Practical Sportsbikes (UK) - - Gsx-r750 Group Test -


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


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 dis­ 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,”


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?

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