2015 Suzuki GSX-S750 | SHORT SHIFT

A Smooth & Sane Softie for the Street

The bike’s personality is not as rambunctious as the aesthetic (or the wheelie) might have you think.©Motorcyclist

Suzuki has elected to gently shoe into the accelerator this year after coasting along during the fallout from the economic crisis of 2008. There are hints of exciting new product in the pipeline, including, to no one's surprise, a totally new GSX-R1000 that we're speculating will break cover during this, the 30th anniversary of the brand, as a 2016 model. In the meantime, Suzuki will bring us a couple of new naked and semi-nude street models to fill out the lineup, including the GSX-S750.

A new model for the US, the GSX-S750 is not a fresh machine for Suzuki. Sold as the GSR750 in Europe since 2011, the 750 comes to the states as a price-point machine, sitting at $7,999 in matte black ($8,149 with the white/blue scheme that also features a deeper gold anodizing to the fork legs but no performance differences) to undercut Yamaha’s successful FZ-09 by a little and Honda’s smaller, fully faired CBR650F by $500. Best, probably, not to mention the $6,990 Yamaha FZ-07.

The GSX-S’s kickstand presence is angular and tough—almost futuristic.©Motorcyclist

To hit that price point, Suzuki started with a tried-and-true engine, which is marketing speak for old. In this case, it’s the GSX-R750’s of 2005. For the GSX-S, there is a revised cylinder head with smaller ports feeding smaller valves. Milder cam timing too. And while the compression ratio remains at 12.3:1, the engine has a lower rev limit: 11,250 rpm versus the GSX-R750’s 14,000.

Suzuki skipped past the GSX-R parts bin when it selected mediocre Tokico two-piston brakes.©Motorcyclsit

Suzuki makes the point that this is not a “detuned” GSX-R engine but rather one with Gixxer bones carefully recalibrated for improving low-end and midrange power. But the results are more or less the same. On our Dynojet dyno, the GSX-S laid down a best run of 95.3 hp at 10,200 rpm and 52.3 pound-feet of torque at 8,600 rpm. Good, solid numbers for this quasi-entry-level class but well behind what this engine is capable of. The good news is that power output slots right between the Honda CBR650F’s 78 hp and the FZ-09’s 105.

For the GSX-S, it’s more about manners and civility than dyno-shredding power. Although this is not a ride-by-wire bike, the dual-valve electronic fuel injection is tuned for very gradual off-idle action, so the bike feels smooth, almost soft, at the first crack of the throttle. It’s easy to feed the cable-operated clutch to just the right spot and have the Suz toeing off from a standstill. It has enough flywheel and low-rpm torque to make pretty much any licensed motorcyclist call it easy. For the rest of the powerband, the GSX-S feels like the 95-hp bike that it is, with good midrange and a slight upper-mid surge before gradually surrendering to the rev limiter shy of 12K.

ABS isn’t available either.©Motorcyclist

Although its 466-pound wet weight is 48 pounds heftier than the FZ-09’s, the “Gix-ess” hides that fact well. It’s a little longer from seat to bar, with less bar rise and tighter footpeg-to-seat dimensions than the Yamaha, but the ergonomics are still very comfortable, and the bike feels compact. An added benefit is that the slightly more leaned-forward riding position elevates the balance point for freeway travel; most of us were happy running 80 mph despite the lack of fairing or windshield. It’s amazingly smooth to 6,000 rpm, where it picks up the usual four-cylinder buzz; fortunately, the GSX-S is geared so you’re still in the butter zone for most highway travel.

It’s assumed that even newer motorcyclists will want to sample sporty riding, and the GSX-S is an able accomplice. Usually at this price point, the suspension is soggy and the brakes pretty ho-hum. Split decision here, since the Suzuki’s KYB-sourced suspension, adjustable only for spring preload front and rear, is of higher quality and calibrated for a tauter ride than we expected. The two-piston Tokico front brakes have been obsolete for a decade; they come in very gradually and offer virtually no lever feedback. At least the GSX-S’s well-chosen spring rates keep the all-steel chassis stable and allow you to enjoy the bike’s neutral (if not lightning quick) steering and willingness to turn in on the brakes. It’s a totally competent-handling, middle-of-the-road sporting naked.

Developed from the Europe-only GSR-750, the GSX-S drops a circa-2005 GSX-R750 engine into a new, cost-conscious chassis for a budget streetfighter.©Motorcyclist

That descriptor is the ultimate insult for a sportbike, but it doesn’t have quite the bite here in the land of the sporty, budget-priced naked machine. You’re not paying Panigale money, and you’re note getting Panigale performance. The trouble for the GSX-S is Yamaha. With the FZ-07 a lighter, less expensive, even more noob-friendly ride and the FZ-09 towering above it in personality (as well as sheer power), plus the $9,399 (with standard ABS) Triumph Street Triple shooting nasty glances from the sidelines, the GSX-S faces energetic but not insurmountable competition.

Off the Record

AGE: 31
HEIGHT: 6'2"
WEIGHT: 185 lb.
INSEAM: 34 in.

A few years ago, this GSX-S 750 would have been a credible competitor in the naked middleweight class—not as sharp as Triumph’s Street Triple but a little cheaper and more along the lines of Yamaha’s now-retired FZ8 (which I really liked, incidentally). And when this bike debuted in Europe in 2011, that’s presumably what it was: a convincing rival. An inline-four with decent midrange, modern styling, and a sporty riding position make for a polite and useable bike. It’s even got some nice touches: The GSX-R gearbox it inherited is excellent, the mirrors are great, and the suspension is appropriately taut.

However, the “Gix-ess” is too late to the American party. Maybe when it debuted it was a good option but not anymore. Not with the likes of Yamaha’s FZ-09 and FZ-07 in opposing showrooms. Yamaha has the affordable naked-sport market covered, plain and simple.

The $8K question

Two machines inhabiting the same class and packing essentially the same price tag could not be more different than the GSX-S750 and Yamaha’s raucous little FZ-09. Where the Suzuki is staid, the Fizzer is wild, with more torque, sharper handling, and a megaton more character. We’ve whined about the 2014 FZ’s jumpy throttle response, it’s true, but Yamaha did the model a solid for ’15—its fueling is vastly improved, though it remains a relative live wire compared to the Suzuki, whose low-rpm responsiveness can best be described as soft. The Yamaha’s more upright riding position makes it less comfortable at highway speeds, but it also has more legroom, a consideration for taller riders. And where the Suzuki’s firmer suspension keeps the chassis level, the lightly sprung Yamaha seems always in motion, which, while not ideal, fits its personality perfectly. Our recommendation? No question the Suzuki is the better choice for low-experience riders or those coming up from smaller bikes. The Yamaha takes a little more taming, but you’ll be happy with it for longer.

tech SPEC

Developed from the Europe-only GSR-750, the GSX-S drops a circa-2005 GSX-R750 engine into a new, cost-conscious chassis for a budget streetfighter.
[Aprilia][] Shiver 750, [Honda CBR650F][], [Kawasaki Ninja 650][], [Suzuki SFV-650][], [Yamaha FZ-07][] and [FZ-09][]
PRICE $7,990
ENGINE 749cc, liquid-cooled inline-four
FRAME Steel twin-spar
FRONT SUSPENSION KYB fork adjustable for spring preload; 4.7-in. travel
REAR SUSPENSION KYB shock adjustable for spring preload; 5.3-in. travel
FRONT BRAKE Tokico two-piston calipers, 310mm discs
REAR BRAKE Tokico one-piston caliper, 240mm disc
RAKE/TRAIL 25.3°/4.1 in.
WHEELBASE 57.1 in.
SEAT HEIGHT 32.1 in.
CLAIMED WEIGHT 470 lb. wet
CONTACT [suzukicycles.com][]
A calm, reassuring unfaired middleweight with a little GSX-R lineage.