Suzuki GSX-R750

Suz75_15By Kevin Ash

Pictures: Jason Critchell

Suzuki’s GSX-R750 might be the only bike left in the once definitive 750cc sports bike class, but it’s hardly suffered from the lack of direct competition. Quite the opposite: I argued two years ago that the then-new 750 was as close as you could get to the perfect motorcycle. It’s certainly easy to defend its case as the best sports bike when around many circuits in the hands of most riders it’s as fast as or quicker than the one litre superbikes, if only because its lower power is more manageable. It’s quicker too than bikes from the other main sector, the supersport 600s, due to its extra torque, and that’s an even greater asset on the road. At the same time, the GSX-R has maintained an image as a hard core nutter’s bike, and it’s that as much as anything which has kept it alive as Kawasaki and Yamaha each dropped their own 750 superbikes, and Honda never really joined the party in the first place.

 Suz75_17Click on image for galleryFor 2008, as with the GSX-R600, the 750 has had a gentle makeover. The bodywork is the same as the 600’s albeit with different colour schemes and distinct from last year’s, and the exhaust system is different, as well as being 9lb (4kg) heavier to help the bike meet Euro 3 emissions. More subtly, various engine covers have been stiffened with internal ribs to reduce resonance and noise with it, the pistons are different, the starter motor is more compact and lighter, the valve timing is milder and the injection system more sophisticated. Chassis changes include a 1/4 inch (5mm) longer wheelbase, revised suspension and new front brakes.

And as with the 600, the question begs: would you notice? The first problem here is, if the old model really was perfect then the new one couldn’t be any better, could it? The second is, we rode the new version at Guadix in Spain where the 3,000 feet (900m) altitude by my reckoning knocked some 12 per cent off the engine’s output, so what I did notice was the new bike was slower rather than faster. Suzuki_GSX-R750_02Suzuki though claims slightly more peak power as well as a little more torque, which means at sea level at worst the new bike will feel no different to the old, which is just fine. In fact the power delivery and throttle response are smoother than before, aside from a hint of suddenness turning the twistgrip from fully closed in low gear corners. All of which means you get a gorgeous cascade of power from nothing to the 15,000rpm red line, a journey the motor relishes with a symphony of snarls, growls and howls as it thrusts you forward, smooth and dependable. Bang the bike down through the gears as you slow for a corner and the slipper clutch intervenes to prevent rear wheel hop with a mechanical whistle and no other sign it’s working, although for once I did have an occasional problem on road and track with knocking the transmission into neutral when I was hoping for first. Otherwise the gearchange was the usual flawless Suzuki fare.

Suz75_21This could even be due to concentrating more than usual on the brakes, as like an increasing number of sports bikes the GSX-R’s are fierce to the point of being too strong. On the track that’s fine, especially as the feedback and controllability are immense, but on the roads it’s often best to leave just the one finger over the lever as that’s all you’ll need even in an emergency, especially when you’re unsure of grip levels.

The bike is in theory a little more stable than before because of the additional weight and that incremental wheelbase increase, but I couldn’t tell in practice. But there is an improvement in the feel of poise and accuracy with even better feedback, not that the old machine was in any way lacking. The chassis changes have been small but they do seem to have added up, and Suzuki’s had a couple of years to refine the suspension set-up too.

Suz75_23The ergonomics meanwhile are as you were, which means an excellent compromise between track and road use. Distance riding is feasible, with the low fuel warning lighting up at 130 miles (210km) in more restrained riding, while it’s light and manageable for town use. Some might complain that the latest round of changes have civilised the GSX-R, and they have, but if they’ve made it easier to ride, performance has still improved along with that. And the GSX-R750 is still, taking price, reliability and practicalities into account along with that phenomenal performance, as close as you’ll get to the perfect motorcycle. Only it’s perfecter now.

Price: £8,025.53

Available: now

Contact: Suzuki (GB), brochure hotline 0845 850 8800; Customer services: 0500 011959,