In the beginning, there was the Honda VF750F Interceptor, and it was good. Then came the original GSX-R750 of 1986, and suddenly it was off to the races. Flyin’ Fred Merkel won the first World Superbike championship on a 750cc Honda RC30 in 1988. Kawasaki eventually showed up with its ZX-7R (and ZX-7RR with aluminum tank, vacuum-hose induction and flatslide carburetors). Not long after that came Honda’s $27K RC45, then the Yamaha YZF750SP—all of them built to beat the Ducati 916 on the field of battle. Before the rule change that gave Superbikes 1000cc, the 750 class was where it was at, a movable feast of the trickiest technology and crackiest characters in both AMA and World Superbike, including Anthony Gobert, Scott Russell, Fogarty, Haga, B. Bostrom, et al.
Sadly, the GSX-R750 never won the World Superbike championship (though Troy Corser did the deed on the GSX-R1000 in 2005). In down-home AMA competition, the GSX-R found more success, taking the title under Jamie James way back in ’89, then again 10 years later in the unbeatable hands of Mat Mladin (whose kvetching probably did more to bump four-cylinder displacement back to 1000cc than anything else). From ’03 to ’09, Mladin and Ben Spies and the GSX-R1000 owned AMA Superbike.
The GSX-R1000 is obviously bigger, faster and gnarlier. And yet, to those of us of a certain age, there’ll always be something special about the 750. Today, the 750 competes with the 600s more than it does the Open-class sportbikes, and in that quick-draw arena, coughing up $600 more than you would for the GSX-R600 is a great bargain. Along with 3mm-bigger pistons and a 6.2mm-longer stroke (70 x 48.7mm, just like the original GSX-R750), you get a far broader, deeper mound of torque, along with 20 more peak horsepower in a bike that only weighs about a gallon of high-test more than the 600.
Ergonomically, the GSX-R is as compact and racy as they come, and small and/or limber pilots fit best. That’s because it’s a really tiny, light motorcycle—20-some pounds lighter and an inch or two shorter than both the original low-mass GSX-R of 1986 and the current GSX-R1000. The seat’s more for hanging off of than for sitting upon, and both of the adjustable footpeg positions are pretty high.
On the other hand, Suzuki’s acoustic engineers have done something in the airbox that gives this bike (and the 600) one of the finest, raspy-gargly intake sounds in motorcycledom: Whack the throttle open once and you’ll want to keep doing it, which takes your mind off any physical discomfort.
The amount of revs required are an excellent compromise between the 600 (which needs 8000 rpm to cruise at 80 mph) and the GSX-R1000, which barely stirs itself in blasting you down the road. In other words, the 750 asks of its rider just about a perfect amount of involvement. Light and hyperactive enough for Superman to burn down a fast road or track, powerful and sedate enough for Clark Kent to use as a commuter. Classic GSX-R, perfected since 1986. There really is nothing else quite like it.
• 750cc Four still feels like the perfect sportbike engine
• Will work the kinks out of your back
• Highly evolved, single-purpose go-fast device
• Dangerously close $-wise to ZX-10R, CBR1000RR
• Uncompromising ergonomics
• Possibly the Most Wadded Bike of All Time! (MWBAT)
|Dry weight:||394 lb.|
|Seat height:||31.9 in.|
|Fuel mileage:||37 mpg|
|0-60 mph:||2.9 sec.|
|1/4-mile:||10.41 sec. @ 136.51 mph|
|Top speed:||165 mph|
|Horsepower:||123.0 hp @ 12,610 rpm|
|Torque:||53.4 ft.-lb. @ 11,200 rpm|