Suzuki GSX-R750

Last year's model was fantastic; could Suzuki possibly improve on it? Yes, says a breathless Tim Luckhurst

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Engine: 749cc, liquid cooled in-line four-cylinder
Maximum power: 148bhp @ 13,200rpm
Maximum torque: 64lb/ft @ 11,200rpm
Brakes: front radial mount four-piston callipers; rear single 220mm disc
Transmission: six-speed gearbox, chain final drive
Dry weight: 163kg
Tank capacity: 16.5 litres
Price: £7,799

I raved about the 2005 version of this iconic sports bike. After riding the 2006 version, I imagine I know a little about how The Beatles felt after recording Sergeant Pepper or James Joyce's mood on completing Ulysses.

A colleague in the fraternity of motorcycle journalism describes the new GSX-R750 as the perfect motorcycle, one that performs every task it is set with such devastating aplomb that to carp verges on heresy. He has a point. It is faster, lighter and more nimble than its already superlative predecessor. On a tight British race-track such as Mallory Park or Knockhill there's little to compare with it - although, in their different ways, the Triumph Daytona 675 and Ducati 999s come close.

In brave hands - and where the law allows - this pocket thunderbolt hits the British speed limit in first gear and tops 100mph in second. Approaching its red line at 15,000rpm, the engine note sets my heart aflutter - and not only because the bike is moving fast enough to make the slightest error fatal. This is the pulsating banshee wail you hear trackside at British Superbike races. Ripping the throttle open produces a cacophony to stir the emotions of all but the most extreme philistine. And the tactile experience matches the aural one.

It takes a superlative motorcyclist to make effective use of this 148bhp tiger. But it is tremendous fun even if you are only learning to ride fast. Steering is as sharp, accurate and balanced as I have encountered on a road-legal motorcycle. The GSX-R750 beseeches its rider to experiment with extreme lean angles and rewards courage by holding its line with limpet tenacity.

The closest I have come to a similar experience was on fast fairground rides as an adolescent. At high cornering speeds there's the same glorious feeling of danger at pushing things to extremes but an even bigger thrill as the bike resists G-forces, refuses to wobble and emerges upright into the next straight.

This is race technology adapted for road use, but the adaptation is minor. Flat-out top speed nudges 170mph, but straight-line racing is emphatically not what this Suzuki is for. I rode it on tight, narrow lanes in English pastureland. The combination of constant bends and excellent forward visibility was ideal. Squirting into straights in third gear before short-changing to fifth and straight back down again was close to addictive. The radially mounted Tokico brakes scrub speed off fast, and the Bridgestone tyres fitted as standard achieve adhesion to match.

Even the look is less brutally functional. It retains Suzuki's famous blue and white racing livery, but there is now a nod towards subtlety; still provocative but no longer overtly sluttish. Now it looks toned, athletic and beguiling. On looks alone I would still choose a Ducati, but this middleweight stunner no longer looks tatty in company.

The caveats are obvious. This is among the most manageable high-performance motorcycles on the market, and Suzuki has taken a divine machine and elevated it closer to the pinnacle of Mount Olympus. But potential purchasers need to know what they are contemplating.

So here goes. The riding position is so aggressive that my wrists ached after 90 minutes in the saddle. Saddle? That exaggerates the facility; it is more of a mount than a seat. You perch on it. It is impossible to forget that you are on board to ride, not to contemplate the surrounding countryside. Pillion capacity is officially present - in the sense that the seat extends behind the rider and there are pillion footrests - but if your partner weighs more than eight stone and stands above 5ft 6in, forget it. For all but the most masochistic among us, anything more than five miles in the required position would constitute cruel and unusual punishment.

Perfection is in the eye of the beholder. To me, the GSX-R750 is superlative, but only if your sole objective is to ride fast on sinuous roads and even faster on race tracks.

I still like it more than its 600cc and 1,000cc siblings. It is more realistic than its terrifying big brother and combines its junior's agility with glorious extra torque. But to commute, tour or even do 300 miles of motorway would not be remotely amusing. Range is limited, comfort minimal and weather protection nugatory. Like it? I love it, but if I could only afford one motorbike I would pass this by with regret. Performance is matchless, practicality is not.

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