I know I'm not as young as I was...
...I run a "sensible" car, my hair is starting to recede, and the passage of time seems to have been compressed somehow, but it really isn't so long ago since the best sports bikes were of 750cc capacity. From the launch of the first GSXR 750 in '85, to the launch of the first credible large capacity sports bike in Honda's Fireblade in '92, 750cc four stroke sports bikes were the daddies.
600cc bikes had steel frames and were for nervouse types, or for going to the shops on. 1000 and 1100cc bikes of the day would be called sports-tourers now, and would never be allowed near a racetrack. I remember trying to wrestle a GRXR 11 round the TT in '89 and shitting myself for most of every lap. And those were good compared to CBR 1000's or the original ZX10's. I'm not slagging these bikes off, it's just that they weren't supposed to do what people were trying to do with them back then. Some of you will remember a racer called Ray Swan. I still chuckle when I think of him describing how going round the TT on the ZX10 that year was like going down a bob sleigh track sat in a tin bath full of water.
My point is this. Once upon a time, not so long ago, 750cc bikes were seen as the best compromise between weight, power, and agility. They spawned the class of racing we know today as "superbike". (Original WSB capacity rules were 750cc fours and 1000cc twins) and they also spawned the first generation of riders in the modern era who never raced two strokes.
As soon as I saw this years GSXR 750 being wheeled out of the van I knew it would be a good tool. For a start it looks right. Cutting edge mechanics blended with traditional Suzuki colour scheme is cock-on for me. The only things I didn't like about the styling were the wheels, I would've prefered to see five spokes instead of the rather dated looking three spokers that were fitted, and the big exhaust box thing below and behind the engine looks out of place, although to be fair this only becomes really visible when the bike is leaning away from you on it's stand.
We were lucky enough to have bone dry roads and an equally gripy Brands Hatch indy circuit to play on and really find out what the new Jixa will do.
We did the on track stuff first, and within five laps I felt like I'd bonded with this bike. The engine is stronger than I thought it would be and the extra torque it has over a 600cc machine mean you can get away with less gear changes per lap, which in turn means you don't have to prod at the gear lever in the corners and unsettle the bike.
But this doesn't mean you have to ride the bike on the torque and not the power like you find yourself doing on the 1000's sometimes, you can rev it without feeling that you're losing time.
Geometry was very good. It steered fast enough without being unstable, changing direction was easy and fairly precise. Only when I really started pushing the bike to the limit and dragging a lot of brake into the turns did it start to complain a bit with a slight "under-steer" feeling, even then it didn't feel dangerous.
Suspension was also fairly sorted right out of the box. A good benchmark at Brands is if you can hold the throttle flat out over the bumps onto the start and finish straight. With the GSXR you can. The back wags about a bit but it's no problem.
The front was starting to bottom out under hard braking as well, but again, I only found this out coz the bike is so much fun you keep going faster and faster on it.
The brakes were as good as the rest of the package. I'm a bit picky when it comes to front brake lever position. I use two fingers to brake and it's a fine line between having the lever too far out, so you can't put enough pressure on it, and too far in so your outside two fingers are getting trapped all the time. You're able to adjust this master cylinder finely enough to get it perfect.
The slipper clutch you can feel working as you slot down the box braking for Druids, but I can't help thinking you'd be a brave man to go quick enough to even know you had one on the road. The good thing is that it doesn't have that clicking feeling through the lever that some slipper systems do.
The most annoying thing I found about the bike on track was the foot-rests, they pivot backwards as opposed to upwards and I found it difficult to get my feet positioned correctly as I tipped into a turn, especially the left one. When I'd changed down and wanted to slide my foot backwards so the ball of the foot was on the rest, the rest tended to move with the foot.
On the road none of the tiny flaws in manners I found on the track were evident at all. This bike pretty much goes where you want it to go, as fast as you want it to go.It's also one of those bikes that you feel in control of for the most part. . . not the other way round.
I've said this before and I'll say it again, if you were designing your ideal 600 . . . . it would be a 750 !. . . . I know that sounds stupid, but it's true. This bike is as nimble as a 600, but with that bit more power. The tricky bit is not having too much power as to make it a handfull to ride. For my money the balance is just right with the GSXR 750.
There's a lot about the late 80's that I wouldn't like to see making a comeback. Waffle trousers, Shit American stadium bands, and big hair (especially now mine's falling out) But 750cc race rep sports bikes I would welcome, and from all the manufacturers, as long as they could do as good a job as Suzuki have with this bike.
TYPE - SUPERSPORTS
PRODUCTION DATE - 2006
PRICE NEW - £7799
ENGINE CAPACITY - 749cc
POWER - 133bhp@11,500rpm
TORQUE - 66.5lb.ft@9500rpm
WEIGHT - 163kg
SEAT HEIGHT - 810mm
FUEL CAPACITY - 16.5L
TOP SPEED - 165mph
0-60 - n/a
TANK RANGE - N/A
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