It was a game changer when it was introduced, and it is still relevant today
It possesses an irresistible mix of smooth four-cylinder power and light and nimble handling that few – if any – sport bikes could match back in 1985 and that few sport bikes can match today for the money. It remains one of the purest and most analogue sport bikes on the market, and if it hasn’t been updated since 2011, that is no reason it should be overlooked today. Also, if it lacks the electronics that have become such an essential element of modern motorcycles in general, that could be because it is so well-balanced and has a lot of passive safety built in through the behavior of its chassis, suspension, brakes and the smooth power delivery.
Despite its age and relative simplicity, the Suzuki GSX-R is still a fantastic motorcycle. If your checklist for a sport bike includes light weight, excellent handling and a hugely flexible engine offering blistering performance, then there’s a good chance you need look no further. Suzuki has done a good job over the years to keep the looks up-to-date and what Suzuki doesn’t know about building bullet-proof engines is not worth knowing.
Surprisingly for a sport bike, it’s not desperately cramped or uncomfortable, even for taller riders, the suspension is far from being jarringly hard but works brilliantly in any circumstance – road or track – and the GSX-R750 is as polished an all-round performer as you would expect from such a long lifespan.
The Heart Of The Beast
Back in 1985, exhaust emissions for motorcycles weren’t really an issue so the original GSX-R750 had an air/oil cooled engine, pushing out 112 horsepower (91 horsepower at the rear wheel). Since 1992, the engine has been fully liquid cooled, and today, output is 148 horsepower (130 horsepower at the rear wheel) and 64 foot pounds of torque. But the amazing thing about the engine is that it doesn’t have to be screamed to the red line – around 13,000rpm – to access the performance as is the case with many inline four-cylinder engines. It offers what you need throughout the rev range: full-bodied, punchy performance without the need to stir the transmission endlessly which is perhaps a good thing as there is no quickshifter to play with.
The very reason for buying a sport bike is the way it carves up corners as if they weren’t there, and in the GSX-R750, you have one of the very best in the business. Showa suspension is employed front and rear and there is literally nothing that will upset it, no matter where in the corner you are. It goes a long way to show how a well set-up motorcycle should behave without the need to resort to a suspension and chassis specialist to set it up to your personal preference. How Suzuki has done it no-one knows but here is a bike that anyone can climb onto and be quick right out of the box, inspiring confidence and demonstrating how you don’t have to spend at least twice the money to be fast.
7 Stop-On-A-Dime Brakes
Every element off the GSX-R750 has been honed over the years to a point approaching perfection. The specification might have remained static since 2011 and cynics might argue that is because Suzuki simply forgot about the model, but you could also argue that, having attained near-perfection, there was nowhere else to go!
Braking duties are courtesy of twin Brembo Monobloc calipers up front which have all the bite, power and feel you could ever wish for. If having no ABS is a deal-breaker for you, then look away now, but if you have an open mind and a sensitive right hand, you’ll have all the safe braking you need.
6 Extreme Ergonomics
Look, it’s a sport bike and that generally and accurately means little or no compromise on riding position, and if you have an extreme body shape, you are never going to fit on one properly. On the GSX-R750, the foot pegs are mounted high, the clip-on handlebars low, so your hips are going to be as sore as your wrists, although the foot pegs are three-way adjustable to give a fraction more room, but it’s never going to be cruiser-comfortable. And you can forget about convincing your better half that this was a good buy by giving her a ride, because with that pillion seat, you’re more likely to be single in a short space of time!
5 Minimal Electronics
Right! How do we put this? Maybe it would be simpler to tell you that you’re lucky to have electronic fuel injection and move swiftly on! This is one of the most analogue motorbikes you can buy in any category, not just sport bikes. If you like your sport bike to respond to your inputs alone and not have your suggestions second-guessed by a computer chip, then the GSX-R750 is the bike for you.
There is literally nothing: no electronic rider aids whatsoever – no ABS, no traction control, no slide control, no quick shifter, no wheelie or launch control, no cruise control or heated anything: nothing. You do get a choice of full power or slightly less power, but that’s your lot. In a world of being told what you can and can’t do and when you can and can’t do it, it’s fantastically refreshing. Just don’t let the legislators know otherwise they’ll be rubbing their hands in glee at having something they can ban.
4 Excellent Build Quality
While you will have absolutely no worries about the engine – we once heard someone say that you could remove the oil drain plug of a Suzuki engine and the engine would eventually seize after about three weeks running… the rest of the GSX-R750 is similarly high quality and reliable. If there is nothing flashy about the Gixxer in terms of specification, then you’ll have no issues with anything else, either. This is a bike that has been built simple but built well. The great advantage of having been in production for so long is that any inherent quality problems will have been eradicated.
3 What The Media Said
We challenge you to find any contemporary road test that had anything of significance negative to say about the GSX-R750, from any of its near-forty years: bad reviews are just not out there! For example, look at this one, which at one point states, “It’s fun, fast and handles beautifully, but crucially it’s very easy to ride fast, unlike a bigger sportsbike. Pound-for-pound we reckon it’s one of the best sportsbikes you can buy.”
2 How Fast Do You Want To Go?
With 148 horsepower, a 418 pound all-in weight and no electronics to spoil the fun, a GSX-R750 is a seriously fast motorbike. Read that article linked above and you’ll see that they managed to hit 181mph! From 750cc! That’s insane. But as we all know, any fool can go fast in a straight line: it’s speed through the corners that counts.
Again – we are not sure we can say this often enough – the GSX-R750 has got your back. The latest liter superbikes might have all the electronic toys along with 200+ horsepower, but in the right hands, a Gixxer will embarrass the lot of them. Buy a used example and do the same, and you’ll make them feel even worse for even less money.
1 Rivals And Price
Where once the 750cc sport bike class was hotly contested, nowadays, the displacement is largely forgotten. Even the 600cc class is losing its importance, but that’s not to say that the GSX-R750 ($12,849) doesn’t have its fair share of rivals, if you are prepared to think a little laterally. The Honda CBR600RR ($12,099) is getting as long in the tooth as the Suzuki but is still a potent package – if you can fold yourself onto it, that is.
The Kawasaki ZX-6R ($10,999) is in a similar position. Yamaha’s latest parallel twin-engined R7 ($9,199) can’t hold a candle to the Suzuki in performance terms, while the Triumph Daytona Moto2 765 might be the closest of all, but it is a limited edition model and, at $17,500, a lot more expensive. The MV Agusta F3 800 starts at $18,000 and heads into the stratosphere from there, but at that price, you are starting to head into 1000cc sport bike territory.