Most people think of the first GSX-R models as the real ground breakers, which may be correct historically, but to some they were nothing more than a wake up call for the rest of the biking industry. It took a few years for the design to really get going which it did in 1988 with the introduction of the GSX-R750J model. This was a ground up redesign that saw no parts or thinking in common with the GSX-R of old and the results were staggering. The engine was replaced by a higher revving short stroke with all of the internals designed with one thing in mind, pure performance, it was the same story with the chassis as fork tubing was beefed up and the alloy of the frame was stiffened by around 60%, addressing much of the complaints aimed at the earlier model. All the body work came in for revision too, retaining the original look and ethos but presenting a much smaller frontal area, 5.7% less, to the onslaught of opposing windblast.
Much more powerful brake calipers with a larger swept pad area, were fitted up front drastically improving the already pretty impressive stopping power and giving more feel in the process too. The end result was a much more modern feeling machine and a motorcycle worthy of elevating Suzuki into the modern era of the last twenty years or so. Refined and relatively tame, this was the first of the 80s Superbikes to feel anything like user friendly, while still remaining able to record a stunning time around a race track. The style set out by the 88 model stayed with the GSX-R throughout the early to mid 90s, it lost the twin headlight front end for 1991 but that apart the type remained instantly recognisable if a little dated by the end of the production run. It has more than enough power for most sports riders and handles like any modern sports tourer, making the type ideal as a good all rounder, especially when on a budget. The build quality is right up there and mechanical hiccups are few when maintained and serviced regularly. These days the looks have become a true classic and with tidy examples changing hands for under a grand a real steal if you want to sample the best Suzuki had to offer at the time. They set out the race replica for the common man format, and since then, all have followed in Suzuki’s wake.
On the move the GSX-R doesn’t feel to be as rev happy as the specifications would suggest, in fact way down in the rev range it is down right tractable and usable. If anything it doesn’t lack grunt low down, rather it has too much once the revs rise into the two-stroke like power band. As soon as the area of maximum torque has been reached, around 7000rpm, the scenery starts to get blurry, the engine refusing to yield until another 4000 revs have been added onto the dial of the tacho. It can go from docile to dominatrix within the blink of an eye if careful use of the throttle isn’t applied, and with the chassis having been stiffened and improved over the earlier models the handling is there to match the performance. The noise is addictive too, the pair of vents either side of the headlights literally force fresh air into the engine, the breathy intakes resonating in tune with the engines roar.
The chassis does feel clumsier than the earlier GSX-R models particularly at low speeds or at a standstill, its not hard to pin point why this is thanks to the increase in all up weight of a staggering 20kgs. That much increase is hard to lose, no matter how good the chassis design. Every attempt has been made to minimise the effects of the weight, with smaller diameter wheels and a lower centre of gravity, but still the second generation of Gixxer showed its portly stature for all to see and feel. This lardy feel reduces as the speed builds and the chassis holds the road well, losing much of the flighty nature of the first examples. The icing on the cake of the Suzuki is the slick close ratio gearbox that more often than not still feels as fresh today, even in high mileage examples, such is the build quality found inside the well designed engine. It isn’t just on the inside that things are assembled well, all over the exterior are signs that Suzuki, like Yamaha and Kawasaki, were catching the mighty H in the quality stakes. The Gixxer looked good and most stayed that way too, unrestored tidy examples aren’t too hard to drop on and at silly low process too as the masses flock to the own newer Superbikes. It isn’t all high-speed shenanigans either, the post 87 Gixxer is a real treat two up, its roomy seating and low stature making it a breeze to get on and off as well as manoeuvre at low speed fully laden. The only down side seems to be the fuel economy, even though there is plenty of it in the large tank, expect to get around 35mpg riding relatively steady, and way under that when not.
Suzuki GSX-R750J Model history
The GXS-R series first saw the light of day with the introduction of the Japan only 400cc model of 1984. This really was a mini Gixxer and set the stall out style and specification wise for the rest to follow. The 750 arrived in 1985 and the 1100 the year after, and with little else around for the others to compete with, the similar looking Suzuki pairing stole the Superbike show. From the outset it was the smaller of the two that enjoyed much of the limelight with its successes in the heat of competition the world over.
The 750 lived on through several design stages and is still a major part of the Suzuki line up today, 23 years after it first arrived on the scene. At every stage of its life, the Gixxer has been at the forefront of the sporting game, even if it hasn’t always been there technology wise. Suzuki did let the design slip back a bit during the late 90s, when to be fair, the world was transfixed by full blown 900cc plus Superbikes, but the real world loved the three-quarter-litre format, finding it to be all the bike the average rider ever needed, particularly in the track day scenario. In more recent times the GSX-R750 from 2000 on, has been brought up to date to keep it at the sharp end, and is hard to tell apart from its 600 and 1000cc siblings.
Suzuki GSX-R750J Timeline
The first of the ground breaking GSX-R series, the Japanese market only, 400 breaks cover.
The baby Gixxer is soon joined by the 750cc version, launched to critical acclaim, it left the opposition in a floundering mess for some time.
In an attempt at calming the nervous handling down a shade, the swing arm was lengthened by 25mm, that mod apart the design remained largely unchanged
The front end was beefed up with 41mm forks while the fuel capacity was upped to 21 litres from 18.5.
All change in the GSX-R camp with the all-new J model
Upside down forks, and a return to the long stroke motor, made the L model arguably the best of the air/oil motors.
a new water cooled engine replaced the dated air/oil cooled design
a radical shake up sees the all new SRAD GSX-R with a GP like beam frame and a shape not unlike the RGV500 raced in Grands Prix by Kevin Schwantz the year before. This remained the norm for the next 4 years.
1988 Suzuki GSX-R750J Specifications
- Engine – air/oil-cooled 4-cylinder 4-stroke DOHC
- Capacity – 747cc
- Bore/stroke – 73 x 44.7mm
- Power – 112bhp @ 11000rpm
- Torque – 50ft-lb @ 7000rpm
- Carburetion – 4 x 36mm
- Transmission – 6-speed wet clutch chain final drive
- Frame – Alloy perimeter
- Suspension – 43mm telescopic forks. Single shock full floater rear
- Brakes – 300mm discs 4-piston calipers, 220mm disc 2-piston caliper
- Wheels – 120/70 x 17 160/60 x 17
- Weight – 195kgs
- Top speed – 165mph
- Wheelbase – 1400mm
- Fuel capacity – 21ltrs
Suzuki GSX-R750J Gallery