MotoUSA is at it again, this time pitting Suzuki’s GSX-R750 against its heavyweight competition from Italy. Watch the 2014 Suzuki GSX-R750 Comparison Video to see where it stacks up.
Suzuki has been at the forefront of the heavyweight class since it started with its GSX-R750 ($12,299). In current trim its a few years old—but that doesn’t stop this Inline Four-powered 750 from setting blisteringly fast laps owed to decades of carefully calculated refinements.
Of the four machines in this test, the Suzuki presents the most relaxed riding position. Yet our testers were pleased with how it fit when perched at the controls. The 750 feels light underneath you but is a smidge larger dimensionally than the European bikes. However, this isn’t a knock as the GSX-R’s ergos were preferred to the Italian-built equipment. Another nice touch is the ability to move the position of the footpegs (we ran ours in the forward/high setting)—a feature the competition doesn’t offer.
“First thing in the morning you get on track and you feel comfortable within one lap,” describes our tenured English tester in regards to the GSX-R’s manageable package. “It doesn’t do anything you don’t want. It feels so intuitive.”
“I love the way the ergonomics are on the Suzuki,” agrees Neuer. “It’s just a comfortable, inviting bike. It doesn’t matter if you’re going slow or fast—it’s just a straight comfortable bike.”
With a full load of fuel the 750 weighs in at 427 pounds. That’s three more than the Ninja, one less than the MV and 10 pounds fewer than the 899. However on the racing line, the GSX-R was the most sluggish during corner entry compared to the super responsive MV and Ducati, despite being lighter than both. Although it required more effort the Suzuki does turn predictably with a high-degree of stability that some of our testers actually preferred.
“I could turn anyplace, anytime, anywhere—it didn’t matter,” Neuer reveals. “If I was riding like an idiot and getting in a little hot at times, where you need to make that change in line to get back to where you need to go—it’s never a problem on that motorcycle.”
) The GSX-R750 doesn’t come fitted from the factory with a quickshifter but SoCal’s Bazzaz Performance installed its Z-FI TC black box that uses the Suzuki’s OE sensors to enable a rate-of-change based traction control system. (Center
) The cockpit of the GSX-R750 is functional and without thrills. It also employs a BPF-enabled Showa front suspension with independent compression and rebound circuits located atop the fork legs.(Below
) Although Suzuki was the first Japanese brand to adopt monobloc braking hardware from Brembo the set-up is prone to fade and has an inconsistent feel as they build heat from friction.
Through the slow speed transitions (Turns 8/9) the GSX-R tied the Ducati for the lowest side-to-side flick rate. But in the faster Turn 11/12 section it fared better, positioning ahead of the 899, which helps verify rider feedback.
Mid-corner the Suzuki felt dull and didn’t deliver the same sharp road response of the Ducati or MV. Yet, you can’t argue about its effectiveness. Although it didn’t carry the highest corner speed in any of the three measuring points, when averaged it tied the superb handling F3. Though for reference its average speed is only 0.4 mph faster than the slowest bike (Panigale)—a testament to how close the brands are to one another in terms of performance.
“The Suzuki GSX-R750 is like putting on an old pair of really nice jeans,” says JP, who admittedly has logged more track miles behind its windscreen—even netting an AMA Championship on it in 1997.
“I went quicker on it today than I have ever gone before,” adds Pridmore, who set his second-fastest lap time of the test at 1’50.43. (For Waheed, the GSX-R was his fastest, posting a time of 1’52.96.)
“All four of these bikes are easy to go fast on,” he concludes. “But the GSX-R is just like automatic. It’s always been one of my favorite motorcycles.”
Suspension-wise our testers were satisfied with the damping of the Showa components. It responds accurately over bumps and settled well when loaded. This no doubt played a big part in how stable the 750 felt everywhere on track.
Despite employing monobloc-style calipers from Brembo the Suzuki’s brakes were the least consistent-feeling and prone to a small amount of fade during use.
“The brakes don’t quite have the power or the bite of the other bikes,” agrees Northover. “And they start to fade after 10 hard laps on track.”
Even still, they prove to be plenty effective registering the highest braking force into Turn 8 (-1.12g) and the second-highest (-1.20g) at the end of the front straightaway. Contrary to the Twin-cylinder Ducati, the Suzuki’s Inline Four produces less engine braking
Preload: 4 (Turns in)
Compression: 5 (Turns out)
Preload: +2 turns from stock
Low-Speed Compression: 2.25
High-Speed Compression: 3
Z-FI TC: 0 (baseline)
which may be one of the reasons it performed well in the Braking Force scoring category.
On the dyno the Suzuki’s mill generated the second-lowest peak torque figure of 55.26 lb-ft. This was almost 10 less than the 148cc larger Panigale and nearly four below the 48cc bigger MV. It did ace the Ninja by a healthy 6.91 lb-ft. However, it’s important to note that its torque curve isn’t as broad as the MV or the Kawasaki. And you could feel it, especially when accelerating off turns with it being more finicky to gear position—similar to the Ducati. For this reason, the Suzuki’s engine and drivetrain was rated beneath the ZX despite making more peak torque.
“The engine doesn’t have the instant drive of the Ducati or MV,” observes our speedy British friend. “You can’t fire it off the corner—you’ve kind of got to get the Suzuki wound up.”
In the horsepower war, the Suzuki slots in third, again, with 125.14 hp arriving at 12,700 rpm. Despite being down on power compared to the two European rockets, the Suzuki actually netted the highest top speed down the back straightaway and the bowl. It also registered the second-highest acceleration force through these sectors.
) Our testers preferred the less demanding ergonomics of the GSX-R compared to the European bikes. (Center
) Though it doesn't steer the quickest the Suzuki’s chassis is as stable as a semi-truck. It’s also predictable and accurate – recording the second-highest average Superpole time. (Below
) The GSX-R’s engine lacks a degree of mid-range acceleration making it important to a downshift into a lower gear to get optimum drive off corners.
“You can flog the thing and just hold it wide,” says Neuer enthusiastically. “And it stays away from the rev limiter. And when it does hit the limiter, it’s always at the right place.”
Of course some of the credit goes to the quickshifter that was fitted as part of the Bazzaz Z-FI TC
traction control box ($849.95). Nevertheless, it is undeniable how well the 750’s motor runs up top, not to mention its best-in-class over-rev with power barely tapering off until the rev-limiter cuts fuel at 14,300 rpm.
Because of the Velcro-like grip of the Pirelli race rubber, traction was abundant and we experienced barely a hint of rear wheel spin during our test. Still it’s nice to know that there’s some kind of safety net just in case. And compared to earlier versions we’ve tested, the Bazzaz set-up (advanced mode, baseline setting) didn’t hold the bike back during wide open acceleration, which was a big complaint of ours previously.
As usual the Suzuki proved effective at clicking off speedy lap times. We love its user-friendly package highlighted by a screaming top end and semi-truck stable chassis. Problem is the engine lacks a degree of midrange acceleration, it turns sluggishly, and its brakes are inconsistent-feeling and prone to fade. Thus, it’s no surprise that it ranked a few precious points behind on the score sheet. We know Suzuki has the know-how to fix these squawks, but until it does, the veteran GSX-R ranks a very close third—a single point behind second place.
- Strong top-end power
- Excellent over-rev
- Stable and predictable-feeling chassis
- Lacks a degree of mid-range acceleration
- Steers sluggishly
- Prone to brake fade