Suzuki’s classic GSX-R750 goes up against the latest offerings from Europe. Watch the 2012 Suzuki GSX-R750 Comparison Video and see how it rates this year.
These days you don’t hear much about Suzuki’s GSX-R750 ($12,199). With motorcycles like MV Agusta’s F3 stealing the limelight in the middleweight and supersport classes it’s easy to forget about the once mighty GSX-R. After all, it’s been around for over two decades—how good can it still be?
Visually the GSX-R looks cartoon-ish compared to the now classic lines of the Triumph or the F3’s pure elegance. Still, its styling is modern and some will be drawn to its sharp, angular silhouette that bulges with speed. We’re especially fond of it in the Marble Daytona Yellow/Glass Sparkle Black as it stands out more than when dressed in typical flagship blue/white colors. Although it lacks the gold Ohlins jewelry of the R-spec Daytona, it does feature top-shelf Brembo monobloc braking hardware for added eye appeal.
Reach out to the controls and it’s easy to tell that the Suzuki has the most logical ergonomics. The layout of the controls is very natural and relaxed. Also of note is how the rider sits lower and more inside the machine rather than atop like the Triumph or MV. Looking at the spec chart confirms this as the Suzuki offers the lowest seat height. Adjustable foot controls is another nice touch that allows for a more tailored ride, say if you want extra leg room during a leisurely street ride, or added cornering clearance during fast-paced track outings. It’s a great feature and one that is missing on the European middleweights.
A visit to the scales proves the GSX-R is the lightest motorcycle as it weighs 419 pounds with a 4.5-gallon fuel load. That’s four pounds less than the MV and two fewer than the Triumph. Despite its weight advantage, the Suzuki doesn’t feel quite as nimble as the Euro bikes on the road—especially at a more moderate pace. Still, the Suzuki’s steering can’t be deemed sluggish—it just takes a hair more effort than the others.
(Top) Adjustable foot controls allow for a more tailored fit whether you ride on the street, track, or both. (Center) The Suzuki’s instruments are more simple looking compared to the MV and lack advanced adjustment of engine settings. (Bottom) We like Bridgestone’s OE-fitted BT-016 tires they were the limiting factor in the Suzuki’s performance on track.
“You could give this bike to your mom and she could ride it,” jokes Colton. “But if you wanted to ride it you could haul ass on it, too. It’s a really great all-around bike, but if I had to nitpick I’d say that the Suzuki doesn’t turn quite as quick as the MV or even the Triumph. But it’s pretty close.”
Out on the street, the Suzuki’s Showa sourced suspension components delivered a nice plush ride that made the GSX-R the bike we could ride the longest, with the least discomfort. The range of suspension adjustment is also high and the damping circuits respond accurately to change—which is great when you’re looking to tailor the bike’s handling. When pushed the chassis still offers plenty of sporting performance but doesn’t serve up that same sharp, road-hugging feel as the Triumph or even the MV. One thing working against the Suzuki is the fitment of Bridgestone’s Battlax BT-016 tires. While a great tire for street riding and even track use, it doesn’t offer the same level of road feel as the Pirelli’s fitted on either Euro bike.
Still, at lean the Suzuki’s chassis is about as stable they come. The bike steers with precision and goes exactly where the rider wants. Equally as impressive is the high-level of pitch control during hard braking as the front end doesn’t dive excessively, allowing the rider the confidence to squeeze the brake lever deeper and deeper.
Some of credit goes to the now standard Brembo monobloc front brake calipers. While the brakes didn’t offer as much initial bite as the Triumph’s, once you reach a certain threshold, power and feel they ramp up quickly, which made the majority of our testers prefer the Suzuki’s brakes. Combine that with the superb action of its fork when loaded, and the Suzuki can achieve impressive stopping force evident by its top score in the braking test, slowing from 60 mph in a distance of just over 118 feet.
But where the Suzuki really shines is in the engine department. Although it doesn’t offer the strongest bottom-end initially, once you get the engine spinning above 5000 revs it immediately surpasses both Triple-cylinder engines producing the highest amount of torque. The torque curve is also dead flat which makes the motorcycle easier to ride and helps the rear tire stay glued to the pavement. Peak output arrives at 11,000 rpm (same as the MV) with 54.85 lb-ft available. That between 11 and 14% more torque than the competition.
The Suzuki also won the horsepower contest with its Inline-Four engine unleashing more power from just over 5000 revs up until redline at 14,300 rpm. The engine generates nearly 126 peak horsepower at 12,600 rpm. That’s 6.68 ponies up on the MV and a whopping 14.85 on the Triumph. While the Suzuki’s engine doesn’t sound nearly as wild as the class-leading MV or the Daytona’s it still offers a howling intake roar that makes it fun to ride.
“The Suzuki 750 is flawless,” sums up Steeves. “You can ride it super mellow, you can really crank on it and get some, and everything complies. It’s got great low, great mid, and great top-end power. It’s easily the best in my opinion—no question.”
“It’s definitely not lacking in the engine department,” agrees Garcia. “It didn’t feel maybe as snappy down low as the Triumph, but wick up the throttle and it gets with the program. Overall I liked the Suzuki engine but it lacked some character as compared to the Triples.”
(Top) The Suzuki’s Showa suspension allows for a wide range of adjustment. (Center) The Suzuki’s powerband is so smooth that it reduces the need for traction control in an experienced rider’s hands. (Bottom) Brembo monobloc braking hardware increases the bling factor while offering good performance on the road too.
Like the others the GSX-R makes use of a six-speed gearbox, however its version includes a true, racing-style slipper clutch. The functionality proved to be spot-on perfect during hard deceleration allowing the rear tire to slide gently across pavement and resist any wheel hop or chatter. The clutch also performed better during acceleration with it offering a more consistent feel during launches. This, along with its superior engine performance allowed it to accelerate to 60 mph in the shortest amount of time (3.19-seconds). It continued through the quarter-mile in 10.85 seconds at 134.1 mph—which was, again, the fastest in the group.
While the transmission’s gear ratios aren’t as close as the MV’s it’s almost a moot point considering how wide the GSX-R’s powerband is. In fact the only thing that held the Suzuki from maximum points in the Drivetrain category is that it can’t match the lighting fast upshifts of the e-shifter equipped bikes.
Contrary to the MV the Suzuki doesn’t offer advanced electronic engine adjustment aside from its full-power ‘A’ map and a de-tuned ‘B’ map designed for use on slippery road surfaces or for a beginner rider. It isn’t a deal breaker, however, as the GSX-R has superb throttle response and the powerband of its engine is so linear-feeling that in some way it negates the need for traction control in the hands of a more experienced rider.
During Superpole there’s no doubt that the Suzuki’s lower-spec Bridgestone tires hurt it a little in terms of lap time. Still it out paced the Triumph by the slimmest of margins (one one-hundredth of a second). Yet it was over a second behind the MV. (Though for reference the MV’s time was pretty much at the maximum limit of its suspension set-up, with the Suzuki’s greatest limitation being the tires).
Top scores in many of the objective data-based categories as well high marks from our testers note pads boosted the Suzuki’s score when the points were tallied. It may not look the coolest, it may not sound the coolest but make no mistake about it, the GSX-R is the superior motorcycle.