Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Bike of the week - Suzuki GSX-R750

The Suzuki GSX-R750, AKA Slingshot or Gixxer, is a motorcycle which has been popular ever since it first appeared on the scene and has been evolving and getting better all the way through its life. This motorcycle was destined for greatness and has never looked back.  Here is a little bit about its life story from 1985 to the present day...

Suzuki GSX-R750 - This is your life!



The GSX-R750 was initially based on a race bike designed to compete with the best across the world in motorcycle championships.  Its street legal version was good enough to race but was sold as a road bike for those lucky owners who wanted a bike good enough to race, to use on the road.  It first appeared for sale in March 1985 and really was the start of the evolution of modern sports bikes.

Although there had been street legal racers before,  the GSX-R750 was a new breed of machine with a streamlined design based on Formula 1 and Endurance racers with racing features like 100 bhp power output.  It was a lightweight motorcycle with an alloy double -cradle perimeter frame which used materials like magnesium to keep the weight down.

John Barton on his 1985 GSXR750 IOM 2011

Cool and light

The GSX-R750 had a revolutionary new computer designed air/oil cooled engine which used the newly invented SACS (Suzuki Advances Cooling System) which cooled the cylinder heads and pistons using oil and was 10% lighter than the old water cooled version. Tuned for racing the GSX-R750 engine could reach 130 bhp.  The engine was high tech and narrower than earlier inline-fours -with cylinder dimensions of 70,0x 48,7 mm and had 29mm flat side carbs, all with the idea of keeping weight down to a minimum.

GSX R1000 in action
The GSX-R750 also had other unique features - the TSCC (twin swirl combustion chamber) cylinder head, DAIS (direct air intake system). These and gave the bike a much lower weight of 179kg - 8.1kg less than other conventional steel frames.  With a full aerodynamic fairing, dual headlights and 18inch front and rear tyres the GSX-R750 really looked like an endurance racer as well.

In fact the GSX-R750 was basically a street legal and detuned version of the works GS 1000R racer.  It was a very quick motorcycle when driven by an experienced rider which really felt like a race machine.

As well as bristling with new innovative features the engine was very reliable and the components were all good quality


Due to the success of this motorcycle, new updated models just kept on coming out. The 1988 model was all brand spanking new, featuring changes like: thinner piston rings, new high lift cam shaft, 36mm constant velocity semi flatside carbs, better wheels and a 73.0 x 44.7 mm short-stroke motor.  These upgrades produced 112bhp to propel a dry weight of 195kg.  The only downside was that the GSX R-750 now had 17" wheels which, coupled with the exhaust, considerably reduced the ground clearance of the bike.

Compact but perfectly formed

The GSX-R was now the most compact motorcycle in its class with a back end which featured full floating suspension with new linkage and needle bearing, opposed 4 piston brake calipers and wide Michelin radial tyres as standard.  The engine bore and stroke had changed as well from 70 x 48.7mm to the shorter 73 x 44.7 which reduced reciprocating motion mechanical loss.  The air/oil cooled SACS engine was upgraded for a 20% increase in coolant flow which improved the cooling efficiency by 48%.

Limited Edition RR

500  limited edition GSX-RR750s were manufactured in this period.  This was a road legal race replica designed by Takahiko Kawaguchi, built to compete with the Honda RC 30 as a "straight out of the crate racer".  It had a newly redesigned engine which reverted to the original long stroke (70 x 48.7mm) configuration and the crankcase, crankshaft connecting rods and clutch were re-calibrated for racing. The RR also had a new 4 into 1 exhaust pipe as well as a close ratio gearbox, solo seating and a 19 litre aluminium fuel tank as standard equipment and all for a weight of only 187kg.  It was a bike which could be tuned more easily than its predecessors the J and K GSX-R750s.

1988 GSX-RR750

With its 750cc liquid cooled four-stroke engine that produced 143bhp at 11,000 rpm, driving through a close-ratio six-speed gearbox, and an innovative aluminium box-section frame, it handled superbly.

Of the 500 made, only 200 bikes went to Europe and 50 to the UK, most of which went to tuners and race teams, only a tiny handful going into dealerships for sale to the general public. At a cost of £9,000, a unit this motorcycle was more expensive than many cars at the time but worth every penny to afficionados!



Time for another one. On an auspicious day in 1996 the new Beam frame Suzuki GSX-R750 was born. The old cradle frame was no more and this motorcycle came with an all new chassis which had been developed from the RGV Grand Prix machine, engineered with the help of a wind tunnel to get the optimum speed and performance. The early models were carb-fed, fuel injection not coming in until 1998 and this version featured exceptional Tokico brakes and ram-air, or SRAD (Suzuki Ram-Air Direct), as they so famously named it.


GSXR at Motorcycle Live 2012
In the 2000 incarnation the Suzuki GSX-R750 got a new frame, a new swinging-arm, several engine updates and new even more aerodynamic bodywork. The bike was now lower in height with a longer swinging arm and a longer wheelbase.  The brakes were four piston rather than six piston and the engine itself was shorter and narrower with redesigned fuel injection and 13kg lighter overall weight. This bike is superb on road or track, with excellent handling which is equally easy for new riders and is comfortable and great for experienced riders as well.  The engine is smooth but powerful with a sensitive throttle and it gets better the faster you go reaching 118bhp with ease.

2011-12 Suzuki GSX-R

The Suzuki GSX-R750 was trundling along evolving at the normal  primordial soup rate, until in 2011 when some dramatic acceleration happened and the 2011 model was born.  With a weight of 190kg 
fully-fuelled it is an 
impressive 9kg lighter than the old model, giving it a great power to weight ratio for its 148bhp.   And thanks to the lighter weight it now accelerates more like a superbike.  The instrument panel, which was inspired by the GSX-R1000, is more compact as well.

In conclusion...

The GSX-R750 is a great and popular motorcycle which is easy and comfortable to ride, handles beautifully and goes fast, it is probably one of the best sportsbikes out there.  

Because the GSX-R750 motorcycle was always made from good quality components many of the earlier models are still around to buy and are still in great running order if they have been properly maintained.

One of our Wemoto staff currently rides a GSX-R750, here it is and here's what he says about it:

"My personal experience started from the fact that, for me, GSX-R bikes have
always been easier than any other to work on (from a mechanic's point of view). That is what made me really start to prefer the GSX-R to other bikes.

I first had a GSX-R600 back in France, but I decided to sell it before moving to
the UK, a decision which I quickly regretted! But looking back, I now think it was a wise decision, simply because, knowing myself on a bike and having to ride on the other side of the road, I am convinced that I would have scared myself driving on the wrong side at the exit of a corner with a car flashing
its headlights at me!

The one I have now (750, 2004 model) is my first 750 and so far I love it. I find it fairly comfy for a supersport and as yet, (touch wood) I have never had any issues with it. 

If I had to make a list of my favourite bikes... it comes second... the GSX-R1000 comes first and that will probably be my next purchase!

My GSX-R750 is currently my only bike and also my only transportation, which makes every journey special, especially when I see another bike out there and we can ride together for a bit, there is nothing like riding a bike".

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