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GSX-R750 K7 - A bike for Modern Britain

A bike so different it's almost identical to everything else


To me, Modern Britain is a place where we all aspire to have a brand-new car every other year. Everyone's got a 50in plasma telly with the XXL Deluxe satellite TV package, offering 700 channels and the ability to pause life itself, at the touch of a button.

We've all got one of those double-fridge things that dispenses ice, crushed ice and if you press hard enough, an Eskimo will pop out. No-one has a bath anymore - we all have a whirlpool spa and what about the Hoover? Well, we replaced that with a cleaner.

It's a constant race that no-one can win, a challenge to be one better than everyone else and have something that no-one else has got. We want to be different but really we're following the crowd.

And on that note, I introduce the GSX-R750, the 'something a bit different' and 'slightly exotic' superbike.

The last GSX-R750 I rode was in 2003, a fresh from the crate example and last week I was given the keys to a 700-mile GSX-R750 K7. So I took it for a spin..

As I tucked down behind the screen, the deafening wind blast that was flexing my ear drums turned into a dead, almost vacant echo. The harsh, crackling air rush was replaced by a seething determined engine, building up more and more revs, accompanied by the resonant warble of air being crammed into the air box. Behind the screen the world felt slow, it felt like I'd pressed the pause button.

Momentarily enjoying this lack of reality, seeing 158mph slapped me in the face. I backed off, letting the highly-strung motor wind down with liberated ease. I popped out from behind the screen, the air blast hit me again and as my ear drums rattled once more and I realised that 140 is actually still quite quick. Time to dab the brakes. Despite the frantic rush and relentless nature of the GSX-R750's engine, I wasn't feeling the buzz.

I don't know why, but I expected the 750 to be like a baby 1000, but it's actually a big 600. This may seem like one of the most obvious thing to say, but the two bikes couldn't be more different and offer completely different experiences.

Only a day earlier I'd taken a GSX-R1000 out, to sample this hysterically fast machine for myself. I've never ridden a bike that had such an effect on someone that it brought a smile to the face of anyone who recalled the first time they opened the throttle. Even weeks after they'd ridden it.

The 1000 is a bike that instantly makes you feel like a vulnerable human being, rather than a stalking, superbike riding mentalist. The brutal engine marched through every gear instantly, the moment I fed it in. My mouth went dry and I clung onto the bars and tank like a monkey hanging onto a wet rock.

As I set off from the lights on the GSX-R1000 - trying to tap into its 160bhp - I let the clutch out with the same apprehension as when I lobbed a can of deodorant onto a raging bonfire when I was about 6. I tossed the can into the flames and half turned away to shield myself from the expected explosion and half faced it, to witness the fruits of my ingenious plan. It was much the same as I picked up the revs and let go of the clutch lever once the lights went green. Riding the 1000 is like riding a controlled explosion, the experience of riding a GSX-R750 was like trying to strike a damp match.

The GSX-R750 is, after all, just a big 600. So what was I expecting? Both bikes use an identical chassis, they're built from the same components and all Suzuki has done is lubed up the chassis and squeezed in a 750 lump. But the engine feels no different low down to a 600, it doesn't have the instant oomph of the 1000, there's no kick in the backside when you open it up in 1st.

It's a potent combination, there's no doubt about that. The handling is sharp, almost too sharp for UK roads. The bike changes direction with an effortless nudge on the bars, so much so that pot holes and over-banding almost always cause a reaction, a light head shake but nothing threatening. Nothing surprising or unpredictable in store. The feedback and feel is something I'd only experienced before on an Aprilia RS250, a bike that turned my ham-fisted attempts at a corner and smoothed them out, without protest.

The bike feels small and nimble, you couldn't tell if you were on a 600 or a 750. The bike's weight disappears when riding along flowing roads, the transition from side to side feels like you're part of a natural swinging pendulum and even with the incredibly fierce front brakes, at road speeds, it's hard to upset the front end when you're committed into a bend. It beats the GSX-R1000 in this respect, it's easier to get on and ride at a decent pace without upsetting the balance or working yourself into a frenzy.

On the GSX-R1000 I found myself dialing in the litre-power too soon and braking too early to compensate for an extra half-a-second on the gas. It's such a hard bike to ride with precision - it's like play fighting with Lennox Lewis - sooner or later you'll end up in hospital.

I can't fault any of the bike's dynamics, nor its build quality. It's a vastly improved package from the last 750 I rode - a 2003 GSX-R750.

Everyone reaches for Honda when they talk about build quality and this feels as well put together as a CBR600RR, from the aggressive looking snout, to the classy looking clocks, the tight little exhaust and the UFO-like tail piece, it fits together better than any GSX-R I've seen to date and is more than a match for any other sportsbikes on sale today.

In some ways I love this bike, it just feels right. Fast without being threatening, involving without the risk of catching you out. But sometimes, I can't see what the fuss is about.

So in the same way we're all chasing plasma tellys, new cars and excessive refridgerators, we're all buying Suzuki's GSX-R750. It's Britain's best selling bike, a bike for Modern Britain, where the harder we try to be different, the more we stay the same.