Let’s travel back in time for just a moment. Say you’re Suzuki, and say it’s the early 1970s, just after Honda turned the motorcycle world on its head with the CB750. You want to come up with your own entry into the newly-created superbike niche, so what do you do?
For Suzuki, the answer was relatively simple. It took the two-stroke, 492cc parallel-twin engine out of its T500, and then it added another cylinder. Oh, and it also decided that this brand-new beast should be water-cooled, thus becoming the first-ever Japanese production water-cooled motorcycle. The final configuration was a 738cc, two-stroke triple that made around 67 horsepower at 6,500 rpm.
Was it a superbike, though? Not exactly. The Suzuki GT750 was introduced in 1971—and like other bikes bearing the GT designation, was much more a grand tourer than it ever was a superbike. Different strokes for different folks was, in fact, more than just a catchy song lyric—it also proved to be one of the defining characteristics of this bike.
Gallery: Suzuki GT750
You see, where the Kawasaki H2 was known as the Widowmaker with fairly good reason, GT750 owners couldn’t decide on a single nickname for this big, friendly beast of a bike. It was large, and most definitely in charge. The first generation had a drum brake on the front that many regarded as woefully inadequate. It soon got upgraded to double front disc brakes that were serviceable in dry conditions, but utterly laughable in the wet. Americans affectionally called it the Water Buffalo, Brits talked of overheating issues and called it the Kettle, and Aussies christened it the Water Bottle.
Regardless of whether you like snuggling up with any bike to keep you warm on a cold night (and hey, no judgment here), the GT750 was widely regarded as one of the politest, most well-mannered two-strokes you could ever hope to meet. It had a special sound, thanks in part to the three-into-four exhaust that helped give the visual styling some extremely aesthetically pleasing symmetry. As you’ll see from the owners that Brightside Media spoke to for this video, it was also comfortable enough to ride for miles and miles at a time.
What Suzuki had made wasn’t a superbike, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t something special and important in its own right. The company moved on by 1977, but there’s a good reason why enthusiasts still regard the GT750 fondly today—and it isn’t just candy lavender-colored glasses.