Suzuki Sportbike: 30 years at the top

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Little did we know when the Suzuki GSX-R750 first appeared on the global cycling scene in 1985 it was destined to become the benchmark for the sportbikes of today’s marketplace. Unmatched in engineering feats and in the production of lightweight frames and power, it scored a stunning victory at the LeMans 24-hour World Endurance Championships.

For 2013, the GSX-R line celebrates the landmark of over 1 million units produced. Suzuki is celebrating this achievement with a limited edition GSX-R1000 model featuring a custom finish and commemorative badge located on the upper front fork bracket that identifies the limited production number of the unit. This limited edition GSX-R1000 model is limited to 1,985 units, commemorating 1985 — the GSX-R’s debut year.

Suzuki remains true to the original concept and purpose by improving and enhancing the GSX-R750 through a purposeful evolutionary process since its debut. Today’s model continues as an ideal choice for riders who appreciate a fast, comfortable sportbike powered by a state-of-the-art, high-revving engine. It delivers an exhilarating blend of race winning heritage, stellar engine performance and precise handling in a compact, lightweight package.

The 750cc engine is a DOHC, 8-valve, 4-stroke liquid-cooled 4-cylinder with Suzuki fuel injection and a compression ratio of 12.5:1. It transfers power to the rear wheel through a smooth-shifting six-speed constant mesh sequential manual gearbox with a 116-link chain final drive.

Suspension componentry consists of inverted telescopic forks, with oil damped coil springs up front and a link-type oil damped coil spring in the rear. The GSX-R750 rolls on Bridgestone Battlax mounted on black 3-spoke alloy wheels. Bringing the sporty Suzuki to a halt are hydraulic Brembo twin discs forward with a single disc aft.

My test bike sported a Triton Blue metallic tank and upper fairing, while the mid section displayed exposed carbon fiber. The lower portion of the tank was sprayed white along with the front fender and rear passenger pillion mount. Identifying graphics appeared boldly on the lower fairing portion with flat Black trim accented by carbon fiber trim pieces. The base price was set at $12,199.

Despite my somewhat lanky and gangly image astride the Suzuki, I actually enjoyed riding it once I managed to get my feet up on the pegs. The riding position, though traditionally sportbike oriented wasn’t as radical as some I’ve experienced lately and proved to be surprisingly well balanced and instantly responsive.

Realistically, the bike was too small and short for me to be totally comfortable on a long ride, but the sound of both the engine and exhaust, coupled with the hair-trigger throttle and plentiful torque were enough to override any sense of inconvenience or discomfort.

The bike sits low while still providing a ground clearance of 5.1 inches. The GSX-R750 tips the scale with a curb weight of 419 pounds dry. The fuel tank capacity is 4.5 gallons.

Visually the GSX-R is sleek and racy, featuring a compact fairing with a short integrated wind screen and stylish, streamlined headlamp assembly that takes on a jewel-like “bat-face” just forward of the traditional drop-down bars. Gauges are set inside the screen with both digital and analog indicators for varying information ahead of the inverted forks. Mirrors are positioned to provide good rearward visibility. The sculpted tank sits high with the race-type locking filler centered atop it. The rider’s seat is cradled between the rear of the tank and the passenger pillion riser. The rider’s pegs are set to the rear and are high to allow for canyon carving without scraping. The riding position is ideal for a shorter, youthful rider, but proved to be somewhat awkward for my six-foot four-inch, long-legged frame. Fold-down pegs are provided for a passenger should the need for two-up arise.

The bike’s rear wraps up with a lower, rear wheel-hugging, “shorty” composite fender and a drop-down upper mud shield/license mount and taillamp assembly. Rear lights also appear below the tailpiece. The front fender is positioned close to the front tire and fits back into fairing’s opening.

The Suzuki GSX-R750 delivers a lofty fun-to-ride quotient, which would seem to eliminate the need for possessing a more expensive and overpowered bike. There’s a reason the GSXR is enjoying a 30 years of popularity — actually, there are lots of reasons — and taking one for a ride will serve as proof positive.