1986 Suzuki GSX-R750 Limited

Smart Money

By Tim Carrithers, Photography by Motorcyclist Archives

For those blessed with enough money and skill, Suzuki’s GSX-R750 Limited was a ticket to roadracing stardom. When it arrived here in 1986, the standard GSX-R750 was a scalpel amongst blunt, 750cc instruments weighing 60-plus lbs. more. The 458-lb. Ltd. was better: 6 lbs. lighter than the proletarian version. And at $6499, it was the priciest Japanese sportbike money could buy.

Engine internals are identical to the standard 750, but steering is sharper, brakes are stronger and the suspension feels stiffer. Shelling out $2100 more for the Ltd. bought a list of limited-production enhancements that made it faster, especially on the track. The dry clutch alone cost $2000. But wait, there’s more: a GSX-R1100-spec 41mm fork with electronic NEAS anti-dive, 310mm front brake rotors with dual opposed-piston calipers, and an aluminum-bodied remote-reservoir shock bolted to an aluminum Full-Floater linkage. Broader bars provide welcome leverage in the tight bits. The solo seat is part of a hand-laid fiberglass tail section. Lightweight aluminum guards protect your left boot from the chain’s gold-plated side plates.

According to Dave Waugh at Yoshimura R&D, any aspiring owner’s biggest challenge is finding an unmolested example. “If you had one back in the day, every motorcycle thief in Southern California was trying to find you, because the dry clutch and transmission will drop into any equivalent 750 or 1100,” he says. “Parts for the dry clutch are incredibly expensive.” The clutch is durable enough, but the seal behind it can leak, which means major surgery. A clamorous cam chain means the tensioner is going or gone. Check the generator on a high-mileage example. Otherwise, any engine that’s been fed 6 quarts of fresh 10w50 every 2000 miles or so should be fine. It’s happiest inhaling through the stock airbox.

Suzuki’s original asking price has risen to $12,600 in 2011 dollars. Only 299 came here in ’86 to make it legal for AMA Superbike racing. A pristine survivor can cost that much today. How much depends on how close it is to showroom condition. Stock bits are excruciatingly scarce, so any deviations drive value down. Dan, Phil, Doug and Ian at raresportbikesforsale.com/ know semi-attainable sporting erotica. Their site is great for shopping or ogling. As with any investment, diligent research is key, but this one is more exciting than any mutual fund.

Cheers
Track-sharp handling circa 1986 in an unobtanium package.
Jeers
Cruel ergonomics, modest power source, scarce replacement parts.
Watch For
Exhaust system damage, missing airbox, cam-chain clatter, feeble generator, sticky brakes, gummed-up carbs.
Verdict
Own the most sought-after superbike in history for less than the cost of a new GSX-R1000.
Value
1986 | $12,5000

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