For over 30 years Suzuki have had a GSX-R750 in their range, the original model being once the future of sports bikes. Now, it is a recognised to be a true Japanese classic motorcycle.
The plan was simple enough, take an engine that produced 100 bhp and shoehorn it into a chassis that looked more suited to an endurance race than a road bike. The rest is history. The ‘Slabside’ nickname comes from its flat fairing and seat panel design. The Slabside 750 received a few nips and tucks before being replaced by an all new Slingshot model in 1988.
The original F model of 1985 is the purest of the breed. The following year’s G model came with a 25mm longer swinging arm to help tame the flighty handling but it wasn’t enough on its own, so Suzuki also added a steering damper. In 1987, the H version got a few more upgrades, which included 41mm forks and slightly bigger brake discs. The twin headlamps gave the GSX-R750 real identity. For some potential owners its stripped back looks were too extreme and they’d often purchase the five valve FZ750 or the more sensible Honda VFR750FG. Both of these arrived on the scene around the same time, although neither quite reached the legendary status of the iconic Gixxer. Fast forward over three decades and these early GSX-R750s are very much in demand.
What’s it like to ride?
This is a no nonsense sports bike, a real racer that’s designed to live on the roads. It’s pretty harsh, the riding position isn’t very comfy and the whole chassis feels very twitchy when on the move. The 18 inch wheels limit modern tyre choices, plus they aren’t very wide by today’s standards. The brakes are weedy and despite having four piston brake calipers up front, they lack any real power. This can be down to their age, but in truth they were never that wonderful. It helps explain why so many examples of this modern classic get fitted with parts from more modern bikes. Tune in to the Slabby though and you’ll soon be smiling. The engine is willing enough, but the flatslide carbs aren’t to everyone’s taste. They are much heavier on the wrist than CV carbs and riding in town can quickly become a chore. The rev counter doesn’t even register proceedings until 3,000 revs are being produced and the white faced dials are pure 80s indulgence. Things can get wobbly at speed, not just that skinny chassis, but the mirrors will shake about along with the scenery they display.
What to look for when buying one?
We spoke to Vinny Styles, Sales Manager at Wheels Motorcycles, a Suzuki dealership in Peterborough. He told us: “We actually took an old Slabby in recently. It was a pure case of nostalgia and a trip down memory lane, not an everyday occurrence! It did attract lots of attention and rightly so. We were lucky to get a full standard exhaust with it, these are very rare now. Unlike lots of other Slabbies, it had also remained standard, other than some repainted wheels. Standard bikes make the big money, UK supplied bikes also command a premium over bikes sourced from Japan over the years. Ideally you want to find a bike with its original paint, standard indicators and uncut rear mudguard. Modified bikes can handle better and go faster, but they lack that draw of a stocker”.
What goes wrong with them?
We spoke to Chris Tombleson from Grumpy 1260, they service and repair bikes at their Norfolk workshop.
“After years of modifying Slabsides there’s now a healthy scene for restoring them back to their former glory. Certain parts are nigh on impossible to find, like standard exhausts, petrol tanks in original colours and seat converters. Other parts like wheels, engines and electrical stuff are plentiful at the moment though. Engines are solid although gearboxes can whine on high mileage examples. Oil coolers leak, pattern parts are available. MPH speedos are hard to find as everyone wants one to convert Japanese import models, which have metric clocks. The Slabside is back in fashion within classic racing, this is another factor that drives prices for bikes that are both good and bad up in value. There’s no end of modifications you can make, things like fitting any early R6 shock, later Slingshot wheels and even squeezing a GSX-R1100 oil cooled engine in the frame are common mods from owners.”