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GSR750: Survivor of one-litre war

2012-12-12 07:28

SATISFYING THROW-BACK: Suzuki's GSR-750 carries on the tradition of the 1970's and '80's. Images: DRIES VAN DER WALT

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Author: DRIES VAN DER WALT

 
Back in the 1970's and '80's 750cc was a mainstream engine capacity but the rise in popularity of litre-class machines has all but killed the class; today there are only a handful on the market, lingering in the shadow their more glamorous 1000cc siblings.

Suzuki has two bikes in this class, however, the GSX-R750 we reviewed back in May 2011, and the subject of this review, the GSR750.

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The GSR750 follows the time-honoured tradition of running a sports bike motor remapped for more mid-range punch. In this case, Big S opted for the 2005 Suzuki GSX-R750 mill installed into what they call a 'GSX-R750-derived' chassis. Added to the mix are fairly basic brakes and suspension – there's no suspension adjustment and fairly run-of-the-mill brakes.

ALL THE INFO

However the GSR is not just a previous-generation sports bike sans fairing – Suzuki’s designers have penned a sculpted body that would not look out of place in a Transformers movie. The bike has a hunched-down, assertive look that oozes attitude. I am no great fan of naked bikes, but even I had to admit that this is one seriously attractive machine.

The business end is adorned with the usual accoutrements: an analogue rev counter, a digital multifunction display and a row of warning lights for the few functions not included in the MFD. The digital display includes a fuel gauge, odometer, trip meters, fuel consumption indicators, a dashboard clock and a gear position indicator – in short, just about all the information you are likely to need (or at least wonder about) while you’re riding.

I wasn’t blown away by the bike’s ergonomics at first – the seat isn’t very comfortable, and the feet-to-seat distance was less than I would have liked. But the body adapts, and after a day or two I no longer noticed these issues. The lack of a screen, while desirable in some circles, makes riding fast a less-than-stellar experience; in all fairness, though, that isn’t what a naked is designed for.

Start the engine and you are greeted by a muted growl. In typical Suzuki tradition, the engine sound is not as aggressive as it may seem to the rider – Big S have yet again played around with the air box acoustics to produce a pleasant aural experience for the rider without drowning the rest of the world in obnoxious noise.

FASTER THAN ITS SPECS

My initial impression was that the gearbox was notchy and unresponsive, but this didn’t last. Once I got used to it, I realised that it was much better than I thought – so good, in fact, that I never hit a single false neutral when shifting. As far as I recall I could never before make that claim, and after more than thirty years of riding, that is a huge compliment for the GSR’s box.

One of the benefits of a seven-fifty is the fact that it has the weight of a 600, but with added grunt. In the GSR’s case, that grunt is produced in a linear fashion with no undue surprises as the rev counter needle sweeps the dial. Like most modern inline-fours, there is very little punch below 4000 rpm, but once you wind it up, the GSR goes like stink.

Kept in the upper half of the rev counter, the bike feels a lot faster than you would expect given its fairly modest specs.

Handling, despite the aforementioned limitations of the suspension, is pretty good. The GSR responds well to being ridden hard, and seems to prefer late entries into corners. The factory suspension setup works well, keeping the bike true in corners without feeling overly harsh on bumpy roads. Aficionados might regret being unable to fine-tune the suspension, but the average rider would probably not miss the ability to change its setup.

The GSR750 is not a long-distance bike – if you are that way inclined, a naked is not for you. That said, it is a pleasant bike to ride, whether you use it for commuting or more aggressive riding. And the fact that its looks will do nothing to hurt your street cred is an added bonus.

PRICE: R90 000.

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