Words: Jehan Adil Darukhanawala
Images: Kaizad Adil Darukhanawala
The big bike scene in India is currently booming with the naked middle-weight motorcycles being one of the most sought-after products. Whether it may be the extremely value-for-money Kawasaki Z900 or the effortless handling Triumph Street Triple or the fringe players like Yamaha MT-09 and the MV Agusta Brutale 800, the segment is hotly contested. Suzuki have thrown their contender in the ring – the GSX-S 750 – and we get our first taste at the Buddh International Circuit, Noida. So, the question begged to be answered is whether it turns out to yet another Universal Japanese Motorcycle (UJM) or there is more to it than meets the eye.
What does it look like?
You can be forgiven for mistaking the GSX-S 750 for its elder sibling, the GSX-S 1000. The two look quite similar to one another, the slimmer dimensions as well as the black tones on the fuel tank as well as the tail section giving the 750 away. Hence the bike may look dated in 2018. The chunky fuel tank has sculpted tones like the bouncer at the entrance of your local club. The panels are kept to a bare minimum, given that this is a naked motorcycle to begin with. Hence the ‘S’ following the hyphen in the nomenclature and not ‘F’.
The 750 inherits the LCD info cluster from its litre class sibling, displaying the usual trip related data as well as time, gear position and engine temperature. You can customise the way the revs are portrayed back to the rider. There are a few modes of the same with one bar-type style bearing ‘peak-hold function.’ By this you can track the peak rpm for few fractions of a second while shifting up the cogs or slowing down. I am disappointed with the headlight design. The styling cues match the motorcycle’s design ethos. However, they are dull and uninspiring to look at, the first thing that Suzuki designers need to get to work on for the next gen. The LED tail-light section looks neat with decently proportioned indicators, no LED magic there though. Overall, the design is quite conservational with the current market trend leaning toward radical alien-esque designs.
While the overall build quality is of the highest standards, there are some plastic parts that should not feature on the motorcycle in the current state. Two such panels stand out – the ignition key panel and the one where the key goes to remove the rear seat.
What is underneath the skin?
Suzuki has put its rich heritage of designing state-of-the-art sportsbikes, transforming their learnings of the track on to the street. That has certainly been the case here with the GSX-S750 as it get the twin-spar frame similar to the one found on the sporty GSX-R750 track weapon. The rear sub-section is made from circular steel tubes allowing the necessary flexibility for a smooth ride.
For all its talk of being aggressive, the GSX-S750 is a really comfortable motorcycle, the biggest contributing factor being the street friendly upright riding stance. You get pretty comfy wide seating area which is at 820mm from the ground. The handlebar is wide and slightly tapered. You get an adjustable brake lever but the same is not reciprocated on the clutch side. The pegs are in quite neutral territory, not rearwards enough to cause hindrance in city traffic. There is lot of room to shift your weight around easily from front to back or when switching directions. The overall package weighs 213 kilos which is hefty to say the least. The weight is certainly felt during slow speed situations and tricky turning scenarios.
What is powering it?
This not a whole new ground-up design. Given that its origins stem from the erstwhile GSR750 and the GSX-R750 from 2005, the motorcycle is built on strong foundation. You see this very same derivative application on the motor front as the 749cc inline four cylinder DOHC liquid-cooled engine is a direct descendant of the famed K5 motor from the GSX-R750. The speciality of the K5 motor was the near vertical mounting of the cylinders resulting in compact dimensions aiding dynamics. In its latest guise, the Japs have managed to pump out 113bhp at a staggering 10,500rpm with peak torque of 81Nm produced at 9,000rpm.
The six-speed gearbox is slightly revised from the GSR750, the sixth gear being taller in nature to compensate for the shorter final drive induced by the increase of single tooth at the driven sprocket. The larger sprocket hopes to get the bike off the line quicker while not missing out on the overall top with the revised sixth gear ratio. The transmission does not get a slipper clutch which could have eased up the clutching process. There is an Idle Speed Control (ISC) system that sends a signal to the motorcycle’s electronic brain to increase the revs just as you are setting off or when crawling in city traffic. Usually these situations give way to the engine bogging down and more than often stalling. This Low RPM Assist function helps to negate this to a great extent.
The fuel injection throttle bodies miss out on Ride-by-Wire technology, making use of traditional cables. As a result there is evident snatchiness in throttle transitions in the lower cogs. This becomes more prominent when you are running the motorcycle in one of the least intrusive traction control modes. Speaking of which, the GSX-S750 has a three-mode traction control system that can be switched off completely to the purists delight. The TC is certainly more sophisticated than it looks as it takes into account several parameters relayed back to the ECM. It can be operated on the fly, no need to come to a dead halt to change desired traction mode.
What else is it packing?
Kayaba provides 41mm USD forks and a link-type monoshock unit that handle suspension duties. Both these components are preload adjustable. The press shots showcase a gold casing on the USDs that work really well with the Suzuki blue colour theme. However, the American market (where it is highly popular) finds it too flashy and as seen in our photos, the latest model year GSX-S750 comes with black fork covers. The front end retardation is carried out by radially mounted Nissin four-pot floating calipers on dual 310mm discs while the rear gets a single piston caliper operating on a 260mm rotor. ABS comes in standard but it cannot be switched off.
Bridgestone has worked closely with Suzuki to develop special rubber for the GXS-S750 as the motorcycle comes shod with new gen super sticky Battlax Hypersport S21 shoes at either ends. The rest of the field has been using the older-spec S20s while the Suzuki will be the first to arrive with these new tyres.
What is it like on the go?
Suzuki India has developed a tradition of sorts with an annual invitation for us Indian journos with a new big motorcycle year on end. Couple of years ago was the entire fleet as well as the race spec Gixxer Cup motorcycle and followed it up with the GSX-R1000, in both standard as well as the ‘R’ guise. These two took place at Kari Motor Speedway in Coimbatore. Given the limitations of Kari, Suzuki thought it was befitting that we got our hands on the GSX-S750 at a bigger venue. And what is bigger than India’s premier racing facility – the Buddh International Circuit.
Given that I had not ridden on the BIC, apart from a few PlayStation laps of Formula 1, I took to get familiarise myself with the circuit layout. With the TC in mode 3, the highly intrusive one, I trundled out of the pits and on to the climb there on for the sharp hair-pin turn 3 that leads you on to the ridiculously long back straight. With the taps opened, the GSX-S750 was singing a beautiful tune so very reminiscent of the larger litre class Gixers. The inline four rasp is quite unique due to the cylinder mounting as well as other contributing factors like the huge end can from the GSX-S1000 and the new larger air box that sucks in air from three optimised inlets.
There is a sense of safety and confidence aboard the Suzuki. Even when the TC was in mode 1 and then ultimately turned off, there was no hint of the rear breaking traction; holding its line through the corner quite well. The wide nature of the BIC also helped in this regard as I could carry so much more speed than I thought possible at the start of the session. And for personal satisfaction, I was dragging my knee sliders through the entirety of the corner on numerous occasions. When tipped over at its max, the extra long footpeg feelers were coming in contact with the super grippy Buddh asphalt, something that could also take place over the weekend of spirited riding. The relaxed riding stance did help me tuck in as compactly as possible with ease. There was so much area for me to move around. The seats as well as the tank panels were slippery but that was more to do with them being polished just prior to us heading out on the track. No harm there. I also feel the location was a bit of an overkill for the motorcycle. With no wind blast protection when reaching triple digit speeds in the region of over 200kmph on the long back straight, your wrists as well as hands start to strain. You are clinging on to the bike. Again no fault of the motorcycle but of the setting.
Shedding speed was no issue for the GSX-S750 as there was a sharp bite from the front end. The progression as well as feedback on offer was more than one could ask for. I would like to reserve my judgement on them as well as the handling part of the motorcycle as we were on an ultra smooth race track. The Kayabas were slightly on the softer side for the track but not did not nose-dive during braking or squished the rear when gassing out, no wallowing whatsoever. This bodes well for the road.
What is its pricing?
Here’s the clincher, Suzuki has managed to undercut the Kawasaki Z 900 by a solid twenty grand as the GSX-S750 retails for Rs. 7.45 lakh, ex-showroom Delhi. It may make a bit less power than the Kwacker but the Suzuki feels more alive. There is the conservative styling to think past but what you are getting for your money is slightly premium-spec components with aids like traction control and ISC that make it a more well-rounded motorcycle. What remains to be seen is how Suzuki go about selling the motorcycle as they have got a great opportunity to outscore the opposition.