having to bow my head down when riding, taking my eyes off the road. It lights up like a Christmas tree at 100mph or at high revs, shouting to remind you that it’s not designed for that sort of malarkey! It has three ride modes that apparently changes the ABS & TC parameters which was easy to change, but I didn’t fully test.
 A great all-rounder with the usual Italian good looks. It may lack the Japanese equivalent refinements but I think that is reflected in the price difference. Personally, I would fit a screen to deflect the wind when on the motorway and fit some nice aftermarket cans to hear that V-twin properly!        

John Crockford 

We thank John for his valued review and hope this genuine feedback helps riders out there!


In another life I was a Lecturer of mechanical engineering at Bordon, Hampshire near Alton, teaching Engines and heavy and light armoured vehicles to the MOD. I would ride my Gixxer to work in the summer with my stuff in a 35 litre back pack, (50mls). One way, the front has a zipped compartment covered by a Velcro flap to keep rain out, I would keep my Pass in there to allow me to get into the camp, so it opened and shut every time I entered and left. I did this for five years, the Velcro started to come unstuck and the front flapped as I rode the bike.
I liked the bag a lot so contacted Kriega and asked if they recommended anywhere to repair it, they sent me a stamped addressed label and said they would look into it if I mailed the bag.
It was back in a week, every zip strap and clip, including the Velcro flap had been renewed, with a my compliments slip telling me it was good for another 10 Yrs.
Now that’s what I call service and a fantastic product, I will never use anything else.
Jim, Mudie. MSC. BA (ed) AMIME.


The New Suzuki V-Strom 1050

I was the lucky one in the team to be asked to attend this years' Suzuki trial for the new V-Strom 1050 in Madrid, Spain. We flew out on a Wednesday morning and by midday were out testing the bikes in the glorious, crisp, clear sunshine of Spain. I found the model to be very refreshing, the bike still has the amazing turning agility, comfort and fuel efficiency. I did not expect to see such a change in technology, having a 6-axis IMU onboard to help assist with braking and power distribution, LCD display, Hill Hold System, three levels of power response, cruise control and many more. Time to fly home on the Thursday afternoon and I was back to reality and airport ques as there were strikes... still it was great 24 hours and i'm looking forward to sharing my experience of the bike with any interested parties this year.
Jordan S (Sales - Dearden Motorcycles)

Introducing John Crockford, our resident test rider at Dearden Motorcycles 

From many years at schoolboy motocross, John ventured into road riding at the age of 16. After staring down the barrel of his 2nd ban for speeding, he decided to take to the racing scene. Within 5 years he achieved top British Superbike privateer status and signed a contract with a factory supported race team, then went on to claim many race victories, multiple podiums and lap records in the Superstock 1000 and Supersport 600 classes. Moving on to World Endurance, he competed at the famous 24 hour Le Mans and Bol D’Or events, mentored riders, ran a race school and carried on racing until a bad crash at Brands Hatch in 2011. Unable to compete anymore, he formed a race team with his previous Chief Mechanic to support up & coming riders and have had great success in the BSB Superstock 600, Supersport 600 and now currently, his son and a young Australian in Junior Supersport and Superstock 1000 classes.