With the litre class in full willy-swinging action and 600 development still vital to manufacturers for racing, you could be pardoned for thinking 750s didn’t matter to Suzuki in 2004 – they certainly didn’t to other manufacturers. But despite misconceptions, the GSX-R750 K4 was far more than a cosmetic overhaul and the changes over the K3 were subtle yet effective. It also makes any thoughts of a 600cc redundant.
Fast-forward nearly 15 years, and the switchgear hasn’t changed. Well, not until the 2017 GSX-R1000 was launched. There’s a distinctive, intrinsic ambiance to the cockpit, something that’s stayed apparent throughout the years and that’s no bad thing. A palpable sense of control oozes through the ’bars and 600cc-sized ergonomics fill you full of confidence before the sucking, squeezing, banging and blowing commences.
It may be 14 years old, but the K4 brags one of the most prolific chassis ever made and still feels incredible nowadays. Not just because the Suzuki’s handling spanked the opposition in this test, but also because it’ll happily munch modern machinery for breakfast: a bold statement for sure, but there really isn’t much that’ll cause an issue on board the K4, with a proclivity for running insane corner speed and backing it up with lashings of mechanical grip. With progressive yet pacey steering, the front-end is the epicentre for its aptitude, acting as the perfect base to carve turns with a confidence-inspiring bias over the nose.
Even with the hideously high-positioned rearsets on this otherwise immaculate K4, it behaved impeccably on test. Despite being the newest here, there’s still a buzzy, unrefined edge to the K4 which only amplifies the ride and (other than aesthetics) is the only giveaway we weren’t riding something box-fresh. Even with 20,000 miles clocked, the unmolested suspension supports the chassis with aplomb and offers a firm but pliable set-up to incite thrashing. The superior ddampingi came laterlt on ini theth Seven-Fiddy’s lifetime, which softened the blow rather than directing rough surfaces through the chassis.
Regardless of its equidistant gap between 600 and 1000, the K4 feels more like a jazzed up middleweight than a docile litre bike. A perfect blend of power and balance awaits, urging you to brake later, push the front-end harder and twist the throttle further. The brakes are more than adequate for committed road assaults and, even though a slipper clutch didn’t appear until the K6, corner entry is surprisingly well controlled. There’s a mesmerising gauge of corner speed which the Gixer automaticallyttill pullsp off so finely.
As the Suzukki proves, R&D progression wass rapidly paced at the turn of the ccentury, and the K4’s 125bhp reaar wheel power – complete withh titanium internals – was only around
5bhp less than the original R1 depending on the dyno. You’re never wanting any more power, with a sumptuously direct throttle connection that provides tons of usable grunt below 8,000rpm, salvaging sloppy gear selection and providing generous midrange punch from slower corners. The top-end is even more rewarding and makes sense right up until the 14,000rpm redline. Its only blaringly obvious negative is an occasionally snatchy throttle during closed-to-open connection. The SP Engineering exhaust fitted to this K4 was obnoxiously loud and, coupled with the inherent Gixer induction bark, had me clambering g for the nearest e arplug shop. And how could we e neglect to mention those del lightful anodised levers? We just have.h
Not bad for their time. The Gixer’s a fine balance of power and handling.
Guy Martin woz ’ere.