25 Years of GSX-Rs | Revolution

A quarter-century ago, Suzuki turned the sportbike world upside-down

By Aaron Frank, Photography by Kevin Wing

A line in our ’86 comparison suggested “Suzuki’s pursuit of minimum weight coupled with maximum sporting performance has put the motorcycle on the leading edge of the sporting class, perhaps too far out from the way most people actually use their sportbikes.” A quarter-century later, the current GSX-R750 exceeds the original by any objective measure, and most subjective measures, too. It’s 11 lbs. lighter, even with the added complexity of liquid cooling. It makes 20 percent more power at the same displacement, and thanks to the wonder of modern, dual-stage EFI, there’s no flat spot or peaky power delivery. Top speed is nearly 175 mph—equivalent to a race-kitted ’86 Superbike. And with the latest Showa suspension technology there’s no hint of high-speed instability, while low-speed maneuverability is flawless, too. The engine starts effortlessly—that old, carb-mounted choke will never be missed—shifts like whipped butter, demands little beyond regular oil/filter changes and is even reasonably comfortable. Not only does the modern GSX-R750 outperform the original in every way, it’s more accessible, too. Contrary to that original sentiment, even as the GSX-R750 becomes more potent at the racetrack, it becomes more docile as well. It has evolved closer to the way most people actually use their sportbikes.

Time marches on, and technology advances, but certain fundamental truths remain unchanged. One of those is that a properly engineered 750cc sportbike—one that combines the physical size of a 600 with the abundant power and rideability of a literbike—makes for the ultimate all-around sportbike. Doubt that argument? Hop on a Suzuki GSX-R750 of any vintage and prepare to have your mind changed. That fundamental rightness was evident in that very first example 25 years ago, and it remains unadulterated—enhanced, even—in the current generation. We can only imagine how the next quarter-century will improve what is one of our favorite sportbikes of all time.

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