For the first-time in the nine year history of Motorcycle USA’s Supersport Shootouts, Suzuki’s legendary GSX-R750 joins the fray. And what better time for it to make an appearance, as it comes into this test fresh off a redesign which you can read all about in the 2011 Suzuki GSX-R750 First Ride. Since it has an obvious engine displacement advantage, we withheld it from the final rankings. Still, we decided to score it just to see how this Superbike of yesteryear would stack up on the score sheet.
Coming into the test we assumed the 750 was easily going to be the bike to beat. After all it shares all the same running gear as the GSX-R600 plus a 25% boost in engine size at a cost of only six additional pounds (421). However the same set-up issues that plagued the 600 also played a part in the 750’s lackluster track performance. (Like all motorcycle manufactures, when Suzuki engineers its sportbikes it makes note of the suspension settings for optimum performance with a given brand of tires.) Similar to its 600 sibling, the U.S.-spec Dunlop AMA racing tire didn’t mesh quite right with the Suzuki chassis, hindering our attempts to push it to the edges of its performance.
(Above) Road Test Editor Adam Waheed is in love with the 2011 Suzuki GSX-R750. It was his favorite bike on the street but to our surprise, it didn’t blow us away on the racetrack. (Below) Taller riders like Waheed had little trouble man-handling the GSX-R750 around the track but the smaller test riders reported it required a bit more effort than they expected.
“We made quite an array of changes continually raising the rear and adding preload to try and get some swingarm angle dialed in when leaned over mid-corner,” summarizes Atlas. “But due to us reaching the maximum of what they would allow while staying ‘inside specifications’ the end result was a rough-around-the-edges handling Suzuki.”
“I really struggled with the way it handled,” adds Neuer. “I had a hard time with mid-corner and exits. It would chatter mid-corner and that would make the front end push on the exit. We continually added preload to the shock and it helped but I was never satisfied. You could tell that the Suzuki could have been good but the way it was set-up made it impossible to ride fast.”
Through Turn 4/5 the Gixxer 750 carried the second-lowest corner speed (65 mph). Through the fast banked right-hander (Turn 13) the result was much better, which may be contributed to the higher entry speed courtesy of its more powerful engine. Even still, it wasn’t as fast here as the Kawi, Honda, or Triumph. Much to our surprise in the final corners it posted the highest corer speed numbers, which again may be attributed to the heavy wide open acceleration zone that leads up to this section.
Through the slow slightly off-camber section of Turns 8/9/10 the Suzuki posted the slowest flick rate of 50.2 degrees/second which would make sense as it definitely felt like it took the most handlebar input to change directions, even compared to the sluggish-handling Ducati. Yet through the Turn 11/12 chicane and into Turn 1 the Suzuki 750 recorded the highest flick rate, which perhaps signals how much effort the rider put into in those spots in hopes of putting together a fast lap.
“The 750 was a bit more troublesome to throw into a corner,” comments Ross. “It felt a little bigger in stature and found myself wrestling it to get it turned around the track. But once it was there it stuck with resounding authority.”
Although the Suzuki felt a little heavier during turn-in, on the scales it was actually lighter than everything else (421 pounds) aside from the Honda and Gixxer-Six. Despite the use of premium suspension componentry none of our riders were all that impressed with either the Showa Big-Piston Fork or shock, no doubt due to its set-up. On the other hand, the 750 sports accommodating ergos for all of our riders and was voted superior to all but the CBR. We were also big fans of the way the slipper clutch functioned with it performing on a similar level to that of the Gixxer-Six and R6.
The 2011 Suzuki GSX-R750 features all the right stuff on paper. It has a powerful engine and lightweight chassis with great suspension components. Despite these facts it still didn’t finish as well as we expected during our track test.
Pin the throttle off the corner and it’s hard not to be excited by the 750’s engine. Although it starts off a little slow, get it zinging up around 7000 rpm and the 750 pulls much harder than the 600s and on a similar pace to the European big-bores. Peak torque arrives at 10,900 rpm with 54.85 lb-ft available. While this is 11-12 up on the 600s and nearly six up on the Triumph it is still almost eight down on the class-leading Ducati Twin. In terms of horsepower the 750 proves to be the absolute power king belting out 125.42 pones at 12,500 revs. That’s nearly 25 more horses than the CBR and six more than the 848 EVO. Equally is fantastic is over-rev with another 1800 rpms available before the engine shuts down at 14,300 rpm.
“It’s quite obvious that the 750 has the fastest motor,” says Rapp. “It has gobs of mid-range and pulls even harder on top. It’s really hard to find any faults with the Suzuki’s engine. And if they would have had the chassis working better there is a good possibility that I could have gone fastest on it.”
It’s no surprise that in our acceleration tests the heavyweight Gixxer posted the highest acceleration force away from Turn 10 (0.74g) and Turn 13 (0.66g). Accordingly down those straight-aways its top speed was at or near the front, besting everything into Turn 11 (128.7 mph) and all but the R6 into Turn 14 (114.3 mph). Just like the GSX-R600 the six-speed transmission would hang up a little bit during up-shifts at high rpm making it necessary to let off the gas a split second longer than some of the other bikes (with exception of the quick-shift enabled Triumph) to get it to change cogs without any hiccups.
While we all loved the Suzuki’s new Brembo braking set-up as it offers a high-level of initial bite as well as feel due to its awkward set-up we never had the opportunity to really utilize the brakes to their full potential. As a result the 750 recorded the worst braking performance at Turn 1 (-0.84g) and second worse force at Turn 11 (-0.92) despite carrying the highest top speed (128.7 mph) before dropping anchor.
- Engine! engine! engine!
- Excellent power-to-weight ratio
- Fantastic and adjustable ergonomics
- Suffered from poor set-up on this day
- Transmission hangs up during upshifts
- Not eligible for as many racing classes as a 600
Given its placement in road racing class hierarchy, many of us didn’t pick the GSX-R750 as a bike we’d want to campaign at the track due to the more limited classes available to compete in. That said we all absolutely loved riding the Gixxer 750 and if we could have gotten it to handle better there’s little doubt that this would have been the bike to beat this year, as evident by Rapp’s Superpole time that was within a half of a second of the Triumph and Honda.
2011 Supersport Shootout IX Track
2011 Suzuki GSX-R600 Track Comparison
2011 Kawasaki ZX-6R Track Comparison
2011 Suzuki GSX-R750 Track Comparison
2011 Ducati 848 EVO Track Comparison
2011 Yamaha YZF-R6 Track Comparison
2011 Honda CBR600RR Track Comparison
2011 Triumph Daytona 675R Track Comparison
2011 Supersport Shootout Track Conclusion