The GSXR750 has survived for two decades now, as other manufacturers have gradually abandoned the 750cc class. The latest GSXR750 is arguably the most balanced blend of speed, handling and excellent breaking in the big bike class and makes you wonder is anyone really can justify buying a 1000cc sportbike.
Alastair Walker spent a week in the summer of 2006 wondering if the GSXR750 is all the sportbike anyone could ever need.
I asked this question in my review of the NEC Show 2006; if manufacturers cannot significantly improve the speed, handling or braking of big sportbikes anymore, is it so surprising that UK bikers are finding excuses not to buy them?
For me, it’s no surprise that sportbike sales are stalling, because, in general – they aren’t as useful or as comfortable, as they used to be. One exception is the GSXR1000 2005 onwards and the GSXR750 is every bit as versatile, easy to ride and incredibly fast across this CCTV-spattered isle as its big brother.
The Gixer 750 feels roomy from the moment you get on board, with the main bugbear being the low, narrow handlebars, which force your neck to take too much weight at low speeds. Also, the screen is too low, allowing a severe blast of air to knock the rider’s upper body above 90mph. Otherwise, the 750 is very much like the Gixer 1000 2005-06, a brilliantly ergonomic motorcycle which anyone from 5 ft 6in to 6ft 3 in seems to fit OK. You never feel like you’re struggling on tiptoe to control the bike at junctions and despite appearing to have little padding, the bike’s saddle is comfortable.
Fire the motor and the Suzuki rustles and whooshes like every other big Japanese four cylinder sportbike, almost entirely devoid of any soul or character in its exhaust note. Once aboard, out of urban speed limits and free of the many imbeciles who clutter up Britain ’s roads in their hen-coop MPVs, the Suzuki transforms itself. Like its big brother GSXR1000, it simply catapults you forwards, with a smooth, beautifully addictive rush of power that starts as low as 5000rpm and keeps building to a frenzy around 14,000rpm.
It feels every bit as fast as the 1000cc Suzuki, which is surprising, as with a claimed 148bhp on tap, and weighing just 4kgs less than the GSXR1000, which makes a claimed 168bhp, the Gixer 750 should feel much slower. But it doesn’t feel like someone has chopped 30bhp from the legs of the motor – it still accelerates unbelievably quickly. OK, seat of the pants assessment might not be as accurate as a dyno run, but on the long, sweeping corners of the A41 I can tell you there ain’t a cat’s whisker of difference between the two Suzuki’s in the way they feel.
For 2006 Suzuki have revised the motor extensively, making it narrower, lighter and setting it a fraction lower in the chassis. All good stuff and it has the fashionable slipper type clutch to enable you to hammer the hell out of the gearbox as you downshift into your favourite hairpin. To be honest however, the motor looks, sounds and feels just like it has done since about 2003, but that’s no bad thing in my book.
Any 2006 engine improvements are marginal so far as road riding is concerned – it always was a potent motor and it can still get the world hurtling backwards at an alarming rate. The big 1000 definitely has a bit more torque, more midrange, than the 750, but it isn’t much, the 750 really has all the poke you could ask for, so long as you have the skill to use it.
So for me, it’s great that the 750 Suzy makes you work a tiny bit harder than you might on a 1000cc sportbike, that it takes extra ability and concentration. Good I say. All motorcycles, especially sports motorcycles, should demand a great deal from the rider. If you want a soft-arse lifestyle and a good yak on your mobile buy a Zafira diesel!
Smoother than Clooney in a velvet smoking jacket!
So I love the way the GSXR750 goes, it certainly has all the speed you need, but it also handles with aplomb. Now there’s a word.
The most impressive thing about the 750 is the steering, the way it can be hustled down into all kinds of pot-holed, rubbish-strewn corners on the public roads and it retains a superb accuracy, a precision, which gives the rider the feeling that this bike can be made to do almost anything. The kind of evil bumps in the road that upset many a big litre sportbike don’t seem to faze the GSXR750 quite so badly, it handles all kinds of surface changes with ease. You soon relax on the GSXR750 and feel secure on the machine, gaining trust in the front end as the miles stack up.
The other part of that trustworthy equation is the front brakes. Two very powerful and very controllable stoppers adorn the front of the Gixer 750, a welcome contrast to the wooden brakes that were once a trademark feature of the model. No problems now in braking as late as you dare on the GSXR750 and the front suspension seems to behave with more finesse under load too. I didn’t trackday the GSXR750, so I can’t say that it really works well at the limit (at least my limit) but I was so impressed with the new forks on the 2006 GSXR750. They just have that perfect compromise between solidity and suppleness which inspires fast riding. Oddly enough, the forks are actually 2mm slimmer than last year’s GSXR750 model, but never think for a second that they’re going to flex at all.
At the back end, the bike has a new monoshock for 2006, featuring tweaked compression settings and apart from feeling a little bit on the firm side, which nearly all sportbikes do to my aged bones, it worked well. Visually, I think the back end looks a bit nasty with that awful welding scar halfway along the swingarm forks. The pillion footrest mounts are a bit of an afterthought too – I mean, why bother?
Like most sportbikes in 2006, the GSXR750 is best ridden solo and most definitely comes alive on smooth, flowing A roads, where a lucky break in the traffic can offer the rider the chance to string together six or seven corners without interruption. Otherwise, take this missile onto the track and find out how big your bollocks really are. The Gixer 750 is still a hooligan at heart, a challenge to your ego, a severe test of throttle control and braking finesse. Great stuff.
The Suzuki 750 is everything that made sportsbikes so good in the 80s, but re-mixed for the 21st century. Hopefully, the introduction of 800cc bikes in MotoGP will flush out a few rivals from the other manufacturers and bring the class back to life. Mind you, I can’t imagine how they are going to beat this beautifully impressive, well balanced and very pure expression of speed and handling. Simply stunning.
Value for money?
Now here’s food for thought; a GSXR600 can had for around £7000 from may leading dealers – about 700 below list price. On the other hand, the same cash buys you a Honda CBR1000RR, admittedly the 2005 model pre-registered, or you could have a GSXR600K6 for around six grand, or root out a Kawasaki ZX-6R (pre-reg’d again) for about £5500. The Kawasaki 600 is a bit flighty at the front compared to the GSXR750, but it’s very much in the same ballpark in terms of raw excitement. I also think the Kawasaki looks a bit better than the latest Suzukis, more finished and complete somehow.
The problem for me (and I suspect plenty of other riders) is that GSXRs/R1s/Blades etc all depreciate horrendously quickly – you can find that 40% of the new price has vanished in two years of ownership. Frightening. Because of that wallet-busting fact of life, I would go for a used 2005 GSXR1000, with under 3K on the clock, for about £4750-£5000. A massive saving on the 2005 list price and you could own the machine for two years and still get £3500 for it in PX perhaps.
Get Suzuki motorbike insurance for the suzuki gsxr750 2006.
Engine 4 cylinder, liquid cooled, DOCH, four stroke
Fuelling fuel injection
Gears 6 speed
Peak Power 148bhp (claimed)
Frame; Twin spar aluminium alloy
Front Suspension; 41mm inverted forks,
Rear Suspension; Monoshock, multi-adjustable
Front Breaks; Twin 310mm discs,
4 piston callipers
Rear Break; 220mm disc, single piston calliper
Seat Height 810m
Fuel Capacity 16.5 litres
Dry Weight 163kgs
Estimated top speed 165mph
List Price £7799 (Nov 2006)