Ian Kerr on the new GSX-R750
It's just right
600cc is a bit small, and 1000cc is just too big - Ian Kerr reckons Suziki's GSX-R750 is just right
If you remember the days when the largest capacity motorcycle was a 500cc single or twin you will probably be bemused by all the posturing going on with the different manufacturers. 'No substitute for cubes' still seems the battle cry. Witness the British 2.3 litre bike!
On the other hand, 600cc middle-weights will do all you need and out- perform and out- handle the vast majority of riders on the public highway and the race track for that matter. Whichever end of the argument you want to take, the reality is that the truth lies somewhere along about a third of the current scale in a class that is largely forgotten by all manufacturers except Suzuki.
The 750 class was once regarded as the biggest and one which the seminal CB750 Honda came in at as the Japanese saw it as the logical Superbike at that time.
We all know of course that Kawasaki then upped things to 900 with the Z1 and from then on things have spiralled almost out of control.
If you look back on the number of 750's that used to be around and then work out where they are now, even if the model still exists, it probably has more cc's, leaving the Suzuki GSX-R 750 almost as a dinosaur in a modern world.
The new K6 version though is anything but a relic from a bygone age, despite having an ancestry that goes back to 1985 when the first F model arrived. Only the name remains the same, in fact it is a completely new machine sharing nothing with its predecessors, not even with last year's version.
So why are Suzuki still persevering with a market sector that in real terms no longer exists? Why bother when you have a class leading one-litre machine as well as an exceptional model in the ever popular 600 middleweight sports bike class?
The answer is not blowing in the wind; it is actually making the breeze as it effortlessly drifts by in the shape of the GSX-R 750. To really know the answer you have to ride it, but to sum up, it is not as intimidating as the 1000 and not as hard work to ride as the 600!
Or to put it simply, where the other two have faults or failings the 750 plugs the gaps and is a bike you want to ride all the time and not just on a sunny Sunday. It is a civilised comfortable 'Gentleman's racer that has class, but given the right encouragement, can still delight the demon that lurks within all of us.
This is just a brilliant sports bike that is and can be all things to all men and women.
So let's have a quick look at the new bike in terms of the changes that have been made to achieve the sublime machine that retails for just £7799 at your local dealer.
Suzuki had three goals with this new model, more power, a more compact package and better aerodynamics. The hard part of course is creating a compact package, but not when you use the 600 as a basis. Basically the 750 is a 600 rolling chassis fitted with a larger engine!
The term larger is relative because it is actually shorter by 57mm, narrower by 16mm and lighter than before, but according to Suzuki 2bhp up at the crank giving a claimed 150 bhp! So clearly less is more and the shrinkage of the motor has allowed it to fit into the smaller frame.
But, it also means that they have been able to increase the length of the swinging arm by 35mm to give better traction at the rear wheel without increasing the wheelbase. This is something that they have learnt from racing and is now finding its way onto road bikes.
The frame itself is an all-new black twin-spar item that is made up of a combination of aluminium castings that blend nicely into the overall styling package.
The front end is suspended by 41mm Showa forks, a drop of 2mm over last year's model, but these have been stiffened to compensate. (The reduction is to reduce friction!) At the rear a Showa mono-shock takes care of things, both being valved and matched to the bike which carries its weight low. (The rear can be adjusted for high and low speed compression adjustment.)
Cast 17-inch wheels keep things rolling along and 4-pot radial calipers slow things at the front backed up with a 2-pot caliper at the rear.
So on paper the bike is at the cutting edge of technology and style. The sharp angular looks being particularly attractive in the traditional blue and white colour scheme and menacing in the all black option. In fact the short stubby exhaust is so well integrated that you almost miss the fact the bike has one! But then the same can be said about all the current GSX-R range, it is riding this bike that makes the difference and gets you all fired up about its virtues. Despite its compact dimensions it actually feels comfortable even when you easily exceed six feet in height as I do!
Just in case you do not, in a first, the footrests can be adjusted to another of the three positions available. For those at the other end of the scale, the seat is lower than before now being just 810mm, so everybody is well catered for with this machine.
Firing the bike up shows that it has a very pleasant exhaust note despite the short stubby silencer exiting on the right of the bike.
Get the bike revving well up towards the 14,500 rpm red line and it is glorious and well worth leaving the ear plugs behind for a while!
But, you do not need to do this to get the bike passing all known speed limits and most potent four wheeled occupants of the public highway. This bike has lots of torque and low down grunt that put it well on a par with its larger sibling, but delivered in a more user friendly fashion.
It never feels as intimidating as the bigger bike and has far more real world power that the more frantic 600. In short this is bike you can just relax and enjoy while still being at the front of the pack, a bike you can ride every day of the year if you want!
The razor sharp gearbox can at times be almost redundant thanks to the excellent spread of useable power. The fuel injection is also well set-up and there is no lag or harshness in its delivery of unleaded to the motor whatever the revs dialled in at the time.
Certainly this is a bike that can easily be ridden on the throttle for everyday road situations without constant recourse to the gearbox.
However, should you so wish, move the needle up above 8,000 and then hang on and just keep an eye on the gear indicator as you head towards the horizon at a very indecent rate that may well attract unwanted attention!
Such action is of course best left to the race track when the limits of the bike's handling can also be explored better. On standard settings the bike will ably cope with all but the most undulating road surface when its firmness translates the bumps through to the rider's body which results in a slight reduction in overall pace! This is another way of saying, that the bike will out-handle most competent riders on the road. It will be a brave rider to start pushing the limits not only of the handling, but also the performance and braking capabilities! However, if anybody does they can do so in the safe knowledge that the braking set up is as good as any out there and provides plenty of feedback and feel, as well as stopping power. In short there is virtually nothing to criticise it for when looking at the market for which it is intended.
So the bottom line with the GSX-R 750 is that it is one of the best sports bikes currently on the market, in any class. Where it stands head and shoulders above the rest is that it is as useable on the road as it would be on any track.
It has the all the attributes of a small middleweight without being cramped or uncomfortable to ride and it has the power characteristics of a larger bike without being intimidating. You can go for a ride and feel that you have pushed the bike rather than thinking you have not even scratched the surface of the bike's capabilities.
So all credit to Suzuki for not only keeping the lineage and legend alive, but also producing a bike that can stand proud in the current market and it is worthy of a place in any sports bike fan's garage.