Thursday, July 06, 2006

Suzuki GSX-R750: Twenty years of sportsbike supremacy

The 1985 GSX-R750 had 80 horsepower, weighed 175 kilos, did the standing quarter-mile in 12.65 seconds and had a top speed of 205km/h

With Suzuki lavishing cutting-edge sportsbike technologies on the GSX-R750 right from the word go, the Gixxer was destined for greatness right from the beginning. First shown in 1984 at the Cologne Motor Show in Germany, the first Suzuki GSX-R750 arrived like a rude jolt to the motorcycling world’s collective consciousness. It looked like a ‘proper’ racebike and with a claimed 100PS (more like 70-75PS in the real world) on tap, went like one too. Well, almost. When it went on sale in 1985, the GSX-R750 gave other sportsbike manufacturers a new role model to look up to, and priced at the equivalent of around Rs 2.5 lakh at that time, it was a machine which enthusiasts could actually afford to buy, run and god forbid, even crash…

There have been other greats in the 750cc superbike class – the Honda VFR 750R (RC30), the Yamaha FZR 750RR (OW01) and the Kawasaki ZXR 750 (later, the ZX-7R and ZX-7RR) were also instrumental in pushing the power/performance envelope ever further. But gradually, over the years, Honda, Yamaha and Kawasaki have given up on the 750 class, choosing instead to concentrate on 600cc and 1000cc machines. Ever since Honda launched the CBR 900RR in 1992, the Tadao Baba engineered Fireblade has set the tone for modern-day open-class superbikes. Those looking at reasonably high levels of performance combined with light weight and agile flickability buy 600cc ‘supersport’ machines, while those looking at ultimate tyre-shredding performance go for 1000cc superbikes. So it’s no surprise that most manufacturers have, more or less, abandoned the 750 class. And that makes me admire Suzuki even more for sticking to their guns and still continuing to make an absolutely cracking 750.

Actually, many believe that a 750 still offers the best balance between the light weight and the handling advantages of a 600 and the outright power of a 1000. In fact, even Kevin Schwantz (FIM 500cc Motorcycle GP world champion, with Suzuki, in 1993), who rides all GSX-R bikes regularly, admits that the 750 is the one which is the handiest and which allows him to really exploit its power to the fullest.

The latest 2006 model K6 GSX-R 750s have been worthy successors to the first 1985 Gixxer. The legendary blue/white colour scheme continues to this day and looks better than ever before. Styling is now based on Suzuki’s MotoGP bikes, what with the GSX-R getting a short, low-slung muffler, super-slim fairing, nose-down stance and lines dictated by advanced aerodynamics. With each passing year, the GSX-R750 becomes quicker, faster, more flickable, and better handling than ever before – all essential ingredients for that distilled GSX-R750 experience. Like it’s been for the last 20 years, the current GSX-R750 continues to offer the best of both worlds – the light weight, agility and flickability of 600cc machines, and the awesome power of 1000s. I want one... :-)

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