Want a history lesson? Here’s a short video rundown showing the story of Suzuki’s GSX-R line. Fear not, there’s no stuffy professor in a cardigan, nasally lecturing about Wellington’s maneuvers at the Battle of Waterloo—although, in its own corner of the world, the Gixxer had a similar impact.
This YouTube history lesson starts with the 1985 Suzuki GSX-R750. Wait, what about the GSX-R400 that came out in 1984? That liquid-cooled inline-four race replica is generally acknowledged as the beginning of Suzuki’s superbike line, so why leave it out? Is this YouTuber following in the time-honored tradition of historians like Josephus, and leaving out important details? Shame!
To be fair, most of North America and Europe didn’t really catch on to the Gixxer line before the GSX-R750 came out in 1985. It was considered the world’s first modern superbike. The 750 used the Suzuki Advanced Cooling System (SACS), a high-pressure oil cooler setup that was advanced for its day (Suzuki still uses SACS, in the DR650SE). The four-cylinder engine made a claimed 106 horsepower, good for a 146-mph top speed. The aluminum frame helped to keep weight down to 179 kg, well below the competition. The full fairing is boxy by today’s standards, but provided much-improved streamlining over other early-80s designs. It’s no wonder the first 750 stomped over everything else on the market when it was released, and it’s no wonder everyone else used the same ideas for their sportbikes.
From there, the GSX-R line grew quickly, through the GSX-R1100, the GSX-R1000, and eventually the 600 models. Suzuki’s four-cylinder sportbike line went through some doldrums in the early 2010s, but the current GSX-R1000 series stacks up well against its rivals after a recent reboot. The 750 and 600 models haven’t been updated for a while, but if you want a 750-class sportbike, Suzuki’s the only company that sells one now. Too bad it doesn’t come with latest-generation electronics, as the 750 line was long known for innovation, as the history lesson shows above.
Want more deets on the Gixxer line? Check out Marc Cook’s book, still available on Amazon. It’s getting a bit dated now, but all the information about the early years should be in there.