It's Suzuki against Suzuki as the standard GSX-R750 meets its Nemesis - the Crescent Suzuki BSB GSX-R750 Special. And boy is it special...
Holy cow it was cold. Winter had appeared overnight and I was woefully unprepared in one-piece leathers and a paddock jacket. I was so chilled I was passing through the portal into the murky limbo existence of the truly frozen. You know, the one where you're so cold crashing seems preferable to carrying on because at least the ensuing tumbling, friction and impact may inject a little heat into your frozen (albeit smashed) limbs. Unfortunately, I couldn't crash just yet because I was still 100 miles from Donington, Niall Mac, the Crescent GSX-R and our photo shoot, and I was late already.
A blurred glance at the stock GSX-R's speedo (I was shivering that much) showed I was doing 70mph. I needed to go faster, so I pushed up to a ton but all that did was double the wind chill and soon I was browbeaten back to 70. It didn't matter how comfortable I was - lovely seat and riding position for a sportsbike these GSX-Rs - or how easy the midrange made my progress, or even how good the bike sounded despite the standard end can - I really couldn't have given a toss. At this point I would gladly have traded the thing in for a ten year-old Fiat Panda.
Then a sign for services appeared and I vowed not to turn off. I would be strong and continue - like I said, I was late. 30 seconds later I'd dived across three lanes of traffic and could smell my imminent Little Chef breakfast on the chill air already.
Ten minutes later and I was spilling lukewarm coffee down my leathers as my hands continued to shake uncontrollably while the rest of the place stared at me in pity when they thought I wasn't looking. I was stuffed - halfway between Donington and home, too cold to go back and too cold to continue. Rats. And then I remembered Cobby was vanning the Crescent bike to the track, that his house was one junction behind where I was at on the M1, and that he never gets up on time. A quick call revealed he was just leaving and he had space in the van for another bike - I was saved.
Seeing the Crescent GSX-R nestled in the back of the van as Cobby loaded the stock bike in alongside it was almost enough to warm me up again. I'd been expecting something good but this was stunning. It looked as if they'd rolled John Crawford's BSB bike off the track, cleaned it to within an inch of its life, bolted on a numberplate and lights, and err, then given it to us. Everything reeked of quality from head to toe. The original headlight and clocks sat there up front like they'd never left, exquisite carbon/Kevlar bodywork wrapped everything up sweeter than a Harrods hamper, and everywhere I looked I saw expense and exclusivity - factory swingarm (can't buy those), factory forks and shock (same), yokes with "JC #1" painted on the top (those'll be John Crawford's from this season then...), and the list goes on.
"Thirty grand they reckon that bike owes them," said Cobby casually as he flicked to radio two, turned up the heat, set the GPS on the dashboard and pulled into the fast lane all at once, adding, "that's a rough figure obviously because you can't put a price on all that factory kit can you?" Nope, you sure can't.
And so we made it to Donington warm as toast and all set for a day's malarky with the best 750cc sports bike on the market (that'll be the GSX-R750 for anyone not paying attention), and the ultimate GSX-R750 special all in the interest of discovering just how good this already rather good motorcycle can be made.
Let battle commence...
The specs boxes on the two bikes here really don't begin to scratch the surface of what's going on with the Crescent bike. A quick scan down the list for both machines and, frankly, they don't look that different. Do not be fooled. What Crescent have done is to take a brand spankers GSX-R750 and throw it all away. Then they remembered they needed the frame and the motor, rescued them from the bin and set to work.
Being the BSB Suzuki team, their access to the finest one-off factory parts in the world is a little better than yours or mine. So, they got hold of factory Showa forks and a shock (you couldn't buy these no matter how much cash you had in your sky rocket - they ain't for sale) to take care of suspension at both ends, and threw in a one-off factory swingarm at the back just for good measure. To make sure the front end didn't feel left out in the trickness stakes, factory triple clamps and adjustable steering head inserts were brought in to hold the forks in place, with a £190 Öhlins steering damper bolted on to help out if things became too flighty.
As well they might, because not only is power up (we'll come to that in a minute) weight, and especially unsprung weight is well down. Unsprung weight falls thanks to the Marchesini GP magnesium wheels (£1,300 per pair), and AP calipers and discs (£1,116 for the front set-up, £150 for the rear). They're trick, light, stop like hitting a brick wall and come to this bike straight off the 2001 BSB grid.
But the brake set-up doesn't stop (ha ha) there, because there's the AP dual bore master cylinder and multi-adjustable lever for the front brakes to consider too - these'll set you back £590 or so, but the feel is sublime and they're works of art all on their own. At the back there's a very dinky, but far more ordinary single-piston AP caliper taking care of business.
Now to the heart of this beast. All you'll need to do is take one fresh and run-in GSX-R750 lump, add top-spec Yoshimura race cams and close ratio gearbox (a shade over £2,600 for these) and a BMC race filter, remap the ECU (providing you know how that is...), bolt on a Yoshimura Tri-Oval system to let the whole lot breathe more easily (£1,700 to you, sir) and that's it. Well almost. Obviously you'll need all the internals lightening, balancing, polishing and the head gasflowing to the same spec as the Crescent British Superbikes to ramp the compression ratio up to a sky-high 14.2:1 amongst other things, and you'll be there.
But there's more. There's the factory replica radiator (it's just under a grand so what a genuine one costs I dread to think), the bespoke carbon air intakes, the carbon/Kevlar fairings and endurance seat unit, the aluminium race tank, the quickshifter, the factory clip-ons, and the Yoshimura rearsets all to be added on. Finally you'd need to coat the whole lot in gallons of the deepest pearlescent blue and white paint. If you could make a GSX-R750 special in your dreams, have no doubts that this would be it. In fact, this would probably be better...
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