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- Written by Carole Nash Editor
- Created: 20 June 2008
It all started for the GSXR750 back in the mid 1980s with a skinny, twitchy racer-for-the-road.
Over the years, the GSXR got heavier, revvier and then mutated into a water cooled shell suit on wheels by the mid 1990s.
The Suzuki took a bold step and made the whole thing go back to its ultralight, racetrack orientated roots.
Today’s GSXR750 is one of the smoothest missiles money can buy.
It’s more than ten years since I’ve ridden round Donington, but the GSX-R750 takes barely a lap to bring it all flashing back. The late, late entry to Redgate’s first turn; the fast right-left swoop down through the Craner Curves; the thrilling, blind rush into the long right at Coppice; the way the front wheel lifts on the crest near the start of the back straight....
Different bike; very similar feelings. The GSX-R750 that I first raced here 15 years ago didn’t have the power to loft its front wheel on the straight in the same way, and it didn’t flick through Craner with such effortless precision, either. But my memory of the original GSX-R is of a bike whose high-revving performance, lightness and agility were unmatched by any other 750 and the same is very much true of its successor all these years later. .
Even compared to last year’s GSX-R, its immediate predecessor, this new Suzuki is comprehensively updated. The bike is sharper and more aggressive, from its new air intakes large flared nostrils either side of the more triangular headlight to its flatter tailpiece. With a claimed maximum output of 139bhp at 12,500rpm, and a dry weight figure of just 166kg, this bike is 6bhp more powerful and 13kg lighter than last year’s model, not to mention lighter and far more powerful than every four-cylinder 600cc bike on the market..
In specification and performance it’s a world apart from the original 100bhp, 176kg GSX-R750 with its tall twin-headlamp fairing, 18-inch wheels, and skinny frame and forks that began the race-replica revolution in 1985. The GSX-R has not always stayed true to that lightweight ethos over the years, notably when ballooning to 208kg in 1992. But in its attitude, its uniquely singleminded approach to the job of going fast, this new GSX-R750 is a worthy successor. A few laps of Donington are enough to confirm that.
On that main straight the Suzuki is so fast, so powerful, that it’s hard to believe it’s only a 750cc bike, giving away 25 per cent or so of capacity to its open-class rivals. The digital speedo flickers towards 160mph (with maybe 10mph to come at that speed) as I keep my head below the low screen, and flick-flick-flick through the smooth-as-butter gearbox as the intakes snarl and the tacho needle jabs repeatedly to the 14,000rpm redline.
The GSX-R is smooth at those high revs, and when accelerating out of bends the bike’s updated fuel-injection system responds with a perfectly linear feel that is notably more refined than the rather sudden response I recall on the first injected model of two years ago. Power delivery lower down the range is glitch-free, too, but don’t plan on proving it if you want to go fast. (And what other reason is there for riding a GSX-R?)
There’s usable power below 5000rpm; more above eight grand. But to make the Suzuki sing you’ve got to keep it bubbling in five-figure territory at all times. That means the GSX-R is lightning fast round Donington, where I fairly soon work out where to change gear. But on an unfamiliar circuit and more so on a road it will be harder to ride and normally less rapid than a FireBlade or an R1, for all Suzuki’s claims of open-class matching horsepower.
If you lose a little on the straights, though, you’ll have a fighting chance of making it back in the bends. The GSX-R’s chassis is superb, outstanding even by the standards of the current crop of super-sports bikes. On the high-speed run down Craner Curves, hard work many bikes, it flicks from right to left with ridiculous ease and an almost uncanny ability to hit the apex and get back onto the left of the track to brake for the Old Hairpin.
Lack of weight is part of the reason for that, along with the Suzuki’s hugely rigid and slightly more compact frame, steep geometry (unchanged at 24 degrees rake, 96mm trail) and a little extra weight over the front wheel. Yet the bike is also superbly stable under power, due partly to a slightly longer wheelbase and swing-arm, plus the steering damper tucked away inside the front of the fairing. The non-adjustable damper is less solid than its predecessor, so this GSX-R is thankfully free of the last model’s ponderous feeling at very slow speeds.
Showa’s high-quality 43mm upside-down forks have a lot to do with the front end’s confidence-inspiring feel, and the modified rear shock is excellent too so much so that I can’t remember a standard road bike handling so well without needing adjustment. Michelin’s Pilots are massively grippy, too, despite the rear being a slightly narrower 180/55 radial. My only slight disappointment was with the new four-piston front brake system, which was powerful if given a good squeeze but didn’t have quite the bite I remember from the previous six-pot set-up.
I haven’t heard other complaints about the brakes, so maybe there was some truth in Suzuki’s claim that the cold day was partly to blame. The weather certainly made its mark later when, after a brief stop in the pits, I went back out, only to return immediately complaining that the motor was running badly. The bike had lost some of its appetite for revs, along with almost 10mph on the back straight. But when I noticed a line of taut flags on the grandstand roof I realised the only change was that the wind had suddenly picked up...
That was embarrassing, but at least not painful. Two of our day’s eight testers fell off, though, proving that you can push too hard even on a bike that corners as well as this one. One guy crashed at about 100mph on the Starkey’s Bridge left-hander, giving me nasty memories of twice high-siding my GSX-R at the same spot years ago.
This time round I was taking things much more steadily. But it’s an indication of the Suzuki’s improvement over the years that this rusty ex-racer’s 1.20.2 best lap was three seconds quicker than I’d managed when finishing fifth in a British Formula One Championship round behind Dave Morris on another near-standard GSX-R, but ahead of Phil Mellor and Paul Iddon on purpose-built racebikes on the original 750’s debut weekend in 1985. Suzuki’s Mick Grant crashed out of that race but won the year’s Superstock series for modified production bikes.
The GSX-R is still competitive at national level, as Chris Walker is proving, even if Frankie Chili is unlikely to win Suzuki’s long overdue first World Superbike title this season. As a road bike, too, this fastest, lightest and sharpest ever GSX-R has a lot going for it, not least that its price of £7499 (plus £300 otr) gives it a distinct advantage over its larger-capacity rivals. Suzuki’s singleminded 750 has always demanded a committed rider, and that’s as true as ever. If you’re ready for the GSX-R750, then it’s very much ready for you.
Sharpening the GSX-R750
Suzuki took a three-stage approach to uprating the GSX-R for 2000. They concentrated on increasing the engine’s combustion efficiency, reducing its mechanical friction and improving the bike’s handling, largely through making its engine and chassis lighter and more compact.
Much of the combustion efficiency increase is down to the more sophisticated new fuel-injection system. This incorporates a more powerful computer, steeper injectors, and a device that Suzuki says improves throttle response in much the same way that CV carbs do over slide ones. In this case there is a secondary butterfly valve, operated by an electrical motor, which opens and closes with revs to maintain maximum intake velocity. It’s this valve that is responsible for the new GSX-R’s snatch-free response when opening the throttle.
The 749cc liquid-cooled, dohc 16-valve engine’s layout was left untouched, as were its internal dimensions of 72 x 46mm, but the new motor is shorter and narrower than its predecessor as well as 5kg lighter. A narrower included valve angle allows the cams to be closer together and the compression ratio slightly higher at 12:1. Narrower valve stems, single instead of twin valve springs, hollow cams with thinner walls, lighter shot-peened conrods, forged instead of cast pistons, redesigned crankshaft and lighter magnesium engine cases all play a part in reducing size and weight, as does the new one-piece cylinder block and top crankcase layout.
Visually there are few chassis changes but the twin-spar aluminium frame is lighter, just as stiff, and shorter both horizontally and vertically. Wheelbase increases from 1395 to 1410mm, mainly because the swing-arm is 20mm longer. The Showa 43mm upside-down forks are set closer together and have 5mm more travel to avoid topping out. The rear shock is also new. Rear rim size goes down from 6.00 to 5.50 to save weight, while four-piston Tokico front brake calipers replace the previous six-pot units for the same reason.
Get Suzuki motorbike insurance for the suzuki gsxr 750 2000.
Engine Engine type Water-cooled transverse four Valve arrangement DOHC, 16 valves Displacement
Claimed power (bhp)
Compression ratio 12:1 Carburation electronic fuel-injection Clutch Wet multiplate
Transmission 6- speed
Front suspension 43mm inverted telescopic, adjustments for preload, compression and rebound damping
Rear suspension One damper, adjustments for preload, compression and rebound damping
Front brake 2, four-piston Tokico calipers, 320mm discs
Rear brake Double-action caliper, 220mm disc
Front wheel 3.50 x 17in; cast aluminium
Rear wheel 5.50 x 17in; cast aluminium
Front tyre 120/70 x 17in Michelin Pilot radial
Rear tyre 180/55 x 17in Michelin Pilot radial
Rake/trail 24 degrees/96mm
Seat height 829mm
Fuel capacity 18 litres
Dry weight 166kg
Instruments Digital speedometer, tachometer, temperature gauge, lights for turn signals, neutral, high beam, low oil pressure, high water temperature, low fuel level