Suzuki GSX-R750: The power to just scream at those bends

Speed can induce fear - and fun, says Tim Luckhurst, as he zips off on the Gixxer Thou's little brother
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Indy Lifestyle Online

SPECIFICATIONS
Price: £7,649
Engine: Four-stroke, liquid-cooled, four cylinder 749cc.
Transmission: Six-speed gearbox, chain final drive.
Max power: 139bhp @ 10,500rpm
Brakes: Front twin 300mm radial-mount discs, rear single 220mm disc.
Weight: 166kg

The Suzuki GSX-R750 is the little brother of the legendary GSX-R1000, which is better known to motorcycle speed freaks everywhere as the "Gixxer Thou". So awesome is the Gixxer Thou's reputation that the 750 tends to get dismissed as a pale imitation of the mighty beast. The macho subtext is that real men need the bigger bike's ability to spin its rear wheel out of corners at 120mph and cannot decently be expected to get by with less. The flaw in this infantile pretence is that few riders can achieve such feats and even fewer do. The upshot is too many blokes riding bikes that scare the living daylights out of them when they could be having fun.

I have always had a soft spot for 750cc machines. They were the superbikes of my teenage years and the original 1985 GSXR750 was an object of passionate desire. Recently, the trend towards ever larger capacity sportsbikes has augmented the mirage that a 750 is an eccentric middleweight compromise. My advice to anyone fooled by this prejudice is to ride the GSX-R750 and discover how wrong they are.

I saw what the bike can do at a track day this summer. A female friend, who finds the 750cc Suzuki perfect for her size, was sneered at by a preening pillock on a more powerful bike. She retaliated gloriously by passing him on the inside of a tight right hander and then slowing down on the straight so as to repeat the trick on the hairpin. He mumbled something about having worn tyres, and departed. I made a mental note that she would have passed me too. The smaller Suzuki's balance of power and agility appeared to inspire confidence and bring out the best in an already excellent rider.

Twenty years after I first coveted its ancestor, I rode the current version of the GSX-R750 for two sunny days in November. From Suzuki's UK headquarters in Milton Keynes, I intended to head straight up Watling Street to Coventry and then on to Tamworth, before returning by motorway.

Milton Keynes' unrivalled collection of roundabouts intervened. Away from a racetrack, there are few things better suited to testing a motorcycle's agility than a series of tight roundabouts. The traffic was light, so I played for a while. The Suzuki's compact, lightweight design achieves a hugely impressive blend of handling and performance. It whips into bends, never deviating from the line and going precisely where the rider looks with each new nudge of the bars.

From the moment you start that liquid-cooled, in-line four cylinders engine - the most efficient 750 Suzuki has made - this bike declares its purpose. It bellows even when trundling at low revolutions in high gear. Power delivery is smooth, but above 8,000rpm, this is the smoothness of a slingshot. Snapping the throttle open in second, third or fourth gear, you have to remember to hold on tight. But the engine is torquey enough to pull cleanly from about 45mph in sixth.

The Suzuki stops too. Tokico four-piston, radial-mount front brake callipers and 300mm discs provide stopping power so immense that at low speeds in traffic, sensitivity is required to avoid being shunted from behind. Screaming towards tight bends with the four-into-one exhaust system bellowing through its titanium-cored and aluminium-sleeved muffler, I got the point. The brakes gave me the confidence to belt past a coach just yards before a tight bend. This machine accelerates and decelerates with equal and devastating aplomb.

Of course, there are caveats. This is a road-going hooligan's version of a thoroughbred race bike and only the necessary compromises have been made. The ride is firm to the point of bruising, and the combination of instantly available power and snake-like agility encourage mad speeds (it peaks at 168mph). Even if you can restrain the desire to explore the outer fringes of madness, comfort, load carrying and weather protection leave much to be desired.

But that is churlish. The GSX-R750 is lightning quick, a joy to play with and just about practical on short motorway journeys. The narrow, vertically stacked headlights, distinctive fairing and compact LED tail light make it hard to miss. It has the practical road characteristics to get to the nearest race track or mountain switchback. The big, bold, digital LCD speedometer does a good job of reminding you how far over the speed limit you are riding in time to brake for speed cameras.

The GSX-R1000 is more powerful. The minnow of the family, the GSX-R600, is lighter. But for me, the GSX-R750 is a superlative blend of power and agility. If that is not enough, there is an updated version coming next summer. Apparently, it's even quicker.

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