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History of the 1985-1992 Suzuki GSX-R750
Suzuki’s SV650 V-twin may have dominated middleweight superbike classes soon after its introduction in 1999, but the first example of this phenomenon is actually 30 years old. The Suzuki GSX-R750 - the “Gixxer” - brought Suzuki road-racing bikes to the street.
The first GSX-R750 demonstrated the old formula of going faster by removing weight perfectly. At 388 lbs, it was 75 pounds lighter than Yamaha’s FZ750 and 100 pounds lighter than Honda’s VFR750 Interceptor, Suzuki’s principal competition at the time.
Etsuo Yokouchi was Suzuki’s race team manager in 1983, and his inspiration for the new model was the XR41, an aluminum-framed 1,000 cc four that won the World Endurance Championship. Suzuki’s domestic market GSX-R400 was 19 percent lighter than its rivals in 1984 and Yokouchi aimed to save 20 percent in the 750cc class, while delivering 100 bhp.
Yokouchi achieved both aims through the use of radical technology. Water cooling would be too heavy, so Yokouchi went for oil-cooling instead. Suzuki’s Advanced Cooling System used two oil pumps, one for lubrication and the other for cooling, via a large radiator in front of the engine.
The old air-cooled GSX motor was radically redesigned. Everything became smaller and lighter, and with swirl combustion chambers it revved higher. It boasted four valves per cylinder, delivered peak power at 10,500 rpm through Mikuni flat-slide carbs and even had a magnesium valve cover. Even the chassis was made from aluminum, following lessons learned from the RG250 and GSX750. Chassis engineer Takayoshi Suzuki simplified the frame, reducing it to 21 parts from 96. With a weight of just 18 lbs, it came in at less than half of a similar steel frame.
The package was rounded out with 41-millimeter forks, 18-inch wheels (instead of the popular but inadequate 16-inch front wheel), clip-on handlebars and rear-set footrests, four-piston disc brakes, and full instruments mounted in foam rubber behind a sleek fairing. The rear suspension was a full-floating monoshock. Top speed was almost 150 mph and a quarter mile ticked off in 11.4 seconds.
The GSX-R was first shown in 1984 at the Cologne show, sold in Europe and Japan from March 1985 and made its way to the U.S. in 1986. It was an immediate hit, though it did not suffer fools gladly, with a heavy throttle, razor-sharp power band and twitchy handling. A tendency to head-shake was reduced with a 25 millimeter longer swing arm for 1986.
Racing success was immediate and the first four bikes in the 1985 British Production TT were GSX-R750s. Future world champion Kevin Schwanz rode Yoshimura-tuned Gixxers.
Finding a good early “slab-sided” Gixxer will be a test of patience. The aluminum frame proved very easy to damage in crashes, and the engine casing is easily punctured if the bike is dropped, leading to a severe loss of oil.
The cam chain tensioner must be replaced if the chain starts to rattle and early fiberglass bodywork can be difficult to find. Later models picked up about 50 lbs of weight with diminished ground clearance and the GSX-R gained water-cooling in 1992 along with a better frame.
The early “slabbies” have collector potential, but ratbikes won’t repay the cost of repairs. The best bet – and probably the most desirable version is the GSX-R 750R Limited Edition – the “double R” model - with only 500 believed sold in the US. These can be identified by the single-seat cowl, dry clutch (instead of the base model’s wet-plate unit), dark blue wheels and tri-color red/white/blue paint, instead of the usual blue/white or red/black. The bars are slightly wider, there’s a steering damper and some sources report the gas tank is aluminum. Front discs are full-floating, the clutch lever is adjustable and the front suspension is electrically activated.
The “double R” was significantly more expensive than the basic Gixxer - $6,499 against $4,499 in 1986, but that increased the chance of its survival.
A GSX-R750 is a pure racing crouch, with moderate power until it comes on cam at about 7,000 rpm. The engine performs at about 90 percent of modern sportbikes, but the brakes and tires and handling are pure 1980s technology. The brakes lack feel and the tires are a skinny.
The windshield is quite tall by modern standards and the bike has a decent bubble that will keep the rider reasonably dry. At any bike café, A Suzuki GSX-R750 will get a lot more attention than the latest rocket. Most early GSX-Rs were rode hard and put away wet - if they made it home at all. So while the blue and white colors are familiar, observers will likely comment it’s a long time since they saw one.
1992 Suzuki GSX-R750 Info
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