Review: 2017 Suzuki GSX-S750 shamelessly begs for a thrashing
There are bikes that intimidate. There are bikes that deliver instant confidence. And then there's Suzuki's new middleweight naked machine, which is so easy and fun to ride that it goads you into flogging it every time you dance.
I feel reckless and throttle happy, switched on and turned up to 11. I haven't just jumped out of a plane, I've merely commuted in to the office. I need to give this bike back to Suzuki, it's making an idiot out of me. I keep on having to remind myself: it's a freakin' 750, and they can bite when they want to.
But the GSX-S750 just begs to be thrashed, at all times. It's almost like riding a 250 – you're wrenching your wrist around to the throttle stop, throwing it into suburban back-street roundabouts with the kind of commitment you'd normally save for turn five at Phillip Island. It gives me that "riding a slow bike fast" level of exhilaration.
But it's not a slow bike. It's a very, very fast one built around a K5 GSX-R750 sportsbike engine, and if you succumb to temptation and reef that fancy electronic throttle round to the stop – like it's constantly begging you to do – you'll end up accidentally engaging hyperdrive and going a lot faster than you ever intended to.
The key to it all is the engine, which for a mid-size naked streetbike, feels like it has almost no torque down low. That's after jumping off my daily rides, mind you - a Speed Triple 1050 and a K5 GSX-R1000. The "baby" Gixxess gives you nothing in the first third of the tacho that feels in the least bit intimidating, just smooth, clean acceleration.
So you gas it, and you get to the end of the throttle, and you get swept up in the induction noise and pleasant snarl of the engine as it starts to wind up, and next thing you know you're north of 6,000 rpm and your cavalier use of the throttle is sending you into a slingshot of rushing horsepower.
112.6 of them, to be precise. Which isn't an overwhelming amount in the scheme of things, but they way they're delivered makes this bike feel genuinely nutty when you're up it.
That's also partially due to the rest of the package and the way it handles. I was unimpressed when I looked down the spec sheet and saw that this bike's somehow 4 kilos heavier than the GSX-S1000 literbike at 213kg wet, with a 1 cm higher seat at 820 mm. But somehow these numbers don't tell the whole story. In the flesh it feels smaller and slimmer and … vastly more nimble, especially at slow speeds. This bike is friendly in every way.
I'm crediting the narrower 180/55 rear tyre with a lot of that. The 1000 runs a 190/50 that's wider and flatter to get more of that bulk power down, but the 750 feels much more flickable. It also has a wonderfully wide steering lock and a beautiful weight balance that makes me go looking for excuses to swoop between lanes when I'm splitting, as if I'm dodging traffic cones at a gymkhana course. Silly, loutish behavior that makes me giggle in my helmet, until I get to the front of the lights and have to sit there knowing every car driver behind me is looking at me thinking what a tool I am.
The riding position's a bit more upright than the big thousand, thanks to a narrower, higher, more swept back handlebar that gives the GSX-S750 an unfortunately dorky sort of feel to it. I forget about it and feel comfortable after about five minutes, but there's definitely scope for owners to fit something flatter and more aggressive without having to spend much money or extend any cables.
In terms of looks, it's a step forward from the GSR750, and closer to the design language of the GSX-S1000, including a standard bellypan that packages the engine nicely and adds a knife edge of flair down under. The lightning bolt-shaped radiator side guards are painted to de-emphasize their lightning boltiness, which I appreciate, because there's something about lightning bolt shapes on motorbikes that makes me cringe harder than the dance-off scene in the UK Office Christmas special. The top of the tank has some nice pointy ridges along it that look cool in GoPro footage.
The suspension is almost completely non-adjustable. You can play with spring preload at the front and rear, and that's it. But it's the good kind of non-adjustable suspension – a little firmness is expected with a big boofer like me on board, but it's certainly not bouncing out of control and feeling underdamped like some cheaper bikes can.
In fact, I'm genuinely impressed by how well this thing takes the good hard flogging it's always asking for out in the mountains. It's not quite as planted as the 1000 under duress, but the extra precision of steering more than makes up for it in my book. I feel like I've got a wealth of corner line options every time I go to tip in.
There's something magical to me in the way Bridgestone's sports tires steer, and it's present in spades here with the Battlax Hypersport S21 hoops this bike ships with. They're super neutral, the front feels unfazed at just about any lean angle, and you can change lines in a corner as quickly as thinking about it. Mind you, they do take a bit of warming up, as I discovered when a wheelie attempt this morning turned into an unscheduled ten-meter powerdrift. Whoopsie.
It's often said there's no such thing as an accidental wheelie, and that's extra true here. The GSX-S750's front wheel will lift, but only at your urgent request, aided by a lot of fork bounce or liberal application of clutch. And even then, only if you disable the 3-stage traction control system that's come across from the GSX-S1000. If hoisting bulk mingers is a key priority, you need to look across the aisle at Yamaha's MT09.
The MT will probably be this bike's biggest competitor (Kawasaki's Z800 is so much heavier than either that it will struggle to compete), but the two take completely different approaches. The MT is all torque with a motor specifically designed for street shenanigans, the GSX-S is all horsepower with the heart of a supersport bike. The Suzuki looks and feels like a nakedbike, the Yamaha looks halfway to a motard and feels like an ergonomic chair. Make that an ergonomic rocking chair, as it spends as much time with its front wheel in the air as it does on the ground.
They're both a stack of fun, and they both bring out the worst in me … and they're both great value. The GSX-S750 will retail for AU$12,990 on-road in Australia, or US$8,299 in the United States. For a little extra you can get a murdered out special edition in metallic matt black, and that's the best looking of the bunch in my book, followed by standard blue as tested and a red one that … doesn't really tickle my proverbials, but might tickle yours.
What does profoundly tickle my proverbials is just how silly this bike makes me feel, how much it invites disrespect and rough treatment. I think it might have daddy issues, which would be fine if I wasn't such a bad father. I'm giving it back before it gets me in trouble.
More information: Suzuki