The Suzuki GSX-S750 is what you’d call sunshine mixed with a tiny hurricane. Here’s why…
A decade ago, upgrading to a big bike in India was considered a huge risk. I say this because back then we only had full-blown, litre-class bikes on offer – and most riders looking for an upgrade had to switch to those behemoths directly from mass market 150-200cc motorcycles. The idea of gradual progression simply didn’t exist, which also meant that people lacked the experience required to handle these high-performance machines. Over the years, however, things have changed – as manufacturers have bridged the gap between these two extremes. And, in this regard, the middleweight segment, with its near-perfect balance of practicality and performance, plays the most significant role.
Until recently, we had Triumph, Ducati and Kawasaki battling each other in this segment. But things changed when, at the Auto Expo 2018, Suzuki exhibited its plans to enter this segment by unveiling the 2018 GSX-S750. And now, two months later, Suzuki has launched the motorcycle in India. Moments before it went on sale though, Suzuki invited us to have a taste of this newest entrant at the Buddh International Circuit. And, after a couple of quick laps on the motorcycle, here’s what we can tell you…
Sharp as a katana
Part of a big bike’s appeal lies in its appearance, and Suzuki has this point well and truly covered with the S750. In terms of design, it mimics its bigger brother, the GSX-S1000, so-much-so that it’s longer than its elder brother by a whisker. Its wheelbase, at 1,455mm, is only 5mm shorter. Personally, I think the S750 is a great looking motorcycle with a perfect blend of muscle and aggression – it doesn’t look absurdly boorish or sedately understated.
The chiselled tank, with katana-like fenders extending from both sides, is one of the most attractive design elements on the bike. And its mean and brawny face, with fang-shaped position lights, further adds to the overall design. Sure, the tail somewhat lacks the character and quality of the front, but the overall sporty nature of the bike and its well-balanced proportions adequately compensate for this. The S750 is offered in two colour options – red/black and blue/black. The paint quality and fit-and-finish levels, as expected, are top-notch. In terms of design, there’s absolutely nothing to complain about, however, and I’m nit-picking here, a couple of things could have been different. First, a pair of gold-anodized forks – available in the global market – would have given a nice contrasting effect to the otherwise dark theme of the motorcycle. And, second, the presence of a set of LED headlamps and indicators would have made it look chic and upmarket.
Coming to the specs, let’s begin with the engine – a 749cc inline four-cylinder unit. The engine is quite special, for it shares its underpinnings with the 2005 GSX-R750 K5. If you’re unaware, the GSX-R750 K5 is a bit of a supersport legend.
Now, the powertrain may be old but you can be rest assured that the engineers at Hamamatsu have made enough modifications to give it a unique character. The first modification is that it’s been detuned for better low-end punch on the street. The first version of the S750 featuring this engine was launched in global markets in 2011. In 2017, the in-line-four received further modifications and tweaks. So, what we have in the 2018 GSX-S750 is an updated version of the powertrain. Some of the upgrades that the powertrain has received include crankcase ventilation holes to reduce pumping losses, a new set of 10-hole fuel injectors for better fuel atomization and a larger air-box to, well, produce a sweet induction note. There’s also a 4-2-1 exhaust system to enhance the sound quality further.
The S750’s braking system is from Nissin and comprises of radial mounted callipers that act on twin 310mm petal-discs at the front. Along with ABS, the motorcycle also has a four-level traction control system – 1, 2, 3 and off, 1 being the least intrusive and 3 offering the maximum intervention. The 6-speed gearbox lacks a slipper clutch, but it has something called ‘low-rpm assist,’ the purpose of which is to prevent the engine from stalling at low speeds. The bike has a twin-spar type chassis and a suspension setup that consists of a 41mm KYB front fork and a link-type monoshock at the back – both are pre-load adjustable. The motorcycle rolls on sticky Bridgestone Battlax S21 tyres.
Even though I didn’t ride the GSX-S750 for a very long time on the track, it was enough for me to realize that its ergonomics are almost perfect for my 5’9” frame. The slightly rear-set foot pegs, the comfortably padded seat and the tapered handlebar (albeit a bit high) make for a compact rider triangle.
What about the performance? Well, to put it mildly, it’s absolutely mind-blowing – but in a calm and composed manner. The engine develops 113bhp at 10,500rpm and 81Nm at 9,000rpm. In true in-line four fashion, the power delivery is linear and gets progressively stronger as the revs rise. After 5,000rpm though, the motor goes slightly berserk. There’s a strong surge and the speed build up is crazy. On the back straight at the BIC, the dash display speeds were almost always above 220km/h. There’s no power fade even when you hit the rev-limiter, and the refinement levels are very satisfactory. The induction noise of the in-line four is, as Suzuki puts it, simply music to your ears. I can, and will, go as far as to say that it’s probably the best sounding motorcycle in its segment. The smoothness and efficiency of the gearbox is another gem of a feature of this motorcycle.
When the going gets twisty
On paper, the main concern is the S750’s heavy kerb weight. Tipping the scales at 213kgs, it’s one of the heaviest motorcycles in its class. The India-spec model weighs an additional two kilograms, thanks to the mandatory saree guard and the front registration plate holder. But all this weight doesn’t make the Suzuki feel cumbersome and ungainly, in fact it feels the exact opposite.
One of the best features of the S750 is that it steers quickly and tips in easily – no wrestling this motorcycle! And, once leaned over, it remains glued to the tarmac. Even abrupt throttle inputs on corner exits don’t upset the chassis. Sure, you do feel the heft during quick directional changes, which, in my case, was quite evident around turns 8 and 9 of the circuit. Also, it doesn’t feel as nimble or intuitive as, say, the Triumph Street Triple. However, it suits my taste, as I prefer a slightly loaded front-end. Honestly, I was pleasantly surprised by the way it handles.
A fast motorcycle is no good if it doesn’t brake faster than it accelerates. Fortunately, the S750 shines in both these departments. The feedback, the bite and the overall performance of the front brakes are superb. While testing the bike, I was constantly above 220km/h on the straights, and the reason was simple – its super-strong brakes inspire the confidence you need to go faster still. As soon as you drop the anchors, the motorcycle comes to a halt in a progressive and steady manner. The ABS is very well calibrated too. Even when I braked late, I didn’t experience the slightest intrusion of the system. The Bridgestone rubber also deserves some credit here – try as you might, they simply won't give up the ghost.
Coming to the traction control system, I initially put the motorcycle in Mode 2, but after just a couple of corners, it started cutting power a little too early for my liking. The good thing, however, is that you can change the settings on-the-fly, so I quickly switched to Mode 1. In this mode, the power delivery was much smoother, and since I didn’t do anything stupid, it was kind of difficult to know if it was working at all. Just for the sake of testing, I switched off the traction control for a lap. And even though the throttle response was a little more alive, there wasn’t much difference. Before we got done, I switched to Mode 3 and quickly realised that it should be reserved for when it rains or when riding in tricky conditions.
Ideally, I would preferred to have tested the Suzuki GSX-S750 on our choked streets before coming to a conclusion, but, for now, I’ll have to make do with my limited experience of riding the bike on the track. Certainly, it’s my sense that the Suzuki GSX-S750 is a compelling choice for both novice and expert riders. Sure, it’s not as precise as the Triumph Street Triple or a brawny street brawler like the Kawasaki Z900, however, it does manage to hit a sweet spot between the two. It’s a great streetfighter that offers a superb handling experience, accessible performance, and has oodles of thrills in store. Plus, it comes packed with a lot of goodies at a tempting price tag of ₹7.45 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). And if all this isn’t enough to excite you, then all you need to do is listen to the sound of that inline-four at full throttle. It’ll definitely seal the deal for you – let’s just say that it does the trick for me every single time.
- Suzuki GSX-S750
Engine: 749cc / In-line 4-cylinder / DOHC / Liquid Cooled
Power: 113bhp @ 10,500rpm
Torque: 81Nm @ 9,000rpm
Price: Rs. 7.45 lakh (Ex-showroom, Delhi)
X-factor: A sublime combination of raw performance and sweet handling. Plus, the inline-4 is music to your ears.
• Handling and engine performance
• Value for money
• Inline-4 music
• Awesome brakes
• Slightly heavy