1977 Suzuki GS750

A classic Suzuki motorcycle

| July/August 2010

1977 Suzuki GS750
Years produced: 1977-1979 (8-valve)
Claimed power: 60.7hp @ 8,500rpm
Top speed: 119mph (period test)
Engine type: 748cc air-cooled DOHC inline four
Weight (dry): 506lb (230kg)
Price then: $2,195
Price now: $1,500-$3,500
MPG: 37.8mpg (period test)

In the mid-1970s, something unusual was being passed around American Suzuki motorcycle dealerships, with certain shops being offered the chance to test an unbadged Suzuki-built 4-stroke inline four. A 4-stroke? From Suzuki? Yes, a 4-stroke, from Suzuki, and it would set a new course for the then-struggling company. This lead to the unveiling of the 1977 Suzuki GS750 - a classic Suzuki motorcycle.

Tom Clark was the sales manager at a Suzuki dealership in central California at the time, and he says the testing program started at least as far back as 1974. “I got to ride one in March of 1975,” Tom remembers. “It was unbelievable. The geometry was fantastic, close to Triumph. It felt like a Triumph TR6. You could do anything you wanted on one, and I did. The other dealers and I, we ran the s*** out of them.”

Suzuki was in trouble, having bet the farm on a very expensive experiment, the Suzuki RE-5 Rotary introduced in 1975, which was clearly failing. The RE5 Rotary was supposed to represent the future of motorcycling, but while the press loved it, the public didn’t. The RE5 Rotary asted only two years, and Suzuki’s huge investment in rotary engineering had to be written off. It almost sank Suzuki. Wary of making a fatal misstep, Suzuki was collecting data on its prototype.

Building on a foundation

Up to this point, Suzuki’s engineering forte historically was in 2-strokes. Suzuki introduced the popular Suzuki GT750, a water-cooled 2-stroke triple, in 1971, but knew the days of the “Water Buffalo” (as it was known on the street) were numbered thanks to ever tightening emissions regulations in the U.S. and Europe.

Even before the disastrous RE-5 Rotary, Suzuki management had determined the company needed a 4-stroke flagship road bike in its offering, and it had to be the best on the market. With the painful experience of the giant hole in company finances that had been created by trying to be futuristic, Suzuki’s engineers turned 180 degrees and decided to perfect a conservative 4-stroke inline four design. The basic parameters called for a bike that performed on the street, but not at the expense of reliability.

Steven Cote
7/13/2013 5:54:34 PM

I bought a left over 75 in 76 for my first bike, my parents where not very happy about it, I think i paid $1100 for it, I really wanted the Honda Cb400 4 but that cost a lot more. I remember it being very smooth, lousy mileage (gas was cheap back then still under a buck) and every thing ground when a corner was taken at some speed. I put 9k on it in one year and I never really went anywhere, just riding around. I sold it in 1977 for a 77 XS650 mileage went way up but so did the vibration. I'm not sure if I would buy one if one came up for sale but I would love to ride one to see if it would make me feel like I'm 19 again.

2/7/2013 8:34:01 PM

I agree. Although I've been riding since 1967 and own 19 bikes, I got my first GS750 (A model, with wires and single front disc) last summer. After some time in the paint and upholstery shop, it was time to ride it... and it's truly lovely. Still fast enough to be fun, its weight keeps it from being the best-handling thing on the road, but it's still reasonable, and I don't flog it, anyway. Until the GS, my favorite 750 was a twin-cam Honda SuperSport (1978); and I also liked the first-year Interceptor. I still own (and like) a KZ750 twin, and the Suzuki is so very different from that, it's, well, completely incomparable. Is the GS750 the best UJM ever? Quite possibly.

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