by Mike Seate
96 pages, $14.95
Motor Books Int’l, copyright 2003
Classic Motorbooks 1.800.826.6600
by Sev Pearman
The motorcycle world is divided into people who refer to Suzuki’s flagship sportbike as ‘Gixxers’ and those whose skin crawls when they hear this piece of squid-speak. If you own or ride any of Suzuki’s superlative sportbikes, you will enjoy Suzuki GSX-R.
Author Mike Seate has compiled a decent history of the GSX-R series, from its honorable ancestors the Yoshimura-built GS-based endurance racers to the current second-generation GSX-R 1000. All flavors of the GSX-R family are represented from the diminutive GSX-R 50 to the mighty GSX-R 1300 Hayabusa.
Rather than a simple rah-rah puff piece on GSX-Rs, the author does an excellent job of describing the market forces that permitted such a motorcycle to be built. He compares the GSX-R to its period competition and re-constructs the tremendous effect that Suzuki had on motorcycle design and sales with the world’s first true “racer with lights.” It can be hard to imagine a world without sportbikes, but bike design can be literally defined as Before or After the GSX-R.
Mr. Seate includes three excellent sidebars. Suzuki’s long affiliation with supertuner Yoshimura is detailed in one; he summarizes the history of exotic Suzuki-powered Bimotas in another; and in the third, he gives an overview of the Overkill 1300 Hayabusa.
We were left wanting for more gear-head trivia; items like design sketches, motor tests and factory photos. While there is obviously room for this info in a “GSX-R Restoration Guide,” it is beyond the scope of this title in the publisher’s “Enthusiast Color Series”
The text is lavishly illustrated with rich large photos. All versions of GSX-Rs are represented from the earliest 1985 Euro-only 750 to the current second-generation GSX-R 1000. There are candid shots taken at ride-ins and races, photo studio glamour shots and 35mm action shots of furry GSX-Rs piloted by stunt riders. Best of all are the glorious race images by moto-photographer Joe C. Appel.
All your favorite Superbike riders are represented including Mat Mladin, Jamie Hacking and Aaron Yates. Appel captures these Suzuki/Yoshimura riders in all their knee-down rear tire-sliding glory. Even better, Mr. Seate includes paddock shots, pit stop action and starting line stares, all captured by Mr. Appel’s lens. You’ll love the shot of Mladin’s flaming750 at Virginia Raceway (2001) on page 69
We found the layout to be intrusive. Chapter photos and text are jagged and sliced in a buzzy attempt to suggest speed. Each chapter is coded with headers and borders composed of bright primary color blocks. While these visually unify each chapter they are simply distracting.
Nit-picking aside, we like Suzuki GSX-R. While it isn’t deep enough to be a thorough history of the model or a full-blown restoration guide, it is a good read fortified by above-average writing and excellent photography. Suzuki GSX-R runs solidly on two-and-a-half out of four cylinders.
Sportbike squid–decent coffee table ‘brag book.’
Restorer–Thin on tech specs; some detail pictures.
Suzuki Freak–well-written history of the mighty GSX-R.
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