people don't understand the point of a 750. It hasn't
got the power of a 1000 and it's bigger and heavier than a
600. So why bother? That question has always been moot when
the GSX-R 750 has come into the equation anyway. Because historically
it's been as light and agile as a 600 and it has never fallen
too far short on the 1000's performance. Regulars may remember
that we found the 750 to be lacking approximately nothing
at all when compared back to back with both smaller and larger
siblings. Far from it, in fact, as the 750 comprehensively
spanked the others both on lap times at the Nurburgring and
on general rideability.
But time moves on, of course, and the game has been upped
all round. The new generation of litre bikes, including Suzuki's
own GSX-R, are highly capable and far more useable than they
were just three years ago, as well as being quite astonishingly
fast. And 600s produce even more power than they did before
while retaining the flickability that they've always had.
So who needs a 750 in 2006?
Suzuki say that the GSX-R 750, as the bike that started the
whole race-replica scene, will always have a place in their
lineup. We applaud that as a rare gesture of emotion in an
industry which tends to be run more on simple numbers - head
ruling the heart. We also think there's a bit more to it than
that, though. Because the GSX-R 750 K6, to give the latest
model its full name, is a spectacularly good motorcycle. But
I'm getting ahead of myself here. Let's look at it first.
impressions count for a great deal. And the first impression
I got from the GSX-R was that there isn't a great deal of
it. It's not only physically small, what there is has been
pared down to the bare minimum as well. It's a neat trick,
because despite the lack of stature the bike manages not to
look weedy in any way. In fact, the overall impression is
one of compact power. Think Barry McGuigan - a lightweight
boxer and a little guy but with one hell of a punch - and
you'll be getting the general idea. The new GSX-R is extremely
slim and sculpted. Suzuki have resisted the urge to follow
fashion with an underseat exhaust, preferring instead to stick
with a little stumpy pipe that exits near your right boot.
The headlights are stacked as before, with front indicators
mounted in the mirrors and the rear indicators are faired
into the tail section as on the 1000. There are bungee hooks
on the pillion footpeg hangers, though just fitting two is
a little pointless. The pillion seat is interchangeable, as
has been the case for along time on GSX-R's, with a streamlined
plastic cowl. There is room under the seat, though not as
much as with earlier models. I suspect you could get your waterproofs in there but it would be a squeeze. And
it would rely on the alarm being fitted somewhere else.
Anyway. On to technicalities.
Suzuki have made some major changes over last year's model
in a bid to lose weight and extract more power without sacrificing
usability. Working from the top down, you get a higher compression
ratio and the inlet ports are angled to allow them to be closer
together. There's a second balancer shaft to further reduce
vibration - which while it may sap a little power it allows
the engine mountings and castings to be lighter instead, as
well as making
the rider's life easier. There's a slipper clutch and the
exhaust lives under the engine, fed by equal length headers
and keeping the mass where you want it - low and at the centre
of gravity. The engine is overall 32mm shorter top t bottom,
16mm narrower and 60mm shorter front to rear, and it weighs
a kilo less than the old model. The chassis has been similarly
shrunk and is now 15mm shorter overall, 25mm lower and the
seat is down 15mm from before too, making it even easier for
smaller riders. Adjustable footrests, with three different
positions, complete the major changes and make sure that everything
stays as user friendly as possible.
A new dash layout, though
still retaining a family feel, gets a gear position indicator
as well. You may think it frivolous but considering the popularity
of aftermarket ones and the number of times that I, at least,
try for another gear when I'm already in top, I'd say it's
a good addition. Mirrors, always something of an afterthought
on sportsbikes anyway, are really quite good. Not panoramic
but certainly more than adequate as well as being sufficiently
damped to stop them from buzzing and blurring too much. The
ignition key now has Suzuki's version of the transponder based
immobiliser fitted to most new bikes. Basically, without the
right key talking to the black box, the bike won't start,
meaning that a thief will have to replace the entire engine
management and associated wiring - an expensive job as well
as being easy to trace. Won't stop them getting nicked for
spares of course but everything helps.
the bike we're playing with is Premier
Suzuki's demonstrator, which is nice of them. It's not
totally standard, though, as it's fitted with a very nice
(and totally approved) road legal Yoshimura can. Believe it
or not, this is actually quieter than the standard one though
I must confess I'm not totally convinced that it looks better.
Anyway, everything is pretty well standard GSX-R fare, with
all the controls where you'd expect them to be and the same
old "pull the clutch in first" starting routine.
Starting is as easy as you'd expect, the clutch is light and
the gearbox is as smooth as we've come to expect from Suzuki.
Pulling away and riding slowly demonstrates that the engine
changes certainly haven't damaged flexibility in any way -
the 750 is easy to trickle through traffic and pulls cleanly
from low revs. The riding position at this sort of speed is
on the sporty side of comfortable, with quite a lot of pressure
thrown onto the wrists. But it certainly isn't too extreme
for everyday use, and even with my knackered wrist and elbow
I didn't suffer any discomfort so don't let it worry you.
But most people don't buy a GSX-R for pootling around traffic.
Though if you're after one as a commuter bike then it will
do the job just fine. Outside the constraints of urban speed
limits the GSX-R very quickly showed its mettle and dispelled
any possible doubts that it may be worthy of the name. It's
an extremely fast motorbike, accelerating way quicker than
the capacity would suggest and holding just about any speed
you may ask withoutfuss.
Handling on regular road surfaces is impeccable, bumps and
irregularities passing as nothing more than information to
note but needing no action. Feedback is fabulous but never
threatens to get scary and stability is just amazing. Braking
is phenomenal and fuss free, the big (10mm up from last year)
front discs scrubbing off speed
and energy with surprising ease. And leaving the wider limits
of the Queen's Highway for the test circuit revealed that,
no matter how hard I pushed, there was always masses in reserve.
Even approaching the limits of tyre adhesion, something I
am still a little wary about after last year's demolition
derby, the GSX-R felt smooth and predictable. When the back
did start to move around it was enormously controllable and
very easy to recover without a particularly elevated heartbeat.
Over the couple of hundred miles we had the GSX-R for we
threw it into every compromise situation we could find. Dodgy
road surfaces, mid corner braking, forced changes of line,
clumsy handfuls of throttle, braking deep into corners to
simulate getting caught out on an unfamiliar road, everything.
And it never once came up wanting. Probably a good thing as
it would have hurt, but frustrating from my point of view
as well. You see, I have a K4 and I love it. I'm desperate
to find a reason not to like the K6 more than mine because
that would mean I'd have to change bikes. And Suzuki's biggest
crime with this motorcycle, in my eyes anyway, is that they
no longer do a yellow one. Which just won't do at all.
So to sum up, the GSX-R 750 K6 is a fantastically
capable motorbike. It's as fast as anyone could ever
really want, and then some. It handles like a dream, stops
on a sixpence and is still real-world usable. It's even still
comfortable. Oh, and it looks fabulous, especially in matt
black. If Suzuki did a yellow one I'd have traded mine in
like a shot. As it is, I'm considering getting some new kit
so I'll still look right on a black bike. Because yes, it
really is that good. It's a thousand pounds cheaper than the
litre version and will be at least as quick almost all the
time and quicker on some occasions. It certainly is worthy
to carry the name on, and there really is little higher praise
from a long standing GSX-R fan than that...
Thanks as always to Premier
Suzuki in West Wickham, Kent, for the loan of their demonstrator.
Give them a call on 020 8777 8040 for all
your Suzuki needs