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Game Changer: 1986-1987 Suzuki GSX-R750

Comparing the Suzuki GSX-R750 with its primary competitors, the Yamaha FZ750 and Honda VFR750F.

| July/August 2018

  • suzuki
    1986-1987 Suzuki GSX-R750.
    Motorcycle Classics archives
  • yamaha
    1985-1991 Yamaha FZ750.
    Motorcycle Classics archives
  • honda
    1986-1989 Honda VFR750F.
    Motorcycle Classics archives

  • suzuki
  • yamaha
  • honda

Suzuki GSX-R750
Years produced: 1986-1987
Power: 106hp (claimed), 79hp @10,500rpm (measured RWHP)
Top speed: 142mph (period test)
Engine: 749cc (70mm x 48.7mm) air/oilcooled, 16-valve DOHC inline four
Transmission: 6-speed, chain final drive
Weight/MPG: 388lb dry (claimed); 465lb w/full tank (period test)/35mpg (avg.)
Price then/now: $4,499 (1986)/$3,000-$6,500

"Sportbikes will soon be divided into two categories: before the GSX-R and after," gushed Cycle World in March 1985 of Suzuki's new hyper bike.

What made it so special? It was the lightest bike in its class by a country mile. When Cycle magazine compared the latest batch of 750s in July 1986, they recorded full-tank curb weights of 505 pounds for Honda's VFR750, 524 pounds for Yamaha's FZ750, and just 465 pounds for the Gixxer. Suzuki claimed a dry weight of 388 pounds versus 489 pounds for the GS750 it replaced, the engine alone being 24 pounds lighter.

Designer Etsuo Yokouchi was obsessed with minimizing mass, so he decided on air/oil cooling rather than adding water jackets, a radiator and a pump. By 1986, though, he was swimming against the tide. The Other Three had all switched their premium 750 sport bikes to liquid cooling. Yokouchi chose instead to rely on a high-volume, low-pressure pump to circulate up to 10 liters of oil per minute through the cylinder head, using fins and a king-size oil cooler to dissipate heat. Bottom end lubrication and piston-cooling oil jets were fed by a conventional high-pressure pump.

Though based on the GS, the GSX-R engine used lighter components throughout. A bore increase from 67mm to 70mm and shorter stroke allowed higher revs for the same piston speed, and larger valves for more power. Dual overhead camshafts were driven by a central chain and the cam box was capped with a magnesium cover. Four 29mm Mikuni carburetors fed revised 4-valve Twin Swirl Combustion Chambers (TSCC), with a 4-into-1 exhaust. Drive to the 6-speed transmission was by straight-cut gears and a wet multiplate clutch.

Yokouchi's minimalism extended to the lightweight aluminum tube frame, which owed much to the GS1000R endurance racer. It featured Suzuki's Full Floater single-shock rear suspension (adjustable for preload and rebound damping), aluminum swingarm, and preload-adjustable 41mm Kayaba front fork. Eighteen-inch cast aluminum wheels with triple disc brakes ran on radial tires.

7/12/2018 10:14:11 AM

Even though these bike are three decades old, their styling still looks damn good. The dual headlights set in that sleek styling really sets these bikes apart. I'd love one in my garage if I could find a survivor.

7/12/2018 10:07:39 AM

Even though these bike are three decades old, their styling still looks damn good. The dual headlights set in that sleek styling really sets these bikes apart. I'd love one in my garage if I could find a survivor.

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