Buyer Guide: Suzuki GSX-R750

The ultimate buyer’s guide to the ultimate hooligan written by the people who actually own the bike...

Click to read: Suzuki GSX-R750 owners reviews, specs and image galleries.

The perfect sized sports bike according to many – including our own James Whitham. Modern 1,000s can be intimidating with their colossal power and 600s, while easy to chuck about, just don’t have the grunt needed to fire out of corners unless you really rev them. So surely a 750 combines the best of both and is the optimum size?

Most of the 50 GSX-R750 owners who filled in our Buyer Guide on-line survey agree. And if you want a 750cc super sports bike from a mainstream manufacturer, you’ve got a choice of one: the GSX-R750.

When it appeared in 1985 it wowed us with its advanced technology and light weight. It’s been through a lot since; including bloating into an outdated heavyweight in the early to mid ‘90s before regaining its focus in 1996 with the ultra focussed SRAD. It’s remained an icon with an in-yer-face image and performance to match.

No matter what your budget, there’s a GSX-R750 to suit you. In this article we’re focussing on the 1996 onwards bikes as the older ones are thin on the ground. Most of the bikes in the survey are year 2000 or later.

As well as fulfilling their brief by being blisteringly rapid track tools these machines also work extremely well on the road and are even more comfy than most sports bikes. It also turns out they’re among the more reliable bikes available too. Here’s what GSX-R750 owners reckon…

Suzuki GSX-R750 Specifications

1985

Engine 749cc, oil cooled, DOHC, 16v, in-line four Power 100bhp @ 10,500rpm
Torque
54ftlb @ 10,000rpm Dry weight 176kg Seat height 755mm

1988

Engine 748cc, oil cooled, DOHC, 16v, in-line four Power 112bhp @ 11,000rpm
Torque 55ftlb @ 10,000rpm Dry weight 195kg Seat height 810mm Fuel capacity 21 litres

1996

Engine 749cc, oil cooled, DOHC, 16v, in-line four Power 128bhp @ 12,000rpm
Torque
59ftlb @ 10,000rpm Dry weight 179kg Seat height 830mm Fuel capacity 18 litres

2000

Engine 749cc, oil cooled, DOHC, 16v, in-line four Power 140bhp @ 12,500rpm
Torque 63ftlb @ 10,500rpm Dry weight 166kg Seat height 830mm Fuel capacity 18 litres

2004

Engine 749cc, oil cooled, DOHC, 16v, in-line four Power 148bhp @ 12,800rpm
Torque 64ftlb @ 10,800rpm Dry weight 163kg Seat height 825mm Fuel capacity 18 litres

The nuts & bolts

Tyres
All the bikes in the survey take a 180/55-17 or 190/50-17 rear with a 120/70-17 front. They’re modern sizes and there’s a huge range.

Powerful sports bike plus sticky tyres equals fairly short life. The average rear lasted just 2,677 miles. The maximum was 6,000 miles (Michelin Pilot Power 2CT) and the minimum 1,000 miles (Pirelli Super Corsa Pro). Average front tyre life was 4,486 miles with the maximum 11,000 miles (Michelin Pilot Power 2CT) and minimum 1,500 miles (Pirelli Super Corsa Pro).

Some riders on a budget fit older tyres such as Dunlops D207 to save a few quid. They’re not as good as the latest stuff but they’re still fine. Some owners don’t get on with Bridgestone BT-014s but others love them.
The most popular two choices are the Pirelli Diablo III and Michelin Pilot Power 2CT – both excellent, modern multi compound tyres that work well on the road and track. Metzeler Racetecs have plenty of fans too for their massive grip levels but they’re more track orientated and don’t work so well on the road.

What goes wrong
Surprisingly little considering these are fairly highly tuned bikes many of which get hard use. Two owners had major clutch problems on recent bikes (K6 and K7). Front brake discs are easily damaged by any sort of impact and can warp from hard use or because of sticking calipers. A few people complain their brakes judder even though the discs aren’t warped too. Wheels can bend from a very small impact such as clipping a kerb, especially on later bikes.

One K4 in our survey had the gearbox fail at 12,000 miles – and others have heard about gearbox problems on other bikes, especially Y, K1 and K2s. These typically show up on second gear first but as far as we can tell, they’re rare. A few people complain of fuelling faults and imperfections, mainly K6 onwards bikes.

Making sure the throttle cable has the correct amount of slack can help so the TPS gets a decent base line reading. If your Suzuki dealer can’t fix poor fueling, fitting a piggy back ECU and custom map like a Power Commander should sort the problem. A handful of 1996 and ‘97 bikes (WT and WV) suffered engine problems such as base gasket failure and stretching little end bearings but we think they’ve long since been sorted.

The only other faults owners reported were isolated niggles and 78% of owners had never had a single issue of any sort.

If you’re buying a GSX-R be sure to check for signs of race use. Also it’s popular with thieves and because they get ridden hard, crashes are not uncommon so look for accident damage.

Owner Case Study: "I did 31 track days and an endurance race last year"

Eric Chitty has a GSX-R750K6. He used to ride it on the road but now he only uses it on the track.

"I’m a member of Hot Trax riders club so I get plenty of opportunities to do track days. After I’d done so many I fancied trying racing and entered a two hour Hot Trax endurance race. I was in the 1,000cc class up against loads of bigger bikes – R1s, GSX-R1000s and all sorts of others but I came third in class out of about 27 teams. It was my first race so all those track days must have paid off! It takes a very well ridden 1,000 to get past me. They’ll pull away on a straight but I can get them back on the brakes and also I can get on the gas coming out of corners earlier. I had a GSX-R1000 before and I’m faster on the 750.

"My 750K6 made 136bhp on the dyno with an Akrapovic full system. I had a 750K4 with a full exhaust too and it made 139bhp on the same dyno but the later bike is better to ride – it really feels like you’re part of the machine.

"It’s an absolutely superb bike. My only complaint is lots of parts from earlier models were interchangeable but they don’t fit the K6. Race parts for it are expensive but at least they hold their money. A dented tank for a K4 would be about £75 on eBay. A K6 one would be double that."

Consumables and expense
The most popular bake pads by far are original Suzuki ones (52%). A handful of owners say they’re not that impressed with them but most recon they’re more than up to the job. EBC are next most popular (14%) with their HH range and everyone using them thinks they work well. A few (2%) use SBS and Carbonne Lorraine and recon they’re excellent in both cases. Most owners don’t know and aren’t interested what fuel consumption their bike returns but an average of those that do is 34mpg with 40mpg being  the highest and 28mpg the lowest in the survey. Average tank range is 116 miles. Track use can half this.

Typical prices paid for a service are: minor £103, intermediate £169 and major including valve clearances £268. Some owners are using non-franchise garages which brings the average down but those are still very reasonable prices. It’s a relatively easy bike to work on. 14% of owners don’t do any servicing, 48% do minor tasks like oil changing brake pads and 38% do everything themselves. Average chain and sprocket life is just over 12,000 miles.

Finish
Suzuki aren’t renowned for making machines with the most durable finish and 62% of owners in the survey pointed the finger at one or other part of their bike, saying it wasn’t up to scratch.

Paint everywhere is criticised for being too thin or showing marks where it gets rubbed. The panels, frame, tank, footrest heel plates, wheels and swing arm all get mentioned. Stickers coming adrift is common too. There’s almost no complaints about corrosion though which is surprising – TWO recons plenty of these bikes don’t see much winter use.

Modification
Not a single bike in the survey was standard. There’s loads of choice of parts, extras and bolt ons out there for GSX-R750s and most owners fit at least some of them.

Performance wise exhausts, Power Commanders, air filters and lower gearing are the most common. Aftermarket exhausts are popular with 68% of bikes in our survey having one fitted. Yoshimura is the most popular brand – not surprising considering the firm’s historical links with Suzuki. Akropovic some second and, like the Yoshis, owners rate them highly. Timing retard eliminators (TREs) are quite common and one owner (Eric Chitty) had the engine of his K6 blueprinted – that’s re-built to exact tolerances. There’s a few owners with more unusual performance mods like quick shifters, light weight wheels and fast action throttles.

The list of cosmetic mods on some bikes is massive but one of the most favoured is a tail tidy. Crash bungs are popular and R&G are the most fitted brand in the survey. Ditto rearsets with Gilles coming out on top. Their chain adjusters are also well liked by those who’ve used them to replace the standard ones.
Eighteen percent of owners have fitted double bubble screens for more wind protection. One (Robert Smith – not the one from The Cure) has fitted Heli Bars higher handlebars to his K6 and recons they improve comfort significantly.

Although the standard suspension is pretty good plenty of owners have had their fork internals uprated and fitted after market rear shocks. These enable them to set the bike up just right for them and get it handling spot on. A handful of owners have fitted after market steering dampers with Öhlins easily being the most popular.

Owner Case Study: "I’ve moved down from a 1000"

Martin Mitchell had two GSX-R750s before moving onto 1000cc sports bikes. He’s now back on a 750 and reckons it’s a better machine.

"I had a GSX-R750WV – the 1997 model and a K4 as well. Then I got a Kawasaki ZX-10R and then a 2006 Honda Fireblade. Now I’m back on a GSX-R750K5. I think on A and B roads I’m faster on the 750. And I enjoy riding it more. The 1,000s are intimidating and while they’re amazing in a straight line I prefer the 750 in the corners. I think people feel have to get a 1,000 but I know quite a few other guys with bikes who are moving down from 1,000s to 750s.

"I ride to France every year on my bike. A group of us do it for fun and sometimes take in a race while we’re there. The K4 and K5 GSX-R750s are the roomiest and most comfortable of the modern sports bikes. The engines are bullet proof too. I’ve read about the odd person having gearbox problems on the internet but I’ve never know anyone actually suffer one in real life.

"Quality-wise Suzuki aren’t as good as Honda and it shows in the fasters and other bits. I’ve got a GSX-R600K4 which I use on track and in winter and it’s suffered from corrosion, especially the brake callipers. I think Suzuki build them cheap but they do make them fun with character."