2008 Suzuki GSX-R750 Specifications:
Engine: 749cc Inline-Four, DOHC, 16 valves
Bore x Stroke: 70.0 x 48.7mm
Compression Ratio: 12.5:1
Horsepower: 122.7 hp @ 12,600 rpm
Torque: 53.6 lb-ft @ 11,200 rpm
Weight: 439 lbs. w/fuel
Power to Weight Ratio: 0.28 hp per lbs
Front Suspension: Showa 41mm fork, 4-way adj.
Rear Suspension: Showa shock, 4-way adj.
Tires: Bridgestone BT-016 120/70R17, 180/55R17 Wheelbase: 55.3-in. Rake: 23.8 deg. Trail: 96.5mm
Seat Height: 31.9-in.
Fuel Capacity: 4.5 Gal. Measured MPG: 34.1 mpg
Exhaust dB at 5000 rpm: 88
The Suzuki transfers its power to a similarly sized 180/55 rear tire via a six-speed transmission controlled via a cable-actuated slipper clutch. The transmission gets the job done but its not as precise feeling as the Duc’s. However, clutch pull is lighter and there’s plenty of feel which make it perfect for getting sideways under hard deceleration. On the racetrack the Suzuki’s gearing felt tall, but thankfully, the Gixxer’s versatile engine is up for the challenge. On the streets, however the Gixxer’s gearing seemed much more sensible and allow for a smooth, buzz-free ride freeway speeds.
Instrumentation on the Suzuki doesn’t look nearly as cool as the Ducati’s electronic Digitek display, however at a glance it is much easier to read. A swept analog tachometer houses a gear position indicator as well as Suzuki’s S-DMS setting. It’s flanked by a digital LCD display that reports speed, coolant temperature, dual trip meter functions as well as an odometer and a clock. A bright, programmable shift light is located just below.
“The Suzuki is a much more refined streetbike,” says Hutchison. “It’s smooth on the freeway and its got a big windscreen so you can effectively tuck-in behind it. The gauges are easy to read plus the rear-view mirrors actually work. On the street it simply doesn’t wear you out like the Duc.”
In contrast to the Gixxer 750’s high-revving Inline-Four mill is the Ducati’s 848cc L-Twin. Where the Suzuki engine needs to be flogged at maximum revs for optimum acceleration, the 848 engine responds best when short-shifted and ridden in a gear higher than you would anticipate. The engine comes online much earlier than the Suzuki’s and treats the rider with a strong, steady stream of power from as low as 4000 revs. You can feel each power pulse being devoured by the pavement below while the engine builds revolutions rapidly eventually spinning to 10,800 rpms before the rev-limiter steps in. And if you’re not quick with the upshifts, it’ll cost you precious time on the racetrack.
“The name of the game with the Duc engine is to make sure you don’t wind it out,” stated Hutchy. “As is the case with most Twins, it revs-out quickly and falls on its face up top compared to a Four. But the fat power pulses and the smooth delivery are what make riding a Twin so much fun.”
The Duc’s close ratio six-speed transmission and slightly shorter gearing were no doubt engineered to function in concert with the engine. When you’re riding the Ducati, you’re going to be shifting all the time. So it’s a good thing that the transmission feels precise and changes cogs smoothly. Even though the 848 lacks a slipper clutch, it wasn’t that much of an issue as the 848 doesn’t offer a whole lot of engine braking as compared to other Twins we’ve tested in the past.
Both bikes feature a wide range of suspension adjustability, the Suzuki takes it one step further by introducing both high- and low-speed compression dampening on both the fork and shock. This allows the rider to tune the suspension even more precisely.
Instrumentation on the 848 is comprised of the same digital readout that graces all 1098s, and D16RRs. The very hi-tech looking computer provides a horizontal bar graph-style tachometer, digital speedo, twin trip meters, trip fuel, rev counter, clock, scheduled maintenance warning, engine cooling water temperature, air temperature, battery status (in the menu), lap timer, shift light and various warning lights. The setup is also compatible with Ducati’s optional Data Analyzer accessory which stores up to 3.5 hours of riding data including lap times, throttle opening, engine temperature, etc. which the user can later download and view on their computer.
Handling braking duties on the 848 is a pair of two-piece cast radial-mount four-piston Brembo calipers that latch onto dual 320mm rotors, while a single disc brake controls rear wheel. The less expensive Brembo’s are another example of how Ducati achieved the 848’s more reasonable price tag. Feel is outstanding due in part to its use of stainless-steel brake lines; however, a great deal of lever pull is required to get the bike to stop quickly.
“Trail-braking into the corner seemed a bit easier on the Ducati. It’s probably the combination of good feel from the brakes and its responsive front end,” remarks Hutchy. “However, you really have to put in a lot of lever pressure to get it to stop.”
The Gixxer goes a parallel route with its Tokico radial-mount four-piston calipers that grab onto slightly smaller 310mm rotors with a single disc brake stopping the rear tire. Although the Suzuki’s binders give up just a smidge of outright feel as compared to the 848’s, the amount of stopping force available at the end of the Gixxer’s lever is phenomenal.
“Braking is just another category where the Gixxer shines,” says Wallace. “There’s really nothing to complain about. They’re [front brakes] very progressive feeling, but if they had a teensie bit more feel it would really put them out of this world.”
In terms of current American roadracing rules these two bikes don’t directly compete against each other, although on the spec charts, streets and sales floor they do.
Okay, okay-so you’re still wondering which one is best? Without a doubt these two machines are equally matched. But it all comes down to where you like to ride. If trackdays at tight and technical racetracks are your idea of fun then without a doubt the 848 is hard to beat. Its racy ergos, solid chassis and rider-friendly engine make it almost impossible not to have a good time aboard. However if you’re planning on riding at faster circuits like Willow Springs big track, then the more Suzuki’s forgiving chassis, extra bit of power, along with the gear ratios might suit you better.
As for which one is king on the street again, that depends on where you are riding. If you’re just going to be running around town and looking for something different that will standout in a sea of Japanese sportbikes and American cruisers than by all means the 848 it is. However, if you need a fast, comfortable commuter that’s easy to live with everyday and flat out eats up roads then the GSX-R’s hard to beat.