and/or regular readers among you may have
noticed that I talk about the GSX-R 750 quite a lot – in fact
I make no secret of the fact that I own a 2000 model. So when Suzuki
offered us a 2003 version to test it seemed like an ideal opportunity
to see how much difference three years – a lifetime in modern
motorcycle terms – would make.
Collecting the bike from Suzuki’s workshops reminded me
of just how good looking it is. Even now, it’s still one
of the best looking bikes to come out of Japan. The back end could
probably benefit from a subtle modernisation but the overall effect
is still very pleasing.
2003 models differ cosmetically by having lighter, simpler mirrors
and slightly altered indicators. And that’s it. Clearly
Suzuki’s engineers agree with the “if it ain’t
broke, don’t fix it” philosophy. The chassis received
some changes in 2001, adding the facility to adjust the swingarm
pivot and thus change the chassis geometry, but only with parts
which came with the full race kit. Engine changes, again in 2001,
are limited to a subtle tweak of the injection which replaced
the cable driven throttle secondary butterflies with stepper motor
driven ones instead. In other words, there’s not a lot changed.
Even the graphics are almost the same. Well, at least the learning
curve shouldn’t be too steep.
750s were always the purest of the family – built
solely as a platform for racer homologation and as such less compromising
and more sharply focussed than all the other pretenders. This
incarnation, though, while still very obviously race biased, is
one of the more useable sportsbikes on the market. As a result
it is blessed with a horn that works, mirrors that allow a view
of the road rather than the elbows and a riding position that
allows a day’s riding to take place without a pre-booked
osteopath appointment at the end of it. Having had a 2000 model
for three years, I can testify to it’s day to day usability
as a commuter, tourer and trackday weapon par excellence, as well
as anything you may care to think of between those extremes.
Riding the new bike is similar in many ways to the old, as you
might expect. What seems to be improved, though, is the throttle
response as the new butterflies work their magic making what was
already the best injection on the market even better. The brakes
are the same, being adequate without being particularly outstanding,
and this is probably the only area of the bike that I would consider
a weakness. Although they actually work quite well, the brakes
lack the immediate bite that you might expect for a bike with
this performance, and the slightly unnerving sensation of things
not quite happening fast enough can dent the rider’s confidence
in the ultimate ability of the machine.
Something else that hasn’t noticeably changed is the chassis,
which is one of the finest ever made. Handling is excellent, with
a crisp turn-in allied to excellent stability. The standard fit
steering damper keeps a slightly over-firm hand on the front end,
but becomes unnoticeable as speeds increase. The GSX-R seems completely
unflustered by accelerating hard out of bumpy corners, trailing
the brakes into greasy roundabouts, being chucked around with
laden panniers and a squashy bag bungeed on the back, whatever.
It just takes what you throw at it and gets on without fuss.
motor is unusually flexible, pulling cleanly (albeit not
very strongly) from low revs in any gear and delivering a wonderful
rush of top end power. It sounds great too, with a lovely crisp
rasp that sounds almost as though it’s barking at you as
you blip the throttle. The gearbox is typically Suzuki, with a
light positive action and plenty of feel through the cable clutch.
It’s not the most frugal of bikes, being thirstier than
some of the larger machines it is up against, but still manages
around 130 miles before hitting reserve.
Overall, this is one of the easiest bikes to ride that I know
of. There is enough power and torque to make rapid progress quite
straightforward but not so much as to make the bike intimidating.
The handling is nimble enough for track days while stable enough
not to be nervous or twitchy. And the riding position is as committed
or as relaxed as you are. The only reason it isn’t a best
seller is the fact that people either want cheaper insurance and
go for a 600 or they want the most of everything and so they go
for the 1000. The demise of 750s as a World Class racing capacity
hasn’t helped. But if you’re in the market for a supersports
bike and you don’t want to work too hard to get anywhere
then give the 750 a try. You’ll be amazed how little it
gives away to the 1000, and you’ll be astounded how much
quicker and easier it is than the 600.
Then you might just buy it…