Three-quarters of a liter. If you remember the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, that displacement category dominated the streetbike market. Not too big, not too small, a perfect blend of light weight and big-bore power. The 750 was so popular, in fact, that the Reagan-era International Trade Comission even picked it as the dividing line between light and heavyweight bikes during the mid-’80s motorcycle trade war waged with Japan. And don’t forget that for years, both World and AMA Superbike raced the 750.
Now, two decades later, the 750 is almost gone from our shores, and models like the Kawasaki Z750S quietly disappear after a season or two. But in Europe, the middleweight sport-standard category is one of the best-selling, and there is a lot of choice in that segment. The bikes are usually a little de-tuned from their sportbike cousins, and have budget frames, brakes and suspension to keep costs down, but they are still light, fast and good-handling enough to make great all-around rides.
To ramp up interest in its products before the big Milan EICMA show in November, Suzuki motors released this tantalizing sketch of a GSX-R750-powered sport-standard, the GSR750. The rumor mill claims it’ll use a detuned version of the latest GSX-R750 motor (which makes about 148 hp), a cast-aluminum chassis and budget-y brake and suspension components. That follows news of a new Kawasaki Z750R, which is a hotted-up version of the Euro-market Z750, with upgraded brakes, suspension and graphics.
Naked sporty-standards like the GSR750, the Yamaha FZ-8 and Honda CBF600S sell in huge numbers—here, not so much. We’d be surprised to see the new GSR750 in the States, given Suzuki’s limited product line for 2010 and 2011 and the fact that standards like this comprise less than two percent of a shrinking (still!) U.S. motorcycle market. Same goes for the Z750R, but that’s not a bad thing: we have the all-new-for 2010 Z1000, which is lighter, faster and not that much more money than the Z750, which is basically a sleeved-down 2007-2009 Z1000.
What should excite us is a new GSX-R600 and GSX-R750. Suzuki leaked this artist’s sketch of the GSX-R600 that will be unveiled at the Cologne motorcycle show next month. Sources report the motor will be a ground-up re-design, as is the chassis, promising less weight, more power and better handling. Suzuki usually sends the USA its latest sportbike, so we’d expect to get it here, but since Suzuki USA has told us it will be selling but 10 street and dirt models total for 2011 (although more could be announced), we may have to sit it out while the Euros have all the fun.
Of course, we still don’t know if we’ll see a 750 version, which usually appears when a new GSX-R600 gets introduced. Again, the weak bike market could interrupt Suzuki’s plans to bring in the 750 until things get better. If you want a middleweight sportbike that isn’t the run-of-the-mill Japanese inline-four 600, you’ll have to be happy with Triumph’s Daytona (or Street Triple if you want something more upright), Ducati’s 848 EVO or maybe Yamaha’s FZ-8, which will be sold here for 2011.
Hmm. Maybe the 750 isn’t dead after all. Still, it’d be nice to see a better, faster, lighter GSX-R750 return for 2011 or 2012—it’s not a sleeved-down 1000, it’s a punched-out 600, which makes it a fun and balanced sportbike; no wonder it’s one of the most popular ever made and the sole survivor in the 750 supersport category. Bring it back, Suzuki!