The People's Superbike: The Suzuki GSX-R Family
This history of Suzuki motorcycles first started as the Suzuki Loom Company in Hamamatsu, Japan. Back then, the Suzuki we know and love today has come a long way from first producing industrial looms for the silk industry.
This is seen when you take a look at the history of Suzuki. The company has made wildly popular motorcycles since they found their stride in 1952, and their styles range from the speedy sportbikes like the GSX-R series to the cool cruiser Boulevard models.
For over 30 years, the “people’s superbike” has been a favorite, recognizable staple of the sportbike world. Let’s check out the timeline of the Suzuki "Gixxer" GSX-R line.
Starting in 1952, Suzuki began manufacturing motorcycles that showed the company’s preference for two-stroke engines. Suzuki exclusively produced two-stroke engines for more than twenty years until the four-stroke GS750 was introduced in 1976. When the GSX-R750 was introduced to the United States as an affordable, performance machine, Americans hailed the GSX-R750 the most important new motorcycle in ten years. Te bike proved itself by beating out the competition both on the track and in the showroom time, and time again.
1985-1986: The world got their first glimpse of the GSXR in 1985, but the United States had to wait another year before we could get our hands on it. The GSX-R750F was the product of the factory GS1000R racebike that had much success in endurance racing and AMA but was first sold as a 400 in Japan. Before the States’ release, the bike was upgraded to 750 with an inline four-cylinder, air- and oil-cooled motor, race-bred 100 horsepower, and bodywork that looked fresh off the track.
That year, the GSXR won the Production TT, as well as the Le Mans 24-Hour on its first try.
1989: Suzuki brought the special edition GSX-R750RR. The limited edition racing homologation model went back to the long-stroke motor, race-style single seat, 120 horsepower, braced swingarm, and five-gallon gas tank. The clutch, crankshaft connecting rods, and crankcase were also upgraded to serve as a ready-to-race platform. Only 500 of these models were made in total, and only 150 were sold to the U.S.
1991: Many changes were made for the GSX-R750 in 1990, but the U.S. didn’t receive this updated model until we got the L in 1991. Perhaps the most notable upgrade to the GSX-R750 L was the fully adjustable, inverted forks, the long-stroke design was also brought back and could now deliver 115 horsepower. The 1991 L had a new fairing, lights, seat, and rear bodywork that added an unfortunate 33 pounds over the 1990 model.
1993: Americans once again had to wait a year to receive the latest GSXR model. The GSXR-750 W was released in 1992, but the United States didn’t receive it until 1993. This model featured water-cooling which provided for a more powerful, slimmed down unit that claimed 118 horsepower.
1996: This is the year that the GSXR finally got a much-needed body upgrade. The all-new machine only took Suzuki 11 years to get around to, and, considering the GSXR was felt to be outdated by the 90’s, the makeover was a welcome change. The GSXR-750T reverted to the short-stroke engine was fed by 30mm carbs and was 72mm x 46mm. The bike boasted SRAD on the seat’s side, showing the bike also got a ram air induction with Suzuki Ram Air Direct. The T claimed 130 horsepower, and once again, Suzuki was back on the racing map.
2000: The GSX-R750 Y was the sweet 16th birthday for the GSXR 750, and to celebrate, Suzuki delivered a new model. The revamp was only the third in the GSXR’s history, and it totally changed the look. The bodywork was sleek, the engine was narrow, and the Y was 29 pounds lighter than its predecessors in the mid-late 90’s. The engine featured a redesigned fuel injection system, and the upper crankcase and cylinders were cast as one unit to help increase strength while bringing down the weight. Stability and traction were aided on the chassis with a 20mm longer swingarm, and new four-piston brakes replaced the old units up front. This bike was lighter, stronger, and faster, and was sometimes referred to as the superman bike because of the headlight shape.
2001: This would be the last year that the GSXR 750 was considered a true superbike. The last winning streak of the 750’s racing legacy was stopped in 2002 by a Honda RC51, but by the time the GSX-R1000 arrived 2001, the 750 had already begun to fall out of the spotlight.
2008: After a rocky period, 2008 saw the 750 get its third revamp in four years with the K8. Among the changes, the new short-stroke engine was now between the frame rails and, to increase midrange power, the engine utilized camshafts that had a reduced intake lift. This was the first model to feature the SDMS or Suzuki Drive Mode Select system, and the 750 K8 also saw an increased number of holes in the primary and secondary injectors, a repositioning of the primary at a steeper angle for better fuel atomization, and a lighter subframe among other improvements.
2011-Present: The GSX-R750 L1 and L7 did not undergo any major changes and were the longest ever produced GSXR 750 to do so. The engine power at the rear wheel measured 128 horses, and the model is lighter with a clean and sleek body style.
Recently, Suzuki announced the lineup for the 2018 models, and while the GSX-S750 and GSX-S750Z feature elements of GSX-R technology, the 750 itself was not present in the lineup. However, it is rumored that Suzuki is, in fact, preparing a new GSX-R750 for 2019.
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