The Best Of Both Worlds
Despite the updates to the EFI and engine-management system, the latest GSX-R750 retains the previous model's cold-blooded temperament (perhaps even more so) when taking off in the morning, with an off-idle fluffiness that requires some throttle manipulation to get through cleanly. Once the engine warms up to normal operating temps, however, the issue disappears, and throttle response down low becomes much better. Controls are basically identical to last year, so the same stylish but less functional mirrors remain, with limited adjustment forcing you to pull in your elbows to see directly behind you. Even that won't do much good while cruising on the highway, as the mild vibration that creeps into the footpegs (still adjustable in three positions) and bars from 4000 to 6000 rpm fuzzes out the images enough that you won't be able to tell whether that's a state trooper or taxicab behind you until it's too late.
The same bit of driveline lash and notchy-shifting transmission makes itself known during around-town riding, although it quickly disappears once the speed and pace pick up. Wind protection from the slim fairing and racy windscreen is still surprisingly good, and fuel consumption on the street never dropped below 38 mpg even with plenty of aggressive riding.
Where the big difference between the '08 and last year's model makes itself known is the instant you get on the throttle anywhere below 9000 rpm. Although we didn't exactly find the previous GSX-R750's power to be flaccid below that point, it pales in comparison to the new model's much stouter midrange pull. You may not be outrunning any literbikes in highway roll-ons, but a graphic example of the new 750's stronger midrange is that it absolutely stomps the old model in the 60-80-mph and 80-100-mph roll-on tests. The new model took only 3.28 seconds to run from 60 to 80 mph (compared with 3.59 seconds for the old GSX-R) and basically leaves the old Gixxer for dead from 80 to 100 mph, requiring only 3.63 seconds to cover that speed. The gap between that and last year's 4.26-second measurement is a comparative eternity in roll-on terms. And no, overall gearing was not a factor in the '08 Suzuki's newfound speed, as there were no changes to internal gear ratios and both models cruise at around the same engine speed (5500 rpm) at 70 mph in top gear.
The new 750's power spread is far smoother and easier to access than before, and there's no longer a big dip at 5500 rpm, meaning you can let the revs drop and not be punished for it as you would on a 600. There's simply more power available practically everywhere in the lower rpm ranges, and the friendlier character translates to a much easier time generating speed in any cornering situation you can think of.
The '08 GSX-R750's power curve...
The '08 GSX-R750's power curve is far smoother than previous versions', with none of the dips and bumps that can wreak havoc with corner exits. Midrange power is up substantially; top-end power is down a bit.
But the emphasis on midrange rpm power hasn't exactly stunted the '08 GSX-R's top-end charge. Suzuki introduced the new model to the press at Willow Springs' ultrafast 2.5-mile main road course, where a bike that doesn't have the right combination of handling and top-end power is a sitting duck. We have to admit we were astounded at the new GSX-R's ability to leap off the exits of Willow's faster corners and the voracity with which it inhaled the straights. Don't let the dyno chart's peak power number fool you; while the new GSX-R's 123.1- horsepower reading may be down significantly from last year's 129.1-horsepower measurement, it should be noted that our SuperFlow dyno's updated software during its recent move (the previous-generation GSX-R test was done long before then) has resulted in slightly lower peak numbers on average. There is also the aspect of the redesigned ram-air intakes that have done away with the wire mesh screens on the intake mouths. We once did some top-speed testing with an older-generation GSX-R750 back in 2000 and found that removing the screens resulted in a consistent increase of nearly 2 mph on top, which is a significant power jump at those speeds (and won't be present in static dyno readings). While there's no doubting that the peak power of the '08 GSX-R is down a bit from previous years, we feel that unless you're an expert rider searching for that last tenth of a second, the smoother and stronger midrange powerband generates enough additional corner speed (translating to added mph off the corners) to offset that deficit.