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Tested: 2016 Suzuki GSX-R750 MotoGP Replica

Nostalgia – it’s not as good as it used to be: so goes the old joke. But it’s not true – nostalgia is bigger and better and more nuts than it’s ever been. Especially in bikes. Folk are going wild over ancient old shitters – and I do mean shitters. When I started riding bikes in the late 1980s, BMW’s old boxers were openly mocked by most of the riders I knew. R100? Made of pig iron, with a clunky shaft drive, Soviet-style carbs, barn-door fairing? Come on.

We wanted GPz900Rs, FZ750s and GSX-R750s. Okay, we could only afford old air-cooled GPz550s, RG250s and RD350s. But the idea that 25 years on, folk would be paying big bucks for those ropey, slow, heavy old Beemers would have been properly laughable.

So – nostalgia: very big. But what’s that got to do with this nice GSX-R750? Well, partly it’s a personal nostalgia. For much of the past five or six years, I’ve spent a lot of time riding adventure bikes and naked bikes – the bikes du jour, if you will. It’s been a while since I slung a leg over a proper revvy, commited, inline-four supersports bike, and given it a proper handful.


So when I turned up at Suzuki GB, dropped off the (very nice, V-twin, naked) SV650, and hopped onto the GSX-R, I was immediately whisked back in time. The wrist-crippling riding position, the high footpegs, head-down-arse-up attack mode – it was a world away from the GSX-S1000F I rode all last year.

Click the luscious gearbox into first, and we’re away. Now Milton Keynes (the home of Suzuki GB) is shit in lots of ways. But it has a very natty line in dual-carriageways and roundabouts. Hundreds of the buggers. I’d hazard a guess at there being about a dozen of them between Suzuki and the M1 (in fact, I just checked a map – there are 17).

So I was very quickly in the zone – hard on the brakes, fling the bright blue Suzuki on its side, flick-flack through the roundabouts, dodging slow-witted lunchtime traffic, and hard on the gas out onto another short straight of dual-carriageway. It’s addictive stuff – the Yoshi slip-on can is a road-legal one, but seems to make much more of a howl than it has any right to. I spotted the rather old-school Bridgestone BT-016 tyres when I picked her up, but they’re working really well too. The Showa BPF Big Piston Forks up front are plush and controlled, and the classic GSX-R superbike steering is laser-sharp, and super-direct.

What is catching me out though is the back brake. I’ve not ridden anything without ABS for a very long time, and a rather high pedal, plus the sporty forward weight bias of the GSX-R, and a clumsy foot means I’m locking the back up into a few of the roundabouts. Nothing scary – in fact there’s a rather naughty pleasure in locking a wheel up into a roundabout, just like the good old days…

Once on the M1 down the to the M25 and A3, it’s less exciting. The riding position is starting to get to me, unused as I am to a race-rep pose. My creaky old wrists (one of which is partially fused from a ten-year-old dislocation) are crying ‘foul’, and the brake and clutch levers feel badly positioned. My neck is stiff, and my legs are cramping up a bit. But every now and then, I get to a clear bit of motorway, and open her up properly for a quick triple-figure headrush – and it’s all suddenly worthwhile…

I spend the next week or so pottering about London, just getting places, and the 750 is perfectly fine. I adjust a bit to the riding position, helped by some fettling of the brake and clutch lever positions. What doesn’t go away is paranoia about theft – the MotoGP replica paint, and the Yoshimura jewellery makes the Suzuki properly stand out, and I start to see thieving scrotes everywhere – I just can’t leave it parked up in public without worrying, no matter how many locks I festoon it with.

A couple of weeks later though, I’m tottering up the M40 to Silverstone, to do a MotoGP feature with Maverick Vinales. I say tottering, but I was cruising just below ‘ban’ territory. The sun was out, I was fully in touch with the GSX-R life, and all was good. Then I came across a hard-faced little BMW motor. One of the new breed – a 335i, from about 2008. It was lowered, on big rims, and had the air of something that had been heavily tweaked.

They’re fast wee buggers as stock these – straight-six petrol engines, with two turbos and a good few hundred horsepower. But with a bit of fettling, they’re monstrous. I’ve raced a couple in my old RS6 death wagon recently, and I’ve not been too pleased by the results…

This one fancies a go though, so we click down a few gears, and let the bright blue kingfisher-hued GSX-R sing. Jesus it sounds good – a hard-edged banshee wail, mixed with a deep, thundering roar from the airbox, as the rev counter swings round towards 14,000rpm, and the shift lights flicker. BMW man is trying hard, and is shrinking in my mirrors, but only gradually. Fourth gear, then fifth, and the Beemer is gone as GSX-R and I hurtle towards Northants like a low-flying jet fighter, gradually outrunning a heat-seeking missile…


Phew. I relate my tale to Senor Vinales later on, and he loves it. He doesn’t ride big bikes on the road, but tales of 160mph+ derring-do cheer him right up, and I reckon he fancied a bit of a rideout on the GSX-R. Maybe next time he’s over we’ll get him out for a run round the South Circular, see what he’s really made of…

Back home, I give the 750 a bit of a clean up before taking her back. I’m much sadder about the prospect than I expected – and not just because these few weeks have been packed with nostalgia. This is the sort of bike that got me into motorcycling nearly thirty years ago. Fast, agile, sleek, high-tech – and looking just like the machinery which heroes like Maverick win Grands Prix on.

And while I’m very aware of the downsides of supersports bikes – driving bans from excess speeding, uncomfortable riding positions for old bones – I’m also fired up by how much fun there is to be had with it. Sure – it’s out of date in a lot of ways: I’d love Suzuki to bring out an up-to-date one with full electronics, wheelie control, leaning ABS, quickshifter, all that shizzle. But none of that really matters when you hit five figures on the tacho, and the motor comes on cam.

The 750 goes back, sadly, and life is a little bit more monochrome for a few weeks. Then I get details about this year’s Cologne bike show, where Suzuki will be showing off more info on its fabby 2017 GSX-R1000, with full electronics, wheelie control, leaning ABS, quickshifter, and all that shizzle. Could they? Would they? Hmmm….

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