Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Playtime with a GSXR750 L2.

Thank F... goodness For Seven-Fifties!
They were all the rage in the '90's. World Superbikes kept them firmly in the minds of any pub road-racer. I was just starting out on the road, but wanted a blue ZXR750 with those Hoover tubes looking so bloody cool coming out of the tank. Ooh yeah. And let's not forget the rare RC30...
Local fast boys had GSXR750's and wheelied from the lights constantly, telling me about the gearbox rebuilds from continual wheelie abuse. It was music to my ears at that age! Yeah, there were 1100's, and the all new Fireblade, but it was the 750's that were racing round the track against 916 Ducatis

And then...
Everything changed. 600's got quicker, the R1 came along and annihilated the ageing 'blade. A few years later, Suzuki had a thou too and suddenly WSBK was destined for 1000cc fours as well as the V-twins. The midrange 750's started to die out - after all, they weren't wanted in terms of sales. The ZX7R hung in there for a while, but the only true sports bike to maintain that displacement was the GSXR, all those years after it's formidable launch in '85.

And what a good move by Suzuki. 
Yeah, thou's are great fun 'cause they're quick. But how much power can you actually make use of on the road? There was a time when a big bike was limited by its poor chassis. You might have horsepower, but you're going to die if you try to exploit it. Not so much nowadays. They let you get away with a lot, but also make you very lazy. Someone faster than you in a corner? Just open up on the straight and reel him back in. You end up riding around on quarter throttle thinking you're Troy Bayliss, while there's a 600 stuck up your chuffer trying to hurry you along in the corners!
Looking at the latest thou's now, I can't help thinking that all the electronic aids designed to make them faster/safer are dulling the basic virtues of riding. Launch control, traction control, wheelie control... strewth, what about my control?
Sure, gadgets are great, but go out there and get on a real bike for a bit. Give the brain something to do, you might actually enjoy it...

Suzuki GSXR750 L2
Now being a bit of a Suzuki fan, I was keen to give the forgotten-one a blast. Bryan was keen on upsizing from the CBR6, and I'd been on about the 750 for ages. He tried it, he liked and then he bought it. The best bit? Now I could go and give it a whirl on the brand new BT003 RS's he had fitted straight after he picked it up.

I last rode a Gixer 750 in 2007 - an '06 model and I wasn't too impressed with the power to be fair. I was used to my thou and the 750 felt like it was gutless everywhere. But nowadays I want power I can actually feel like I'm making the most of (although I won't be), and the flickability of a 600. Today we may have hit the spot.
Whisper quiet, which is how I like them, this thing is so smooth and sedate at small throttle openings; you could ride this up to quarter throttle and have no idea that it could nail the average thou rider into the ground! But of course, quarter throttle is only fun for about 5.37 seconds. 
Pulling away, I couldn't get over how light the throttle was. Mine must be getting sticky - or they designed it so you could pull it back to the stop faster - that's what I'm going with. So, off we go and the first thing I thought was "Man this thing has harsh suspension!" I have no idea on what settings have been dialled in by a previous owner, but it makes my K6 feel comfortably compliant. A bit of time looking through the settings will probably get this sorted, and I'm looking forward to having a dabble with the BPF's next weekend. But even though it's hard, progress is good. It's easier to throw around than the CBR it replaces, but has that extra kick up the ass when you're going for it.
Apparently, a standard version produces 133 rear wheel power units! That's pretty damn good if it's true, considering early R1's were only managing around 140 and are no slouch even today.

One area that every journalist always picks up on with GSXR's is the brakes. Fade always seems to come up, and even on this model fitted with Brembo monoblocks, they moan that they're lacking on track. Well I love them! The lever is solid and, should I feel like grabbing a handful after a favourite downhill mountain section, I'm pretty sure I'll still be flung over the front. It's hard to get across in words, but they have plenty of feel without being over the top with the extra comfort of more in reserve when needed. Master cylinder/caliper ratios must be pretty much cock-on, and I found them very confidence inspiring.

Flickabilty - The ability to flick a bike from side to side as quickly as is humanly possible. (This is my definition, and really needs to go in the New Oxford next year.) 
The Gixer has it in spades, I didn't realise how much until I sat back on mine. It drops on its side like a stone and, once she's suitably softened, should be quite the little racer. Showa Big Piston Forks are all the rage so a quick look this weekend will hopefully have them working nicely.

While I'm not convinced on the blue swingarm and frame, if it holds the engine and wheels together as well as it does, it'll do for me. Adjustable pegs, should you need it, give you all the ground clearance you need. That's what I like about Gixer's, they're functional and do what they need to do. 

But if one item looks like a complete afterthought, it's the black heat-shield fitted to the exhaust. It's similar to the ones on the 90's CBR1000F's and isn't particularly pretty, but I guess a nice Yoshi will take care of that.

If you just want to get on with going fast, without fifty shades of electronic settings to sift through, this thing is perfect. Yeah there's two map settings: "A-mode", and another one. It's very simple to use too, just forget about the switch altogether, and get on with riding. And it won't be you down at the pub later saying "I'd have had you out of that bend, but my traction control was turned up one notch too much."
In '85, the Gixer750 would've been ridden by lads in Doc Martens, jeans and a paddock jacket; thirty years later and that basic simplicity and speed still hold up against the competition. In fact it's like a finger up to the other manufacturers saying "Still fast, standard." To some, gadgetry is a must have and they won't buy a late model bike unless every electronic, go-faster goody is attached. So if they come round you on the road with a stuttering engine, and an ECU controlling every revolution of the rear wheel, just tell 'em they're cheating... or open the throttle some more.

Part two is on its way. This weekend I hope to find out a bit more about Big Piston Forks, and see if we can get rid of the chicken strips.