It started a class, mixed it with the best homologation specials, and has outlived them all. Alone again, is the GSX-R750 the most enduring bike of our time?
t takes the length of the pitlane here at the Racamulto circuit in Sicily to fall back in love with the GSX-R750.
Fond memories come flooding back from the times I’ve spent with this feisty Suzuki over the years - from its 2011 launch at the Monteblanco circuit near Seville, to road tests, sunny group tests and the cherry on top: a year spent living with a GSX-R750, riding around Europe and picking off 1000s at trackdays.
People always ask which bike I’d buy with my own money, and this is it.
The GSX-R750’s 148bhp motor (expect to see around 135bhp at the back wheel) isn’t so powerful that it chews through rear tyres, or needs traction and wheelie control. Instead it’s involving and easy to manage, like a 600, but has enough power and torque to lap a circuit as quick as a superbike.
That raw, haunting exhaust note at full throttle sends shivers down your spine and the Suzuki’s screaming, free-revving 750cc inline four-cylinder is a masterpiece.
Fitted with Metzeler Racetec RR K2 race tyres it laps Racamulto in 1m 11.53s. We tested an Öhlins-shod, Brembo-braked Fireblade SP here on the same day – and the Honda is three tenths slower. And the giant-killing stats keep coming, because, fully fuelled, the GSX-R750 tips the scales at a measured 194kg, which is lighter than any current 1000, as well as the Honda CBR600RR and MV Agusta F3 800.
Steering is light, precise and the feel through the chassis is immense, so you can balance on the edge of front and rear grip like a pro. You can ride it any way you want and it will flatter - go smooth and flowing, or grab it by the scruff of its neck and use it like a 1000, it’s your choice. The GSX-R750 is that rare breed of motorcycle that has a few per cent more chassis than engine. It’s the perfect sportsbike.
The harder you push, the more confidence the GSX-R750 gives you. Take a deep breath, push harder again and you’ll find another deep pool of performance to splash around in. Not only is it fast, it’s more fun than the latest electronically strangled superbikes and will let you skid gracefully into corners and pull huge maniacal third- gear wheelies.
Sportsbike evolution has moved on massively over the past few years and it’s all about litre bikes with 200bhp, packed with sophisticated electronic rider aids. But the GSX-R750 is a lesson in sportsbike purity.
This current-model Suzuki GSX-R750 (L1-L6) hasn’t changed since it was released to replace the K8-K0 version in 2011. The bike you see in the pictures is the original L1, but the only change to this year’s L6 version is the MotoGP/Sert paintjob.
But what’s most impressive is the price: it costs just £9999, which is actually £25 cheaper now than it was in 2011! Better still, you can pick up an early used L1 model for as little as six grand.
There’s also a 30th Anniversary version for £200 more, which has a retro 1985-inspired paintjob, a titanium Yoshimura R11 end can, double bubble screen, tank pad and carbon effect stickers for the fuel cap trim, top yoke, frame and seat cowl.
In its 31-year history, the GSX-R750 has beaten off dozens of rivals in a class that started off as superbike (until 1000s pinched that category) and then morphed into the ‘middleweight’, which is a name we gave to those bikes that never fitted neatly into the 600 or 1000 class.
Rivals for the GSX-R750 have come and gone. When the L1 was released in 2011 it beat the Ducati 848 and when the fast-but-quirky MV Agusta F3 800 turned up in 2013, it beat that, too. But it was only when Ducati released their sublime 899 Panigale that the battle weary GSX-R750 was finally knocked off its throne.
But, for 2016, the ‘baby’ Panigale has grown to 955cc and moved into a lonely sub-litre class of its own. We tested the 959 Panigale (as part of our 959 vs Blade SP comparison test, MCN January 20) here at Racamulto and it was 1.3 seconds faster than the Suzuki, which proves the Ducati isn’t a middleweight anymore. That means the GSX-R750 is back as the king of the middleweights.
Photos: Alberto Cervetti