I have fallen head over heels in love with this bike.. In the 3 years I've been riding, I always had reasonably new bikes (2004-2006 machines) and had shied away from older bikes due to pre-conceived ideas that older bikes are less reliable and generally in poorer condition.
How wrong I was. I'll start with the performance. As another reviewer has written on here "It handles & drives like a really powerful 600". I've never ridden a 600 supersport, but it has no problem keeping up with or even passing modern 600SS's in the corners, then on the straights it has the powerful edge from 6-7k rpm upwards. Having only ever ridden v-twins, it took me a little while to acclimatise to the power delivery. Revving the engine harder and changing up later makes the bike pick its feet up. Below 3k revs, there's not much there, 3-6k revs it starts to hurry along, and by the time you've touched 7k revs, you're into the exciting bit of the rev range all the way to the redline at 12/13k revs.
0-60 is somewhere just over 3 seconds, the absolute top speed I've had on the clocks was 170mph (I frightened myself silly and will never do it again).
The engine is silky smooth all the way through the revs, the '98 SRAD being the first year that Suzuki moved to fuel injection. They seem to have gotten it right straight out of the box as there's not notchy fueling or jerkiness once you learn to feather the throttle/clutch at lower speeds or over mini roundabouts. The '98 does have a 'fast idle', which works very similar to a choke while the bike is warming up. If it's especially cold or the bike has been stood for a few weeks, it might require a slight turn of the throttle to get the engine running, but then it's fine once started (this could be an age issue but hasn't really affected me).
With regards to handling - this is the first bike that has given me the confidence to get my kneedown on trackdays, and all the friends I ride with have remarked just how much quicker/more confident I've become since I bought it. With my previous bikes (SV650, SV1000), I would often run into corners half heartedly, wondering whether the bike would be OK. On this bike I have run into one or two corners a little bit too hot, and the bike more or less whispers "go on, you're OK, just lean it over a tiny bit more and let me know when you're finished"... It really does inspire so much confidence.
This has also led to me conquering the holiest of biking grails - the kneedown. As I mentioned earlier, this bike has no problem getting past the 600's on straights or corners, but one of the best feelings in the world is having a big 1000cc supersport passing you on the park straight at Cadwell Park, then passing them as they brake far earlier for a corner, which you can comfortably carry more speed through (probably due to the lighter weight and shorter wheelbase of the 750). It is probably worth mentioning that this bike has had its front suspension seriously modified as it allegedly used to be a trackbike (8 previous owners in 12 years, 13,000 on the clock when I bought it in March '10 - lots of receipts for racing parts). As far as I can tell it's got uprated springs to suit a heavy guy (250lbs or 18 stone!) and probably uprated thicker oil to suit (15-20w maybe?).
Despite the fact it has probably been molested, raced and tracked, the bike is mechanically pristine. It's got the first 8,000 miles of service history and as soon as I got the bike at 13,000 I did the oil & filter, coolant, Yoshimura race can, Brembo master brake cylinder, brake pads, braided brake lines and all with fresh brake fluid. I also got some new tyres (Michelin Pilot Road 2's, which are phenomenally good) and the bike was good as new. It sailed through its MOT in July this year, and has covered 7,000 miles in the time I've owned it.
In terms of comfort and 'all round-a-bility' this bike has had all sorts thrown at it and taken everything in it's stride. Simply add a Renntec rack & some ratchets, soft panniers and away you go: 2x camping trips to the Isle of Man, 1 x camping in Scotland, 1 x North Wales, 1 x South Wales, many many many rideouts around the Yorkshire dales and North York moors - it has done the lot without any fuss.
Because the bike is older, compared to modern supersports, it is physically quite a lot bigger in terms of bodywork and riding position. Jumping on the newer better looking 750 leaves me feeling depressed that they can't be as comfy as my 12 year old SRAD, despite the fact there's very little between them in terms of handling, and a bit more power for the newer bikes. Also, if I took a brand new 750 on a camping trip and got caught in a rainstorm or scratched the paintwork whilst attaching all my camping gear, the week would be ruined. With this older 750, a slight scuff on the paintwork is annoying, but it won't put a dampener on the trip.
The other benefit to having an older bike means there's a vast collection of used accessories/tuning mods on auction sites and GSX-R dedicated internet forums for you to pick up at a fraction of the price they cost when new.
The only 2 niggles I've got about this bike are:
- it does carry pillions, but not very comfortably or for very long. They're sat way up high, and as it's designed to be a race bike, all that extra weight over the back end slows the acceleration/steering quite dramatically..
- the bodywork is starting to look a little bit tired now, with one or two scratches, and quite a few minor marks here & there.
If you're not bothered about carrying pillion on a regular basis or they weigh next to nothing then you're OK. Also, if you find a mint condition bike or don't mind picking up a bike with slightly tired looking bodywork (which can easily be removed and resprayed if you're desperate), then this bike will put a smile on your face and reward you with confidence/space to hone your skills as a rider.. Also look for the cliche's about 1000's being too much and 600's being too revvy for the road - the 750 has just the right power with fantastic handling.
Oh, and all this can be yours for a fraction of the price of a newer GSX-R - I paid £1800 for mine, compared to £3500+ for a k3 onwards or even more if you want one under 5 years old.
Go and get one...