SUZUKI GSX-R750 Review & Ratings

The GSX-R750 is one of the finest roadgoing sportsbikes ever, a supersport 600 with 30 per cent more power.

FOR MOST OF the first 20 years of its life, the GSX-R750 was the bike on which larger and smaller versions were based. That was because the 750 was the most important – it had to serve as the base for the main race version, first in F1 and then, from 1988, in World Superbikes. But with WSB moving to 1000cc fours in 2003, the 750 suddenly found itself in no man’s land. Other manufacturers dropped race replica 750s, but Suzuki had so much emotional investment in the GSX-R750 they soldiered on and, when the 20th anniversary had been and gone in 2005, they took the natural course and used their then-current race bikes as the basis for the new 750. Fortunately for fast road riders, they decided not to use the GSX-R1000 as the base bike (excellent though it was), but instead based the new 2006 GSX-R 750 on the equally new GSX-R600 K6.

They looked identical because, to all intents and purposes, they were identical, sharing everything except engine capacity. This, it turned out, was a stroke of genius. The roadgoing 600 needed the brakes and handling to cope with a 30 per cent power increase when used within the tight framework of Supersport 600 rules. So in road trim it was always going to feel like it could use more power. Giving it an engine with a slightly bigger bore and a much longer stroke meant suddenly it had not only the extra power the 600 was missing (a claimed 148bhp vs the 600’s 125bhp), but also far more bottom end and midrange. And all that for a negligible two kilo weight penalty. The result is superbly balanced on road or track, with the added advantage that you have a choice of ragging it everywhere as you would the 600, or taking it easy and riding the torque.

A range of upgrades for the 2008 K8 model included subtly updated bodywork, a bigger silencer (more for emissions than noise regs), lighter wheels, an electronically controlled steering damper, plus the addition of high- and low-speed compression damping adjustment on forks and shock. There were a few small internal changes to the engine including revised camshafts. Of more interest was a new and more powerful engine management system, with revised throttle bodies and injectors, giving switchable mapping. The result of all these small changes was marginally improved midrange, slightly better handling (albeit with even more chance of getting your settings wrong) and even more ease in switching between hooligan and cruising duties. There were a couple of official special editions (mostly just a few bolt-ons), plus various raceinspired short-run specials from dealers. Otherwise the K8, K9 and 2010 L0 are all mechanically the same. Nearly 10 years after the first K6, this era of GSX-R750 is still sought-after. Though that means good examples hold their value well, it also means they’re still great value for money.

WHAT’S IT LIKE TO RIDE?

Sure-footed, perfectly balanced – and bloody fast. It doesn’t have the sledgehammer power delivery of its 1000cc big brother, but it has enough midrange so you don’t need to be superprecise with your gear choice (so you can devote more attention to reading the road and planning your lines). It has one of the best front ends in the business – loads of feedback from the front tyre, pinpoint steering and supple springing and damping combine to give you a level of confidence that few road bikes can match – and even fewer 10-year-old road bikes.

WHO BUYS A GSX-R750?

Sensible hooligans. Our youngest owner was 32 and the oldest 54, but the majority were in their mid-40s. That’s about all most of them had in common though. Some were recently qualified, others had been riding since they were kids. Some had come from a long string of sportsbikes – and of those, most were downsizing from litre-capacity sportsbikes. Others had come from big tourers or adventure bikes, looking for more fun in the twisties rather than comfort over the long haul. Some were just unapologetic GSX-R nuts – and quite a few of those had an older GSX-R750 lurking in the garage too. Richard Rees bought his despite not actually having a licence: “As soon as I saw it in the showroom I had to have it, so I paid the money and the deal was done there and then. That was three weeks before I did my test… The dealership kept it out the back for me until I got my licence.”

THE PERFECT BIKE FOR…

Fast sweepers, nadgery twisties, trackdays, wheelies and, according to owner Martin Kobiela, touring to Moscow and St Petersburg. With a relatively relaxed (for a supersport bike) riding position, flexible engine and outstanding reliability, it really is a very usable everyday bike as well as being able to tackle any trackday – though trackday aficionados say the suspension’s a little soft and the brakes aren’t as sharp as the Brembos fitted to 2011-on versions.

ANY SERIOUS PROBLEMS?

Move along, nothing to see here. Major mechanical mayhem is almost unheard of. It’s far more likely to be niggly electrical problems that keep you off the road. Regulator/rectifier failure is pretty common – many earlier bikes had their R/R units changed under warranty and the revised units seem to be more reliable. There was a factory recall for failing brake master cylinders, but all bikes affected should have been fixed by now. There were a few reports of gearbox problems, mostly a clunky change between first and second, and jumping out of second if you don’t change positively enough. That’s most likely down to damage of the selector forks and engagement dogs, and equally probably down to abuse in the past – bad wheelies in particular. Further electrical problems are starting to be a problem on earlier bikes, especially ones that have been used in all weathers. Mostly it’s just corroded connectors and earth points, but that can translate as hard-to-trace faults. A few owners had suffered a weird combination of weak sidestand spring and failing sidestand switch that resulted in the bike intermittently cutting out over rough roads or at certain revs – so if the sidestand doesn’t snap tightly up into its retracted position it’s worth replacing the spring or adding an extra one.

Clutch lever switches are also prone to failure, which prevents you starting the bike – worth checking before you suspect the starter relay or starter itself, though starter motor failure isn’t unheard of either. One other common fault: if the bike won’t turn over on the starter and the headlight doesn’t come on when you turn on the ignition, it could be corrosion within the starter switch (which also turns the lights off when you hit the starter button). It’s fairly easy – though fiddly – to take the switch apart and clean up the contacts. We’ve also heard of quite a few problems with erratic running, including revving when you don’t want it to, or bogging down so violently you risk denting the back of the tank with your groin. That can be down to a failing Throttle Position Sensor – and Sod’s Law says you won’t be able to replicate the symptom when you get home. It might be worth buying a decent used one to keep as a spare. The other possible cause is a failing lambda sensor in the exhaust or O2 sensor in the intake system.

SUZUKI GSX-R750 Gallery

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