Motorcycle road test: Suzuki GSR750
As I started my riding career fairly late in life – although better late than never, I say – I have never experienced the joy (or should that be frustration?) of starting at the lowest end of the spectrum and working my way up.
I didn’t pootle around on a 50cc and a 125cc for a few years before moving onto a 250cc, 400cc and so on.
No, I took the Direct Access course that allowed me to jump on any bike I like once I got my licence. Pretty scary when you think about it – although not totally dissimilar to how things are with cars.
However, I’m kind of doing a similar thing at the moment. As I try to develop my riding skills and experience, I thought it best to start relatively gently and work my way up to the bigger bikes.
So the natural progression for me has been the 500cc bikes on which I passed my test, the 600/650cc range, and now a 750cc. And in Suzuki’s GSR750 what you have is a big bike that is suitable for the novice rider, but that also packs an awful lot of punch – not surprising given that its engine is a detuned version of the one found in the GSX-R750.
The bike was brand new for 2011 and it’s a stylish, supernaked designed to compete head on with the likes of Yamaha’s FZ8 and Kawasaki’s Z750.
It’s a good looking bike, although it has its quirks. Pillion provision isn’t the largest and doesn’t look to be overly comfortable, plus there is no grab handle; and there is what can only be described as a rear shelf underneath the tailpiece. But those aside, it is a stylish looking machine, its angular looks topped off with a stubby black and chrome exhaust and upside down forks.
Equipment-wise the GSR has a good display with analogue rev counter, digital speedo, gear indicator, two trip counters, fuel gauge plus other readouts such as engine temperature and a fuel consumption display. I found this a nice little touch and it would give readings for individual trips – which would reset every time you reset the trip counter – or for the total distance on the second counter. Either way, both readings told me that I was averaging 46mpg.
Other touches include underseat luggage straps. Elsewhere, mirrors are bar-mounted and actually pretty good, offering good visibility.
As for the ride itself, I hopped straight off a V-twin onto the GSR so the first thing I noticed was the smooth but rapid response of the inline four engine. It’s fast – 105bhp and 59ftlb of torque, and this is most noticeable in the first few gears, third especially, yet it still has enough bite in top gear for a quick flick of the wrist to easily propel you past any motorway dawdlers.
For the first couple of days on it, I also struggled with the steering. The bike I’d been on previously was a fairly sporty number, with a fairly low riding position, which I found very easy to flick around.
The GSR has a much more upright rider position with higher and wider bars and so tipping into the bends seemed to require a lot more effort. But as I spent more and more time on it and my confidence on it grew, I found it easier to lean.
I did find, however, that my left arm ached ever so slightly when I spent any extended amounts of time on it, but this could be down to anything from undue pressure I may put on it myself, to my height (5ft 10ins) and the reach, or lack of it, in my arms.
But as time went on, I found the handling on the bike got better and better. It was fitted with Bridgestone Battlax 016 Hypersport tyres, which I found offered great grip in the dry, but which I wasn’t so confident with in the wet. There were a number of occasions where I was uncomfortable with the levels of grip offered in wet conditions, and by no means was I pushing the bike to the limits. Yet it would be unfair to criticise them too much with the limited amount of wet weather riding time I had with the bike.
Elsewhere, at 210kg, this isn’t the lightest bike, but at low speeds you wouldn’t know it – it feels incredibly light and stable and easily performs tight U-turns. And as you build up the speed, although the gearbox sounds a little clunky, gear changes are pretty smooth and with little play.
The brakes are very reliable – certainly not the best I’ve ever felt, but both front and back do inspire confidence.
And for a bike with no fairing, I have to say I felt a lot more protected on the GSR than I have done on other naked bikes. I covered a good few miles on some wide open roads, yet didn’t feel as though I was being buffeted about at all.
Overall, the GSR is a good, fun, easy bike to ride, an excellent middleweight ideal for commuting and traffic-busting but with its fast, smooth engine and good throttle response, offers plenty for those looking to push things that little bit harder.
More information about getting on two wheels is available from the motorcycle industry’s campaign aimed at recruiting more new riders. For details visit geton
> Model: Suzuki GSR750
> Engine size: 749cc
> Engine spec: Six-speed, four-stroke, liquid-cooled inline four DOHC
> Power: 105bhp
> Fuel capacity: 17.5 litres
> Range: 190+ miles
> Seat height: 815mm
> Weight: 210kg
> Price: From £6,999