Suzuki GSX-R750 Test Notes...
Midrange power noticeably improved+
Great front-end feedback-
Soft top-end hurt performance-
Cold blooded on startupx
With shorter gearing the GSX-R would be kingSUGGESTED SUSPENSION SETTINGSFRONT
Spring preload: 9 turns out from full stiff; rebound damping: .25 turn out from full stiff; low-speed compression damping: 2.5 turns out from full stiff; high-speed compression damping: 3 turns out from full stiff; ride height: 5mm fork tube showing above triple clampREAR
Spring preload: 8mm thread showing; rebound damping: 1.75 turns out from full stiff; low-speed compression damping: 4 turns out from full stiff; high-speed compression damping: 3 turns out from full stiff
Suzuki GSX-R750: 90.3
Less than a half-point behind the street-conquering Kawasaki, the GSX-R750 combines its newfound midrange power and scalpel-sharp chassis to good effect in the canyons. "The changes to the GSX-R750 have made it a better streetbike," commented Kento between catnaps. "It's got better midrange grunt so that you aren't forced to ride it like a 600 so much, and the same sure-footed handling lets you charge into the corners and carry tons of momentum that plays right into the motor's hands." The updated-for-2008 engine retains the old bike's beautifully smooth throttle response that allows you to make full use of the additional power, and although top-end is down from years past that aspect goes practically unnoticed on the street. One quirk: The 750 (and GSX-R600) stand alone among current sportbikes in being decidedly cold-blooded, requiring several minutes in the morning to warm up before being ridden away smoothly.
In the chassis department, the Suzuki scored well with the highest marks in the suspension and brakes categories, and tied the Honda for top ergonomics scores. High point of the bike's chassis is unmatched feedback that practically begs you to arc into each successive corner with more speed. "Great steering and brakes," wrote the Geek on his evaluation sheet. "The chassis is very user friendly and gives me lots of confidence, and it's easy to change line in mid-turn if needed." Part of that feedback and confidence is due to the incredibly grippy Bridgestone BT-016 OEM tires, which are almost an unfair advantage compared with the CBR's Dunlop Qualifiers. The ZX-10R also sports the new Bridgestones, although in a different variant.
So, with "perfect power," according to Troy, and "a great chassis that is light-steering as well as stable," according to Jim, where is the missing half point in the score sheets? Superior to the ZX-10R in half the categories, the Suzuki loses out partly because of a balky transmission and partly because some of our testers felt midrange power is still not on par with the Kawasaki-and even, in some situations, the Honda-requiring more shifting of said rough tranny.
Kawasaki ZX-10R Test Notes...
Monster motor pulls forever+
User-friendly chassis easily harnesses the power-
Riding on-track is a workout-
Budget extra for lots of tiresSUGGESTED SUSPENSION SETTINGSFRONT
Spring preload: 3 lines showing; rebound damping: 8 clicks out from full stiff; compression damping: 15 clicks out from full stiff; ride height: 4mm fork tube showing above triple clampREAR
Spring preload: 25mm thread showing; Rebound damping: 1.25 turns out from full stiff; low-speed compression damping: 3 turns out from full stiff; high-speed compression damping: 2.75 turns out from full stiff
Kawasaki ZX-10R: 90.7
With top scores in five categories, the ZX-10R eked out a slim victory over the GSX-R when the street evaluations were tallied, and was the subjective pick of every one of our four testers. Obviously the big Kawi carded top marks for engine power, but that doesn't tell the whole story: The ZX-10R offers seamless delivery of that power, with a perfectly shaped torque curve, snickety-snick transmission (another top score) and smooth off/on throttle transition. "There's no fumbling between gears on the ZX-10R," wrote Troy via text message. "If you need to go somewhere, you twist the throttle and you're there." While all three bikes have bands of vibration at various RPM, the Kawasaki especially will shake your hands numb cruising around town, and that is the only nit to pick with the engine.
That extraordinary mill is coupled to a chassis that is likewise user-friendly: "It may not be as flickable as the latest 600s," raved Kento after a canyon blitz, "but its agility allows it to carve tight corners without losing much ground which it more than makes up for once any type of straight comes up." Like the GSX-R750, the 10's Bridgestone rubber provides confidence-boosting front-end feedback and stunning levels of grip, and helps the somewhat portly Kawasaki to steer remarkably quick-although more muscle is required than for the Suzuki or Honda. Still, our testers scored the ZX-10R behind the others in the chassis & handling category. With racetrack-stiff suspension that is borderline harsh the Kawasaki brings up the rear in that category also. Our riders were divided on the bike's ergos, with some praising its slim midsection and others likening it to a rack on the freeway.
What brings the ZX-10R to the top of the chart for street use is a balance and refinement not often seen in a Kawasaki-or any-literbike. "Great brakes, nice steering, amazing power and awesome tires . . . it all works together fabulously," stated Trevitt at the end of the day, cocktail in hand. Ironically, that balance used to belong only in the middleweight class, but the Kawasaki turns things upside down, offering balance and a seemingly endless supply of power. Be warned, however, that riding the ZX-10R takes a significant commitment: "A good amount of riding skill is necessary to use and exploit the Kawasaki's strengths," cautions Kent, "similar in many ways to extracting all of a 600's performance. But if you're up to the task, the ZX-10R can and will generate serious speed."