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Suzuki GT 750

Posted by David Hale on Thursday, January 4, 2024 Under: Japanese Motorcycles
Rumours of a Suzuki two stroke triple began to circulate during 1968, with the T500 already taking the world by storm it seemed only natural that and extra cylinder would increase performance considerably giving the company a tool to take on Honda and Kawasaki.

Suzuki had a prototype, The GT750R on view at the 1970 Tokyo Motorcycle Show and launched the GT750 in 1971 and it was the company’s answer to the new generation of 750cc Superbike. It was quite something for the early 70s, liquid cooling and racy styling had most bikers excited and keen to see the machine in the flesh. On paper the GT looked promising but in reality the real world proved it to be more a mile munching tourer than the fast B-road scratcher expected of it.

As expected, the engine was little more than an extension of the proven GT500 twin, the 70 x 64mm bore and stroke remained the same with the addition of water-cooling giving the design longevity and extra weight too; surprisingly despite its racing connections, the GT tipped the scales some 15kgs more than the Kawasaki Z900.

GT750The first machines, the GT750J, arrived in dealer’s showrooms during the early part of 72 and the press soon pitched the new triple against the best of the rest, quickly finding that it didn’t match up in a straight fistfight. The 67 bhp claimed by Suzuki did little to get the machine over the 110mph mark and the drum brakes had poor initial bite or sustained stopping power. The engine was found to be good with a wide power range, unusual for a piston port design but aided by the unusual 3-into-4 exhaust system, which in turn had a link pipe between all cylinders, and CV carburettors it produced impressive low down grunt.

Handling was judged to be soggy in anything other than a straight line and also below par was the types fuel consumption. Despite all the negativity the GT soon found a strong following no doubt aided by the XR11 race versions success on the world stage. North America had an official name for the GT, the model was called the Le Mans but for the rest of Europe the code was deemed sufficient, however it soon became known as the Kettle in the UK.

For 1973 the GT750K received twin disc brakes and many more mods designed to improve performance. The discs didn’t offer much improvement over the twin leading shoe drums however and actually carried a warning sticker on each fork leg advising against wet weather usage. In 1974 a popular addition on the GT750L was the gear change indicator. In 1975, larger 40mm carburettors, higher final drive gearing and the removal of the exhaust link pipe saw a gain in total power output and torque, meaning a top speed of 120mph was more easily attainable. This model remained the same to the end of production with only minor cosmetic changes between one year and the next.

The gearing was again raised for 1976 chasing a higher top speed while the only noticeable change for the A model was a locking fuel cap.

Suzuki never did get their GT to compete on a level playing field with the rest of the 750 brigade, at best it matched the CB750 but against the other two strokes the Kettle was left way behind.

GT750 engine. The GT750 did spawn a whole generation of specials, mainly off the back of Barry Sheene’s use of the XR11, Dunstall produced an officially backed version of the roadster often sporting the Heron Suzuki GB teams race colours while others like Sanders and Lewis, and Niko Bakker created complete frame kits transforming the handling and all up weight problem too.

The B model of 77 saw the end of the triples production run, the fuel crisis was at its height and the GT offered nothing against that battle. The XR11 also bowed out around this time, the racing world had moved on leaving adapted and modified road machines well out of the running, two strokes had all but had their day, on the road at least, and the Kettle’s time had run out.

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