Pete gets off the 1996 SRAD. “Light, heavy, light; that’s how it goes,” he says.then he exhales, smiles, and says, “Blimey, this is good. I haven’t ridden one in a while – and I’d forgotten how impressive they really are.”
The gulf between the SRAD and thews is immense.this is an immaculate, 15,500mile 1996 bike from Glyn at Slipstream Motorcycles in Skegness, where it’s up at £2995.Yup, it’s apparently worth less than the Slabbie or thews. Funny old world. Lower and squater than the other two, it’s also wider and more bulbous, from the fairing nose to the tail unit. “It’s fair to say it’s not as distinctive as the Slabbie or the
“THE SRAD DROPPED WEIGHT BACK TO 179KG – THE IMPORTANT BIT IS HOW IT’S DISTRIBUTED”
WS,” says Pete. “It looks more conventional and less of a head-turner.the graphics are pretty wild too,” he laughs.the yellow flashes on the fairing almost leap off the bike in 3D.
But whatever physical space the 1996 Suzuki occupies, the important thing is it weighs less – the SRAD dropped the GSX-R750’S weight back to 179kg, only 3kg more than the 1985 Slabbie.and then the really, really important bit – apart from the small matter of making 123bhp at the wheel, 35bhp up on the F – is how that weight is distributed.
Because the SRAD’S silhouette was, according to Suzuki, based on Schwantz’ factory RGV500 – and to show how close they were they produced an overlay illustration of the two; although given Suzuki’s penchant for simply drawing what they liked in their press brochures, who could tell?
But either way, the reality was beyond dispute.an aluminium beam frame finally replaced the ancient box-section cradle, which allowed the water-cooled inline four to be tilted forward in the frame making room for an airbox to sit behind the headstock, fed by the airstream.this meant it could benefit from pressurised charging, to increase the motor’s volumetric efficiency (basically, stuff more air into the cylinders than it would normally manage under atmospheric pressure – hence SRAD; Suzuki Ram Air Direct), which then allowed the engine to develop more torque and, with a 2.7mm shorter stroke and wider bores than the old design, more peak power at higher revs.
All good so far – and better yet the new frame also altered weight balance by centralising mass and giving engineers more freedom to place the centre of that weight precisely where they wanted, to optimise handling dynamics.add in the current thinking in fully adjustable suspension and six-pot braking, and the GSX-R SRAD confidently leap-frogged its rivals (although it emerged just as Yamaha and Kawasaki were moving out of the 750 game altogether and focussing on larger sportsbikes).
Small, compact and seemingly narrowly focussed, the SRAD’S riding position is both sportier and more accommodating than the Slabbie andws.with more weight tipped onto its nose, the seat is much higher relative to the footpegs, giving OAP hips
and knees an easier time. “It’s funny to experience it back to back with the other bikes,” says Jimmy. “The WT is like a Tardis; it’s smaller but roomier at the same time.”
Pulling away in bleak, midwinter air the SRAD’S carbs – the first two-year model run featured 38mm Mikunis instead of fuel injection – deliver a pure, unfiltered torrent of acceleration; the quantity of gut-punch from low down makes it feel as if the SRAD’S engine internals are frictionless, responding to throttle input instantly.
And the motor’s fizzing top end is equally spectacular, with a sharp, rasping delivery. It’s the same with the newer Suzuki’s steering too – it flips and flops with an intuitive understanding, reacting to steering input with just enough resistance to feel entirely natural.the Pirelli Diablos are fresh and responsive, the SRAD’S six-pot Tokicos are pin sharp, and plucking grip from the cold tarmac’s dead fingers is a doddle.what a completely cracking machine. “This is a genuinely competitive modern sportsbike,”
“IT FEELS LIKE THE SRAD’S ENGINE INTERNALS ARE FRICTIONLESS, INSTANTLY RESPONDING TO THROTTLE INPUT ”
says Jimmy. “The other two would be fine on a classic bike track day, but they’d need fettling to be match fit at the sharp end.this thing though...” he says, patting the tank.
“We’re being hard on the older machines,” cautions Pete. “All comparisons to the SRAD are unfavourable, apart from looks.” I’m worried about it too: how much of our thinking is simply down the relative age and condition of the bikes? Jimmy is reassuring: “The other two have flaws – or you can call them characteristics – that are more to do with the age of their design rather than their actual age,” he says. “Even if they were new, they would still feel inferior to the SRAD because isn’t that how development is supposed to work?”
It is, and which is why, as we wrap up our day’s riding and head for the warmth and hospitality of the Masons Arms in Camelford, it’s time to resolve the big question: which one of the three is the classic GSX-R750?