2008 GSX-R750 review

Niall Mackenzie puts Suzuki's 2008 GSX-R750 through a year of abuse. How will it hold up?

Suzuki's 2008 GSX-R750 is a mega thing, brilliant. As soon as you sit on it you feel at home. The seating position is perfect. Your knees tuck under the flared out top of the tank and you feel sat right in the bike.

During a track session it was f'in good, but how will it hold up through a year of abuse at the hands of Niall Mackenzie?

August 2008

A few years ago the biking world was shocked to hear that James Whitham had spent his own hard-earned cash on a brand new road bike; a GSX-R750. As you get no greater seal of approval, since that day I’ve been really keen to see what all the fuss was about and somehow get one for myself, preferably though, without paying. Something that will drive Whitham wild!

Fortunately my cosmic ordering (try it, it really works) paid off and I was allocated an ex-Guadix launch bike with only 1,800 miles on the clock.

I was doubly pleased when I visited Suzuki’s Milton Keynes HQ to see my bike was the blue and white St Andrews cross version matching the ‘jockenese’ Saltire on my helmet. I was so chuffed when Suzuki launched this special model just for the patriotic Scots. Okay I’m only joking but it does look the business wherever you  come from.

I’m not sure about the bigger silencer as I really liked the stubby arrangement on the last model but I have to admit since my first sighting at the NEC show last November it has started to grow on me. I’m always keen to try aftermarket pipes on my long-termers (hint, hint) but with noise restrictions getting tighter and tighter at track days I would need some guarantees before I bolt anything on.

As I do a ton of instructing I’m always keen to have a sports bike as a long-termer but I found last year I had to dig deep on my R6 if I ever got someone on a Blade or an R1 with some pace. Hopefully the 750 will give me the best of both worlds with its 600 chassis and extra midrange grunt. I really can’t wait to find out.

Other publications claim with its triple engine mode selector you can have three bikes in one; a 400, 600 and 750. This is something I’m looking forward to trying on my next track day which will be a Donington in July. My first play on it was the Silverstone better riding feature with John Cantlie which almost turned the original equipment rear Bridgestone BT-016 into a slick so I’ll have tested some new rubber by the next update.

I also remember leaving Silverstone thinking the standard suspension settings were miles too soft, so that’s another item I’m looking forward to having a good old fiddle with.

Being the exact same size as the GSX-R600 it is a small bike, however the riding position feels roomy and pretty comfortable for every day road riding. It is also reasonable on track although I was struggling to keep my toes from scraping which I suspect will only get worse with more grip and better suspension settings. John Reynolds does a lot of GSX-R riding  and tells me I need to move the adjustable footrests up if I’m doing a lot of track work so the tools will be out next time.

Other than track days I intend to use the Suzuki to the max. While saving me parking and congestion charge fees on my trips into London I’ll also be dodging forward facing camera scares (my van proved pretty bad at this) but most importantly the GSX-R is certain to make me grin all summer long.

September 2008

It seemed like my beloved GSX-R was in my possession for only five minutes before she was ripped from my arms and  sent on some European mission where she suffered abuse I don’t even want to talk about.

Thankfully she is now back in my arms and after much Muc Off and Motul Shine and Go (I’m addicted to the Satsuma odour) (and sponsored by Motul, yes? - Ed) my little baby has re-gained her former beauty.

Okay, it’s only a bike, but this is as close as I get these days to pampering, pining, and perving over some new girlfriend that has come into my life.  

Onto the serious stuff then and apart from a good minting, new tyres were needed desperately as the Bridgestone BT016s were both bald and illegal.

I have heard much about Maxxis tyres over the past few years but never had a chance to try them. Until a few years back I only ever related them to off road rubber but I noticed they had been supporting German Championships and have been pushing hard in the UK’s media.

A pair duly arrived, but not having the appropriate tools I employed the services of James Whitham to fit my Maxxis Supermax Sports. He said they certainly looked good even if they needed a silly amount of weight to get them balanced. What I can say is so far I have been mightily impressed. I’m not sure if it’s my imagination but they seem to have amazing bump absorption on the road. I’ve also had a brief flurry round Donington where they also felt nice but I ran out of time to get really stuck into a decent lap time. I’m back at Donington soon so I’m looking forward to seeing what happens when I push a bit harder.

Other things I have done is move is move the pegs up to lessen toe slider wear and added three turns of preload to the forks to help with hard braking. Now I have fresh tyres I’d like to fine tune the suspension further plus put a tooth or two on the rear sprocket to lower the gearing and sharpen up acceleration.  I’ll let you know my suspension tips next month.

Now there is over five thousand miles on the clock I can tell the motor has loosened up some which reminds me I need to check when the first service is due.

MILES: 5231

November 2008

Due to the way jobs have fallen I seem to have made the return journey to Brands Hatch on my GSX-R750 many times this year. The distance from the paddock to my house is 153 miles and the fuel light comes on at around 135 miles. This means I’m nearly off the motorway and have a number of fuel station options should it splutter to halt and I have to push. As an experiment on my last trip I rode it back on the lowest power ‘C’ mode, which is normally used for wet conditions or scaredy cats. My journey time wasn’t any longer but I got to 160 miles before the light started blinking. ‘C’ stands for Caledonian I reckon!

Apart from Brands I’ve also thrashed round Knockhill and Donington Park with my K8 machine and came up with some fairly good suspension settings.  I’m 11 stone bare naked (not a nice thought, I know) and the settings in the box to the right work well for me.

You might remember me singing the praises of the Maxxis Supermax Sports tyres I had fitted earlier in the year. While I can’t fault their performance on the road in the wet or dry I have to say their track day performance has its limits. The original Bridgestone BT016s or Pirelli Diablos that I have just acquired definitely inspire more confidence when it comes to keeping up with the opposition on track. Mr Whitham is of the same opinion and we both agree it is probably something to do with the wear rate. After 2,500 miles there simply didn’t appear to be any wear. Maybe they are just too hard. The real urgency to change them however was because I noticed a crack appeared across the width of the rear tyre. I’m not sure what the reason is for this, I’m not a tyre expert and woudn’t want to come to any misguided conclusions, but I’ve been told that dealers would fit a replacement should anyone have the same problem. 

I’m at just over 6,000 miles and apart from the tyres I have had no other problems and trust me, she has been ridden hard. A 5,000 mile service cost £180 and for that you get an oil and filter change, your air filter replaced and a good old checking over of every nut and bolt from my old friends down at Crescent Suzuki.They can be found at www.cresent-suzuki.com.


“The tyre TWO had was W-rated, which means 155mph tolerance limits. If used over that speed that might be what caused the problem. We need to look at the tyre before we make a proper statement.”



• Preload, 2 turns out from max

• Rebound, 1.5 turns out from max

• High Speed compression, six flats out from max

• Low speed compresion, 1.5 turns out from max


• Preload standard

• Rebound 1 turn out from max

• Compression 1.5 turns out from max

MILES: 6221

January 2009

Whether it is on launches, testing or track days, every year, I do literally thousands of laps on race tracks all around the world without ever scaring myself or anyone else around me.

 I pride myself of being in total control and only ever riding up to 90% of my capabilities at all times. That’s why when I lost the front on my beloved 750 while braking into Druids corner at Brands Hatch I believed someone or something else must be to blame.   I had just fitted a pair of Pirelli Diablo Corsa 111s, which I have pushed hard many times on many bikes so I knew I couldn’t fault the tyres. Also my bike, tyres and the rider were all up to temperature and I had done at least six laps. Even weather conditions were perfect, so that ruled out one more excuse.

And I don’t think there was anything on the track as no one else fell off while I watched red-faced for the remainder of the session on the edge of the gravel trap. I now think the problem was more down to the company I was keeping, or more accurately, the company I was trying to keep with.  

Max Hunt is a young rider I met last year who was looking for some coaching during his first season of racing. As he had a positive determined attitude and was very organized and pleasant into the bargain I agreed to help. I knew by mid season he had been running up at the front of the MRO rookies’ championship (he’s now won it) but I still underestimated how much he had improved.   Earlier in the year my stock GSX-R could easily keep up with his supersport spec Yamaha R6 both off the corners and along the straights. Even as his riding was improving I could make up time by braking later or getting on the throttle earlier in the corners. Unfortunately for me, and my GSX-R750, his riding had moved up too many notches so the lines on the graph had crossed, which resulted in me being sucked in and spat off.

This may not sound like a long-term report, but what I did without realizing was pitch my completely standard GSX-R750 head to head at Brands against a full blown supersport machine until a weakness appeared. There wasn’t a great deal in it when it came to overall power round the Indy circuit but just in case you were unsure, standard Pirelli Diablos with standard forks will never compete with Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa Pros with kitted suspension. There you go, I knew it couldn’t be my fault.

Incidentally, my GSX-R crashed well. As I hit the tarmac my first thought was please let this bike be okay as I have to ride it home. I needn’t have worried, as apart from a scuffed clutch cover and some gravel rash to the middle section of the fairing and rear wheel, my bike was intact. So all’s well that ends well. Not really, I have to call Suzuki now...

Costs this month

• I haven’t received an estimate from Suzuki but the fairing is scratched, as is the exhaust, clutch cover and a few other bits and bobs. I’m not looking forward to the results, but at least it still runs!

Miles: 7,745

March 2009

I waited quite a few years to get my hands on a GSX-R750. Having had an R6, a 675 Trumpet and K4 GSX-R1000 in the past I was hoping this inbetweeny would give me the lightness and rideability of a 600, but the mid range flexibility of a 1000cc machine.

This year I covered around 7,000 road miles riding it to Scotland, Wales and the South coast. I don’t know, I might be lucky with my shape and size (small, skinny), but long rides never really bother me on a sportsbike and I’m happy to say my Suzuki was no exception. The fuel consumption was pretty damn good too, with a full tank easily delivering 150 miles at reasonable speeds. And after my initial skepticism of how useful the power mode selector would be, I loved it during our awful summer weather and it got me home safely on numerous occasions.

Off the road, I also thrashed the GSX-R around all the BSB tracks except Thruxton during which time nothing came close to falling off (okay, maybe the rider did) and the super sweet motor never missed a beat.

Over the year I tried Bridgestone BT-016s, Maxxis Supermax Sports and Pirelli Diablo Corsa 111s with the Pirellis coming out on top for grip (it was rider error caused me to skid off at Brands Hatch). The Bridgestones were a close second while the Maxxis didn’t have brilliant grip but seemed like they would last for another 7,000 miles. Between services I had to add the odd slash of oil but nothing like my 675 Daytona from a few years back. As usual over the year I rode every other sports bike on the market and couldn’t help comparing them to my 750. When it comes to the ‘08 600s I’d say my GSX-R750 still has the edge, but only just. The 1000s, however, seem to be leaving the 750 behind more as each new model is launched and every time I jumped on a Fireblade or a ZX-10R I realised how much I missed that rush of mental power.

For a number of years I lusted after this bike and thoroughly enjoyed living with it for the last nine months, but I’m ready for a change. I wanted the perfect bike and that’s what I got, but ironically I missed the madness of a focused 600 or the scary acceleration of a 1000. Better give me a kicking next time you see me, I’m obviously turning into a spoiled journalist!


•    Bill for damage...£2,700  MILES: 6,836