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Feature: Balancing act
Combining everything everybody wants from a motorcycle into one package is not the easiest thing to do…
Most days, I do not envy the role of a motorcycle manufacturer. Imagine pouring your sweat and blood into a project that takes years to research and develop and then have a handful of boffins who call themselves motorcycle journalists come in and take your creation apart, telling you what you did right and what you could have done better.
If it were me, that’s a recipe for a few broken noses right there. Thankfully, it isn’t me and I’m, in fact, the one who’s delivering these opinions. Yes, that’s most days, but then, there are some of those days when the stars align and all that R&D results in something truly great. Something that comes together with the balance that makes everyone happy. And that’s a difficult thing to achieve, this balance. But today is one such day.
As I said, balance is a tricky thing to aim for. Mostly because everybody want different things from their motorcycles. This means everybody’s idea of balance tends to be skewed one way or the other. But coming out of turn three with the throttle open, I’m getting the feeling that this new GSX-S750 might be a motorcycle that might have managed to find that delicate balance! But let’s take a second to look at history. Why does a 750 exist?When the GSX-R750 came onto the scene in 1984, it was a result of Suzuki wanting to bring two worlds together. They wanted to create a full faired, race replica that would marry the speed of a litre-class machine with the handling characteristics of a 600. The middle ground they found was the GSX-R750. They had found the balance.
Over the years, the motorcycle saw many changes. Carburetion gave way to fuel injection and from being an air and oil-cooled motor, the 750 eventually became a fully liquid cooled inline-four. It is still on sale today and in its L7 avatar, it is the longest running GSX-R to go without major changes. Because they were simply not necessary.
But why am I talking about the GSX-R? Because when Suzuki began work on the GSX-S750 that was to be unveiled at Intermot in 2016, they chose the engine from the K5 GSX-R to power it. There’s reason for it too.You see, the K5’s engine was the most close-to-vertical motor in the lineup. This meant, when the frame was being designed, the engineers could make sure the 750 retained a short wheelbase. There’s that balance again – K5 power, meet point-and-shoot handling.
Now, back to turn three. I’ve just exited the blind-apex turn (that I hate with all my heart) and opened the throttle wide for the first time. I can immediately see the TC lights flashing and the electronics coming in to arrest slip. A little too early for my liking, so I switch the three-mode TC to 1, which is least intrusive.
I’ve straightened the motorcycle and tucked in as far as I can and am hanging on against the wind blast. The 749cc motor is delivering all its 113bhp and 81Nm through the straight and by the time I cross the 100m braking marker, the speedo is hovering around 238kph. Quick and hard on the brakes and the four-pot Nissins grab the 310mm rotors to shed speed really well. Down three gears and point her towards the apex of the right handed T4. I open throttle and the power comes on very linearly. A short burst up to 180kph and then I brake again for the 5,6,7 combo of left right and left before accelerating again for T8 and 9.
For me, the section starting at turn three and ending at the parabola is where all the action is at. It lets you go flat out, has slow-speed corners and high-speed corners. You can usually tell what a motorcycle is all about if you pay attention here. The 750 really impressed me through here. With the changes to the engine, the power is very usable. In fact, there is a lot of shove in the lower and mid-ranges of the rev band.
The power delivery is linear too. The combination of the two means I can arrive at corners in a gear higher than usual and then open the throttle to find the S750 pulling away without any hesitation. Entering and exiting corners too are a breeze. It takes you next to no time to get used to the motorcycle. Within three laps, I was carrying serious speeds.
A lot of the credit for that goes to the superb chassis as well. Suzuki designed the S750’s chassis to make it sporty yet comfortable. The chassis itself is a combination of twin-spar, D-sections and tubular steel. It gets a preload adjustable monoshock at the rear and a 41mm KYB for setup up front with adjustable preload and compression damping. The suspension is stiff and this gives it immense capability around corners.
Through the switchbacks, the S750 stays well behaved and while it isn’t as light as its competition to steer, the bike still remains quick to change direction. It is a very confidence-inspiring chassis and you will learn to trust its capabilities in no time. The Bridgestone S21s do a great job of complementing this, of course. The combination of the chassis and tyres lets you lean the bike over all the way with nary a thought. I do have some complaints, though. Two to be precise. The heel plate should have been larger.It would have kept me better anchored. Second, a little fly screen is essential to direct wind away from you on a motorcycle that does 200kph without breaking a sweat. Other than that, it is an incredibly well-rounded package. And one that looks great too.
There’s been a lot of debate on the looks of the GSX-S series. To me, it is a great combination of aggression and smooth lines. I quite like the sabretooth-like front end. And in blue… Just get it in blue, okay? It isn’t often that you find motorcycles that work so well. To me, the GSX-S750 does everything it is meant to do really well.
It doesn’t want to break my heart and make me write sonnets, but it is rather methodical in the way it gets things done. The GSX-S750 has a list of things to do, it does them well and that’s all it has to say about that. And it does this all without making you wipe out your savings. You see, at `7.49 lakh, ex-showroom, it is an incredibly affordable 200kph rocket.
When you look at the overall deal, the GSX-S750 does everything well and isn’t one bit polarising. It is a really well balanced motorcycle that is priced very, very competitively as well. And with that, Suzuki has hit the ball well out of the park!