Suzuki GSX-R750

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - By Phil West MCN CON­TRIB­U­TOR

Few bikes change the world. Fewer still do it more than once. But then the Suzuki GSX-R750 has never been a run-of-the-mill mo­tor­cy­cle.

Launched in 1985, the orig­i­nal was the first true racer-replica, in­stantly set­ting the tem­plate for all superbikes to come. Then, in 1996, this time tak­ing its lead not from su­per­bike rac­ers but Kevin Sch­wantz’s RGV500 GP racer, it tore up its own tem­plate. The re­sult, the new SRAD (the acro­nym for the Suzuki Ram Air Di­rect sys­tem it adopted), was, sim­ply, the sporti­est 750 built with an all-new, ul­tra-com­pact, twin beam chas­sis, scream­ing 128bhp en­gine and a fresh ul­tra-aero­dy­namic look.

Un­for­tu­nately, although sig­nif­i­cant and a poster bike to many, the new 750 didn’t quite rock the world as much as Suzuki hoped. On track, in Bri­tish Superbikes, it never quite man­aged to dis­lodge the dom­i­nant Cad­bury’s Boost Yamaha YZF750S nor challenge the Ducati twins – although it did come close... very close.

In 2000, Srad-mounted Chris Walker fa­mously lost the ti­tle with just three laps of the last round at Don­ing­ton to go when his en­gine blew up. "It was still the best year I’d ever had,” he told MCN later. It wasn’t to be un­til John Reynolds' tri­umph in 2004 on the 1000cc ver­sion that a GSX-R would tri­umph in BSB. The close-but-no-cigar SRAD story was re­peated in WSB. The works Suzukis failed to make a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact ei­ther in 1997 or 1998 with James Whitham, Mike Hale and Peter God­dard on board and only im­proved slightly with a regime change and Pier-francesco Chili there­after. Much of that, of course, was due to reg­u­la­tions, which favoured 1000cc twins such as Ducati’s dom­i­nant 996.

De­spite the SRAD’S pu­rity, fo­cus and style it was a sim­i­lar hard luck story on the street. Af­ter barely a year, the Suzuki’s thun­der was well and truly stolen by a cer­tain all-new 1000cc Yamaha: the first YZF-R1. In short, when it came to sports­bikes, 750s just weren’t where it was at any more.

But that didn’t com­pletely di­min­ish the SRAD’S ap­peal and it still gar­nered an army of fol­low­ers and a gen­er­a­tion for whom the three-quar­ter litre Suzuki was a life-chang­ing ma­chine.

MCN reader John Dale was one of them – though per­haps not for the rea­sons you might ex­pect. “As un­likely as it sounds the GSX-R750 SRAD was the first bike that opened up the world of tour­ing for me,” he told MCN. “With the SRAD I took my first big trip into Europe, rid­ing down across France, Italy, tak­ing a ferry into north­ern Greece, be­fore ar­riv­ing at Is­tan­bul. Since that trip the SRAD and I have racked up over 25,000 miles to­gether, not to men­tion lots of track­days and lo­cal blasts. This bike can do it all!”

And while it may have never quite set the world on fire as much as Suzuki hoped when new, the GSX-R750 SRAD was still a hugely im­por­tant and in­flu­en­tial ma­chine.

Its very cre­ation paved the way for an all-new style of GSX-R, with a twin beam frame, wa­ter-cool­ing and fuel in­jec­tion, which was at the very top of the tree for the next decade, not just in 750 guise, but as a 600 and 1000, too.

Even more im­por­tantly, with the demise of Yamaha’s YZF and Kawasaki’s ZX-7R, the SRAD and its de­scen­dants lived on as the sole sur­viv­ing 750cc Ja­panese four­cylin­der su­per­bike, a sta­tus it re­tains to this day. Purists of­ten re­fer to a GSX-R750 as ‘the sports­bike for the true con­nois­seur’ thanks to its unique blend of power and weight. That wouldn’t have been pos­si­ble with­out that first SRAD.

Best of all for us to­day, how­ever, is that an orig­i­nal SRAD still re­mains a great used buy. Although start­ing to ap­pre­ci­ate, the 750 is a long way off achiev­ing the ‘clas­sic’ sta­tus that the first R1 or the Ducati 996 now has. And that means that, even though very much a classy ma­chine with still im­pres­sive per­for­mance, the SRAD is still some­thing of a bar­gain. An ap­pre­ci­at­ing, iconic su­per­bike or even merely an ef­fec­tive, fun track ex­am­ple can still be yours for un­der £2000. And isn’t that some­thing, still, to get very ex­cited about?

‘Tak­ing its lead not from superbikes but Sch­wantz’s RGV, it tore up its own tem­plate’

For more than just a hooli­gan, the SRAD was a great day-to-day bike

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