WORDS and PHOTOGRAPHY: Robert Davies and Lee Chambers
If you had the privilege to own a GS 750 back in the day, you will have the greatest respect for this superb all-round four-stroke.
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It is quite remarkable, since this bike was Suzuki’s first big four-stroke and with it the company plunged headlong into competing with marques that had been making them forever, well for at least a decade.
At the very same time, Suzuki had invested much money in research and development of the RE5, a rotary engine bike.
This, they erroneously believed, was going to be the future of motorcycle engines.
The press loved it, but your average biker didn’t, and it was a big flop, almost taking the company down with it.
Having made small four strokes back in 1954, Suzuki had, for almost two decades, been wedded to the two-stroke, and more recently the GT750.
The question is how did they get this inline four-stroke so good, and so right first time?
The answer is they did what any sensible designer would do; examine the best of what their competitors were producing and copy it, with a few of their own little additions and improvements. Is this cheating?
Of course not, it’s simply good common engineering sense and practical business sense, too. As they say, all’s fair in love and business.
It is no surprise therefore that when you look at the crankcase halves, head and barrels, you see the Kawasaki Z1 staring straight back at you.
So how did commentators receive this bike back in 1977 (UK) and what did they say?
Well, Mike Scott of Superbike, called it a “proper snake in the grass”.
He said: “It’s sneaked up from behind, from a lair of lofty strokers, to zap the opposition with such venom that they’ll never be the same again.”
Not a bad accolade for what appeared on the surface to be an unremarkable bike, but is now a definite classic from the 1970s, a bike that is loved and viewed fondly from those lucky enough to have owned one in the day, and extremely collectable, too.
Not only that, the GS is a great bike to ride today, docile at low revs, but with grunt nonetheless. Take it past 6000 revs and it’s a veritable rocket.
More than that, it handles far better than its direct rival, the Kawasaki Z1, and this is why it sold so well.
Read more and view more images in the October 2019 issue of CBG – on sale now!